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Hi everyone!

 

I just finished my first year of engineering at uCalgary with a GPA  of 3.19. 

I am volunteering at the hospital, and working part-time as a cashier. Are my chances blown now for medical school anywhere in Canada? 

 

Also, do med schools look at your average GPA of all 4 years of undergrad or do they only look at the last two years? 

 

Thank you!

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It goes without saying that a good GPA goes a long way in medical school applications. So, in some ways, you are disadvantaged at schools that look at all years of your undergraduate degree. That being said, to answer your question, no, your chances are not blown. There are a variety of schools that have GPA weighing policies that may benefit you greatly, provided you do better in your next few years. I suggest doing your own research on each school in order to figure out which one you may have a shot at.

 

You need to be real with yourself. Medical school admission policies are becoming more and more strict as the applicant pool becomes more and more competitive. If you are seriously considering medical school, you need to really improve your performance. Engineering is not a joke. Changing programs may dramatically change your performance. Almost all Canadian medical schools do not assess the degree of difficulty of their applicants' programs. It is not to your benefit to remain in a difficult one. Cut your losses and move on. I understand that engineering is a very attractive plan B, but think of it like an optimisation problem; if you have too much going for your plan B, your plan A of medical school may suffer.

 

Your ECs are looking okay so far, but they need some work. Obviously, however, before your ECs are even assessed, your GPA is considered. You do not want to have good ECs and get screened out of applications because of a low GPA. Again, engineering is quite difficult -- if you were to switch to an easier program, you would have more time to work on them.

 

For reference, out of McMaster's currently roughly ~630 medical students, 6 hail from an engineering background. That's less than 1%. For engineers it is possible but improbable.

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No matter what undergrad you take you will need stellar grades to apply to Medicine. Many schools do have weighted wGPA formulas so all is "not lost".   Each school is different.   MAC may be the only one that uses full  cGPA (so it would be difficult now).

 

I would not give someone guidance to bail on Engineering after a first year of disappointing grades. Many people (in any program) have a rough start getting accustomed to a new world away from high-school.  I would rather suggest keep going and focus on GPA for the next few years. You can get the grades you need in engineering.    Engineering could also be a fabulous basis for Medicine base research.

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No matter what undergrad you take you will need stellar grades to apply to Medicine. Many schools do have weighted wGPA formulas so all is "not lost".   Each school is different.   MAC may be the only one that uses full  cGPA (so it would be difficult now).

 

I would not give someone guidance to bail on Engineering after a first year of disappointing grades. Many people (in any program) have a rough start getting accustomed to a new world away from high-school.  I would rather suggest keep going and focus on GPA for the next few years. You can get the grades you need in engineering.    Engineering could also be a fabulous basis for Medicine base research.

Thank you for the response! I will be working really hard on my GPA now and I do not want to leave engineering for an easier degree. Most shools I am trying to get into have the wGPA you mentioned so I am hopeful! 

 

Thanks once again

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It goes without saying that a good GPA goes a long way in medical school applications. So, in some ways, you are disadvantaged at schools that look at all years of your undergraduate degree. That being said, to answer your question, no, your chances are not blown. There are a variety of schools that have GPA weighing policies that may benefit you greatly, provided you do better in your next few years. I suggest doing your own research on each school in order to figure out which one you may have a shot at.

 

You need to be real with yourself. Medical school admission policies are becoming more and more strict as the applicant pool becomes more and more competitive. If you are seriously considering medical school, you need to really improve your performance. Engineering is not a joke. Changing programs may dramatically change your performance. Almost all Canadian medical schools do not assess the degree of difficulty of their applicants' programs. It is not to your benefit to remain in a difficult one. Cut your losses and move on. I understand that engineering is a very attractive plan B, but think of it like an optimisation problem; if you have too much going for your plan B, your plan A of medical school may suffer.

 

Your ECs are looking okay so far, but they need some work. Obviously, however, before your ECs are even assessed, your GPA is considered. You do not want to have good ECs and get screened out of applications because of a low GPA. Again, engineering is quite difficult -- if you were to switch to an easier program, you would have more time to work on them.

 

For reference, out of McMaster's currently roughly ~630 medical students, 6 hail from an engineering background. That's less than 1%. For engineers it is possible but improbable.

Thank you for the detailed response! 

You have given me lots of useful insight, and I know my ECs need some working on. Any recommendations on how to do so? 

 

I am hoping that my wGPA remains strong and that  my chances still remain intact! Thank you once again!!

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Thank you for the detailed response! 

You have given me lots of useful insight, and I know my ECs need some working on. Any recommendations on how to do so? 

 

I am hoping that my wGPA remains strong and that  my chances still remain intact! Thank you once again!!

No problem at all. Thank you for being courteous.

 

My original post was targeted towards someone who absolutely just wants to get into medical school and nothing else. If you choose to stay in engineering, that is your choice. But, once again, you are going to have to work harder than most in order to achieve a reasonable GPA. If you are to do so however, it would be all the more impressive, and I think that your engineering background would set you up for tremendous research opportunities in biomedical engineering. 

