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McGill or Queens? Need to decide by tomorrow!


Caide

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Hi. I've read many old threads, but still haven't come to a decision. I have to accept Queens by Wednesday the 8th if I'm going to go there, so any feedback or comments on what I should do are appreciated!

 

Made a pro / con list to hopefully shed some light on my situation. Thanks.

 

McGill:

 

Pros

- Better for neuroscience, especially for research opportunities (and research in general will be easier to get into at McGill throughout the year)

- Better course selection for the most part (better physics interest electives)

- Far away from home, completely different atmosphere from Toronto, Montreal is great, will help me break out of my shell and get more involved

- Great volunteer EMS program in Montreal

- Supposedly better affiliate hospitals (though I've heard, again, they prefer bilingual volunteers)

- Could give me slight favouritism when applying to upper tier US med schools (bias, even if unintentional)

- Montreal life & culture in general (into electronic music production also, being in Montreal wouldn't be bad for this)

- If no med school acceptance in first cycle, I can live in McGill working, gaining Quebec residency and apply again next year (giving me much cheaper tuition at McGill Med, and significantly higher changes at McGill Med)

 

Cons

- Difficult to find better volunteer opportunities (medically related in particular) without being bilingual

- Far away from home (6+ hours), won't be able to see parents+dog often, and if anything 'bad' happens, it'd be difficult to constantly be going back and forth

- the EMS program isn't 100%, I've gotten mixed responses on whether I need to know French well or not, so this could fall through if they decide I need to know french (plus it'll take a summer of my time to go through the training program)

- need a high first-year gpa (3.8+) to get into neuroscience, though I don't think this will be a problem, but it's still a risk

- no scholarship, so decent chance I won't get the residence I want (new res, douglas, or maybe RVC, will probably end up in one of the other upper res like molson, which I'm not really looking forward to)

- lower average prof rating on ratemyprofessor.com, however most of the courses I wanted to take have really good profs

 

 

Queens:

 

Pros

- Closer to home (3 hours), get to see my family & dog, occasional home cooked meal, laundry, support etc.

- Much more of a community, would be more of a part of something

- School spirit

- College town feel

- More clubs and such than McGill

- Feel like I'd be missing out on something ("what if") if I went to McGill, while I feel like I know what McGill will be like already

- Newer facilities

- Speak English, would be able to find work/volunteering opportunities more easily (but I haven't found a lot I'm especially interested in other than regular hospital volunteering)

- Could live on residence all 4 years (not sure if this would be best)

- Also has a neuroscience 'stream' in life sciences, but it's not as focused

- More likely, I'd major in life sciences (no neuroscience) which gives me ~14 electives vs 9 at McGill

- Might be slightly easier to get to know profs for letters of rec

- Better average prof rating on ratemyprofessor.com

- A lot of great extra-curriculars

 

Cons

- Less course variety

- Not as great research opportunities throughout the year

- Professors aren't as well-known (regular or in neuroscience)

- less prestigious/reputable, (possibly) especially in US

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Cons

- More expensive if I live on residence all 4 years (at McGill, I'd buy an apartment after 1st year, rent in summers, sell after undergrad)

 

- I can't find great extra-curricular opportunities

 

Why would you live in rez all 4 years? There are definitely lots of cheap student renting options in Kingston. Maybe not quite as cheap as Montreal, but still.

 

And you can find great extra-curricular opportunities ANYWHERE. Most of my favourite ECs were activities that weren't really advertised anywhere, I got involved through friends once I was on campus!

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Since you can't go wrong with either school, my vote is for McGill. Montreal is an amazing city and only 1 hour away from Tremblant!

 

I agree MTL is a great city (and so is Kingston, they're just different) but meh to Tremblant.

 

I spent more than my fair share of time there in the past 3.5 years and I'd much rather drive a bit further to Mont Stainte Anne or even Jay Peak in Vermont. If you're in MTL already you can get to these two hills (and Tremblant) much quicker but this only assumes you enjoy ski/snowboard activities although they do have some pretty awesome golf and terrain activities in the summer as well.

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Hi Caide,

 

I can actually be a good resource for you here :P I did two undergrad degrees at Queen's including a life sciences degree in the neuroscience stream.

 

Let me preface this by saying that I love Queen's. If you choose to get involved, I think it has one of the best communities of any university in Canada. There are so many extracurriculars and clubs to get involved with that it's almost overwhelming. There is also a great volunteer EMS service in Kingston, St. John's Ambulance. You can also do Queen's First Aid, which seems like lots of fun. When they're on shift, they walk around campus with a huge red backpack and a walkie-talkie. I'll never forget seeing someone get a call in the middle of a class, as they started running out of the class to respond to the call, everyone started clapping (in a classroom with like 300 people in it).

