What to do about low uGPA for entry into canadian med school

Discussion in 'Canada' started by Raj80, May 18, 2008.

  1. Raj80

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    Hi there
    There are tons of posts regarding this question but all are for American institutions.... so I'm just wondering if anyone has any ideas on what to do to fix a low undergrad gpa, or what options are available to someone who still wants to pursue medicine in Canada but did not realize this decision until later in their undergrad career.
    Using myself as an example, my overall uGPA is 2.6, it was not until about a year and a half ago that I really decided to get serious about going to med school. Outside personal factors such as family and friend deaths and working through school contributed to my focus and hence the low gpa, this final year I really screwed myself feeling as though I needed to finish school asap, I was behind in my science credits for my Bsc in biological sciences so I stepped up and took 7 senior level science courses as part of a full course load (total 10) and ended up with 3 C+ lowering my gpa. I have deferred my graduation date in order to give it one more year of full time study and see if I can make the cut of 4.0 which would raise my uGPA to approximately 2.9. Basically my backup plans are to apply for grad school for the following year, or else absolute backup take a 2 year nursing fast-trak post-degree program and apply later on for med. From what I understand Canada does not have any SMPs or postbacc programs such does the states and I know different med schools in Canada have different allocations of weighting gpa against the other factors such as volunteer, research, life experience etc.
    Has anyone had a similar situation and been able to overcome the low undergrad gpa for entry into a Canadian medical school? OR if you took the route of trying for an American school can you explain what you did and how it worked out?
    Please help any insight is much appreciated.
     
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  3. Thewonderer

    Thewonderer Senior Member

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    sorry to hear about all the stress you had to go through.

    If you really want to pull up your GPA, there are two ways of doing it. One is to do a second bachelor's degree (or work toward one), if there is no post-bac program in Canada. So say your undergrad degree is in zoology, I wonder if you can stay behind and do some classes in biochemistry (not sure if you get a second "major" per se). The other choice is to do graduate work.

    In order to decide on the pro's and con's, you have to realize that medical school will see both your undergrad and grad GPA's SEPARATELY. So if your undergrad GPA is less than 3, it does not matter how high your grad GPA might be; that undergrad GPA will stick out like a sore thumb.

    It is reasonable to at least pull that undergrad GPA up to a 3, and see if you can explain your way out of it (such as, I screw up for one year but see how my last two years of GPA's are near 4.0).

    But realistically, with such a low GAP, you might even get screened out by computer and never make it to the interview stage. hence you will never get a chance to explain.

    I would personally look into some Australian or Ireland medical schools (and St. George's or Ross if you desire). Again, what if you spend 2 years, pulling your GPA up to 3.3 and yet it is still not good enogh? Plenty of applicants have 3.5 and MCAT of 30+. Why should the schools choose you over any of those?

    I am a firm believer that if you want to be a doctor, you will be one. Going back to Canada can be hard. Going to the U.S. has its own work work visa issue. In the end, even if you pass medical schools, you might have to tack an extra 2-3 years in the end to fulfill all the requirements. But if you know that you want to be a doctor, then spending 2-3 years trying to get into a medical school in the U.S. or Canada might not make sense. For one, again, you are not guaranteed to get into an U.S. or Canadian medical schools after all these. Two, you are giving up a ton of opportunity cost down the road (remember that the later you start medical school, the later you start making those 6-figure salary.).


    Oh, and do well on MCAT.
     
  4. tarmogorf

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    I think it depends on the schools though. If you somehow kill the last 2 years and get a strong (9+ in all sections) MCAT, then you have a shot a place like Western. I'm kinda bummed out myself. With a 3.4x cGPA, and only 1 year above 3.7, I'm definitely out of the running for all Canadian universities. It helps if you live in the Maritimes, though.

    As for grad school...I'm not sure, but it seems like most grad schools here require at least a 3.0, which can be difficult to do.
     
  5. Thewonderer

    Thewonderer Senior Member

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    This is a tough question. But again, say, after two years of studying hard and pull your GPA from 2.6 up to 3.3, why would a medical school accept you over someone who has gotten 3.5+ GPA (never messed up in one year) and 30+ MCAT? There are plenty of applicants with 3.5+ GPA, 30+ MCAT, able to work hard and quite a bit of extracurricular and don't have to explain any blemish in their applications.

    Then again, let's say hypothetically that 50% of all applicants get accepted to a medical school. Due to below average GPA, your change is then cut down to 30%. Why spend 2+ years, trying to make up the GPA and still have 70% chance of not getting in?

    If your GPA started out at 3 or 3.3, then I would say, try to pull it up. But 2.6 is hard to pull up, regardless.
     
