UC Berkeley

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UC Berkeley

Post  swang1 on Mon May 05, 2008 12:24 am

Hi all,

I find it a bit peculiar that myself, an alumnus of BNS, would be posting about a personal dilemma, but a situation has transpired recently that has caused me to reconsider my path and I'd appreciate all the feedback and input I can get.
I'm currently an enterring-third-year Cell Biology & Genetics major at the University of British Columbia, keen on pursuing a career in medicine. I applied for a junior-transfer for this fall to Berkeley, and was offered admission (without fin. aid). Now, I have a few qualms about matriculating.
In my two years at UBC, I've built great social and professional networks, I've gotten great GPA, have good ECs, am very involved in the campus community, and the local community. I'm happy here.
I wanted to go down to UC Berkeley because a part of me wants to immerse myself in the foreign, to learn life lessons while struggling, and to see how well I fare. Also, it doesn't hurt that it's a world-class institution, and I believe it would open more doors for me professionally.

Complications arise because I am interested in medical school, and I would have to rebuild myself within the 10 months down there, as I finish my undergraduate degree (I'm not counting my fourth and final year, since I would've applied to most medical schools by the start of my senior year). So, I have one junior year to build myself starting from scratch, and I'm thinking my GPA could take a possible hit, well...will most definitely take a hit (I hear the curve at Berkeley for pre-med has a very low median).

So, I'm wondering if the gamble is worth it, especially weighing the fact that I am a pre-med. I almost feel that if I stay at UBC, I would be limited to UBC / Canadian medical schools, and I'm the type of person who wants many options, and would prefer to have options outside of Canada. I would be considering applying for US medical schools, and...have heard rumours that the Berkeley name carries more weight, and that your undergraduate school impacts your chances of admission into grad/professional school.

What do you think?

swang1

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Re: UC Berkeley

Post  bcheng06 on Mon May 05, 2008 12:15 pm

Better GPA at UBC, or not so amazing GPA at Berkeley? If you continue to succeed at UBC, then no matter what, a med school should accept you based on your GPA. On the other hand, just because you can get into Berkeley, it doesn't mean anything: You would still have to do pretty good at Berkeley. And now, if you consider the entire impact of moving to a new country, settling down, being away from the comfort of your home, making new friends, etc, etc, you'll find yourself completely distracted from trying your hardest in school.


Yes, if you really did go to Berkeley, you'd see way more doors open for you, no doubt about it. But just because those doors are open, doesn't mean you can get through -- you still need that high GPA in order to get through. Unless you're telling me that you don't need as high of a GPA from Berkeley as from UBC to get into the same med school, I'd definitely stick with UBC. Everything is already settled down at UBC already: You're a happy student, achieving at high levels, and you actively participate in the community: Isn't that what a med school is sort of looking for?

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Re: UC Berkeley

Post  CHo05 on Mon May 05, 2008 4:46 pm

What makes you think you're limited to Canadian med schools if you stay at UBC? Many Canadian students go to American med schools as International students. Some American schools will even accept Canadian students as Out of State students.

You might be hoping to enter American schools as an "American resident" by going to UC Berk for a year, but you'll have to check up on the policy of each school and what they consider "American resident". The only plus side I could see in going to UC Berk (besides those that have been mentioned before) is that if you do qualify as an American resident, you probably have a much better chance of going into med school in American than med school in Canada. There seems to be a lot less Canadian spots, and a lot more competition for it.

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Re: UC Berkeley

Post  dwu04 on Tue May 06, 2008 10:57 pm

In my experience, I have not seen neither of the following facts to be true: that one should get a lower GPA at a more prestigious school, or that those who go to American schools get into American grad/professional schools with significantly greater ease than those who go to Canadian schools. However, I have gone through the grad school process, so take my words with a grain of salt.

I believe that the reason most people go to UBC/Canadian Med schools is because they want to be closer to home, or because it is simply more expensive to go to medical school in the states as an international student. Many people opt to go to med school in Canada, and do their residencies in the US. Remember also that your international student status will not change, regardless of whether you graduate from Berkeley or UBC. It is harder for Canadian students to get into American med schools not so much because they went to a Canadian school, but because they're Canadian citizens. Furthermore, Alice (AZhou03) graduated from UT and recently went to UPenn for her MD/PhD, fully funded. She is obviously a great example of someone who graduated from a Canadian school and succeeded in this process, and someone who you may want to consult.

As for your desire to go to Berkeley to "learn life struggling", all I can say is that it is a great experience that teaches you many personal lessons that cannot be taught while you are sheltered in the comfort of your long-time friends and family. But as to whether it is worth it, that is obviously your personal decision. Regardless of your decision, you will probably go through that experience in 2 years anyway.

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Re: UC Berkeley

Post  AZhou03 on Wed May 07, 2008 3:57 pm

congrats on getting that transfer to berkeley, I know it wasn't easy.

Its important to go where you are happy. The reputation of the school does play a role in med school applications. Howver, MCAT, GPA, extracirrculars, research, clinical experience, whatnot, matter more than your institution. That being said, I'm the only student in my med school class of 150 or so to have a degree from outside of the states, so as an international student applying to american med schools, its definitely much easier to have your bachelors from an american college.

If you stay at UBC, your choices might be limited to in province schools. I'm not sure how ontario schools deal with out of province students, but competition might be much more fierce if you're applying as an out-of-province student. Oh fyi, i found canadian schools to be more competitive, as an entity, than american schools (this obviously does not apply to the top tier schools, but there is a wider range of american schools that take students who are ranked lower).

It really depends on your resilience and you reasons for going. Berkeley will open doors for you professionally, but only if you are able to keep your achievements up on par with what you have now. And how resolute are you to keeping at medical school dream, ie, are you willing to transfer countries to pursue it?

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Re: UC Berkeley

Post  swang1 on Wed May 07, 2008 8:15 pm

Well, another thing that deters me from transferring is the fact that I would have to spend 5 semesters down in California. I'm not completely sure about the process of american med schools, but I heard applications were rolling?
If not, and I do happen to spend an additional semester down at UCB, doesn't that give me a gap half-year? And what would I do within that gap half-year?
I would then be pushing my application back to the following enterring class of 2011, rather than 2010.

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Re: UC Berkeley

Post  AZhou03 on Thu May 08, 2008 1:39 pm

Some of the schools have rolling applications, it really depends on the institution. I know Penn does NOT have a rolling application, in fact, many of the top schools do not have a rolling applications.

I know at this point, you want to spend the least amount of time possible before getting into med school. But keep in mind that most med students take one, or two, or three years off after graduating to pursue a masters degree, to travel or work before matriculating. The average age of entering med students is around 23.5 (give or take one or two) because they want to 1) live life a little before committing their life to something or 2) build up their experience/resume padding/again enjoying themselves some more. So your extra semester at Berkeley is not considered odd and will not hurt your application. What you can do with that semester is completely up to you and your imagination. Travel, bike, do what you enjoy. To put in the entire span of your career, pushing back one year is not particularly significant, so its worthwhile to take a break and relax and enjoy life, especially after 4.5 yrs of school.

P.S. I have no idea what W is... can you elucidate that some more?

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Re: UC Berkeley

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