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making good choices


I am a deaf student. I am attending a public high school in Toronto currently. I got admission from UofT life sci , York biology and Life sci at Macmaster. I am really confused and don?t know which university to go. My goal is to go to med school.? My mom insists on choosing UofT but there are many negative feedbacks about UofT, for example its a GPA-killer.? York is the easiest one however I don’t like the area at all and my mom doesn’t approve of it. Macmaster seems like the best option that I have but its very expensive, my mom said that she would pay for it though. Also, I would have to leave home if I want to go to Macmaster. My average right now is 90% and I?m also a drama major student. I really don’t know which university to pick that would raise the chances of getting in med school. Many people have said to me that I would do well in UofT. I really really need your help. Please help me.


Hey hey!

So I can’t speak for York or McMaster, but I’ll say some stuff for UofT.

Yes, yes, UofT can be a bit of a grade killer. Why? Well, it’s hard. I like to think the university makes things hard to weed out the weak. I mean UofT is consistently within the top three universities in Canada and always ranks quite high among those in the entire world. UofT needs to foster brilliant(ish) minds to match the brilliant minds running it.

If you can make it through four years here, you’ll get a lovely piece of paper that essentially tells future med schools: “I am a masochist, but a smart masochist!”

But for your decision-making issue, you’re going to actually have to do your own research bud. Think of that as your first assignment issued by someone from the university. Instructions: Consider possible med schools you would like to apply to after completing your undergraduate education. What are their requirements? What institutions best suit their undergraduate requirements?

Make sense? Naturally, I say come to UofT, but I’m biased so…

make good choices,


the giant pink transcript eraser

I am a first year student for the med school game. I went to an academically poor public highschool in a countryside in ontario and the
transition from high school to UofT has been rather tumultuous.
I have received B- in BIO120H, B+ in MAT135H, C in CHM139H, and currently have 62 in ECO100. I have not been partying or wasting any time. I didn’t even get to explore the city yet and have been stuck in the library every single day studying.
I have changed my studying habits twice since I came to UofT and still seems like my habits are not working.
I have figured that I will have an “average GPA” to apply to med school only if I take 22.0 credits throughout 4 years and attain 4.0 in every
single course until I graduate, which seems highly unlikely based on how I am performing right now.
Is it possible to repeat first year? Would UofT scrap my past academical history and let me start fresh?
Even if I transfer to another university, attaining 4.0 every single semester is the only option to med school now.
I need some advice,
<name has been removed for protection>


Heyo … mystery person,

I think you have the dream of all university students, burning those terrible first year marks. Unfortunately there’s nothing you can do about them, they are carved in stone, tattooed on skin, written in ink … you get the jist. The only thing you can do now is get awesome future marks.
Some universities will put into consideration the improvement of your grades.
Transferring schools really won’t help your situation either, you are required to disclose all your mark to your incoming university.

I really don’t think this is the end of your medical career.
Here are some steps that you can take:

1) Look at the med school requirements for various schools. Here are the requirements for the Canadian medical schools. The CGPA range is quite varying between the universities.

2) U of T offers some pretty gosh-darn-tooting resources for academic success. University is not highschool and an adjustment to your study techniques and how you approach school needs to be made.?Don’t glare at me like that … all students go through this awkward transition phase. It’s kind of like an academic puberty.?There are also academic workshops that help with studying, note taking, kicking ass at exams etc.

3) Explore alternatives. I know, I know, ?TV makes doctors look pretty effing awesome, but there really are other professions in the medical field that are pretty cool. I have a lot of smarty pants friends who entered their undergrad with the sole intention of going into med school. Then throughout their undergrad their interests stemmed and for no fault of their marks they chose not to go to med school.? Rumor has it that only 15% of applicants get a position in the first round. This is both because of competition and because they want to see who wants it bad enough to apply over and over … and over again.

Good luck grasshopper

forever always,



So … Uhh … Med School?

