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1 hour ago, samc5 said:

What year are you in now? Was it just the first year with the low GPA? 

First year with low gpa. I had a 1.7, 1.6 respectively. Summer between 1 and 2 I had 3.7. First semester of second year I had a 3.8. Now I'm in the second semester of my second year.

I know a lot of schools have the top two years/top two best years thing but I guess just having a low cumulative GPA makes me really anxious :( I'll still work hard though! Just makes me sad when prof asks 'who wants to go to med school' and 1200 kids raise their hands and to know that I'm probably in the bottom 10%... sigh

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Sounds like you have lots of questions/things to think about!

First of all, don't worry about your low GPA in first year. Most medical schools calculate a weighted GPA which they use for admissions. For example, Western only looks at the GPA in your best two years, U of T drops a number of your worst courses, etc. Have a look at the websites for the schools you might be interested in and see how they calculate your GPA. Just work hard and do as well as you can in your remaining years and you likely won't need to do a fifth year! If it makes you feel better, my cGPA for 5 years of undergrad is only 3.69 but because of weighted GPAs, I was still able to get into medical school! 

As for ECs, you don't NEED to have research experience to get into medical school so if you can't find a position or professor who you like/whose work you find interesting, don't worry about it. What's important is spending your time doing ECs that interest you and that will give you meaningful experiences. If you are set on getting some research experience though, I wouldn't worry about not understanding the papers completely. The professors will understand that you're only in second year and not expect you to understand everything right away. It's more important that you be interested in their research if you want to volunteer in their lab. I would just look for a couple of professors who are doing research that interests you and ask them (either via email or drop by their office if they have office hours) if they would take you on as a volunteer. You'll learn all you need to know on the job.

It's also okay if the ECs on your application are not ones you've been doing since high school. I think 3-4 ECs (could be sports, volunteering, exec positions, research, work experience, etc., whatever interests you) that you'd have done for at least 1-2 years (though the longer the better) each at the time of your application is generally plenty. However, what is considered competitive with respect to ECs does vary by school (as some weigh them more heavily than others, while some don't even look at them at all, for example Western) so again, take a look at the schools that you would be interested in applying to and see if they value ECs more or less. 

With regards to what path you should take with schooling, take some time to think about what your CURRENT dream is and then decide which path will help you get there. Do you still really want to be a doctor? Or do you think your current dream is to go into cancer research? 

I also agree with @mkd, don't compare yourself to others! Your journey is your journey alone and not everyone's path looks the same. The most important things to do are take care of yourself, decide what you want, figure out how best to get there, and then do your best to work towards that!

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"So now I'm wondering if I should do a fifth year (if my grades continue to be good), do a second undergrad and just forget about my current degree, or do a fifth year and a masters (if I can find a supervisor) to achieve my first dream."

Even if you are going to do a 2nd degree, you can't just "forget about my current degree" - many schools look at your cumulative performance regardless, especially UBC - your IP school. If you are taking classes and paying good money, you should be aiming to do well in them.

 

Focus on doing as well as possible now for the remainder of your degree, and then 100% do a 5th year.  Not only for academic part, but more time in the undergrad environment to build ECs.

As far as UBC is concerned, you are still in the running 100% as long as you keep your GPA up for years 2-5, and use extra time of the 5th year to build up strong non-academics.

Youre only in Year 2(if i read that right), you don't need to be worrying about all of this purely right now. The only thing you need to focus on is getting good grades in Year 2, Year 3, and then once those are under your belt, figuring out non-academics and MCAT and then completing year 4 and 5. Getting into med school isn't a race, and with your past history  that you've struggled with.. you need to set yourself up for success.

Theres nothing wrong with transferring from UofT to another university btw, if you attribute some of your struggle with that. Sounds like Vancouver is your home, you could always look into transferring to UBC/SFU for example. Or another local ontario school.  