  6. PistolPete

    Physician

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    This is a tough spot to be in, but my recommendation is as follows:

    1. Do whatever it takes to bring up your uGPA to a 3.0. This is the bare minimum that you need for things like an SMP in the states. So, I'd take some more undergrad science classes, get A's, and bring up that undergrad GPA to a 3.0. I don't know how many credits you have at 2.6, but it may take you two or three semesters to bring it up to a 3.0.

    2. Make sure you do well on the MCAT (at least a 32). This is doable regardless of your GPA.

    3. Then apply to SMP's in the states, and apply to medical schools in the states, both MD and DO. Also consider applying to Carribean medical schools, as well as medical schools in Ireland/Australia (although I only really know about US MD and DO schools). You might throw in a few Canadian schools, but I'm not sure how successful you'll be here (I think your only shot is at schools that take your last 2 years of undergrad, but this means you would need another 4 semesters of really good grades, which will take a long time and may not be practical).

    The reason why I say apply to SMP's is because they give you a great chance to show medical schools that you can do as well (or preferrably better than) medical students, and they may be willing to overlook your previous undergrad performance. I think this only applies to medical schools in the states. Furthermore, they give you a separate graduate GPA, which is good, because you can show a recent high-caliber work-level. Plus, you'd need a heck of a lot of undergrad credits, with high grades, in order to raise up that uGPA. I don't think it's worth the effort (beyond what's required to get the 3.0 level). SMP's are expensive and risky, but they are worth it if you can set your mind to it and do the work!

    I wish you luck. Everything is possible, so don't give up! :thumbup: If you want it badly enough, it'll happen, whether that means med school in the US, Canada or abroad. :luck:
     
  7. hopefuldoctor89

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    Hi!
    I am in somewhat of a similar situation. I just finished my first year of university, AND it did not go well at all, I have C's in nearly everything, and i even have a D in my second chem. I just want to know if i still mite have a chance? I am willing to step up and pull up my socks and work VERY hard for the next 2- 3 years to bring up my average. But, i just need to know if its too late already?
     
  8. ubcredfox

    ubcredfox Member

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    No it's not, but that really depends on how hard you work over the coming years. The sad thing with applying to Canada is that many universities base their interview invites on a formula. If your GPA and MCAT scores don't add up to the right number you're out of luck. Quite heartless.
     
  9. tarmogorf

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    The good news to that is that a number of them take your best X years (usually 2) or your most recent 2 years when calculating with that formula. You aren't necessarily out of luck if you 4.0 your next 2 years. Otherwise, better start looking elsewhere.
     
  10. MeowMix

    MeowMix Explaining "Post-Call"

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    Move to Quebec, learn to speak French like a native, marry a Quebecer, and apply in Quebec. Honestly, the Canadian med schools make it very difficult for regular people to get in.
     
  11. co2ta12

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    medical schools in quebec require a high gpa too. They consider your program strength so sometimes you might not even get an interview with a perfect 4.0

    You might need a better GPA to get in a med school in quebec than in the rest of canada (depending on your program). But you really don't need a lot ECs (if any) and you don't have to take the MCAT...
     
    #10 co2ta12, Jun 3, 2008
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2008
  12. HanmoLi

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    I'm from Quebec, and the French schools are not as easy to get in as everyone thinks it is. You really need a 3.5+ GPA...

    For 2008 entry, I haven't seen anyone with lower than a 3.5 get accepted. My GPA is a 3.40 with a 32P MCAT score, and I had a decent amount of EC's, and I didn't get accepted anywhere in Canada (and I applied eveywhere). The farthest I got was an interview at McGill. And even if your GPA is between 3.5 and 3.7, you'll still need a lot of strong EC's to be a strong candidate -- the number of applicants for the number of available spots is just too disproportional.

    For the case of doing a 2nd bachlor's degree: you will get a new GPA with the second degree. Depending on the med school, they may or may not actually consider the GPA of your first degree. I know for McGill, they'll look at both GPA's if you do 2 bachlor degrees. So you'll have to ask each individual school. But doing a 2nd bachlor's degree will be your best chance to improve your academic score.

    Personally, I am applying to med schools in Australia, because even if you do a 2nd bachlor's degree in Canada, you're not exactly 'garanteed' to be accepted. So I rather save a bit of time and spend a lot of money to go to Australia than to stay here and not get accepted again.
     
  13. MeowMix

    MeowMix Explaining "Post-Call"

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    apologies for my comments about getting in in QC. I really had thought it was not as difficult for francophones - thanks for enlightening me.
     

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