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Poor Grades in Canada

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by The Old Astronomer, Aug 19, 2015.

  1. The Old Astronomer

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    I'm a Canadian student entering my fifth and final year of undergraduate study. I've changed majors once throughout my undergrad and have spent the last two years taking four courses a semester as opposed to five. I've recently decided to pursue med school, for reasons. I had a GPA of 2.3 in my first year, however I've been on an upward trend from there, getting a 3.9 GPA last year. I'm currently sitting at a GPA of 3.2 overall, however I'll be finished school at the end of Fall. Because I don't feel like I'm adequately prepared or financially ready to handle this years cycle, I'm waiting it out and taking a year off from my studies.

    Before lurking on this website I've never heard of anything like a postbac or an SMP program before and I was wondering what other Canadian students have done to increase their chances of getting into medical school with a low GPA. Because I enjoy research, I've contemplated attending graduate school, but realistically do I even stand a chance?
     
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  3. futuremdforme

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    I would try premed101 if you want to go to school in Canada. If you're going to apply in the US, just consider that it's hard as an international, and you better be able to get a very, very good MCAT plus very good postbacc/SMP.
     
  4. TheShowGoesOn

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    Canadian to US med school has been done and is pretty common. I encourage you to use the search function on this site, there should be multiple threads for you to read. My suggestion to you right now would be get your degree and re-take courses you have scored less than a B in. After re-taking/taking courses to boost your GPA (essentially a DIY post-bacc) to at least 3.5 for MD schools make sure to study hard and get 510+ MCAT score. Volunteering and ECs are also very important and shouldn't be overlooked.
     
  5. MSclerosis

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    Keep in mind that a lot of the post-bacc programs require US citizenship.

    Also, it will be difficult for you to apply for US schools as an international applicant. You will need a ridiculous MCAT score, like 516+.

    I think you have better chances in Canada to be honest, because many schools have weighting formulas that help applicants who struggled in years 1 and 2.
     
  6. NewHorizons

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    If you only screwed one year assuming you've been full time you can usually have one year omitted from the calculations.

    If you screw two years that's what the fifth year repair is supposed to help with.

    Some schools only look at your most recent 2YGPA like Queens.

    Other schools weigh your recent years more (can't remember exactly which schools)

    Since Canada has nothing related to a post-bacc program nor SMP, the alternative is a course-based masters or to do an after-degree program for two years. Graduate schools years are weighed differently depending on the school.

    Regardless of your grade, you have to kill the MCAT. Average MCAT grades last year hovers around 33 for in-province and 36 for out-of-province to be more competitive. Right now, even with a 520 your GPA is simply too low and will get you screened out everywhere.

    These problems won't disappear for you since Canadians applying to US schools are difficult, albeit a common alternative. That said, many successful candidates coming from Canada were already competitive applicants gunning for top schools in the US. As an average/below average applicant your chances are worse off.

    You'll need to repair your GPA to at least 3.8 with the weighting criteria to have a decent chance.
     
  7. The Old Astronomer

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    Thanks. I have no interest in going to the US, or any other country, for school. My partner is reluctant enough to move across Canada. I was wondering if we have any such program in Canada.

    @TheShowGoesOn, I've been told that they look down on people who have retaken courses, and haven't taken a full five course load. Most of the courses that I've done poorly in are intro classes, a lot of them I have gone on to tutor and TA and am incredibly familiar with the profs. I'm willing to do it if it means boosting my GPA, though. I am struggling financially and my academic adviser has been worse than useless. Right now I'm trying to focus on not getting screened out of the process.
     
  8. futuremdforme

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    It's hard to do GPA repair in Canada. That's why more Canadians with 30+ MCATs end up in the Caribbean and Ireland compared to the US, where a 30 and a 3.5 is great.

    I would look into each school to see what the requirements are and how they consider GPA. You can also find previous GPA cut-offs based off of premed101 forums and some are published. Realistically, with a 3.2, you have a very small chance of med school in Canada.

    At a Canadian interview, an interviewee told me that he was in his second round of applications because he had a low GPA. I asked him what it was, and it was 3.8...
     
    AfricanIndian likes this.
  9. The Old Astronomer

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    I have heard of people moving OOP to become a resident, and then applying to schools within that province.
    I know I could have done so much better if it weren't for my first two years.
    I have had a friend get in with a 3.6 at the school in my province.
    Retaking those intro classes would leave me with a 3.6...

    School in Ireland sounds better and better.
     
  10. heebeejeebies

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    Sorry to say that as far as Canadian schools are concerned, a 3.2 won't pass any screens.

    I'd need more info to help you out, GPA breakdown by year, province of residence etc.

    But unless you qualify for the aGPA/best 2 years etc. and that pushes you into 3.8+ the only recourse may be a second undergrad.
     