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To really second what @trj03 said, research is a constant learning experience, and most professors will not expect you to know very much when you get started. I know from experience that many master’s students realize that they barely know anything when they start! And even once you have research experience, starting in a new field or lab doing a different kind of research from what you did before often means learning a lot of things from the beginning. So most professors will expect to train new students in their labs, and they often have methods for doing this (such as having you work with other students or post docs with more experience). Some things you’ll also likely learn naturally as you progress through your degree, and some things, like stats (which not everyone takes in their degree), you might choose to take a course in later on if you decide it will be helpful to what you’re doing. The main thing is just to find experiences you’re interested in and enjoy spending time on, so that you’re setting yourself up to do well.

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4 hours ago, trj03 said:

Sounds like you have lots of questions/things to think about!

Now, I'm not sure if this is a dumb idea but I guess the reason why I'm so anxious is because I want to be available for the majority of medical schools in Canada. I've visited the ones in B.C/Ontario/Alberta and will check out more in coming years (because I find going in person to be the best way to know where I fit in). The thing is, if I was going to apply to a school which doesn't require EC's, I'd rather spend 100% of my time on my grades, rather than half/half (granted, I like my EC's since they either involve leadership/commitment or volunteer projects abroad), but because most schools look at grades/MCATs/EC's, I've split my time for all three.

And about the research part--that's really reassuring to know! I'm guessing that the ones we read in class have been specifically picked for our current knowledge, because I have no problem understanding them and extrapolating data from all the statistics given, but the minute I open an article by a professor/researcher, I feel like I've gotten sucker-punched by all these random words and numbers. I'm a really, REALLY trainable person though (from past experiences) so if a professor is willing to teach me the required things, I'll learn quickly. But I guess I doubt myself in that if I was a professor, I'd want a student who understands the basics from the start rather than wasting time trying to train someone who didn't do as well in basic science courses...

For EC's, is longer the better really true? As much as I love all four of my clubs this year, I did want to move on to more hospital volunteer/research-based volunteer positions for next year. There is one club I'm considering because I was nominated to be president but even that was something I wasn't sure of...

Finally, I'm 100% sure I'd rather be a doctor than a researcher, but if it's beneficial, I definitely have the interest and the drive to do it, especially since becoming an oncologist has been a lifelong dream of mine, and being able to work in a lab that's related to cancer would be really cool. But ideally, I'd want to volunteer at a cancer-based research lab first :P

4 hours ago, JohnGrisham said:

Even if you are going to do a 2nd degree, you can't just "forget about my current degree" - many schools look at your cumulative performance regardless, especially UBC - your IP school. If you are taking classes and paying good money, you should be aiming to do well in them.

Oh that was just a toss-away line... I'd never just 'forget about my current degree' aha;; I love my majors too much. I meant more of 'instead of taking a fifth year to have a better grasp of the two majors, I should just graduate in four and start my UG experience all over again'.

I know I barely explained what my EC's were, but would you say that I'm lacking in an aspect? I definitely won't be able to continue all four clubs next year, but I did get nominated to be president for two of them. I'm thinking of just taking one though because I'll be volunteering as well next year and I really don't want to overstretch--but I also don't want it to seem like I just did them to fluff up my application. I revamped every club I was part of this year (except for one which I joined due to my stargazing hobby) and made sure they were all able to impact the community around them.

I know it's a marathon and again, I wouldn't mind spending another decade of studying, but I do want to go down the most optimal path, as anyone else would. While I am worried about the things that I'm struggling with, I've also been able to learn a lot of coping strategies and how to be persistent when things don't look very good.

And while UofT is difficult, I've felt that my time here has been well worth it, and I've never regretted coming here (though I can definitely see why it's called 'UofTears'). UBC/SFU are great, don't get me wrong, but I've learned a lot of great things here.