I have really managed to ruin my academic history and I don’t think I have a chance of getting into Medical school anymore.

I have Multiple program changes, failed course/bad marks/2 late withdrawals.

In First year: completed 3.5 courses (need 4 courses to join a program) and my GPA was 2.88, which is workable.

I didn’t complete the life science prerequisites (only biology – BIO150Y1) and didn’t take any courses over summer. Started second year with no program.

Second year: Decided to take all the second year psychology specialist courses and apply to specialist after second year. (note: specialist and major psych programs are competitive)

I only took three courses in first semester (GPA is 1.05) and five courses second semester (GPA is 2.34, and one course was failed: 47%). I only got into the psych minor program.

Done second year still with no program and an even lower GPA, hopelessness sinking in.

Summer: planned on working hard, doing the science prereqs (ideally I would like to get into Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology).

Needed organic chem, physical chem and molecular bio. Got Orgo chem (76), but dropped physical chem, and withdrew late from bio130.

In Third year (now): decided my best chance would be to change my major to humanities (history and english double major). So taking a first and second year history course and two second year english courses (both year long).

If I get 4.0 in every history/english course from now on and apply to medical school in three more years, would I have a good chance of getting in? (only based on academic programs and marks)

My main fear is that switching my program so many times has ruined my chances (and GPA is not good either). There is no continuity in my course selection and I have not commited to a program.

Would it be best to try to get into life science again or should I just continue with his/eng? Do I have a chance?
Thank you!


Flatly I don not think your life is over, but I also am having a bit of a parental moment and want to advise you to consider if your goals are realistic. I know poo poo, askastudent being all serious.

Here are the MCAT requirements for Canadian schools. Some work in your favour, others do not. Some weigh later years more heavily, while others only take grades from full course load semesters. Look through these and see if it helps you out a bit.

There are a lot of ifs ands or buts going on in your academic life story, so I am commanding … SIKE … suggesting, that you hit up an academic advisor. They will be both helpful, non threatening and honest with you.

may the peace be with you,



i believe in miracles since you came along you sexy thang (sci courses)

Hi Aska, Before my question, I just wanted to say: this is a great site, and you’re very funny and informative, so thanks!
OK so I’m applying to UTSG for Humanities, but lately I’ve been thinking of going into medicine. (Yeah I know, the door to academic hell awaits)How hard would it be for a Humanities student to take the pre-med prereqs such as PHYS, BIO, CHEM, CALC I was told that it is still possible to take these courses, but that you are not guaranteed a spot if you are not actually enrolled in the Sciences.
Also, how common is it for pre-meds to pursue Humanities bachelors instead of the usual Life Sci stuff?


Whaddup conflicted soul/mind,

I’ve always liked to think that my arts degrees will land in the office of Gregory House. Aska … the new (but possibly better) House.

It will be hard! Students enrolled in subject posts that the courses are required for will have first choice. Then it opens up to everyone else if there is space left. We get alot of questions regarding med school requirements and whatnot, but you may be the only person asking from a humanities point of view

Cheers to the underdog



Aska looooves med school questions


I am currently in my 1st yr of life science taking english, bio,chem, math, and psyc. From what I have heard, some said that i need physics to get into med school, while some said i don’t. I just wanted to know which is true?
Thanks so much!!


Hello there Well-Rounded-First-Year

Those ‘some’ are both wrong and right …. ewww cryptic I know.

I would suggest looking into which medical schools your considering attending as all the schools have differing requirements for entry.

Here’s a pretty wicked resource, it shows the prereqs for each of the med schools in Canada. Also check out this other future med school question answered previously, it might help you out a bit.