  11. The Old Astronomer

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    My year by year GPA is as follows:
    Year 1: 2.3
    Year 2: 3.3
    Year 3: 3.3
    Year 4: 3.9

    I reside in Nova Scotia.
    I made a lot of stupid mistakes in my first year and ended up with Cs and a D in classes that I could have easily gotten As in.
    We also had a bus strike that year. Having no car and living on the other side of Halifax, it was a 2 hour walk one way to my school in some pretty nasty weather.

    I even failed stats that year, but I've already retaken it.
     
    heebeejeebies likes this.
  12. heebeejeebies

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    You have a 3.6 at Dal. Apply to Dal and MUN. You're IP, you're a little lower than the average matriculant ~3.75, BUT score 32+ on the MCAT and you're okay.

    Hopefully you've already started your Dal app.
     
  13. The Old Astronomer

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    What do you mean by IP?
    My original plan this summer was to take the MCAT, I reconsidered and decided to wait this cycle out.
    I'm not in a good place financially, and I think I need to get my **** together first.
    I feel like I've got no idea what I'm doing, and no direction.

    Does Dal actually discount your first two years when taking into account your GPA overall?
    How would they take into account my final year, seeing as I'm only doing 4 courses in the Fall?
    Do you still think it'd be a good idea to retake those first year courses I've gotten bad grades in?
    I know Dal doesn't look favourably on students who haven't taken 5 classes a semester (regardless the circumstances).
    MUN might be more forgiving, but I don't think they hold seats for residents of NS, only NB and PEI (and NFLD obviously).

    Switching majors from Psychology to Biology really threw off my schedule.
    I started my degree in the winter and had no prereqs for any of the classes being offered.
    From there on I have semesters where I've taken 4 classes, and semesters where I have taken 5.
    There've been times where the classes I've needed weren't being offered until the following year and it's been an utter **** show.
    I'm afraid they won't even take a look at me, not to mention that it's taking this long for me to finish my undergrad.

    Dal and MUN are the two schools I'm most interested in.
    I'd really like to stay in Atlantic Canada but if travelling elsewhere is what I need to do to succeed, I'll do it.
     
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  14. heebeejeebies

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    IP is in-province, Dal's minimum for IP students is 3.3, so you'd make the cut, but you'd need some ridiculous MCAT scores and extracurriculars to float through. The academic portion is graded out of 25 based on GPA/MCAT, and that's 25% of your application score.

    So Dal gives you all sorts of options in choosing GPA, 2 best consecutive is allowed, but yeah they need to be full courseload.

    Don't retake courses, I don't think Dal does grade replacement, if you can add a 5th year to your degree that might be helpful.

    Aim for full courseloads and keeping the GPA up there, reassess next year, but those are the 2 things that will keep you afloat. Unless you're willing to go for a 2nd undergrad.
     
  15. NewHorizons

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    He could also consider Memorial University though I'm not sure if they have a different GPA calculation.
     
  16. The Old Astronomer

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    I can't financially afford five classes, I can only afford 4.
    And I have no need to take winter courses.
    I feel confident that I can keep my grades high.

    I'm afraid of doing a second undergraduate degree only to come out of it more in debt with nothing to show for it.
    I'd like to do more chemistry and physics - chemistry is something I'm genuinely interested in.
    I love pure sciences.

    Dal offers a 2 year medical lab tech course, and they also offer a 4 year nuclear medicine tech course.
    I'm wondering if such programs would help my chances, because at least they'd offer me something to fall back on in terms of work.
     
  17. MSclerosis

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    You could consider learning French, and may be apply to schools like Ottawa that weight final years more, or may be Quebec.

    As for second degree options, have you considered MRI/ultrasound/radiation therapy/x-ray tech as an option? They are usually 4 year programs with lots of clinical experience built-in. Alternately, nursing might be solid too.

    The other alternative would be to take out loans and try the international route. It would be the quickest, but it's risky (and expensive).

    I still think you should try your chances in Canada this year.
     
  18. The Old Astronomer

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    I have studied French independently for several years.
    It has been suggested to me before by advisors to attend a French university.
    I don't see how I would have a better chance at a French school as opposed to Dal or MUN, unless they're willing to overlook my light course load and low GPA.

    I know an MCAT isn't required (no French equivalent) but that doesn't necessarily mean it'd be easier to get accepted.

    I have considered doing nuclear med tech - it sounds pretty neat.
    I know I was wary about doing another bachelor's degree due to more debt/having nothing to fall back on when I get out.
    What do you think about me doing a second BSc in chemistry? I already have a minor + electives in chemistry.
    Or would I be wasting my time?
     
  19. NewHorizons

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    As an aside, I saw your post on premed101 today =D. Good luck man.
     
