yconic - Canadian Student at an Ivy League School - AMA (university life, admissions, majors, anything you'd like!)
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Canadian Student at an Ivy League School - AMA (university life, admissions, majors, anything you'd like!)

I made one of these threads a couple of years ago that some people found useful so I decided to make another one to distract myself with over the summer. A little about me:

School: Yale
Major: Statistics (while completing pre-med requirements)
SAT Score: ~2300 (back when it was out of 2400)
High school average: ~95% over all four years (lower in grade 9/10, higher in grade 11/12)
Accepted to: Several Ivies, Waterloo BME and CS/BBA, U of T EngSci, Western Engineering + Ivey


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How would you rate your level of pretentious douchebaggery on a scale of ghetto to cultured?
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I am not the one insulting others anonymously on an online forum...
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4chan wanker confirmed.
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Which Ivy is it? Because there is quite a difference between Harvard (the "top" ivy) and Cornell (the "lowest" ivy)
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Yale - edited post to add school
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Mate, unless you are a season graduate student who studied at multiple Ivy league school, or a university surveyor, neither are you or OP are in the position to call one school above or below one another (unless its Yale (jokes)).
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Ignore the above two posts. Sounds like they are the same person. It's people like this that discourage others from trying to help out students on t his forum. 

I have a few questions. What is your tuition and why did you make the decision to attend a school in the States as opposed to Canada?
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Honestly it's fine - I got some rude comments last time too but most people are great and I remember getting a lot of good advice here back when I was a high school student.

Full tuition + expenses is around $65k USD (so ~$80k CAD). BUT most of the Ivies have very generous financial aid and less than half of students actually pay full tuition. Personally, I only pay slightly more to attend school in the US versus in Canada. I encourage anyone interested to look at Net Price Calculators for the schools that they are interested in attending to get a better sense of how much they will need to pay based on their family's circumstances.

I decided to attend an Ivy because of several reasons:
-I liked the idea of having a comprehensive liberal arts education. At the time, I was not completely set on my major, and attending an American school would give me greater flexibility.
-I liked the smaller class sizes
-Academic advising/support is amazing and professors are very accessible
-The environment is very collaborative, even in traditionally competitive areas like premed
-The community is very diverse but tight-knit. The residential system at my college means that you get to meet a diverse mix of individuals with different backgrounds and interests.
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does someone with 1320 SAT (on the 1600 new SAT) and a 92% average have a chance of getting into ANY IVY League School at all?

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Not OP but that SAT score is kind of low for Ivy League. It would be better to estimate your chances to put your percentage for all 4 years of high school into GPA. If you want a good shot at any Ivy League school, you'll need an SAT of 1500 or above. You would have a good shot at University of Florida, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Indiana University, Michigan State, Syracuse, Rutgers and University of Wisconsin-Madison.
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With the current state of affairs in the States, why do people still want to go and study there? My friend had to reject his offer to work at the World Bank because he is Middle Eastern. I know more US students trying to pursue their studies in Canadian universities now, as opposed to vice-versa. Enrollment into the ivy league schools has dropped (which you can read up online). I would only go there if you're rich and rolling in money, and parents are completely supporting you while you are there. Oh, and hopefully you're not a coloured person.
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Lol, Ivy Leagues use affirmative action, you do realize that, right? If you're coloured, you're more likely to get in since they put less emphasis on merit. It's sad that even prestigious schools are using identity politics to recruit.
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^

LMAO, the schools themselves may use affirmative action to accept a coloured person, but there is no guarantee that Trump won't have his cronies boot you back to where you came from. Read up on the immigration ban that prohibits certain students from also attending universities in the States?
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Since the admissions process to Ivies is holistic, it is impossible to predict your chances without knowing more about you. It is possible for extraordinary ECs, essays, and letters of recommendation to balance out lower scores/grades. That being said, a 1320 is on the low end for the Ivies. You will vastly improve your odds if you can retake and score above 1450 (ideally 1500).  