3 hours ago, frenchpress said:

To really second what @trj03 said, research is a constant learning experience, and most professors will not expect you to know very much when you get started. I know from experience that many master’s students realize that they barely know anything when they start! And even once you have research experience, starting in a new field or lab doing a different kind of research from what you did before often means learning a lot of things from the beginning. So most professors will expect to train new students in their labs, and they often have methods for doing this (such as having you work with other students or post docs with more experience). Some things you’ll also likely learn naturally as you progress through your degree, and some things, like stats (which not everyone takes in their degree), you might choose to take a course in later on if you decide it will be helpful to what you’re doing. The main thing is just to find experiences you’re interested in and enjoy spending time on, so that you’re setting yourself up to do well.

Thank you! And long shot, but would you know of any volunteer-like things that someone like me could do? I've heard that offering to wash 'dishes' and data-entry are pretty common, but I also don't know if there are other things I may be missing out on. I planted seeds for a lab once, but I don't think that really counts as experience, since it was only a one-time thing;;

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27 minutes ago, feway said:

Thank you! And long shot, but would you know of any volunteer-like things that someone like me could do? I've heard that offering to wash 'dishes' and data-entry are pretty common, but I also don't know if there are other things I may be missing out on. I planted seeds for a lab once, but I don't think that really counts as experience, since it was only a one-time thing;;

The best way to find out what sorts of opportunities are out there is to directly ask professors what sorts of opportunities they have. I wouldn't go in and assume they need someone to do a particular type of task, nor that the only kinds of things you're qualified to do are wash dishes.  One place to start is with professors whose classes you are currently taking and who do things you think you might be interested in. If you go to their office hours so that they get to know you a little, and you do well in their class, they're much more likely to give you a shot if you later ask to volunteer in their lab. Depending on the research area, professors might also have certain classes in mind that they will have expected students who work with them to have completed, which they would tell you about if you asked them. And even if they don't have volunteer opportunities, they may have a colleague who does.

Sure, some professors can be jerks about that sort of thing. But you might be surprised just how many instructors are happy to talk to students interested in their area of research about how to get involved... especially when they're teaching (relatively) smaller courses and they mostly just sit around in office hours because no one ever shows up to ask any questions about course content until exam week.

I am not sure what type of research you're considering, and if you're mostly thinking about biological/health sciences and wet lab work. But if you're taking classes in other subject areas you find interesting (like physics, psychology, computer science, stats, etc)., you might find that there are lots of meaningful research opportunities in those areas as well.

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14 hours ago, feway said:

Now, I'm not sure if this is a dumb idea but I guess the reason why I'm so anxious is because I want to be available for the majority of medical schools in Canada. I've visited the ones in B.C/Ontario/Alberta and will check out more in coming years (because I find going in person to be the best way to know where I fit in). The thing is, if I was going to apply to a school which doesn't require EC's, I'd rather spend 100% of my time on my grades, rather than half/half (granted, I like my EC's since they either involve leadership/commitment or volunteer projects abroad), but because most schools look at grades/MCATs/EC's, I've split my time for all three.

And about the research part--that's really reassuring to know! I'm guessing that the ones we read in class have been specifically picked for our current knowledge, because I have no problem understanding them and extrapolating data from all the statistics given, but the minute I open an article by a professor/researcher, I feel like I've gotten sucker-punched by all these random words and numbers. I'm a really, REALLY trainable person though (from past experiences) so if a professor is willing to teach me the required things, I'll learn quickly. But I guess I doubt myself in that if I was a professor, I'd want a student who understands the basics from the start rather than wasting time trying to train someone who didn't do as well in basic science courses...

For EC's, is longer the better really true? As much as I love all four of my clubs this year, I did want to move on to more hospital volunteer/research-based volunteer positions for next year. There is one club I'm considering because I was nominated to be president but even that was something I wasn't sure of...