Peace and Love Baby,


maybe one day you’ll save my life

This is sort of a general question that applies to all universities, but I’m asking here since I’m highly interested in U of T and hoping to start on
fall of 2011
My lifelong dream has been to go into a certain study in university for 4 years and then move on to medical school. I’ve been told for a while now that different medical schools in Ontario including Toronto’s have been accepting a little non-medical related students that have studied 4 years of mathematics, Engineering, or even computer science at the university level.
Is this true?
At the same time, since I’m interested in this field I have many contacts and have made new friends that ALL? got accepted into medical school (regardless of where in Ontario) based on studying Biology 4 years in university.
What I’m wondering is, is there a certain advantage of taking Biology in university concerning the kind of information you learn and amount when thinking about doing the MCAT to enter medical school, or is there absolutely no difference between a biology and a computer science student as long as they both study up for MCAT? Is it more recommended for the 4 years of university to simply choose a subject a student is most interested in and one in? which he can obtain a high GPA to be eligible for academic awards and keep certain ongoing scholarships before heading to medical school? Is studying Biology for 4 years the “typical” field for a person wanting to proceed into Med School and isn’t preferred when medical school acceptance interview time comes?
Please help me!
This topic have been worrying me for a while. I was almost 100% determined to take on Biology all 4 years due to the experience of my friends and contacts , but? after what I’ve heard for the past few months I’m now wondering if it’s the best decision, as Biology, although I’m great at, isn’t my strongest field and the unfortunate possibilty of not getting accepted first time doing the MCAT and interview would be worse with a degree in Biology that doesn’t make me eligible to do any kind of work as a plan B for example!!

Thanks for your help in advance!


Hey there, Biological Computer Sciencer

Alright, here we go

So in general, yes you can take any undergraduate degree and still apply to Med School. But saying that, I’m also going to turn around and say that there are definitely smarter degree choices than others

The specific requirements to get into Med School vary depending on the school. This website shows the different requirements for each Med School in Canada.
I think the catch your going to see is that there are prerequsite courses that you need to take for most of the schools. Some have recommended courses, which I would probably suggest taking as the competition in getting into Med School is high. Most of these prerequisite courses are in fields such as life science, and biology. Depending on what Med School your looking into, biology would help you fill these requirements. BUT, there are some schools that don’t require prerequisites and therefore computer science would be sufficient.

I would suggest looking at preparation for the MCATs, this will help you to determine if the courses you would take in Biology would help you prepare better than Computer Science (which i can only assume that they will)
Sometimes even I Aska need help from their little sidekick, so i asked a friend currently going through the process of medschool and who has already taken the MCATs. They said that each school weighs their consideration of GPA and MCAT scores differently, and after fullfilling your prerequisite go for the higher GPA.

So, unfortunately im not going to choose the field of study for you because this comes down to a judegement call for yourself. Biology might prepare you better for the MCATs and might cover some of the prerequisite, but you’ll have to work harder for the GPA you would have accomplished with the Computer Science. While if you take Computer Science, you’ll most likely have to study much harder for your MCATs outside of school. In either situation, Med School seems like a possibility

What I would suggest, would be to talk with a guidance counsillor at your highschool or if your in the Toronto area, make an appointment with a student advisor and they will be able to chat with you and guide you in the right direction.

Hopefully this helps relieve your stess

Love Yours Truly,



askastudent plans your life for you (but not really)

Hi Askastudent,

I’ll be applying to UTSG as a freshman for fall 2011 and have several questions. My first question: is it possible (and realistically doable) to finish your degree in 3 years instead of 4 with an excellent GPA (3.8 to 4)? I am turning 20 next year and naturally, I am just hard-pressed for time!

The following questions are, well, a little complicated, but I really can’t think of anybody else but you to ask this! My long-term goal is to go in business (with the backup plan, which I will get to later). I want to study either Economics at UTSG or Finance and Economics as a joint specialist program at Roman. Is there a big difference between the two programs? I hear the Rotman one is purely academic (and fiendishly difficult) with no real-life applications! Here’s the twist. I am not exactly a math genius, and I know I won’t get accepted into either program straight away as a freshman. But, I’ve been getting tutored and studying my butt off to get myself on the right track. Is it possible to get accepted into either program (Economics or Finance and Economics) in the second year? The bigger twist: my backup plan is medical school.