I would also advise you to do your own research and think about what you look for in a school. Regardless of the political climate in the US at this time, many American schools have a lot to offer. The presidency does not change the quality of education at top-tier US institutions. Enrollment at Ivy League schools has not dropped (in fact, the number of applicants has been steadily climbing: https://www.ivycoach.com/ivy-league-admissions-statistics/). Furthermore, the immigration ban does not apply to students.
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Yep, hard to disagree with that. Creationism is cancer, but at the same time, it's also important to honour the principle of freedom of religion. If someone wants to pray to an imaginary holy man, then that's their choice. But that doesn't mean that religion can't be criticized. All religions should be subject to scrutiny, which is why I find the "anti-Islamophobia" bill completely reprehensible.
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What's your career goal? Are you aiming for medical school in Canada or the US?
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I'm not 100% sure yet. I think AI is the future of medicine and hope to be a part of that revolution. An obvious path would be academic medicine, but I am not a huge fan of the uncertainty involved in academia. I'm currently leaning towards getting involved more on the management side of things - how can tools using AI be actually incorporated into hospitals?

I am hoping to attend medical school in the US (considering an MD/MBA). When the time comes, I will probably also apply to Canadian schools as well though to have more options.
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which other ivies were you accepted to and to what program?
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I was also admitted to Princeton and Penn (engineering). Princeton and Yale do not admit by program though you select a prospective major when you apply (most students end up choosing something else so they don't put much weight on what you choose). I applied with a biomedical engineering major.
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To what do you attribute your success in being offered admission to not just one, but several Ivies given how incredibly competitive admissions is even for domestic applicants let alone international students since the number of students with academic credentials qualifying them to attend these institutions far surpasses the number of positions available? What do you feel set you apart from the tens of thousands of other applicants with similar stats that did not gain admission?
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Ivies really want to see who you are as a person outside of your stats. Personally, I think I stood out because of my ECs. At the time, my main activity was a relatively uncommon sport that I've competed internationally in (though I also did some volunteering, math/science contests, and a couple of clubs at school). The specific activity doesn't matter as much as how well you are able to communicate your passion for it and what you managed to achieve in it. Quality > quantity as you don't want to appear like you are just trying to do ECs for the sake of college applications.

ECs aren't the only way to stand out though. Essays are also a very important part of the application and I know many people who credit their essays for their acceptances. A creative essay that shows off the writer's personality can easily push an applicant from the "academically-qualified, but otherwise average" pile to the admit pile.

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Did you only write the SAT or did you also write the ACT? Which test would you recommend and why?
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I only wrote the SAT because I did well on a practice test and the PSAT. If you're deciding between the two, I'd recommend taking a practice test of each and seeing which one you do better on since it is definitely a personal preference. Generally, the SAT tends to be "trickier" but you get more time per question. http://prepskills.com/act/act-vs-sat-which-test-should-i-take has some more information about the differences between the two.
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I was wondering if you have any friends/peers in law school and where they go?
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Out of the people that went to Yale for undergrad, I know one at Columbia, one at Duke, and one at Harvard. Most of my friends are still in undergrad/just graduated, and many prefer to work for a couple of years before grad/professional school so I expect this count to go up.
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Ivy Kid, do you still have friends and family in Canada? Just wondering what your social circle tends to look like.
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Yes I do! My parents still live in Canada and most of my high school friends are still in Canada as well. I usually get to see them a couple of times a year when I come home during breaks and my parents occasionally go visit me as well.
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What programs and schools do your high school friends go?

 I only ask because I'm quite intelligent and probably the most academically inclined person out of my entire social circle. Sometimes I get comments on having "better friends" I guess, but I find a lot of smart kids annoying, immature, and pretentious. You probably see a lot of that at Yale, actually. So, I'm wondering if your social circle consists of all privileged, pretentious, academically inclined kids, or if you chill with normal kids too lol. 
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Honestly, just be friends with people you like. Most of my high school friends go to university in Ontario (some examples: Western MIT + Ivey, U of T Life Science, Waterloo Math, U of T Rotman, Laurier BBA, York Education, Mac HealthSci).

