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Extracurriculars - Work Vs. Volunteering


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Is volunteering viewed more positively than work by med school admissions? I don't have a lot of volunteering experience and this was mostly due to the fact that I was working around 20-25h per week while studying full time in undergrad. My father has very limited income and I had to work to pay for my tuition, food, help my dad with rent, and other expenses. Do you guys think I am at a disadvantage compared to people who didn't have to work and were able to volunteer more during school?

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During their admission information session, the NOSM admissions officers said that they are fully aware that people come from different financial backgrounds, and they take into consideration applicants who have lots of work experience and not as much volunteering.  I would like to think that other medical schools do the same, since many people do need to work during their undergrad, and there is only so much time to incorporate volunteering as well. All the best!

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Is volunteering viewed more positively than work by med school admissions? I don't have a lot of volunteering experience and this was mostly due to the fact that I was working around 20-25h per week while studying full time in undergrad. My father has very limited income and I had to work to pay for my tuition, food, help my dad with rent, and other expenses. Do you guys think I am at a disadvantage compared to people who didn't have to work and were able to volunteer more during school?

 

I really don't think you will have a disadvantage, but it may be school dependent.  Volunteering and work may be lumped into the same category during file review, as another poster mentioned.  Personally, as a file reviewer, I often found work commitments more impressive,  

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Interesting comment about work and volunteering being lumped together. Are they looking at hours then? That would seem pretty unfair then... You can easily work 40hrs per week but volunteering there is only so much you can do per week. ex: I volunteer at a hospital for 4 hours a week and it would take me over 3 years to get 600+ hours but if I work full time in the summer I easily get over 600 hours...

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Interesting comment about work and volunteering being lumped together. Are they looking at hours then? That would seem pretty unfair then... You can easily work 40hrs per week but volunteering there is only so much you can do per week. ex: I volunteer at a hospital for 4 hours a week and it would take me over 3 years to get 600+ hours but if I work full time in the summer I easily get over 600 hours...

 

Volunteer for 40 hrs per week then :) or work for 36 hours during the week on top of volunteering

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I believe you will be fine. I think the most important thing is to showcase your skills that you have demonstrated or gained during that work or volunteering experience. I had fewer work/volunteer experiences (hours and events) that many people I knew but was heavily involved with other ECs. OMSAS also allows you to put in hobbies and stuff in 'other'. 

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Is volunteering viewed more positively than work by med school admissions? I don't have a lot of volunteering experience and this was mostly due to the fact that I was working around 20-25h per week while studying full time in undergrad. My father has very limited income and I had to work to pay for my tuition, food, help my dad with rent, and other expenses. Do you guys think I am at a disadvantage compared to people who didn't have to work and were able to volunteer more during school?

 

I can't imagine admissions looking down on someone that needs to provide for themselves and others compared to those that volunteer. 

 

- G

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  • 2 weeks later...

I really don't think you will have a disadvantage, but it may be school dependent.  Volunteering and work may be lumped into the same category during file review, as another poster mentioned.  Personally, as a file reviewer, I often found work commitments more impressive,  

 

Really? I find it strange that you would think that too. I agree. I personally find it more impressive when someone works and goes to school full time when compared with someone that only has school and is maybe part of a dance/rock climbing/fencing club. To me, the former signifies that this person had to overcome more obstacles than the latter person, and is, therefore, more driven. The fencing team applicant tells me several things:

 

1. He/she is well off. Not rich, but summer jobs were always optional, rather than mandatory. Parents may have actually bought them their own car, or let them work and keep all of the money.

2. Not needing to work during school means overall less responsibility. Here, I would be less forgiving when it came to GPA.

3. Not able to relate to the common struggles of working class people.

4. An easy upbringing may have caused them to develop a sense of entitlement, which is typically coupled with..

5. An inflated sense of self worth. 

6. With no Job experience, will most likely need to learn to work with a team.

7. Poor conflict resolution.

8. Prone to pettiness as a result of lack of experience.

 

 

I could go on, but you get my point. 

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Really? I find it strange that you would think that. I personally find it more impressive when someone works and goes to school full time when compared with someone that only has school and is maybe part of a dance/rock climbing/fencing club. To me, the former signifies that this person had to overcome more obstacles than the latter person, and is, therefore, more driven. The fencing team applicant tells me several things:

 

1. He/she is well off. Not rich, but summer jobs were always optional, rather than mandatory. Parents may have actually bought them their own car, or let them work and keep all of the money.

