Cliff notes for those who just want the raw results: I was accepted to the University of Toronto and McMaster University, and was waitlisted at Queen’s University.
As you all already know, I got into medical school on Friday! Unfortunately, I was out almost the entire day so I didn’t get the time to write much in depth. So for those of you interested, I wanted to give a little rundown on how the whole day went.
The night before, I had stayed up till about 2 am before finally just giving up and going to bed. Originally, I figured I would be full of anxiety and would end up staying up all night long – but I wasn’t as nervous was I thought I would be. In all honesty, I didn’t really feel that anxious until I woke up yesterday morning around 6 a.m.
Medical school offers are one of those things that take a really long time. The admissions process itself starts way back in September, and if you’re fortunate enough to be offered an interview, you don’t find out your status until mid-May. And if you consider that many people begin thinking about and preparing for medical school years in advance of that, and some times you end up applying multiple times, the journey can be quite long and strenuous.
I can’t really remember what I was thinking at 6 a.m. But I remember getting out of bed, and checking my email just for the heck of it. I had left my laptop on overnight with my email open so I could check right away in the morning. Of course, I didn’t expect to see anything at that time. Everything I had read and heard pointed to the emails coming no earlier than 8:45am or so. And just as expected, there was nothing there yet. So I proceeded to try and go back to sleep, planning to just wake up at 8:00am and check again. But I ended up twisting and turning in bed, genuinely nervous for the first time about this. To be honest, I was actually more nervous the hours before I got my MCAT score back – the thought of having to study for that beast of a test again is the most scary thing ever in my opinion.
In any case, around 6:45am I still couldn’t sleep, so I decided to go surf the web for a bit. Like I said, my email had been open since the night before, and I had to collect myself for a bit. And staring back at me, in bold font against a white background like any new message in Gmail, were the words:
University of Toronto – Congratulations
For a second I just stared at the title, recollecting my thoughts. It seemed unreal, especially since I didn’t expect anything to come this early in the morning. So I opened the email, and sure enough staring back at me, read the words:
On behalf of the University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine, I am delighted to extend to you an offer of admission into the first year of the Doctor of Medicine Program in 2009-10.
An offer package, including your official offer of admission, will be arriving through regular mail shortly…
I remember the other day thinking about how I would react on Friday.
If I got in, would I scream out in happiness? Would I do some Tiger Woods fist pump? Would I just sit back in my chair in a smile?
But if I was waitlisted or rejected, would I mutter some profanity? Slam my desk? Mope for the whole day?
To be honest, I don’t think you can really predict how you’d act unless you’ve been in this situation countless times over. Emotions just take over, and you just do something. It just happens.
For me, I called out to my mom and dad, screaming: “I got into UofT! I got into UofT!”
I remember when I had found out I won the TD Canada Trust Scholarship over the phone, I just smiled at my parents and said: “I got it!”. I don’t really know what was so different about my reaction this time. I think it might have to do with me walking out of the TD Scholarship interview thinking I had nailed it, and me walking out of my UofT medical interview with a lot of doubts. In a way, when you start having expectations, it affects how surprised you end up being when the results finally come in.
My parents came over and gave me big hugs, and told me to give my brother a call. Jerome had told me that he wanted me to call him whenever I found out anything, though I don’t think he was expecting a call this early in the morning!
When I called him he seemed a bit groggy, but it turned out he had trouble sleeping himself. I told him it was probably because he was anxious about my medical school results. He said “ummm sure” sarcastically. Not surprised. But he was very happy for me, and that was good enough.
It was a weird feeling, almost anti-climatic. UofT had been my first choice, and so now that I was in, unless my mind suddenly changed, the results of Queen’s and McMaster didn’t really matter anymore. In a way that’s a good thing I guess. But I guess in the back of my mind I expected to start off the day getting rejected or waitlisted, and then having to deal with the anxiety with hoping I would finally be accepted by the last school to reply.
But none of that happened, and so a day I expected to be full of anxiety for the whole morning, one in which I thought would involve constantly refreshing my email in my 9:30am Macromolecules class, ended up sort of ending pretty quickly. But I mean, I can’t really complain.
So after the UofT news, I had breakfast with my parents. And about an hour later, I came back to my bedroom to start packing up for school. It was around 8:00am, and I saw I had gotten a new email, with the title:
Queen’s Medical School Application Results
A few months ago, my friends asked what my brother’s medical school emails looked like, and I fished those out. One thing we realized is that the contents of the email were made pretty obvious by the title. If you got in, the email title usually contained words like “Congratulations” or “Offer of Admission”. On the other hand, waitlist or rejection emails tended to be very general and vague, with just the university’s name or words like “Waitlist”, and so on.
So when I saw the email title, I kind of knew I didn’t get in. But there’s always that part of you that convinces yourself the title might just be misleading, and you click with some excitement anyways. But nope, the title matched the email:
Dear Mr Liu:
The Queen’s University School of Medicine Admissions Committee has completed its review of all applications for the term starting in September 2009. Based on this review, I am unable to offer you a position at this time. However, your name has been included on the waiting list. Although you are not among those to be offered admission today, offers will be made from our waiting list as places become available. Unfortunately, we cannot inform you of your position on our list or provide any further information relative to our waitlist process.
I really didn’t feel anything while reading this, though I think a lot of that had to do with already getting into UofT. If this was my first email of the day, I’m would be more swept over with disappointment and anxiety for the next few emails.