I will say though, that I actually find smart kids at Yale much more well-adjusted and sociable than most of the smart kids I knew in high school. Thanks to a combination of the people they admit, the people who choose Yale, and the prevailing campus culture, there really aren't that many pretentious know-it-alls and no one really compares themselves to each other.
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What is your favourite ice cream flavour
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Mmmm tough question...I'd have to say either peach, pistachio, or strawberry depending on my mood.
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Have you met any other Canadians at Yale?
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Yup! There's a Canadian Club (that unfortunately isn't too active at the moment) and I met many of them on Facebook before arriving at Yale.
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1) What is your opinion on the ("alleged") rampant grade inflation throughout most of the Ivy League (particularly Yale)? On one hand, most of your peers are very bright and hardworking. On the other hand, there is something to be said about a place like Harvard where (apparently) the most commonly awarded grade is an A. Thoughts? And what are most of your class averages like? 

2) How genuine vs. superficial is the purported "diversity" at places like Yale? I know they love championing that diversity, but is it really true? Or is it the case that all of the black kids for example are from wealthy backgrounds (making them, IMO, not diverse at all relative to wealthy white students). 

3) Do you know a single person at Yale who you would consider not particularly ambitious (or they're just aiming for a fairly pedestrian career)? It seems like every Ivy kid is gunning for one of the following: medicine, law, banking/finance, consulting, engineering/tech, or academic (i.e. go to a top grad school). Have you met a student that just wants to be a grade school teacher? Or a social worker? 

4) Do you know of any students who went to Yale and ended up "failing" in some way? I mean more in the long-term sense, like they ended up unemployed or something. 

5) Not sure if you've had experience with this, but how crazy is on-campus recruitment? Do you have a lot of big companies itching to hire Yale students? I'm actually curious because I know for certain fields (ex. CS/engineering), Yale would fall under several other prestigious colleges for recruitment rankings (MIT, Stanford, Harvard, Berkeley, maybe even Cornell, etc.). Do you notice any fields in general that recruit very heavily from Yale? 

Thanks for doing this! 
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rampant grade inflation throughout most of the Ivy League (particularly Yale)

+100000000000000000000000000000000000

I'm in law school and there are lots of people in my program who did their undergraduate degrees in the US. And according to them, grade inflation is rampant at most institutions there and it was a joke to graduate with 3.9+ GPAs. The hard part is getting into an ivy league school, and after that, you're set. Again, we get screwed in Canada but that's what also makes our education system unique and really good. 

I know three coloured people at Yale - two Indians and one black. They all came from privileged families. Socioeconomic factors hands down plays a more important role in post-secondary achievement than factors like race and ethnicity. 
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Lol, this is why you shouldn't go to Yale: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V6ZVEVufWFI

Pathetic whiny radicals complaining about "cultural appropriation" thinking they need to feel safe from Halloween costumes. Beyond embarrassing.
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1) The extent of grade inflation really depends on the department. STEM tends to be less inflated as classes are usually curved to a B. I do believe that grade inflation exists, but also think that the extent of it has been greatly exaggerated. While it may not be too difficult to graduate with a Poli Sci degree with a 3.0, it is still quite challenging to have a 3.9+ GPA. Students at top-tier US schools are almost all very smart and hardworking. I make no claim that the top student at Yale is much different from the top student at say U of T, but the bottom half of the class at each school almost certainly is. If you look at GPA/MCAT score comparisons, you will see that students at schools like Yale actually score BETTER on the MCAT than their GPA would predict. Anecdotally, I took a 60-person organic chemistry class freshmam year. There were two International Chemistry Olympiad medallists and around half the class had already taken orgo in high school (some starting as early as Grade 10, some who had audited the exact Yale class). Would it really have been fair for half the class to have received C, D, and F grades?

2) I think they genuinely try to champion diversity but are only somewhat successful in their efforts. They truly do try to make Yale affordable for everyone and try to admit a diverse class; however, not many low-income students apply. I have some low-income friends who talked about how no one from their school ever applied to Ivies, how some of them were discouraged by their community from applying/attending and how they often felt academically unprepared for Yale classes. 

