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Scared about stuff

Guest newbee

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Guest newbee



I'll be entering first year sciences next year at UofT. I heard reports from my older friends that they are getting slaughtered in first year science courses (chem, physics). Apparently it gets harder each year in the sciences.


How have other people found the transition and are the courses in the life sciences really brutal. Please no sugar coating, Give it to me as it is;)


On a side note did alot of people give up on the idea of going to med school once they started getting hammered in University. After all the averages in science courses are in the C range if I'm not mistaken.


I know most people on this board have 3.5-4.0's from the discussions I've read, but what about all the other people, the majourity (since the averages are C's), what happens to them, do they end up working at the mall for the rest of thier lives? Where do all of those folks end up that have had their med school dreams and chances crushed by the harsh reality of University. (Sorry I'm just thinking of an escape route should things not pan out for me.)


Any suggestions from all and especially the more "average" performing undergrad students.


Thanks alot


Newbee entering First year Life Science at UofT in Sept

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Guest UOMeds05



It may seem hard to believe but not everyone that is in a science undergrad program actually want to be physicians. In fact, it is my experience that after a year or two, we are the minority.


there is so much that you can do with a science degree. The opportunities are literally endless.


I wasn't completely sure that medicine was what i wanted, nor was i sure of an acceptance so during my fourth year of my biochem degree i had to make some decisions for the upcoming year. i really wasn't so sure, so i ended up applying to medicine, to masters programs, to community college (flight and aviation technology) and to law school. yes, i really wasn't sure where i wanted to be... but in the end, i got into all 4 programs. and my gpa wasn't steller either, 3.7ish.


so really, my point is that you are by no means limited. the next step to a science degree isn't necessarily medicine.

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Hey newbee, I was in your shoes 1 year ago. I'm in 1st year at UT right now and I'm not going to sugar coat things for you. It's hard stuff, it's not easy, and if you think it's like high school where you don't do homework, review the chapter the night before, walk into a test and a get something in the 90s, you're mistaken.


Now, fortunately I'm not in the boat that's being slaughtered, I'm actually doing very well, a LOT better than I expected to do, and I think that's cause I got a lot of advice from older students last summer - i was told to always do problem sets, to never fall behind in reading, to always prepare for lectures, to periodically review notes, etc. etc.


About how many people want to go to med school.. it's no where CLOSE to 100%, but it is a lot of people, sitting in lectures you're always hearing people talking about when they're going to write MCATs, where they're volunteering, talking about strategically planning courses to maximize GPA, etc. We all know most of us aren't going to make it and if you don't there's an endless amount of possible career choices.


Anyways, good luck next year and if you have any more questions, feel free to ask.

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Guest macdaddyeh

Hey Newbee:


I understand your nervousness:rolleyes


In fact I was so scared to enter university that I studied excessively hard and first year was my best year for GPA, but my personal and volunteer life suffered a bit! Always try and strike a balance!


Also, who says you have to major in the sciences? There are many non-science majors who end up as physicians and just took the regular prereqs (bio, chem, phys) and then just moved on to other subjects of interest. There is also merit in doing that in that some universities (ie. U of T) will eliminate your worst courses from admission calculation.


As people have said, university is NOT easy. If you are gifted in science or english or math, you will likely shine; if you struggled in high school, you will likely continue to struggle. I find it is always an effort despite how "easy" I find some material; at least it is always an effort to get an "A!" If I wanted a B or a C then I would not work as hard.


Also, when you talk about people you know doing badly in the sciences, I imagine it is not because they are stupid, but rather at U of T almost all tests are multiple choice (in the sciences) and these tests are VERY tricky; you have to learn to master concepts and take these types of tests (ie. through practice exams).


In the end it is always up to you how well you handle the stress, what study methods you use, if you procrastinate and how you strike the delicate balance between school and work and family and volunteer stuff! You can do it:D

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Guest aneliz

Alright...I thought that I would add my 50 cents worth....


So, you get to your first large (like 500+ person) science lecture and some heartless prof who is very 'anti-med school' (you will know the type when you meet them!) says "alright froshies, how many of you want to go to med school?" And almost everybody sticks their arm straight into the air (faster then they ever will to answer a question from said prof again all semester too...) And then, heartless prof looks out over the sea of hands with an evil grin and says "hah, funny, froshies....look around at how many of you want to get in....do ya know what?...only 10 of you are gonna make it!...evil chuckle...."


I think that this is a pretty common occurence in most universities in the first few weeks of any new fall term. I know it certainly happened to me! And guess what? I made it! And so could you.


I think that there are a lot of people that think that they want to go to med school in the beginning for a couple of reasons.


1. They really don't know what else they can do with a science degree (work at the mall?!) and are really unaware of the many fields and possibilities out there. Saying that they want to go to med school gets their parents, grandparents, neighbours, roommates, best friends, other various relatives and old women at church immediately off of their back when they are asked the ever popular "So, what are you going to DO when you are finished that? What are you going to BE when you grow up?" And we all know that question is the single most dreaded question that could possibly be asked of an undergrad!


2. They really don't have too much of a clue what medicine actually involves...they don't know what it really takes to get in, what it really takes once you are in and, realistically, what your life will be like after you are a doc. Most incoming med school wannabe's have a George Clooney and ER style idea of what medicine really is - excitement, prestige and $$$. And that isn't exactly true.