Finally, I'm 100% sure I'd rather be a doctor than a researcher, but if it's beneficial, I definitely have the interest and the drive to do it, especially since becoming an oncologist has been a lifelong dream of mine, and being able to work in a lab that's related to cancer would be really cool. But ideally, I'd want to volunteer at a cancer-based research lab first :P

If you want to be competitive for several schools across Canada then definitely split your time between grades and ECs but just be careful not to overwork yourself! You don't need to aim for a 4.0 GPA each year + a ton of long-term ECs, that is just not realistic for many people and looking after your mental health is very important. I would say aim for at least a 3.8 each year going forward (but don't stress too much if for some reason that doesn't happen, you can always do the fifth year to make up for it) and pick just a few ECs that really interest you to do long-term. I think that longer really is better when it comes to ECs because it shows commitment. Three ECs with several hours/done for 2+ years each looks better than 6 ECs that were done for like 6 months each. 

If you're interested in that club, then definitely go for the presidency! That + a long-term volunteer hospital or research position + just being a member of a couple of clubs that you enjoy is a really good start. 

If you're 100% sure that you'd want to be a doctor then absolutely follow that dream. The path is rough but that dream is definitely attainable if you are willing to work hard and be determined. Remember that for MANY people the path is also not linear - there are tons of people who don't get into medical school straight out of undergrad. It's not at all uncommon for people to have to do 5th or 6th years to up their grades and ECs, to write the MCAT more than once, to do masters degrees or PhDs or work for a few years before getting in, etc. Which is not to say that it's impossible to get in right out of undergrad without doing any of that stuff but just that it's okay if your path is winding. I personally didn't even realize that I wanted to go to medical school until I was in grad school, at which point I had a 3.69 cGPA and had done literally no ECs so I thought it might have been too late for me. It took lots of work and a couple of tries but, here I am! :) 

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On 2018-01-26 at 1:50 PM, AccioMD said:

If you want to be competitive for several schools across Canada then definitely split your time between grades and ECs but just be careful not to overwork yourself! You don't need to aim for a 4.0 GPA each year + a ton of long-term ECs, that is just not realistic for many people and looking after your mental health is very important. I would say aim for at least a 3.8 each year going forward (but don't stress too much if for some reason that doesn't happen, you can always do the fifth year to make up for it) and pick just a few ECs that really interest you to do long-term. I think that longer really is better when it comes to ECs because it shows commitment. Three ECs with several hours/done for 2+ years each looks better than 6 ECs that were done for like 6 months each. 

If you're interested in that club, then definitely go for the presidency! That + a long-term volunteer hospital or research position + just being a member of a couple of clubs that you enjoy is a really good start. 

If you're 100% sure that you'd want to be a doctor then absolutely follow that dream. The path is rough but that dream is definitely attainable if you are willing to work hard and be determined. Remember that for MANY people the path is also not linear - there are tons of people who don't get into medical school straight out of undergrad. It's not at all uncommon for people to have to do 5th or 6th years to up their grades and ECs, to write the MCAT more than once, to do masters degrees or PhDs or work for a few years before getting in, etc. Which is not to say that it's impossible to get in right out of undergrad without doing any of that stuff but just that it's okay if your path is winding. I personally didn't even realize that I wanted to go to medical school until I was in grad school, at which point I had a 3.69 cGPA and had done literally no ECs so I thought it might have been too late for me. It took lots of work and a couple of tries but, here I am! :) 

Thank you for your insight! I guess I'm just desperate for some 4.0's because my first year GPA will pull down my cGPA by a significant amount, whether or not a school uses a different weighed system.

I currently have around 16 things I can put on my application that I've done since I was 16, but it is a 'new cycle' since I had to quit everything I did as I moved to a different province. I'm hoping to at least get a few more research/volunteer positions squeezed in, as well as one or two more awards from the sports that I used to play--but it's also been a struggle since no one wants to give me a chance, due to my low cGPA (another reason why I'm desperate to pull it up).

And thanks a lot for your words of encouragement! I often have people tell me 'I have a feeling you won't get into med school right after four years of UG, but I think you'll make it eventually'. I just have to focus on staying on top of my stuff and not get derailed;;

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