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Decision: Decision: U of T v.s. McGill v.s. UBC

savemypoorsoulsavemypoorsoul Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
I'm a Canadian Citizen who goes to an international school elsewhere (not in the US or Canada). I got accepted into all 3 schools and I'm currently debating on where to go. I've been thinking about where to go as early as I received all 3 offers in February and I still couldn't make a decision.

I'm an IB diploma student with 43 predicted grade and I'm Asian. For UBC, I got accepted into the Faculty of Science (no major yet but possible biology based). Same faculty for Toronto (major: human biology). Same faculty for McGill (major: Anatomy and Cell Biology) As I'm planning on pursuing in medicine in the future (probably plastic surgery or dermatology), my majors are biology based. I'm thinking about going to the US for med school but I might also stay in Canada. Which of these schools could better prepare me for getting into med school either in the US or Canada?

For all 3 schools, I will be living on Campus. Tbh I made a wrong choice for dorms at Toronto because of the college I chose (Victoria College), which is super far from the Bio/ Science classrooms. (probably a 10-minute walk) For UBC, I could hopefully get a connected single room. (two single rooms connected by a shared bathroom) I'm still deciding for McGill though. (probably those kinds of modern hotel styles that are about 5-10 minutes walking distance away from campus but I'm keeping my options open)

I visited all 3 campuses last year during the summer. I think UBC has the biggest campus and I really liked the environment there. I don't mean that I dislike the other two. I like all of them tbh. U of T and McGill seems more convenient coz they are really close to downtown.

I heard that in U of T, lots of students have lots of stress and most people sleep at around 2 am in the morning studying. I don't really like to stay up late. My friend who is currently studying biology there said that their average grade is around C and if you got anything that is above a B-, you should celebrate. So I'm not sure if I'm competent enough to do well in academics at U of T...

The best thing about going to McGill is that I can go directly into my major (which means graduating university in 3 years) because of the IB diploma and I get $5000 scholarships per year. I also get my first choice for dorms and early choice for courses.The scholarships and early graduation sound tempting, but I speak no French and I don't think anyone from my school is going to McGill. A lot of Canadians from my graduating class are going to Toronto. I know some friends who are planning to go to UBC or other schools in Vancouver. Also, McGill has SUPER cold winters, which will be another problem.

The benefits of being in either Toronto of UBC is that I knew some current students there who could possibly help me transition. I have some family friends in Vancouver who could help me too. Vancouver also has the best weather imo. However, if I go to Montreal, I don't know many people there. (But this will probably just make me more independent? Who knows?)

I'm interested in the internship programs each school can offer: I really hope I could do internships at labs in uni. How are the students at each school? Are they welcoming/ friendly/ nice to incoming freshmen? Opportunity wise, at which school do I have a better chance of participating in special programs? (Internships, study abroad, volunteering, research, etc.)

All responses will be appreciated. Thank you very much for all your help!

Replies to: Decision: Decision: U of T v.s. McGill v.s. UBC

  • indecisive19indecisive19 Registered User Posts: 35 Junior Member
    Hi! I'm in a very similar situation with you (Canadian citizen living abroad, Asian female, IB diploma, life sciences). I didn't apply to UBC though.

    Seems to me that McGill is the most appealing. Scholarship, 3 years graduation, etc. It's also a lot smaller than UofT, so could be better in terms of class sizes, competition--especially since you're already in the major whereas in UofT you would still have to apply, competing with a bunch of thers. French wouldn't be a huge problem at McGill, majority are still English speakers. And with regards to having no one you know there... You'll make friends, it's a part of the college process. Don't stress, I don't know anyone in Canada either but it'll be fine.
  • alwaysamomalwaysamom Registered User Posts: 12,209 Senior Member
    which is super far from the Bio/ Science classrooms. (probably a 10-minute walk)

    Haha! A ten minute walk is "super far"? If you can't manage a ten minute walk to class, I think you have a bigger problem than which university to choose!
  • geraniolgeraniol Registered User Posts: 125 Junior Member
    I’m a UBC alum, and started as a microbiology major (I graduated in chemistry, but it’s a long story).