So, would I be better off as a no-major Bachelor of Science while taking all the necessary electives (and ace them because I need a really good GPA) to make myself a perfect candidate for both medical AND business school? For example, taking the right economics/fianance and science classes and getting internship and other work for experience to build up my resume, that sort of thing. Or should I stick with the first plan being studying either Economics or Finance and Economics while taking the right courses for medical school?

Thanks heaps in advance, askastudent!!!

The Hopeful Country Bumpkin


Hello there. I saw your other email today hassling me about answering your question, I guess I decided to get my big butt off the couch and help you plan your life and all your courses for the rest of your academic career for you. How do you like that?

First of all, doing your degree in three years instead of four with an amazing GPA while simultaneously applying for business and medical school will probably kill you and land you in an early grave. I know that you’re pre gaming right now for an inevitable quarter life crisis, but it’s important to recognize what your limitations are and how much time you will realistically spend studying, doing readings, writing papers, fulfilling breadth requirements and all the additional stuff needed to make sure you pass. Hell, applying for grad school and writing the MCATs is a full time job in and of itself. DO NOT OVERDO IT.

Rotman’s finance stream (according to the Innis registrar here) is much more rigorous and finance orientated, with heavy math applications and lots of complicated courses designated towards real world financial experience. It is totally possible to get accepted into the Commerce stream in second year, especially with high marks in first year. There are many 100 level economics classes you can take (which I’m sure you’ve already registered in), that will guide you towards the program in future years.

You’ll also be happy to note that you can get into Medical School in future years without even doing a life sciences stream! All you need is an amazing GPA and high scores on (GMAT? MCAT?) test. Contact your registrar for future details.

Basically if you ace everything in first year and take classes towards your initial plan of Business School, you will be in a pretty position for your future years of Commerce. These courses might even lead you to a career as a rich business dentist – a.k.a. a dentist for rich people! You’ll be rolling in only the priciest plaque.

xoxo, Askastudent


less melodrama please pre-meds, this isn’t Grey’s Anatomy

Hey aska
I’m a first year life science student in I was planning to get straight As and get into medicine or health field, but chm139 blasted a hole in my gpa. I’m still getting As in most courses, and some Bs in those that are not. Assuming i don’t bomb the exams (not likly since the brains in the uni decided to put chm138 and mat135 on the first day of exam), i should still manage a 3.5-3.6 gpa. Worse of all, i have been focused on studying and haven’t been volunteering, padding my EC and resume much.

So i think its probably time to quit pursuing that field. With this mark what is some other options for me? Say if i continued down life science with somewhere around this mark, would i be able to choose a masters i want, any inspirational story about someone barely passing chm139 and become chm phds? If not, would other programs like engineer/commerce (is commerce a useful degree?) still accept me? Some other programs that makes a decent living but i haven’t considered, heard of Just list somethings i can look into before i get trapped in life sci in second year. Don’t get me wrong i love some of the courses i’m taking (psy100 should be a required course!), but i do not want to end up with a useless degree with the amount of debt i will be in.

thanks and have a good exam (if you still have those silly things)


I think you are overreacting just a little bit. A 3.5-3.6 GPA is mighty fine, especially for a first-year student, and you should be happy that you are getting A’s and B’s in your courses. It may not be enough to get you into med school YET, but there is still a lot of time to pull that cGPA up. Besides, Medical School (at UofT, at least) drops the three or four FCEs in which scored the lowest grades. Regarding CHM138 and MAT135: virtually everyone has a bad encounter with the exam timetable once or twice in their undergraduate careers, so just think of it as one of the many trials of your University life. I understand that you’re worried, but at the same time, I think it’s important to keep a clear head! Don’t let your worries get bigger than they actually are.