3) I have! I know one girl hoping to be a stay-at-home mom after working for a religious organization, two who want to be teachers, and one who wants to become a physician's assistant. Just a matter of different priorities :)

4) Unfortunately yes. Though Yale has a very high 6-year graduation rate, I do know one person who has dropped out and one person on academic probation due to mental health issues.

5) Consulting and finance definitely recruit heavily from Yale. On campus and also invitations to special barbeques and events in New York. CS does recruit at Yale as well (Facebook came in with catered food to an intro CS course and we also have the heavily-sponsored, Harvard-imported course CS50 which often hosts events as well), though I can't compare it to a school like Stanford.

No problem and glad I could help :)
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Also @Anonymous, please do not paint all Yalies as "pathetic whiny radicals" based on one clip. There are people of all types at all universities, and naturally the most extreme tend to receive most of the media attention.
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Saw Waterloo BME and got curious :P. What's your opinion on it versus the biomed eng programs in the states (which I understood was your projected major before you switched to stats?)

Not trying to demean your choice at all, just looking for perspective. 
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Hmm okay so imo it really depends on goals. For someone who wants to go into industry after undergrad, Waterloo is a better choice since it is more focused/hands-on and co-op gives lots of good work experience.

On the other hand, programs in the states tend to offer a broader education and more flexibility. This was my main reason for choosing Yale over Waterloo. I was strongly considering medical school after undergrad, and American schools make it easier to fulfill pre-med requirements (most US med schools have a lot more pre-med requirements and I wanted to leave the option of a US med school open). Furthermore, I was not completely set on BME (as you can probably tell from the fact that I switched to statistics) and it is much easier to switch majors in the US.

Of course, other factors such as campus community, accessibility of professors, class sizes, and finances definitely came into play as well in my decision.
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Sweet thanks, I'll keep this in mind for any future BME applicants who applied to the States as well :)
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No problem :)
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Were you considering applying to any other non Ivy league schools (like MIT)?
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I also applied to MIT and Stanford, but did not get into either. They both tend to be harder to get into for Canadians since MIT restricts the number of international students they admit and Stanford is need-aware for international students (meaning you are less likely to get in if you apply for financial aid).
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What programs did you apply for at MIT?
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I applied with an intended major in biological engineering, though MIT doesn't admit by major so it doesn't make a huge difference.
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so what is your plan after graduating undergrad?

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I'm currently pre-med, so likely med school. I am also planning on applying to a range of different tech/consulting/possibly finance internships for next summer so I may choose to put off med school or pursue a different opportunity if I decide I like it better.
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Did you use an admissions consultant? Everyone I know who gets into an ivy league used one but my parents won't pay for one...
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No - and the majority of people I know at Ivies (both Canadian and non-Canadian) did not either. As long as you put in the time to critically think about how to best present yourself and write good essays (and get others to edit!) , you will be fine without a consultant.
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lol this should be proof that mac healthsci is harder than ivy's to get into...
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I don't see how any of what I said proves anything about (or is even remotely related to) the relative difficulty of getting into an Ivy vs. Health Sci and I don't see why it really matters either. Both are competitive enough that you should definitely be applying to safety schools as well and basing your self-esteem on whether a program is harder/easier to get into than XXX is pretty silly.
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wow you really aren't very smart if you don't see how it is related...you got into three different ivy's but not healthsci, so clearly it's harder...
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Pretty sure Ivy Kid used daddy's money to pay his way in. Too bad he couldn't pay his way into Mac health sci with a sh!tty supplementary. hahahaha
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1. I did not even apply to Health Sci. I had no interest in the program.
2. Even if I did, there is so much unpredictability in admissions and what different programs/schools look for. You can't draw any conclusions like that from one anecdotal case like that.