    As a place for studying pre-med, it is TOUGH. And I would expect the same at UofT just based on demographics. The med school prereq classes are huge (BIOC 302 was probably 300 people, and in a lecture hall that could seat 600. I remember meeting my professor in person at office hours and not really recognizing him b/c I had never seen him up close before, and I always sat in the 1st tier of seats.) There is a pretty unpleasant competitiveness between some pre-med students in the upper year life sciences classes, especially in the larger majors. The most selective life science majors (pharmacology, med lab science, physiology when I was there, I think they’ve changed names now) are small programs and very tight knit and generally supportive.

    Of the people I knew from high school and UBC, the people who went to ‘less competitive’ schools like Western and Calgary had an easier time getting into med school. But for the most part, people’s goals change, and if you’re really set on med school, there are ways to get in even if you don’t have the most ideal grades in undergrad (ie. doing postbacc studies or a masters). On the other hand, the UBC students who I know got into med school are truly amazing people that I would absolutely trust with my life.

    I don’t mean to scare people off from UBC. I had a great experience, gained a lot of maturity, made lifelong friends and found a career path that I love. But like at all big Canadian universities, you need to be independent and to be able to advocate for yourself. Be resourceful. Know the SSC and the academic calendar so you know what your options are and what you do or don’t need to worry about. Get out there in first year and get involved in clubs and volunteering. Go to office hours with your professors and TAs even if you don’t feel like it or you’re shy. If you have the option, it’s very worth it to do Science1 or CSP - it’ll give you a close circle of friends and peers to support you through college, and the smaller classes will help a lot.
  • aabskuaabsku Registered User Posts: 17 Junior Member
    montreal is genuinely the greatest city in the world, 100% i think you should go to mcgill, its amazing for biological sciences and an amazing school as long as you make the most of your experience. Also you dont have to speak french to live there, and if you end up feeling like you need to, you can always take classes and learn the language pretty quicky since you are going to be exposed to the language everyday! The city is so unique and you really really will have such a good experience
  • DadTwoGirlsDadTwoGirls Registered User Posts: 4,553 Senior Member
    edited April 14
    I agree with nearly all of the advice above.

    You won't need any French at all to do fine at McGill. In my experience the part of Montreal around McGill and Concordia is largely populated by English speaking and bilingual students of these two schools, and bilingual everyone else. My French is pathetic and I have never had any problem in that part of Montreal.

    If you do want to learn a bit of French, there are intensive French courses over the summer. These are worth looking at and sound like quite a bit of fun as well as educational -- as long as you don't mind the frustration of being required to go for 5 weeks without speaking English. I think that these are mostly given by the various French speaking universities but I am not sure which ones in Montreal offer these.

    Between these three excellent schools, personally I would be tempted to attend either McGill because of what @aabsku said above, or UBC because the grade deflation might be marginally less brutal than at the other two. Expect any of them to be quite a bit of work.
  • 57special57special Registered User Posts: 474 Member
    All three of those schools are very good, but very tough to get good marks in. All three are urban, especially TO and McGill. UBC is out on a beautiful peninsula slightly removed from the city. Lots to do in all three schools, but at U of T and McGill you will be right in the heart of the city, with all that entails.

    All three have outstanding food, but the Asian food in TO and Vancouver is very common and very good. TO can be a grind...very, very big...expensive to live off campus. Some love it. I've also heard complaints about it being impersonal. Toronto is the business and finance center of Canada. That's where head offices tend to be.

    Vancouver has the mildest climate by quite a bit, and has that fantastic setting by the ocean. People there are very outdoorsy. Transit system is clunky. The other two cities have extensive subways. One caution. if you visit Van during the summer you will think that it is heaven on earth, but the winter can be grey, dreary, rainy...kind of dismal. No snow, but not a lot of sunshine.