2. Not needing to work during school means overall less responsibility. Here, I would be less forgiving when it came to GPA.

3. Not able to relate to the common struggles of working class people.

4. An easy upbringing may have caused them to develop a sense of entitlement, which is typically coupled with..

5. An inflated sense of self worth. 

6. With no Job experience, will most likely need to learn to work with a team.

7. Poor conflict resolution.

8. Prone to pettiness as a result of lack of experience.

 

 

I could go on, but you get my point. 

 

You're basing a lot of this on assumptions.

 

For example,

1) Someone who does not work during his undergraduate career could have been a premier Ugrad scholarship recipient.

2) High responsibility, conflict resolution, & teamwork are not exclusive to work-place environments....

 

3) More obstacles (?) -- this is also as assumption. You don't know what the other student could be struggling with.

 

 

Didn't know lack of experience results in pettiness. You should cite a source for this, if you want to use it as a point.

Also, you need to define "experience". Many students with high-economic status have had meaningful experiences as well.

 

Easy up-bringing? Not necessarily. An example: Growing up with the pressure to achieve (let's say because your parents have achieved great things ) is v. stressful as well.

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You're basing a lot of this on assumptions.

 

For example,

1) Someone who does not work during his undergraduate career could have been a premier Ugrad scholarship recipient.

2) High responsibility, conflict resolution, & teamwork are not exclusive to work-place environments....

 

3) More obstacles (?) -- this is also as assumption. You don't know what the other student could be struggling with.

 

 

Didn't know lack of experience results in pettiness. You should cite a source for this, if you want to use it as a point.

Also, you need to define "experience". Many students with high-economic status have had meaningful experiences as well.

 

Easy up-bringing? Not necessarily. An example: Growing up with the pressure to achieve (let's say because your parents have achieved great things ) is v. stressful as well.

 

 

Come on bro, you're just being deliberately ignorant now. We live in a highly stratified society. Everyone KNOWS that people from lower income backgrounds just have more obstacles to overcome. I'm not saying that people coming from higher income backgrounds are without their individual struggles, I'm just saying that being poor gives you that much more. The evidence supporting this phenomenon has reached critical mass. To deny that at this point is akin to denying climate science.

 

 

And either way, being a file reviewer means that you're going to be making a large swath of assumptions; many of which are supported by evidence. Being part of the entry level workforce, I've also experienced ALL of what I mentioned first hand.

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Bottomline:

 

-make the most of your current circumstances

-pursue whatever your interests are and excel in them to the best of your ability

-stop being so insecure about your application and filter out the noise

 

If you're a reasonably intelligent human being and have a shred of personality you can matriculate into a Canadian med school.

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Bottomline:

 

-make the most of your current circumstances

-pursue whatever your interests are and excel in them to the best of your ability

-stop being so insecure about your application and filter out the noise

 

If you're a reasonably intelligent human being and have a shred of personality you can matriculate into a Canadian med school.

WTF? What's reasonably intelligent? Majority of people don't get into med. And most people have a "shred of personality"...

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Come on bro, you're just being deliberately ignorant now. We live in a highly stratified society. Everyone KNOWS that people from lower income backgrounds just have more obstacles to overcome. I'm not saying that people coming from higher income backgrounds are without their individual struggles, I'm just saying that being poor gives you that much more. The evidence supporting this phenomenon has reached critical mass. To deny that at this point is akin to denying climate science.

 

 

And either way, being a file reviewer means that you're going to be making a large swath of assumptions; many of which are supported by evidence. Being part of the entry level workforce, I've also experienced ALL of what I mentioned first hand.

 

 

I think the thing of most importance to file reviewers is what skills you've showed/gained and CanMed attributes. I believe that is what they are trying to glean from your application. Have you displayed the ability to be organized, responsible, work in a team environment, be a leader etc. So getting back to the main thread I think having work/volunteer experience, volunteer trips to Ecuador or whatever it is, I think as long as you can display the traits they are looking for you will have a solid application! 