To be clear, I am not interested in debating which program is harder to get into with you. Just pointing out that using me as "proof" is dumb.
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Re: "daddy's money" - I find it pretty funny that everyone on this forum assumes that I come from a very wealthy background. The reality is, I am only able to attend Yale because of their very generous financial aid policies. I pay less than half of full tuition. The idea that my family could ever scrounge up enough money to make Yale care enough to take a second look is pretty comical.
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lol then you aren't very smart for not applying...healthsci is the best program if you want to go to med school...maybe you were just scared you couldn't pay your way in?
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Lol, the kids at Yale are a bunch of entitled leftist radicals. They made a huge fuss about an ex-prof saying that it was okay for people to dress up in controversial Halloween costumes and then this mob of kids surrounded the prof and screamed expletives in his face. They claimed that the responsibility of the university was to create a "safe space" and to make the campus feel like home. xDDD Prof was forced to resign because of the backlash even though he said nothing wrong. Nothing but an SJW-polluted school. Even the Simpsons made fun of the incident: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p8M2tg2RkIQ
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I disagree. Health Sci may be the "best" program for a lot of premeds but definitely not for me.  Health Sci pretty much serves as a medical (+ other professional schools) feeder program. I see my undergraduate education as more than just a pesky 4 years I need to get through on my way to medical school. Medical school will give me all of the scientific knowledge I need to become a doctor. I want to spend my undergraduate education expanding my mind in other ways. Quantitative analysis skills are becoming increasingly important in our data-driven world, so I want to build my background in math/cs. Perhaps this is too lofty, but I don't see myself working solely in clinical practice for the rest of my life and hope to get involved in the "bigger picture" of healthcare somehow, through policy, management etc. where having a broader skill set will benefit me. I knew by the end of high school that I did not want to enter a science undergraduate program and applied accordingly. For what it's worth, I was admitted to every single program I applied to in Canada.

I'm not really sure why you think it would be easier to pay my way in to an Ivy than Health Sci, but whatever, clearly we think on different wavelengths.
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I've said it once and I will say it again. There are people of all types at all universities, and naturally the most extreme tend to receive most of the media attention. People particularly like to talk about scandals at Harvard, Yale, etc. because they are some of the best-known schools. You are quite wrong if you think all Yalies act any certain way, but if it makes you feel better to imagine all Yalies as "entitled leftist radicals", then go right ahead. 
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Ivy Kid, why are you entertaining this anonymous, jealous child who is just trying to put you down right now?

This is why no university students and professionals want to come on this forum and help out high schoolers anymore. We have an actual student from Yale here taking the time to answer questions and help out other students, then we have pathetic immature kids like this who are trying to get you to leave. It reeks of their own insecurities because chances are that even if this kid wants to go to med school, he won't get into either an ivy league school or Mac health sci for undergrad. 
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Aw thank you for the support :) It's unfortunate that there are so many toxic people on this forum, but I know there are many great high school students who genuinely want advice so I keep coming back.
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What were your ECs like in high school? Not that I'm planning to attend the US, but I always thought those schools were so much out of my reach :P
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I mean hey, most of my current classmates thought the same thing :P

My main EC was a sport I'd competed in for around 10 years. It's a relatively uncommon sport but I had participated in/placed in a few national/international level competitions. I was also the president/founder of a couple of clubs at my high school, volunteered with disabled individuals and at summer camps (~600 hours total) and placed well in a few math/science contests.
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Wow those are some big ECs. What do you think was the biggest reason you got accepted? As weird as this sounds, I actually do have a goal to be able to attend an Ivy League school for grad. I'm also wondering how the workload is compared to the high school you went to.
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Haha thank you! I was lucky because I happened to start a lot of ECs early. Personally I think my ECs were what made me stand out beyond having the requisite academic qualifications. Once you have good marks and test scores, it really comes down to what else makes you special. Some people get in for their fantastic essays, others get in for having a compelling life story, still others get in for having standout/interesting ECs.

And nah, that doesn't sound weird to me at all! Where you do your grad school is much more important than undergrad anyway. What kind of grad program are you looking at? Grad school admissions are a little different from undergrad as there is more of a focus on the relevant experience you have.