  20. futuremdforme

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    I think it is easier to get accepted. The problem is the vast amount of competition, and I think it's less for the French schools.
    https://www.afmc.ca/pdf/2013_ad_bk.pdf
     
  21. NotASerialKiller

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    I'm assuming you mean it's hard to repair your GPA for US med schools? If you meant it's hard for Canadians to repair their GPAs for Canadian med schools, it's actually much much easier because of so many schools only looking at your X most recent years or your most recent degree (McGill). That's why Canadians often start a second undergrad to boost their GPAs, you can effectively wipe the slate clean, something that Americans can never do.

    Also keep in mind that a 3.8 on the Canadian scale means something very different. While that's not awful, it's not great either. A 3.8 is basically an even split between high 80s and low 80s, which would be much lower in American schools. It's confusing because they both use the 4.0 scale, but you can't do a straight comparison of Canadian and US GPAs.

    It's because of the competition. There are a lot fewer applicants in the french stream for Ottawa, and the difference is honestly night and day. I speak a little bit of French, have a competitive application, and I'm still genuinely considering putting an extensive amount of time into learning French well enough to apply to UofO's French stream next year. It's so much easier to get into that this is just as good a strategy as any GPA-boosting as long as you're comfortable with French lectures and patients in med school (you can still take tests in English). I can't promise you that the same goes for the French schools in Quebec, but I would expect a similar decrease in competitiveness just because of the number of schools vs. applicant pool.
     
  22. futuremdforme

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  23. The Old Astronomer

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    Most schools won't consider you if you don't take 5 a semester.
    I'm now wondering how long it would take me to power through a second undergrad.
    Or how I would receive funding to do such a thing. And how bad I'm going to drive my friends/family/SO crazy doing such a thing,
     
  24. NotASerialKiller

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    Well I can't (shouldn't) give you advice about keeping a relationship together, but it's sounds like you're going to have to do one of the things you said you don't want to do in previous posts. Because you did so well in your last year, starting (not necessarily finishing if you get in earlier) a second undergrad is certainly one of them. I saw that you're from the maritimes, so I'm guessing you've done the research in saying that MUN and Dal require 5/semester. This actually isn't the case for a lot of other schools in Canada, you just get wGPA benefits from doing this, or need 5/semester for a couple years but not your entire undergrad. Going OOP is definitely brutal though, so if that's what the require at MUN/Dal you have to go with that.
     
  25. The Old Astronomer

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    Haha true.

    MUN may be a different story, however they don't hold seats for Nova Scotians so it'd still be tough competition being OOP.
    Dal really is my best chance so I may consider doing a second undergrad with them.
    It's kind of embarrassing how long I've been at my school.
    Everyone kind of knows me for that.
     
  26. NotASerialKiller

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    Maybe you wouldn't be IP, but with a 3.9 you'd still be very competitive. Because MUN requires a very strong maritime connection that means most people from elsewhere in the country (myself included, and all the desperate 3.95+ Ontario applicants) aren't being considered. Definitely keep that in mind.

    As for the length of your undergrad, I know several people who have done 8+ years. If it works out at Dal that would be a lot better than going international or US DO and being severely limited in residency options in Canada. Plus with a few 3.9 years you can probably get your GPA in a competitive range for US MD schools as well, so your options would be much better.
     
  27. The Old Astronomer

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    I do have connections to Newfoundland, I grew up in rural Nova Scotia, and I do have interest in rural medicine.
    Sometimes I fear that last semester was a fluke, and that I'll still remain at a 3.2 when I get out! Haha.
    I really don't know how I pulled those grades off.
     
  28. NotASerialKiller

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    What classes were you taking when you were getting As? If you were getting mid 70s (~3.2) in science courses you might have a really tough time in med school.
     
  29. The Old Astronomer

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    Biochemistry, Advanced organic, Calculus, and some biology class. It might have been animal physiology. I also took a neuropsych class in the winter.
    Lowest grade was the B+ in one of my advanced organic courses.

    I have received mid 70%s in some science courses - ochem II for example.
    Most of my lower grades stem from my Psych classes.
     
    #28 The Old Astronomer, Aug 21, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2015
  30. ConfusedChemist

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    If you don't take 5 courses you can't apply to Dal
    I'm sorry, but it is a terrible idea to eliminate your IP school. There is no point to even doing another degree if you don't take a full course load.
    I don't mean to be rude but 4 courses is not enough. Nothing will change this. If you want to apply to Dal, you need 5 courses per term, unless you want them to look at every year you've ever done, which it seems like you wouldn't want
     
    #29 ConfusedChemist, Aug 21, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2015
  31. mrspecialist

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    With some strong post-bacs, you can definitely get a chance :)
     

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