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Should I Get a Masters? Backup Plans

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Je Suis Banane

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I'm a Canadian undergrad student currently studying for the MCAT (TPR most recent score 510) which I will be writing in August and a fairly decent GPA (around 3.95).

My parents are a little on my case about having a backup plan in case **** hits the proverbial fan... They seem to think that having a masters degree would improve my odds at getting into med school (even if it's a 1 year thing).

My opinion is a bit different. I feel like I have decently competitive grades and since I do some interesting extracirrics (ski patrol, a little published research etc.) I'm thinking I have a good shot at getting in this year. My personal backup plan would be to take a year off school, work in my lab turning out 3 or 4 good papers (the research is on cures for neuromuscular diseases and results are promising), take the MCAT again and reapply the next year.

What do you guys think is the better option? I feel like there's definitely people in my predicament as well. Are there other options I could consider?
 

Crayola227

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do whatever makes you more competitive in the job market aside from med school, but still looks good on apps

and seriously, so tired of these parents with opinions on how best to get into med school, unless they are docs themselves or have med adcom experience, the SDN hivemind and IRL doc mentors and the ilk are waaaaaaay better
 

Je Suis Banane

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so tired of these parents with opinions on how best to get into med school, unless they are docs themselves

Thanks for the help :)

Speak of... Dad's a doc. I have a lot of respect for his opinions, but I also think he's swayed by the fact that lots of people who take a gap year to reapply end up in a masters program. To me it seems like a cop out. I don't really know anyone who really wanted to do a masters degree in the first place before applying to medicine... they seem to just be co-opted into it by the misfortune of not getting in.

I'm more of the mindset that if there's two roads diverging in a yellow wood and they both go to the same place in the same number of steps, take the one less travelled and more interesting. I'm thinking if anything is going to hold me back its not going to be my GPA. Most likely to be MCAT score or extracirrics. So I feel like I should take the year to work in a lab and use that entire year to study for the MCAT to take it again.
 
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NotASerialKiller

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With a strong GPA and MCAT (hopefully you'll be aiming higher than a 510) as long as your ECs are decent you should have as good a chance as anyone at Canadian schools. Which just means that you'll probably get in within the span of 3 cycles. If it doesn't work out this year that doesn't necessarily mean there was anything lacking in your application, so really you'd just be trying to improve your ECs and make some money as you apply again.

Getting a Master's can be a good option if you actually care about the program you take and would stay in that field if medicine doesn't work out, but I would not take it for the sole reason of improving your application. The biggest factor that likely helped the people your dad knows is that they applied again, not what they did during the gap year. That's just how it does in Canada (especially Ontario).

The only thing I don't love about your alternate plan is that part where you say you'll retake the MCAT. Canadian schools don't care about retakes, but you still shouldn't half-ass your first attempt. There's still plenty of time until August, if you're not confident right now ramp up your efforts. You won't want to take it again, and you want this cycle to go as well as possible.

Also this is all about applying to Canadian schools. Most people on SDN know about what is valued and what is commonly done for American applicants, and things are different down south.

edit: Especially the MCAT retake, American schools don't give you a free redo
 
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Je Suis Banane

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With a strong GPA and MCAT (hopefully you'll be aiming higher than a 510) as long as your ECs are decent you should have as good a chance as anyone at Canadian schools. Which just means that you'll probably get in within the span of 3 cycles. If it doesn't work out this year that doesn't necessarily mean there was anything lacking in your application, so really you'd just be trying to improve your ECs and make some money as you apply again.

Getting a Master's can be a good option if you actually care about the program you take and would stay in that field if medicine doesn't work out, but I would not take it for the sole reason of improving your application. The biggest factor that likely helped the people your dad knows is that they applied again, not what they did during the gap year. That's just how it does in Canada (especially Ontario).

The only thing I don't love about your alternate plan is that part where you say you'll retake the MCAT. Canadian schools don't care about retakes, but you still shouldn't half-ass your first attempt. There's still plenty of time until August, if you're not confident right now ramp up your efforts. You won't want to take it again, and you want this cycle to go as well as possible.

Also this is all about applying to Canadian schools. Most people on SDN know about what is valued and what is commonly done for American applicants, and things are different down south.

edit: Especially the MCAT retake, American schools don't give you a free redo

Thanks for the help. I'm aiming for at least 520. That test was 2 weeks ago and I hear TPR tests are quite a bit harder than the actual MCAT with people's scores increasing by at least 5 or 6 points, though this seems subjective. I will be applying to only Canadian schools - mostly in Ontario. Thank you for the advice once again, you guys are always wonderfully helpful :)
 
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