Actually, I do have an inspiring story for you. My psychology prof last year, Dr. *insert fake name here*, told the whole class that he almost failed first year and guess what? Now he has a Ph. D. in psychology and is inspiring more students to continue their studies in psychology. You’ve only got ONE bad mark, and you have a good GPA. Try not to panic now. Give yourself some breathing room.

I get the sense that you’re not seeing the bigger picture. It’s true that Arts and Science degrees don’t lead to a set career, unlike other programs like engineering and commerce. But please, ignore the rumors that people spread about engineering and commerce students reaping in all the moulah, or becoming frontrunners of the economy. A life science degree is not “useless”. There are many jobs available to Arts and Science students, and to quote the Career Centre website:

According to the recent Ontario University Graduate Survey, 46% of graduates do not work in fields closely related to their program of study. Most arts and science graduates are recruited for their trained mind and not for their specialist knowledge.

My advice is that you do NOT switch to engineering or commerce or computer science unless you’re passionate about those fields. I would know. I tried out engineering, had no passion for it, and I spent my first year as a miserable and sulky jerk. I don’t want you to end up like me. Financially, engineering and commerce degrees are actually more expensive than Arts and Science degrees – not to mention that as a transfer student, you would probably have to start back at square one and take first year again. However, if you are genuinely interested in these fields, it may be worth doing more research on how to do an internal transfer.

Also, maybe it’s better if you got away from the I’m taking an Arts and Science degree to get into a specific job mindset and started thinking instead about the skills you get from your degree. In the “real world”, employers care less about the courses that you’ve taken at University and more about the skills that you have. Besides, as an Arts and Science student, you have many opportunities and fields at your fingertips. Go exploring! Go dig up your ArtSci calendar and chart out those courses that you like! I see you’ve already done that with psychology – why not take some more psychology courses as electives?

Another thing that ties in with the “skills” thing is extra-curricular activities. Have you thought about getting a work-study job next year? That way, you can go to school and work at the same time. Volunteering may also be a good idea. Working and volunteering give you practical experience, which I think will give you a lot of perspective as to how useful your degree will be. I know you haven’t had a lot of extra-curricular experience – don’t worry about that for now. There’s always next year.

Finally, remember also to enjoy yourself. Join extra-curricular activities that you’re interested in and make new friends. Get an internship in a field you see yourself being in. Have fun. There’s more to school than the grades on your transcript, right?


wait for it: BIO150Y1


I want to
ask that how do a person become a doctor after graduating from high school with
90% marks in bio phy chem and maths.?

I have
heard that we have to study biosciences for 4 years in university. Can you tell
me the correct procedure and what grades do I need further?

How much
time is it going to take?

If some one
is a docr from another country like Pakistan so can he work over here
as a doctor? How?


There?s no ?correct procedure? to becoming a doctor. You actually don?t HAVE to study biology or even science at UofT. It?s true that a lot of people whose goal is to be a doctor do choose degrees such as human biology, biochemistry, immunology, pharmacology, and so on (or so I hear, anyway). You may be interested in one of these programs. According to their admissions page though, they accept students from many different backgrounds, from social sciences (such as sociology and political sciences) to physical sciences (such as physics) and everything in between. So my advice to you, if you end up going to UofT (or anywhere else really), is: don’t take courses that you think will? help you get into med school. Instead,to use your undergraduate degree to take some courses and explore some fields of study that you?re genuinely interested in! If, by the end of your 3rd year, you still want to go into medicine, then you can apply then ? they only accept people who?ve taken a minimum of 3 years of an undergraduate degree anyway.? In fact, a degree in a discipline other than biology could really help you stand out amongst the other cookie-cutter applicants.

The only requirements that med school imposes on you are listed in their FAQ:

?Applicants are required to complete at least two full-year courses or four half-courses in Life Sciences, and at least one full-year course or two half-courses in Humanities or Social Sciences or Languages. It is recommended, although not required, that applicants complete a university-level course in Statistics, and two courses that require expository writing.?

