Hi, I am a US student thinking of applying to U of T. I’ve heard many many rumors of the soul crushing undergraduate experience at U of T. As a hopeful medical school applicant, would I be better off grades wise in a top university in the US or is Toronto not as terrible as it seems? I’d really like to go to Toronto but I’m worried….
that depends on which U.S. universities you’re thinking of, my friend. are we talking state universities or Ivy League? even within state universities, there’s a lot of variety in terms of quality. the comparison you’re making is going to be very different depending on which other schools you’re thinking about.
i can’t tell you how well you’re going to do at uoft. i wish i could, but it would be disingenuous. the best i can do is give you a couple of factors that will influence your experience here, and that you can consider before making your decision:
- uoft is one of, if not the, most academically intensive universities in canada. i won’t go so far as to say that it’s the “Harvard of the North” (because we gotta stay humble out here in the 6ix), but it is very academic. uoft is an institution focused on research, and that goes right down to the undergraduate level. from day 1, you will be required to treat your school like a full-time job. if you excelled in high school, if you’re willing to work hard, and if you’re interested in the material, that is by no means impossible. but it does require a serious commitment to focus on your academics.
- uoft is very big – and i feel like you can’t really understand the real implications of that bigness until you actually get here. it can be very isolating. there are lots of wonderful, small communities within uoft where you can feel connected and valuable (your college community, residence community, seminar courses, extracurriculars, etc.) but if you don’t search all that out, you can feel a little stranded. and, trust me, if you feel distanced from and unappreciated by your school – like you could skip class, not do the assignments, etc. and no one would notice – that can have a very real effect on your schoolwork. a lot of U.S. universities have that small, collegiate feel throughout the entire institution, but at uoft, you have to do some digging.
- two positive points now: keep in mind that if you are graduating from a world-class university, medical schools are going to know that your GPA will not be as high as people who graduated from less academically rigorous schools. they will factor that into the application; everyone’s GPA is not equal.
- second: GPA is not the only factor medical schools look at! MCAT scores and extracurricular experience are also important parts of your application. that’s where toronto is ideal. we have a lot?of hospitals here. a?lot. “hospital alley” is within walking distance of uoft, and there are lots of opportunities to volunteer and gain valuable experience at each of them.
- finally: i know that americans think canada is just, like…cold america, but keep in mind that culture shock can be a difficult thing to manage, especially in first year (that’s not to say that we don’t have people to help you deal with that – because we do). you’ll be moving far away from home all on your own, meeting all new people and learning to stand on your own two feet, even more so than domestic students, who might just be a car ride away from home.
i know that’s a lot of information, but keep in mind that you have time to mull it all over. uoft is a wonderful place to be. it’s in the middle of an amazing city, it’s a nexus of?research and innovation and exciting student life, we have cool people and exciting courses and i am so glad i’m here. BUT it’s not for everyone. so do think carefully about it.
one last piece of advice: if you can manage to get up here and tour the place a bit before deciding, i find that’s often helpful.