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Advice about undergrad courses and plans needed

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So here's the situation:


I'm finishing up my freshman (U0) year at McGill currently in the life sciences stream. I'm currently slotted to major in physiology starting next year and am also considering switching into the neuroscience stream if I can get in this summer (only 25 students from my freshman class are accepted in).


I'm considering studying medicine after my undergrad but I feel that I haven't really experienced research environment enough to judge whether I would continue on the Msc-phD track after graduation. I also have little clinical/hospital experience to judge whether a career in medicine is for me or not. For now I've decided to shoot for the high GPA to give me options later on.


This year I took basically a "full" course load of 29 credits (technically 30 but I've been told 1 credit doesn't really matter). I took the basics and declined taking an elective as the advisers thought it would be too demanding. I ended up taking Calculus, Organismal Biology, Physics, and Chemistry in first semester and had a 4.0 GPA.


This semester I took essentially continuations of the same courses. Second semester has been more demanding with Calculus being significantly more difficult, and depending on the exam results (curving for a much maligned calc II exam) I am looking at a slightly lower, potentially 3.6-3.75 GPA overall for the term.


I need to decide on an elective to take next year in order to bring me over the "full" course load consideration of over 30 credits for the year.


I am deciding between a Medical Anthropology course taken just in the Fall, and an oral French course that would last the whole year, bringing me to the maximum allowable credits for each semester (17). I basically get the choice of one elective for the whole year; pretty much all the courses I'm taking are required.


Schedule at the status quo: Major Physiology

Fall 2011

Org Chem I+lab

Molecular Bio

Phys Chem (for bio sciences)

Mammalian Physiology I +lab

Medical Anthropology


Winter 2012

Org. Chem II+lab


Cell Biology/Metabolism

Mammalian Physiology II+lab


Any suggestions on whether it would be wise to pursue the language course instead of the anthropology? I feel like I could take another big step towards fluency in the french language with a full year of communication practice, but I worry that this would be too demanding credit-wise, and it would hurt my GPA (I have heard languages are hard at McGill). It makes sense to take french before I get too rusty (I last took it in Grade 12 in Ontario). Med anthropology seems really interesting, and it comes with the advantage of not adding to my second semester workload, where I hear Org Chem II and Genetics can be pretty brutal. It is also intriguing because it fulfills the suggested "expository writing" component of med prereqs. Anybody had experience with overloading or with these types of courses in particular? How well do languages usually reflect on a med school application? This would also be my first arts course at McGill (although I was a strong writer in high school).


My EC plans:

Learning an instrument,

Doing public presentations for the Canadian Cancer Society (volunteer),

Working at a summer camp in the last two months


Next summer I plan to do a prep course and take the MCAT while Org and such are fresh in my mind, and perhaps volunteer in a lab near home York/Toronto or at McGill.


Am I on the right track here?

Thanks for reading, any help is greatly appreciated :)

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Hey! I'm at McGill too. I'd caution you about taking 17 credits a semester or overloading especially with labs. That being said, a full course load is highly suggested. First year at McGill is real smooth for most people and lots of my friends ended up with 4.0 first semester. And then 2nd year... they bombed a few courses cause it gets conciderably harder!

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Thanks for the input. It's great to know this stuff.


I'm in the BIOL 200 section taught by Drs. Bureau and Roy rather than Fagotto. A guy I know in U2 Physio told me to steer clear.


I don't really have much of a choice in terms of credit load if I'm to stay above 30. Basically, I decided that it would be better to do the extra course in 1st semester (also because better electives seemed to be offered in the fall). People have suggested doing the language course pass/fail, but I've been told as well that med schools won't "count" those credits towards a "full" load.


It's looking like I'm going to stick with the anthro for now and may switch over the summer if I change my mind or if I can get into neuroscience.

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