That being said, I was disappointed in the sense that I thought I nailed the interview. I have had quite a few traditional interviews over the past several years, and this was arguably one of my best. But with 760 students interviewed for 100 spots, chances were already slim no matter how great I thought it went. And even if I thought it went great, that doesn’t mean my interviewers thought the same.
Soon after that, I set off for York for my Friday classes. My parents were going to meet my brother that morning in downtown Toronto, so they gave me a lift to York. On the way there, I gave Jerome a call to let him know when my parents would be there. Of course, he didn’t really care about that, he just wanted to hear about more emails. So I told him about Queen’s, and that I had not heard from McMaster yet.
Being the selfless brother that he is, he asked if he could check my email for me. I told him that I kind of wanted to be the first person to see it, and I would check it first thing at York and let him know. But he said “C’mon, let me look”. And so I thought to myself “Oh screw it”, so I gave him my email username and password.
So Jerome logs into my email, and he says there’s an email from McMaster. This is how the ensuing conversation went:
Me: “What does it say?”
Jerome: “Can I open it?”.
Me: “Just tell me what the email title is”. (Remember, the title usually makes it obvious if you got in)
And Jerome replies: “The title doesn’t say anything. Let me open it.”
Me: (Realizing that I probably got rejected/waitlisted) “Alright, whatever, open it.”
Jerome: “You got in!”
And he starts reading the email:
This is to advise you that an offer of Admission to the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine at McMaster University (Hamilton Campus) is on the way to you, in the mail…
Wow, given our conversation, I really didn’t expect that. Though, I later learned that the email title actually was “Offer of Admission – McMaster University MD Program” and my brother was just messing with me.
I was definitely a bit surprised about this one. I thought my McMaster interview was about average, but I guess somehow it was good enough.
It really goes to show you that no matter how you felt your performance went in the interview stage, you never really know. I thought I aced the Queen’s interview and did mediocre on the UofT and McMaster interviews, but somehow, it was the schools I thought I did worse at that accepted me!
The Rest of the Day
So I basically found out the results even before I got to class, which is not even close to what I expected. My friends were really happy for me, and one of my friends said, “You must be the happiest guy in the world right now”. To be honest, it hadn’t quite sunk in. By that point, as it was a few hours since I got the initial news, I think I was more relieved than anything (that I wouldn’t have to go through the process again), and I sort of felt just normal again.
It does make me nervous thinking about starting somewhere new in September. I don’t really like change, to be honest. I remember being nervous starting both high school and university, but I also remember that even if things started out rocky, they always got much better by the end. So I figure the same thing will happen in medical school.
It was also weird hearing about how other people did. It was great to see some friends who got in, but it was kind of sad to hear about others who didn’t. It’s just really weird to talk about it unless you both got good news.
So anyways, after class, we decided to celebrate by having a bite and a few beers. I’m not really sure if that was a good idea because I felt really tired when we went to see the new Star Trek movie afterwards. I thought I was going to fall asleep at the beginning, but I somehow made it through the whole movie. Overall, I thought the movie was pretty entertaining. There were a few spots that didn’t make sense, but I’m probably just nit-picking – overall, I think they achieved that they wanted, which was getting the general public interested in Star Trek, and if that was their goal, I’m pretty sure they achieved it. I don’t remember any other Star Trek movie getting this many viewers who weren’t already fans of the show. After the movie, headed home as I promised my family to have dinner with them to celebrate. We went to this Shanghainese restaurant, and the food was pretty good. By the time I got home, I was pretty exhausted, and ended up randomly falling asleep with the lights on at 9pm and waking up at 12 am. Ended up blowing time till 4am, and then I finally fell asleep again.
So what now?
Well, I still have to finish school. Which reminds me about my Molecular Biology 2 course. As you may remember, I got a 60 on my first midterm, and we finally got our second midterm marks back yesterday. I ended up with a 67.5 (umm yay for improvement?), but again below the class average of 70.
It wasn’t just me though. All of my friends didn’t do that well, and even one of my friends who had the highest overall GPA out of all of us ended up doing significantly worse than I did. But the class average is still 70, meaning that someone is doing well – just not us.
The good news is that it seems like I just need to pass this course, since all my other course grades (from the past three years) will pull up this mark, even if I barely pass. Of course I don’t want to put myself in that situation, and I’m going to study hard and see how well I can do on the exam, but it kind of feels nice to not have that much pressure. I’m really grateful for how things ended up turning out.
Oh, and if it wasn’t obvious yet, I will be accepting the University of Toronto offer. Nothing against McMaster, as I’m sure they have a great program as well. But I love Toronto (the city), and am very happy with the prospects of staying here long term. It’s also nice to not only be able to make many brand new relationships in medical school, but to still be able to maintain the strong relationships I already have here – that’s a big plus for me. But I guess, even in terms of the program itself, I do prefer the more traditional methods of UofT. Regardless, everyone I have ever spoken to has enjoyed the school they ended up attending, and so I’m sure most experiences are fantastic no matter where you go.
Phew, that was quite long. Thanks again to everyone for their support!
P.S. I hope this doesn’t make it sound like the blog is over now that I got in. I’m going to continue writing, though I guess now more about medical school and the medical admissions process. I had a lot of ideas I wanted to write about before, but didn’t want to put on paper unless I actually got in.