10+ Year Member
Nov 19, 2007
Ontario, Canada
I am a second year student at a Canadian university studying Environmental Science. GPA = 3.98+. Haven't written MCAT and won't until summer after third year, but plan to devote four full months to it and I am teaching myself orgo and re-teaching myself physics this summer.

On the academic front, I think I am above average. Obviously, without an MCAT score, this is preliminary speculation. My huge problem is extracurriculars. I am so embarrassed by my lack of involvement, but it is due to the following:

a) I am shy. I especially hate interviewing (yes, I already know, very important and something I am addressing)

b) I have a long term boyfriend (5+ years) who is a big sap on my time for building the EC component of my application. I also have 2 dogs which means that I can't stay at school from 8AM to 10 PM straight

c) I don't have money. I have a lot of interests that I would love to pursue as hobbies, such as drawing or learning tango, but they all cost money that I don't have.

d) I don't have leadership experience from high school. I switched schools in Grade 11 and had a hard time getting into the *very* small extracurricular scene. Most positions were teacher-appointed. I also had to maintain a >95% average in order to get an entrance scholarship I really needed, and I worked 20+ hours a week.

e) I applied to a lot of leadership positions and joined a lot of clubs in my first year. I was flat out rejected from all of them due to my lack of leadership experience. (see above).

So that sums up the problems I face when trying to improve this component.

ECs so far:

- in high school: tutored three students for free, peer mentor

- in university:
*member of a few clubs, not really involved
*completed first level of a leadership program at my school (an attempt to make up for (d) )
*attended a co-curricular seminar series for student leaders designed to educate them on current issues (not sure if this is an EC, but one module was on Health Care ethics, another on Mental Health issues, etc)
*I volunteer about 6 hours a week in an ecology and evolution lab, and I will be spending my summer doing field work on a grant (NSERC) with this lab; this has been since January

like I said, it is really abyssmal.

- Hospital volunteering may be out of the question due to the huge wait list and the year long commitment (I go home in the summer)
- I have been looking instead at Hospice groups/AIDS clinics/Public Health groups
- In Canada, so no free clinics
- will likely shadow at least two doctors this summer (GPs, one with a geriatric focus), hopefully more next year
- applied for a position as a student advocate for off-campus housing - I have interviewed but don't know if I have been chosen or not; if chosen, this position pays (so money for other activities) and involves a great deal of leadership
- 90% sure I will become involved in toastmasters, to help deal with my shyness and trouble public speaking (and interviews!!)
- will be applying for a position with the undergraduate science research journal, but I am not sure if I am qualified
- was thinking about tutoring dyslexic children as I have tutored in the past (shows continuity), enjoyed it, and I am sensitive to the needs of dyslexics
- I submitted several essays I wrote in the humanities to an undergraduate humanities journal; I am hopeful at least one will be selected and published
- will be taking tango lessons as a hobby, maybe eventually compete in 6 months to a year?

I am really open to any suggestions of meaningful ECs that are not huge time sinks. I have a lot of hobbies (classic literature, hiking, photography) that I enjoy doing, but because they are not organized or verifiable, they are essentially worthless for this process. I am really focused on academics and would hate for my GPA to drop more than 0.01. It also needs to remain high for me to maintain my scholarship each year.

I am also worried about overloading on ECs and burning out, or the sudden spike looking suspicious to adcoms.

You can be brutally honest. I will be the first person to tell you that I have let my shyness/constraints put my chances in jeopardy. Also, I am only going to apply to medical schools in Ontario, so if Canadian med school hopefuls could provide specific, directed advice, it would be greatly appreciated.

I know I can turn this around, but how much will I need to do to show that I truly have the skills and qualities necessary to be a good physician?

This question is both for the short term (the three weeks I am home after the field research at the end of August) and long term, over the next 2 years.
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I wish I were a dentist
7+ Year Member
Jan 22, 2010
The "Garden" State
Resident [Any Field]
I didn't know Canadians were so screwed.


10+ Year Member
Nov 19, 2007
Ontario, Canada
I'm not sure I understand what you mean.

A lot of the things I mentioned are tentative, and even with everything I mentioned working out, I would still be sub-par.

I was under the impression that just due to sheer volume of applicants for only 7 medical schools in the province, that it is statistically harder to get an acceptance to a Canadian medical school.

For example, the one school I am applying to (which is mid-pack in terms of competitiveness) has a GPA cut-off of 3.7 (3.8/3.9+ competitive) and MCAT cutoffs of BS10, PS9, VR11, P, with an overall MCAT required to be greater than 30. 2263 applicants for 171 spots is an acceptance rate of ~7%.