 

Life Sciences is also a great program. The neuroscience stream is really interesting - although many people who are gunning for medicine don't do a stream (they choose to do the general life sciences degree) because they can avoid difficult courses such as BCHM 310 and take more GPA boosting electives. The life sciences department is well aware of this practice and is working on making some changes (for instance they've changed MBIO 218 around which was a class MANY general lifesci students successfully avoided). But I did a really cool research project with an amazing supervisor, and also got an opportunity to do a directed research project I got credit for.

 

Just to correct one minor thing with your pros for Queen's - it's not really possible to live in residence for four years, unless you choose to work there as a residence facilitator or Don. There are only a small handful of spots available for upper year students, and these are generally saved for students with special accommodation needs. The experience of living off-campus in housing though is, errr, unique.

 

I think the biggest downside of Queen's though is Kingston. I do love the town, I think it's great; there's a lot to do both in and around the town that is lots of fun. But it definitely doesn't hold a candle to Montreal. I think especially if you're used to an urban environment (you say you're from Toronto?) then Kingston will be a letdown.

 

I think if I were you I'd distill it down to the major strengths of each place and decide where you'd prefer. If you want a strong community with a LOT to do on campus, choose Queen's. If you want to be in a really cool city with lots of culture, choose Montreal.

 

And PM me if you choose Queen's, we can chat about ECs and so forth.

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Hey I'm going to give a biased view on McGill because it's my alma mater :P

 

I just graduated from McGill Neuroscience this year and applied to medical school at the same time (accepted into some waitlisted to some).

 

In terms of my experience with neuroscience at McGill, you do get to meet a whole lot of great scientists who are experts in pretty much a lot of areas of neuroscience. Pretty much every professor you meet in neuroscience is super smart and well-known in one area or another.

 

If your interest do lie in research in neuroscience then I highly recommend McGill.

 

Also, Montreal is a great city! The city itself blooms during the summer and the campus being located downtown helps you enjoy all the benefits of a city :)

 

One disadvantage that McGill has is that the affiliated hospitals prefer bilingual volunteers. It may be difficult to get a volunteer job if you can only speak English. Plus getting a job outside of the campus is difficult if you can't speak French (which doesn't really matter if you end up doing summer research every summer).

 

In terms of the overall academic experience I think Queen's and McGill are similar. One thing to note is that I've heard from my friends at Queen's that they don't have a course devoted for organic chemistry (is it true?) so they all came back to Toronto to take orgo during the summers.

 

PM me if you want to know more about undergraduate neuroscience at McGill :)

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McGill is great!! Ok ok I'm biased since I did my undergrad there, and my masters at UdeM so biased on the city as well ;) I had friends who lived in Molson rez (I think? the one way up the hill) their first year and it was just fine but that was 10 years ago so it might have changed. However if you move just a bit off campus it's still possible to find decently priced apartments at this time of year instead of rez (apartments in the McGill ghetto are usually much much pricier as landlords boost the price cuz they know students are desperate and there are waiting lists).

 

Montreal is my favorite city.. I was born here but my family moved to Gatineau (near Ottawa) when I was 7. I moved back here to train and study and I don't think I'll ever go back to Gatineau even if my entire family is still there including my sister. Many awesome DJs regularly visit, there's really something for everyone. As a bonus, you can learn French either by taking classes or just making friends with French people.

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Queen's has a course dedicated to organic chemistry, CHEM 281/282. They do not have a summer course though, so students who want to take orgo over the summer do so at another school.

 

I'm also not sure that there's going to be a tangible difference on an undergraduate level between McGill's neuroscience and the neuroscience lifesci stream at Queen's. There are some excellent researchers at Queen's too and the courses you take in the stream are both engaging and interesting. Everyone in the stream gets to do a thesis as well.

 

On a graduate level there are a lot more differences, but I don't think it really matters on an UG level. Either program will be very good and will provide many opportunities for research.

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I'm a recent McGill Grad and I'll make comments to your pros/cons in italics.

 

Hi. I've read many old threads, but still haven't come to a decision. I have to accept Queens by Wednesday the 8th if I'm going to go there, so any feedback or comments on what I should do are appreciated!

 

Made a pro / con list to hopefully shed some light on my situation. Thanks.

