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When is the best time to apply to medical school?

Let’s begin by discussing the two paths to medical school. The first is straight from CEGEP and the second is after a university degree. Students applying to medical school right after CEGEP apply to a program called Pre-Med. Pre-Med (Med-P Preparatory program) is a program designed exclusively for CEGEP students wishing to prepare and train for their school of choice’s rigorous four-year medical education program. Pre-Med students are exposed to challenging courses such as molecular biology, physiology, and cell biology. These courses ensure they are well-prepared for the medical school curriculum. They must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.5 and above, and they must score higher than a “B” grade in all compulsory classes to be eligible for the medical program.

There are several factors to keep in mind when considering Pre-Med.

(1) Some medical schools tend to admit a greater number of CEGEP students. 2020 applicant statistics reveal that 80% of newly admitted medical students at the University of Sherbrooke and 70% at Laval were CEGEP-level students.

(2) Among several applicant categories, the CEGEP cohort tends to be the smallest. A smaller applicant pool makes it easier for applicants to stand out amongst their peers. For example, McGill’s most recent 2021 applicant statistics reveal they received 1283 university applications vs. 1039 CEGEP applications.

(3) Medical school websites will state that CEGEP students must have an R-score above 34. However, recent statistics will show this is just the average R-score students apply with and that those invited for interviews had R-scores of at least 36.8. An R-score of that calibre means a student must score above 90% in every class. This is no easy task considering CEGEP students are fresh out of high school. Unless students are supported and guided through this transition, it might be challenging to excel right from the start.

(4) Certain medical schools will frown upon applicants taking longer than two years to obtain their DEC. This means that CEGEP students only have two years to perfect their application profile. Twoyears to excel academically, acquire meaningful volunteer experiences and develop a unique passion project.

The alternate path to medical school is after a university degree. Students can apply after obtaining a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or even after getting their PhD. Just like applying to Pre-Med, applying from university has it factors to consider.

(1) Students find that getting into medical school from CEGEP leaves them feeling anxious and not prepared for the heavy workload medical school entails. Having a university degree allows students to develop a strong and efficient work ethic.

(2) Applying to medical school from university allows students to have a degree to fall back on. Application cycles are once a year so if students get rejected, they have to wait a full year before reapplying. Students that have an undergraduate degree are able to apply for research positions and work in either research or clinical settings until their next application (which looks amazing on their Cvs)

(3) Sometimes, students think they want to get into medicine. But after a university degree, some might develop a passion for other medical- related fields. Taking the time to finish a university degree (or two) gives students the time and opportunity to explore other fields and areas that might not be available to students applying to pre-med.

(4) Research experience is always bonus on a medical application. When admission officers see applications have research experience, as well as multiple publications this makes students stand out from other applicants. Research labs are more likely to take on undergraduate or graduate students in their labs. They believe CEGEP students to be too young and not experienced enough. Therefore, as an undergraduate or graduate student you are more likely to get relevant and pertinent research exposure.

Students should take their time deciding whether to apply to medical school from CEGEP or university. The pros and cons of each option should be weighed and discussed, as what might work best for one student may not work for another. Both options are great; you just need to find what works for you!

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