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How varied should your ECs be?


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After talking to a friend today about ECs and research, should your experiences in these two categories point into a particular direction (for example, cardiology) or can they be varied from a variety of different fields?

 

Also a separate question: if you have relatively few "volunteer" (such as generic hospital volunteer) experiences but you are in charge of many projects for an organization which you dedicate tons of unpaid time for, would that still count as "volunteer" experience?

 

Thanks so much for the help!

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My ECs are all over the place and only 2 of them directly show that I'm interested in medicine/health care. So I don't think that you need to have any kind of focus. I just did whatever was interesting to me. I actually think that it was helpful since it gave me some really unique things to talk about or to use as examples to prove my point during interviews.

 

 

Also a separate question: if you have relatively few "volunteer" (such as generic hospital volunteer) experiences but you are in charge of many projects for an organization which you dedicate tons of unpaid time for, would that still count as "volunteer" experience?
Yes! Doing something without getting paid = volunteering
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Although I have only my own experiences to draw on, I found it useful to have a wide range of ECs and managed to get an interview at one of the only 2 schools I applied to. A few of the doctory types I've talked to here at ucalgary (most of whom are only indirectly involved in selection processes) think it's better not to look like a total one-track mind during the application process. Show some depth.

 

At least where I applied, jobs count as activities as well, not just volunteerism. As I understand it the goal is to look for worldly experience as much as anything.

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Although I haven't gone through the process of applying yet, I suspect that it does not matter either way. I think the point of EC's is to show that you are well rounded and have a life outside of school. That being said, it is probably good to have a diverse mix of activities to show the variety of your interests. For example: I am not a sports oriented person therefore I don't have a huge amount of sports for my ec's , however i love music so my musical activities make up for that. It is also important to excel in whatever activities you are in. For volunteering just do anything you like, it is primarily used to show your altruistic side and that you care for others..

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I honestly think that the best thing to do is to just do what you like.

 

I've never done an EC just for medical school, or taken a bird course on purpose - I just did what I like, didn't really worry that much about medical school until I reached the point where I had to start doing MCAT and applying, and I got 6 interviews this cycle. Of course, who knows if I'll actually get in anywhere, but it's something.

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After talking to a friend today about ECs and research, should your experiences in these two categories point into a particular direction (for example, cardiology) or can they be varied from a variety of different fields?

varied or directed - no EC formula

 

Also a separate question: if you have relatively few "volunteer" (such as generic hospital volunteer) experiences but you are in charge of many projects for an organization which you dedicate tons of unpaid time for, would that still count as "volunteer" experience?

yes

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If you really want a formula, you might want to look at the categories that the schools look at ECs in. UBC has a pretty straightforward system, with 5 categories:

 

1.Leadership

2.Working with others

3.Service ethic

4.Diversity of experience

5.High performance in an area of human endeavour (not everyone has something listed in this category)

 

So while this doesn't give you exactly a formula, it gives you an idea of what types of positions to look for in the areas you want to work in. I'm a little weak in the first 2 categories (at least in my volunteer experience), so I've tried boosting those 2 this cycle. The first thing I did was to move from a "underling" volunteer role I've held for many years to an Officer position. That way I can move it into a Leadership role instead of Service Ethic, which I have lots of.

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If you really want a formula, you might want to look at the categories that the schools look at ECs in. UBC has a pretty straightforward system, with 5 categories:

 

1.Leadership

2.Working with others

3.Service ethic

4.Diversity of experience

5.High performance in an area of human endeavour (not everyone has something listed in this category)

 

So while this doesn't give you exactly a formula, it gives you an idea of what types of positions to look for in the areas you want to work in. I'm a little weak in the first 2 categories (at least in my volunteer experience), so I've tried boosting those 2 this cycle. The first thing I did was to move from a "underling" volunteer role I've held for many years to an Officer position. That way I can move it into a Leadership role instead of Service Ethic, which I have lots of.

 

Thanks Kylamonkey! I'm a bit confused with the 2nd and 3rd one...what exactly is the difference between working with others and service ethic (where you need to work with others); and what would be considered a high performance in an area of human endeavour?

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Thanks Kylamonkey! I'm a bit confused with the 2nd and 3rd one...what exactly is the difference between working with others and service ethic (where you need to work with others); and what would be considered a high performance in an area of human endeavour?

From the app system:

Working with others:

This category recognizes applicants’ abilities to work with groups which take them beyond their peers, friends, school and co-workers.

So basically this is working with people outside your peer group. I think a lot of applicants put things in this category that should really be included in service ethic.

Service ethic:

These experiences exhibit involvement in activities that demonstrate participation for the benefit or welfare of others. They can include volunteer activities... as well as work experiences.

 

For high performance- this winds up being such a bone of contention during the application cycle. I put that I raced an Ironman triathlon, because other people told me it belonged here. An applicant this year has been a high-level poker player, and another applicant who was admitted last year won knitting competitions that were North-America-wide!

 

UBC may change these categories, because they're going through SO many changes right now, but I think it's such a nice set of guidelines to think about your activities in.

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Oh wow...you guys sure are talented over on the West coast! I knew a poker player once...he quit university to pursue full-time playing.

 

Following this, I definitely have lots of things to put in each of the categories; though I don't know if it's enough for Ontario schools and Calgary...

 

Is it too late to start working on ECs if you're planning to apply this coming cycle?

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Is it too late to start working on ECs if you're planning to apply this coming cycle?
No. But it's not like I would start like 5 new activities at the same time right before the application cycle. It would look strange.

 

Would gardening be considered an EC/hobby. I am very involved in that activity in the summer months and i find it quite enjoyable.
Sure it's an EC.
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