 

 

Ps in your previous posts, I would agree with pterygoid, in that it is unfair to categorize people who have little work experience in the way that you have. I would also note that making blanket statements about groups of people is not the best practice for MMIs! Try to think broadly about all the different reasons that people have had different experiences. For instance if you are getting into Med school at age 20 you may have only had 2 summer jobs or none at this point! And working is not the only way to gain team work or conflict resolutions skills. Perhaps sports or debate clubs? Just trying to give you some examples into the diversity of applicants :)  Also, your tone comes off a bit petty/bitter in your initial post and I am sure that is not your intention, but it has the effect of making you appear very one side, which I am also sure was not your intention

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WTF? What's reasonably intelligent? Majority of people don't get into med. And most people have a "shred of personality"...

 

The intent was not to be condescending but to emphasize the idea that you don't have to be a "perfect applicant" or live up to some sort of unattainable standard.

 

The bar is a lot lower than you think, once you've passed the "numbers" part of the application. Especially when you're on an online forum for a pre-med community that is often rather Type-A and neurotic, it's important to maintain perspective.

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I think the thing of most importance to file reviewers is what skills you've showed/gained and CanMed attributes. I believe that is what they are trying to glean from your application. Have you displayed the ability to be organized, responsible, work in a team environment, be a leader etc. So getting back to the main thread I think having work/volunteer experience, volunteer trips to Ecuador or whatever it is, I think as long as you can display the traits they are looking for you will have a solid application! 

 

 

Ps in your previous posts, I would agree with pterygoid, in that it is unfair to categorize people who have little work experience in the way that you have. I would also note that making blanket statements about groups of people is not the best practice for MMIs! Try to think broadly about all the different reasons that people have had different experiences. For instance if you are getting into Med school at age 20 you may have only had 2 summer jobs or none at this point! And working is not the only way to gain team work or conflict resolutions skills. Perhaps sports or debate clubs? Just trying to give you some examples into the diversity of applicants :)  Also, your tone comes off a bit petty/bitter in your initial post and I am sure that is not your intention, but it has the effect of making you appear very one side, which I am also sure was not your intention

 

 

Do you mean my first or my response to pterygoid?

 

If you mean my first response, I would have to disagree with you there.I simply agreed with Epona and listed reasons as to why I agreed with him/her.

 

 

If you mean my response to pterygoid, then consider this: a file reviewer only has so much information to go off of. Thus, if I were a file reviewer and I read that an applicant was part of a fencing team, travelled to volunteer/study abroad, and liked to rock climb as a hobby, to me, all of these activities point to privileges and opportunities of a child not from a working class family . From here, it wouldn't be too wrong to assume what I stated.

 

Lastly, tone is subjective. Petty/Bitter? I'm not, but even if I were I don't see how that undermines what I was saying.

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On 10/31/2016 at 10:51 PM, freewheeler said:

The intent was not to be condescending but to emphasize the idea that you don't have to be a "perfect applicant" or live up to some sort of unattainable standard.

 

The bar is a lot lower than you think, once you've passed the "numbers" part of the application. Especially when you're on an online forum for a pre-med community that is often rather Type-A and neurotic, it's important to maintain perspective.

 

-

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its extremely rude. Thousands of people get rejected every year, many "met the numbers" i.e. rejected people with 4.0's. So, I don'tsee how you think you need to be JUST reasonably intelligent. At my university, 15% of the science students are on the deans list for a semester..........(3.6)....now to have that for all entire years that brings the number down to 10%....3.6 doesn't really cut it out anywhere so being in the top 10% of science university students is not enough, compounded by needing high MCAT maybe 5% of science students make the "cut" numbers wise and thats failing to consider you need strong ECs to have a chance to even get interviewed....

 

I think freewheeler is talking about intelligence in a general sense, not strictly in academia. 

 

That said, I have to be honest when I say that even those with high GPAs... not all of them are "smart" ... I do think most can work hard or have the understanding to do well. Rather, I think those with high GPAs tend to work hard and not all are particularly intelligent. Similarly with the MCAT, it's more likely that someone can score high through hard work as opposed to an innate level of intelligence (although they aren't mutually exclusive). 

 

Anyways to not derail the thread, work vs volunteering is always a balancing act... if you need to work to make ends meet, you shouldn't be looked down upon compared to someone who has the flexibility to do volunteering. If one can do a mixture of both (the individual can decide on the proportion spent on each) that'd be helpful.

 

- G 

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