 

McGill:

 

Pros

- Better for neuroscience, especially for research opportunities (and research in general will be easier to get into at McGill throughout the year)

- Better course selection for the most part (better physics interest electives)

Are you sure? I usually hear the opposite. We do have some cool science electives, but when it comes to humanities/Arts electives we don't have a very good variety (this is what I've been told by my friends in Arts)

- Far away from home, completely different atmosphere from Toronto, Montreal is great, will help me break out of my shell and get more involved

- Great volunteer EMS program in Montreal (nothing comparable in Kingston)

- Supposedly better affiliate hospitals

- Could give me slight favouritism when applying to upper tier US med schools (bias, even if unintentional)

This is true. I interviewed at two schools in the States, and both times the interviewer brought up that I had gone to McGill, and seemed to view this favourably. And considering my stats (I interviewed at two Ivys, and for one of them my marks/MCAT were below average) I definitely felt that the McGill name gave me a boost. I know of other McGill students who have gotten into Ivys/very good programs stateside with similar numbers to mine

- Montreal life in general (into electronic music production also, being in Montreal won't be too bad for this)

- If no med school acceptance in first cycle, I can live in McGill working, gaining Quebec residency and apply again next year (giving me much cheaper tuition at McGill Med, and significantly higher changes at McGill Med)

Be careful with this one. One, McGill apparently doesn't like students who've taken time off (I heard this from a prof who helps with admissions...mind you, I know two people who got in this year even though they'd taken time off). Secondly, even if you get Quebec residency, they know you're not really from Quebec- a friend of a friend who acquired Quebec residency was told (by someone on Admissions) that they know that you probably don't have any roots in Quebec and are more likely to leave the province when you finish med (McGill has the highest amount of students who leave the country after graduation), and they will take this into account in admissions. Again, I do know of people who have gotten into McGill after obtaining Quebec residency- two of them had done Master's degrees at McGill, and two had a significant other from Montreal. So, again, it's certainly not impossible- but they will notice that you're not "really" from Quebec

 

Cons

- Far away from home, won't be able to see parents+dog often, and if anything 'bad' happens, it'd be difficult to constantly be going back and forth (like 5-6 hours each way)

- the EMS program isn't 100%, I've gotten mixed responses on whether I need to know French well or not, so this could fall through if they decide I need to know french (plus it'll take a summer of my time to go through the training program)

You probably need to know French. This is a problem that you're going to come up with a lot if you want to volunteer off-campus (I'm counting the hospitals as "on campus"). Alternatively, you could join McGill's First Aid Group

- need a high first-year gpa (3.8+) to get into neuroscience, though I don't think this will be a problem, but it's still a risk

Don't count on it. The cutoff to get into McGill Life Sci this year is 91%. So if you go to McGill in the Fall, you will be competing against kids who, at a minimum, had a 91% average in high school. In my year, 90% of the class had been in the top 10% of their high school classes. It may have been easy for you to get high marks in high school, but now imagine that you have to compete for those same high marks with the top kids from your high school class. Not that it's impossible- but if you're going to come here, find other programs that you would be interested in, because neurosci is not a sure bet

- no scholarship, so decent chance I won't get the residence I want (new res, douglas, or maybe RVC, will probably end up in one of the other upper res like molson, which I'm not really looking forward to)

Molson is a bit of a party rez, so if you like quiet you may want to rank it a bit lower on your list! I have friends who were in Gardiner and McConnell who really liked it. You do have to hike up the hill, but that will make your legs stronger! Oh, and yeah, during the winter it can be kind of hard to get down to class when the road ices over...

- lower average prof rating on ratemyprofessor.com, however most of the courses I wanted to take have really good profs

This is big. Most of the profs are decent/good...but there are a few bad apples that can really screw things up for you. Just check ratemyprofs before you register for anything

 

I'll close by saying that if I were to do it all over again, I would still go to McGill. However, in my peer group at least, I don't see any overwhelming positivity towards this school. If you're aiming for an American Med School and want some good research opportunities, I'd say it's a great choice. However, don't get your heart set on Neurosci- as I said before, there is no guarantee that you will get a 3.8, so make sure you have some sort of back-up plan.

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Thirteen years ago, I faced the same choice as you: McGill vs. Queens.

 

Looking at your background and pro/con list, I would say, give McGill a go and if things aren't to your liking there after one year, do not hesitate to change schools, cities, whatever. if you are dead set on entering medicine, make your degree work for you. Don't fight an uphill battle if you don't have to!

 

If I could do it all again, I probably would have abandoned my degree and attended a different school for UG: a school that focuses on UG education rather than graduate and higher ed. That said, any time anyone asks where I did my undergrad, the fact that I have one from McGill raises eyebrows and is met with a chorus of oohs and ahhhs. No matter what happens at that school, it has a solid international reputation.

 

Best of luck in your decision! What an exciting time!!!

LL

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