 

In terms of your ECs, they are good for someone who just finished first year. Use you summers to your advantage by building your CV/resume. Do things that you enjoy. Work on yourself as a person. Continue volunteering and working part time throughout the term. Perhaps join a club or two with minimal time commitments that also look good on paper. Get a leadership position in your degree's student society.

 

Perhaps in one of your summers, if possible, get a job in research. That way, if the topic does come up in an interview or essay, you'll be able to spin your engineering background with your research experience. If working as an undergraduate summer student at your institution is very difficult, at least try to volunteer. I think that it is widely known that engineering is difficult, so if you have the opportunity to bring it up and talk about it in your applications, I think it will really work out to your benefit.

 

ECs in medical school applicants aren't exactly an exact science -- mileage may vary among applications. Do things that you enjoy and do not wait for opportunities to come to you. Make your own luck.

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No problem at all. Thank you for being courteous.

 

My original post was targeted towards someone who absolutely just wants to get into medical school and nothing else. If you choose to stay in engineering, that is your choice. But, once again, you are going to have to work harder than most in order to achieve a reasonable GPA. If you are to do so however, it would be all the more impressive, and I think that your engineering background would set you up for tremendous research opportunities in biomedical engineering. 

 

In terms of your ECs, they are good for someone who just finished first year. Use you summers to your advantage by building your CV/resume. Do things that you enjoy. Work on yourself as a person. Continue volunteering and working part time throughout the term. Perhaps join a club or two with minimal time commitments that also look good on paper. Get a leadership position in your degree's student society.

 

Perhaps in one of your summers, if possible, get a job in research. That way, if the topic does come up in an interview or essay, you'll be able to spin your engineering background with your research experience. If working as an undergraduate summer student at your institution is very difficult, at least try to volunteer. I think that it is widely known that engineering is difficult, so if you have the opportunity to bring it up and talk about it in your applications, I think it will really work out to your benefit.

 

ECs in medical school applicants aren't exactly an exact science -- mileage may vary among applications. Do things that you enjoy and do not wait for opportunities to come to you. Make your own luck.

You are fantastic! Thank you for your properly outlined responses! 

I definitely realize that my mindset of being in two boats at the same time will hurt my prospects for med school in the future. But I want to continue with engineering and really push myself. Because i enjoy it!

As far as my ECs go, I know that being as active as possible will only help my chances, so yes I will be looking for leadership positions in my faculty and for the summer I will try to get a research position. Thank you for laying it out so neatly for me. 

 

I know that the next 3 ish years will require my absolute indefinite commitment, and I am seriously looking forward to it! 

 

Much appreciated, Thank you once again!

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Organize, you mentioned that med schools don't evaluate the difficulty of the program. So it goes the same for courses taken in each undergraduate years? I asked this because I only need some exact credits for sciences and to be full-time next year I need more courses. I'm planning to take those I'm interested in. Will those courses hurt my med app? lol thanks for the response!

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Organize, you mentioned that med schools don't evaluate the difficulty of the program. So it goes the same for courses taken in each undergraduate years? I asked this because I only need some exact credits for sciences and to be full-time next year I need more courses. I'm planning to take those I'm interested in. Will those courses hurt my med app? lol thanks for the response!

Yes, generally it doesn't matter what courses you're taking. The one exception I can think of from the top of my head is Toronto, where if you apply after 2nd year, the majority of your 3rd year must consist of upper level courses.

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Organize, you mentioned that med schools don't evaluate the difficulty of the program. So it goes the same for courses taken in each undergraduate years? I asked this because I only need some exact credits for sciences and to be full-time next year I need more courses. I'm planning to take those I'm interested in. Will those courses hurt my med app? lol thanks for the response!

A lot of med schools say that they evaluate how your transcript demonstrates an "ability to handle the rigorous workload of medicine" or something to that effect (I'm most familiar with UBC and marginally familiar with Alberta and Ontario schools).

That being said I think it would be totally fine to take non-science courses to become full time. I think the real red-flags are taking multiple part-time semesters with no justification or taking lots of 1st/2nd year courses during your 3rd/4th year of studies. 

 

Thank you for the detailed response! 

You have given me lots of useful insight, and I know my ECs need some working on. Any recommendations on how to do so? 

 

I am hoping that my wGPA remains strong and that  my chances still remain intact! Thank you once again!!

My biggest advice is to do ECs you love - then they don't feel like work! For example, I volunteered at an animal shelter throughout undergrad because it was something I loved and a great stress reliever. I've heard of other people organizing and leading easy hikes for new immigrants to introduce them to the Canadian wilderness. 

 

Lots of things to do that combine something you love with a valuable EC. As a pre-med, your time is definitely limited so it's always nice to combine volunteer activities with physical activity/self-care to maximize the hours in the day. Alternatively, I also did some volunteer work where I was able to take the 5am-9am shift and while it wasn't pleasant waking up at 4:15am, it saved me so much time during the rest of the week which I was able to use to study. 

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