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Advice on which schools I should apply to or how to improve my chances?

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I am putting myself at the mercy of this forum for some advice. First of all let me give you some info on myself. I am 33 years old and I grew up in northern Alberta (rural community according to the UofA). I have a Master of science degree. I am currently working as a research technician in a virology/genetics laboratory at the University of Alberta where we try to discover new viruses or link existing viruses to diseases of unknown etiology. Prior to this I was working as a research technician in a genetics/ophthalmology laboratory. I have had summer research jobs during my undergrad as well as odd jobs in customer service at places like Costco, Superstore and Canadian tire as well as experience working as a server.


As to the types of ECs I have taken part in they are as follows:


- 1 first author publication and a third author publications (possibility of another publication this year as well)


- numerous abstracts and attended various conferences presenting posters on my research


- approximately three years serving as treasurer of my condominium board for my building which has been under self management (meaning we not only vote on decisions but we as board members implement the decisions that normally a management company would)


- 50 hours of training to work on a sexual assault crisis line. Followed by currently 6 months of working 6 hours a week on the lines. ( will continue on this line past application deadlines)


- volunteered twice as a route marshal and event setup for the AIDS walk

( will be doing so again this year)


- volunteered for the run for the cure event (will be doing so again this year)


- Volunteered for a meals on wheels charity event acting as a silent auction attendant and helped with cleaning up afterwards


- Canvassed (door knocked/interacted with voters) in Edmonton in last years federal election for the liberal candidate. Helping to distribute election material


- Scrutineered for the federal liberal candidate in the federal election ( 12 hours)


- Canvassed (door knocked/interacted with voters) in Edmonton in this years provincial election for the liberal candidate. Helping to distribute election material. Successfully getting the incumbent re-elected


- Scrutineered for the federal liberal candidate in the federal election ( 6 hours)


- Will be serving on the constituency committee for my MLA that I helped get re-elected in the provincial election


- Will begin volunteering at a hospital in Edmonton working in the mental health unit, leading patients in group activities (2 hours/week)


- Performed in three plays in local theatre



My MCAT score is as follows:


PS 8

BS 11

VR 9



My GPA according to the UofA:


3.47 (UG) 3.85 (Grad)


My GPA according to the UofC:




I have calculated my GPA for other schools that I would consider applying to based on their criteria ( Exclusion rules, Grade scale and OMSAS)


OMSAS GPA ( interested in UofT, Queens and McMaster) : 3.42-3.48 depending on whether they include graduate courses in the calculation


UBC: 80.09% (UG) 80.6% (with graduate courses) 80.2% (pre-req)


Manitoba: 3.76 (GPA) 10.2 (operative MCAT score)


Saskatchewan: 82.35%


This year I applied to the UofC but was rejected pre-interview, however I was offered an interview at the UofA ( I was placed in the rural pool for the UofA and scored the highest score of anyone in the pool for the interview, my combined MCAT score was higher than the average than those accepted in from my pool) but was rejected post-interview.


As a non-traditional applicant I am looking for advice on what I should do this upcoming cycle. I obviously plan to reapply to the UofA and the UofC as they are in my home province. However I am looking for feedback from others as to whether I should apply to these others schools or if I would be wasting my time with my current stats?


Should I rewrite the MCAT? I am not opposed to this option but for some reason I think what held me back the most is likely how I conveyed my ECs and likely my GPAs. So I question whether improving my MCAT score will actually translate to any advantage.


Feel free to PM me if you rather not reply in the open forum.



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I think you have the right idea in continuing to apply to the Alberta schools as they are definitely your best shot. In terms of the other schools you're asking about I can comment on Ontario schools and B.C. as I'm from B.C. and applied to UBC, Queen's, Toronto, and Mac (as well as NOSM).


Realistically Mac is probably your only option, but I don't want to discourage you from applying to the others as you never know. Queen's uses MCAT cut-offs in VR and WS, you should be fine for WS, but the VR score is usually 10. Of course that could change and be a 9 this year, so its worth applying. Toronto gives a lower cut-off for Grad applicants but they're typically very productive (multiple first author publications) and usually have a GPA closer to 3.6 (at the least) for undergrad. You could rock the essay though, have great references, and you never know- anything is possible. Mac you'll have to do really well at CASPER (basically an online MMI), and could land an interview. For UBC you really don't have a shot as far as I can tell, I had around 80% GPA as an in province applicant and needed an astronomically high non-academic score to land an interview. OOP applicants typically have a tough time getting an interview with anything less than 90%ish GPA and still need exceptional ECs.


If you're considered rural by U of A, then you might want to consider NOSM. They typically select heavily for applicants from northern Ontario but do offer interviews and even some places in the class to applicants of other rural areas of Canada. Its worth a shot in my opinion. They also give a 0.2 point bonus to your undergrad GPA if you have a graduate degree (!).


I don't know if I'd invest a ton of time and effort in writing the MCAT again just for the sake of raising your VR score by a single point. Its a lot of time and risk for the sake of trying to meet the cut-off of one out of province school when your best chance really lies in your home province. If I were you I'd keep going with my ECs (your list looks great) and apply to U of A, U of C, Queen's, Toronto, Mac, and NOSM. I didn't look too deeply into the prairie schools because typically OOP applicants there have some really stellar stats.


The fact that you landed an interview should be very reassuring to you, that means that the school was interested in having you as a potential student. You're clearly doing something right! Try to change things up a bit for interview this year, draw on your experience last year, and do your best to track down someone from U of A who was successful in the interview and ask for tips.


Good luck!!:D

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+ 1 on ensuring that you apply to NOSM.


- With the extra 0.2 you NOSM GPA could be 3.6ish-3.7-ish. Also being from northern/rural area is an asset so make sure you apply this upcoming cycle.

- With experience that will likely translate well into the OMSAS sketch, decent adjusted GPA (w/ 0.2+), and likely decent context score you stand a good chance of getting an interview.



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One suggestion I have is look for another EC where you're leading rather than just volunteering. I think you have a good distribution and range of activities, but taking a leadership role will strengthen your application and demonstrate your ability. Here I'm referring to things like executive positions, event planning, implementing initiatives, etc.


If you do have time and are interested in rewriting the MCAT, you don't really need to write any sections other than VR if you're focusing on Mac.

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do you not think my experience as treasurer on my condo board counts as an executive position? We are a self managed building meaning we as a board make decision and carry them out among each other. These include important financial decisions that effect the lives of the people in the building.


For sure, put it on there. I put on that I am the VP of our local community gym board of directors. Anything that shows leadership skills is a bonus so your activity there is a definite one to include.

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