    S1 is going to McGill. The most historic of all of them, and has it's own charm. You don't need French to go to school there or function in the city. Montreal is known as a sophisticated, artsy, city. It is the coldest, but Toronto isn't that much different.

    McGill has a significant amount of Asians, but also quite a mix of students from all over the world. U of T and UBC has TONS of Asians, if that matters to you.

    If you are set on getting into Medicine then you really should get some advice on whether these schools are the right ones for you. They can all be pretty hard. I know some pre-med students go to a place like McMaster, ace their courses, then go on to Medicine at one of "the Big 3" (though McMaster has a good rep for Medicine, too).

  • DadTwoGirlsDadTwoGirls Registered User Posts: 4,553 Senior Member
    "If you are set on getting into Medicine then you really should get some advice on whether these schools are the right ones for you."

    I think that this is a good point.

    I know a doctor who did premed and medical school at McGill. I asked him if there were students from the smaller schools in eastern Canada. He said there were "tons of them", and said that the students at medical school at McGill came from many different undergraduate schools. From what I have seen and heard the premed classes are difficult at pretty much any good university, but keeping up a premed-worthy GPA is easier, or at least more possible, at some of the schools that aren't quite as famous nor quite as demanding as Toronto, McGill, and UBC.
  • 57special57special Registered User Posts: 474 Member
    My wife has her Medical degree from McGill. She did her undergrad at a small, midwestern LAC.
  • gwnorthgwnorth Registered User Posts: 216 Junior Member
    In Canada, there is no such thing as "pre-med". You don't need a degree in biology/life science/med science or even science in general to apply to med school. You can do the prerequisite courses as electives as part of any degree. BTW, if you are going to stay in Canada for med school you should do your undergrad in whichever province you are thinking of doing your med degree. Every medical school has very limited seats and the majority are reserved for in-province applicants. It will be difficult to get accepted to U of T medical school applying from UBC, or to McGill applying from U of T (etc.).

    If you want an alternative to those three schools you should look at Queen's University in Kingston which also has a very strong medical school. Other schools in Ontario that have medical schools include McMaster, Ottawa, and UWO (Western), though you don't need to do your undergraduate degree at a university that has a medical school.
  • TomSrOfBostonTomSrOfBoston Registered User Posts: 14,271 Senior Member
    In Canada, there is no such thing as "pre-med". You don't need a degree in biology/life science/med science or even science in general to apply to med school.
    That's how it is in the US too.
  • savemypoorsoulsavemypoorsoul Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
    Thank you so much for all your replies! I agree with most of the comments above.

    I currently narrowed down my choices to U of T and McGill. I have to decide which college I'm going before May 1st.
    Here is how my situation looks like now.
    McGill: $5000 scholarship per year, 3 years of college (skip the first year [U0] cuz IB diploma), first choice dorm/ courses, I get to go directly into my major (Anatomy and cell biology), I know no one there (no friends)
    U of T: Vic One Stowe-Gullen Stream, Victoria College, Faculty of Science, some friends go there, but I have to still compete for my major though (I want to major in something Biomed/Lifesci related like human bio)
    I think I can stand the weather for both Toronto and Montreal.

    Thanks! :)
  • gwnorthgwnorth Registered User Posts: 216 Junior Member
    Well, looks like from a financial standpoint McGill is the better choice ($5000 scholarship and 1 year less of tuition). If med school is your goal, it might be best to opt for the cheaper undergrad.
  • PublisherPublisher Registered User Posts: 4,543 Senior Member
    Although UBC clearly has the best location, McGill is the better option for one intending on going to medical school due to significantly lower cost. Also, the extra year could enable you to get a masters degree if not accepted to med school.
  • GoldenState99GoldenState99 Registered User Posts: 32 Junior Member
    edited May 4
    I'm not sure why you knocked UBC off your list. Of course, all three of those universities would be great choices. But if it were me, I would go for the significantly warmer winters of Vancouver (UBC). Happily, you really can't go wrong with any of those three schools, in terms of the quality of your education and their global reputations.
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