They also list that applicants should have a minimum 3.6 GPA, so keep that in mind.

Anyway, high school marks aren?t really representative of how well someone will do in University. I?ve seen people with high grades in high school do really poorly in their first year of university, and I?ve seen people with 70s in high school do really well. It really depends on the work you?re willing to put in.

As for how much time being a doctor takes ? it may sound clich?, but becoming a doctor really requires patience, dedication, and a lot of hard work. Think about it. You?re going to save lives. There?s no easy way out and there’s no shortcut. So please, be patient and try not to rush your undergrad degree.

As for your last question, friend of aska found an article that says prospects of professionals from other countries working in Canada may be getting better. Hope that’s good news to you.


or in other words, i don’t know

Hi there.

I recently got admitted to UTSG for Life Science. As of now, it pretty much looks like I’m going to end up studying there. I was just wondering what your opinions are regarding the whole ~UTSG is a GPA raper thing~ and all that jazz. I’m sure that a student’s response (hopefully one who is currently in the LifeSci program) will enlighten me a little.

The reason why I’m asking is that I want to keep my options open for medical school. I’m not entirely sure whether or not I want to go into medicine but hopefully my undergraduate studies will clarify my uncertainty. I know that medical schools across Canada require a high GPA and I’m sure that I can get decent grades if I study hard enough but is U of T really as hard as it is cut out to be? Would my chances to get into medical school be greater if I did my undergrad in another university, say York, Queen’s or McMaster?




help us help you help him

Can anyone taking the immunology or human biology: health and disease program tell me how it is (work, difficulties etc)?
If I want to become a doctor, which program prepares you better?
Thank You!



why not just buy your diploma online?

Hey guys,

I want to get into life science, but I’m not sure which program to major in. My ultimate goal is to be a doctor, and already I’ve been hearing stuff about how hard it is and how much marks count. I was wondering which is the easiest program to major in?



You better lose yourself to the music, the moment you want it, you better never let it go…

Hey askastudent,I am in a bad situation right now…

I am a first year student and I am gonna start life science from September. I have heard a lot about life science that it is very hard to survive. I was aiming for MD but I have realized how hard it is to get there and if i am not able to get into MD after 4 years of life science(which is gonna kill me), there isn’t many options other than going into research or becoming a teacher/professor. The thing that came to my mind was that, I would rather spend 4 years in engineering and get a bright future (high earnings), then do 4 years in BSc and still be v.low compared to engineering. I have even realized that doctor might not be the profession i want. After having thought a lot, I considered going
for Engineering(TrackOne), but the main problem that i am having is that i don’t have Gr12 Physics and I can’t even take it in summer school bcuz its too late.

I have 2 options that I have to decide from now –

1 – Go back to high school and take Gr12 Physics(SPH4U) in night school i suppose till january and then wait for september. It is gonna be free, VERY easy, will start from next year engineering anyhow, I can work and earn some money etc.

2. Continue with Life Science for this year and take BIO150Y1 (necassary), CHM138H,139H (necassary) and PHY131H,132H (to get admission in engineering next year i would have to take this physics course), and 1 more course that would be the easiest of all science courses. This option is v.costly compared to the 1st one, v.difficult as well, but I would have gone through all the difficulty faced in first year when i start engineering next year, so it would give me a head start in engineering next year and hopefully I wont be one of the many people who drop out of engineering. I would have gained experience on how to survive in university. I would even have 1 year of life science attached to my record which could be useful i guess. I would have explored all the career options that I could possibly get into. I would even know if MD is the correct options for me or not.

What would u suggest – Spend 4 years in Engineering or in Life Science?

I know I put more emphasis on the 2nd option but i’m considering both options equally (which is why im terribly confused). So, which option would be better and logical – going back to high school and do engineering next year or start life science and switch to engineering next year?

If I choose my second option, which courses would you suggest that i should take?

Awaiting you reply.





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