The workload here is pretty dependent on your own choices (in terms of major and classes). There are some relatively easier ways to a degree for those who desire one, but most people I've met genuinely want to put in the effort to learn. I've found that Yale definitely covers material much more quickly than my high school did and a lot more independent work is expected. There is a lot more flexibility though in terms of when you want to do that work. I've also backed off on the ECs a little since arriving, so I probably actually have a bit more time for myself.
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Thanks for answering all the questions :)  So far I'm not quite sure what I wanna go to uni for, I just know that I'm hoping to continue my education past undergrad at  Yale and maybe another Ivy league  university, do you have any recommended grad programs? 
How long have you been in uni for?
Are you planning to go to med school in Canada or the States?
Do you think graduating with a Yale or any Ivy league school degree will provide any advantage when   looking for a job/pay?
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No problem :)

Grad program recommendations would really depend on your interests (no sense in an MBA if you're interested in quantum physics research!). But you do have some time to figure things out still. I was just wondering since different grad/professional programs look for different things in their applicants.

I am in my third-year right now, so a little more than halfway through! I hope to go to med school in the States (though I would also consider taking some time off in between to pursue an interesting opportunity if one comes up) and am considering pursuing an MD/MBA, though I will probably also apply back to Canada to have more options (and cheaper tuition).

In terms of job prospects, I can't deny that the Yale (or any other top US school) name makes things easier in some fields, such as consulting/finance. Don't get me wrong, it is still definitely possible to get hired by many fantastic firms from other universities, but at the end of the day, most of them focus their recruiting on Ivies and other top schools. It matters a lot less for most other fields though.


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why did you choose stats as your major?

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After a lot of deliberation, I decided to choose stats because of how widely applicable and important it is. I am very interested in how statistics/data science (e.g. AI techniques) can be applied to improve healthcare. Broader than that, I also wanted to further strengthen my quantitative intuition. I think that it is very important for doctors to be able to critically evaluate evidence and understand the ways in which statistics can be misleading/counterintuitive. As an example, check out John Ioannidis' paper, "Why Most Published Research Findings Are False" (http://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.0020124).

Medicine/healthcare aside, stats is also applicable to a wide variety of fields from finance to ecology. I like the idea of gaining a skill set that can be used in many different scenarios and keeping doors open.
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I'm sure you have been exposed to cs people even if your major is stats. 
What would you say the biggest difference is? I'm debating between the two. 
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I was actually strongly considering doing a CS degree! It probably depends somewhat on the institution, but I would say that the biggest difference I've found is that CS focuses more on building tools while Statistics focuses more on applying techniques and tools to arrive at new findings. Obviously, in terms of coursework, Statistics also includes more math while CS includes more coding, though there is still a fair amount of overlap in the coursework for the two majors.
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can one get good jobs with just an undergrad in stats from say, u of t?

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In my opinion, Statistics is one of the most employable majors straight out of undergrad. If you take more computational electives, you can land positions at tech companies. If you're more into business, a lot of finance and consulting companies love hiring students who have strong quantitative/analytical backgrounds. Most industries involve working with data of some sort, meaning skills in data analytics will make you an attractive job candidate.
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As someone who's interested in pursuing their Masters at a top US university, do you know if US universities favour any undergrad Canadian uni?
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What you do in undergrad is much more important than which undergrad you attend. Most masters programs will also care a lot about your work experience after undergrad. There are certain schools (U of T, McGill, UBC, etc.) that tend to send more students to US grad programs, but these also tend to be schools with larger student bodies. Ultimately, you should pick a school that will allow you to excel and give you the best job opportunities. Which field are you hoping to go into?
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Im hoping to go to grad for engineering. I wanted to do undergrad at McGill because of its international reputation, but I like Queens because its a non competitive first year eng where you can get into your top field picks if you pass. Also I like how Queens is a 4 year program including the general year whereas McGill is 5. would it be a good idea to only go to McGill for its reputation worldwide?
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Disclaimer: I am not as familiar with grad school admissions as I am with undergrad admissions.

All else being equal, I think a degree from McGill is better for US grad school admissions than one from Queens because they tend to prefer schools that are well-known (particularly among international schools). However, I don't think this advantage is huge enough that you should go to McGill solely for its reputation if you have a strong preference for Queens. At the end of the day, it's more important that you graduate with the degree you want and a good GPA (and then score very well on the GPA). Grad schools care more about what you do (research, internships etc.) than where you come from.
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