So, what happens to all of the wannabe's? A couple of things...probably about 75% of them discover something else...they discover an area that they haven't even thought about before and become really passionate about it...and their med dreams fade rather quickly into the sunset as they focus on genetics or biochem or ecology or whatever their new passion is...Another bunch of those that are left discover exactly what is involved in either getting in (ie GPA or workload or both) or practicing medicine (ie it's not all glory and $$$) and decide that it isn't a very realistic career choice for them. And, believe it or not, not everybody in undergrad science was a med wannabe to start with either! Some people came in thinking that they wanted pharmacy or vet school or research or biotech or whatever else....This leaves a real minority of people that are still in playing the premed game seriously by the time it is actually time to apply in third or fourth year. From the 400+ that said that they wanted med in the first week at school, I think that maybe 25 of us actually applied....and about half of us got in...which would be the "10 of us that are gonna make it" as predicted by snarly old prof four years before. Some of the rest have reapplied for this year...the rest have moved on to a 'back up plan' that they are equally happy with.


My advice to you is to not become too med fixated right from the beginning....not to say that you shouldn't work hard and have a goal in mind...but you should have an open mind and not do everything in your life with the sole intent of getting into meds. Explore other areas too before you make that decision...because there is tonnes of stuff out there that you can't even imagine when you are still in high school. My best advice to you in terms of succeeding academically is to NEVER GET BEHIND! It is easy to fall behind at university, much easier then in high school and about 100X more difficult to get back on track. If you stay on top of things (do your readings, and problem sets, and lab reports ON TIME!), get help immediately if you don't understand something and work reasonably hard, you should be fine.


Good luck!

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Guest Biochem10

Wow, I agree with everything Aneliz said even regarding that anti-med school prof, we have a lot of those here at McGill. In my experience first year university was a lot easier than I expected, I was totally convinced that I was going to do badly and I scared myself so much that I ended up studying a lot and doing really well. It's not so much the material that's hard, but the amount of time you have to invest in learning and all this is self-directed learning--the prof will not be checking to see if you've done your homework. Anyway, I think you should just concentrate on your current situation, I didn't really start thinking about med school until last year (my 3rd university year). First I focused on seeing what biochem was all about by working in various labs and exploring my options. After three years of this, I realized that I actually would really like doing both lab work and medicine (hence I'm applying to an MD/PhD program). Anyway, in case your wondering about my classmates, the biochem class here has about 80 students, I would guess that about 30 of them have applied to medicine (huge number!) and the other 50 are considering other careers or taking a year off to figure things out. Most will go to graduate school, there are about 10 people in my class doing combined management/biochem degrees who want to work in the pharmaceutical industry. Some will actually go on to other professional degrees, PT, OT, Law. Anyway, there are plenty of options out there for people doing life science degrees other than medicine, you'll find out in the next couple of years what is right for you.

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Guest thelaze

I just want to chime in and say word to aneliz's description of the first year bio prof's anti-med diatribe. Mart Gross in BIO150 at U of T gave the speech almost exactly as you described. Except of course there were 1500 people there to hear it, as opposed to 500.


Indeed, Newbie, I knew a lot of people in first term of first year who were thinking about med. But "thinking" is different from "planning", in terms of committment, and if you're imagining that all the people in first year who idly say they want to go to med school are like the people on this board then you're definitely missing the picture.


First things first: many of the people in the gigantic BIO150 class ending up either dropping the course (ie, the infamous mass exodus after the fall midterm) or dropping the idea of becoming a bio major period.


Second, while in high school you tend to have just the three streams of science (chem, physics, bio), when you get to university you realize just how huge and diverse scientific study can be. There are so many different things you can do - and all of them can lead to interesting majors, senior level courses, research work, grad programs, careers, etc. Med is absolutlely NOT the be all and end all of life science - working in a mall, or whatever your estimation of failure is, is not something that automatically follows from not choosing to do or not being able to do med. I cannot emphasize that enough. I think aneliz and Biochem with agree with me that a large part of the weird anti-med attitude that seems to exist in academic bioscience comes from too many people having exactly those med or nothing ideas in their heads. People who think that way are extremly limited and naive about the world around them.


Ultimately by the time you get to fourth year the people in that huge first year bio class have split off into a multitude of different areas, with different plans for the future. There are definitely still a lot of people with plans for med school, believe me sometimes I felt like U of T, and my program in particular was overrun with premeds, but anyone who's spent anytime in the last four years of undergrad growing up, looking around them, and thinking seriously about the future, has thought up worthwhile backup plans should med school not pan out as they'd hoped.


My advice to you: prepare to work hard for those marks if you really want them, don't let ideas or hopes for med prevent you from looking around you and taking in the wider world and all that university can offer you both in school and postgrad, follow your interests by taking the courses you want to take, and above all, enjoy the experience!

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Guest idreamofmeds


Just wanted to add my 50 cents to this as well. I was in your position last year. I am in second year now, but I can clearly remember having that exact experience that aneliz talked about. In first year it seemed that EVERYONE wanted to get into medicine. It was extremely disheartining. All the way through I was told by my older friends that slowly but surely the pool of med wannabes would start to dwindle. I hadn't really noticed any difference even at the beginning of this year. Howver, now almost at the end of 2nd year I'm statring to notice it. People who couldn't fathom going into any other profession last year are starting to explore other areas and are finding that maybe they had just jumped on the med school bandwagon without really considering what they really wnated to spend the rest of their lives doing. A friend of mine from high school who I was sure was just yas passionate about medicine as I was has recently discovered that maybe she doesn't want to be a doctor and is looking into OT. A friend on mine in first year meds recently told me that the people who truly want medicine and are dedicated and willing to stick it out for the long haul do tend to get. While there are always exceptions to the rule, I believe him.

So if you managed to read through this mini novel of mine, don't worry. If this is really what you want to do then just wait it out and it won't look so bad later on.

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