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IS RESIDENCE REALLY WORTH IT? MAC VS UOFT

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Hey guys, I apologize for the long thread. I appreciate you guys reading it and giving me your opinions/advice :)

So I live in Toronto, and got accepted into both McMaster and UofT, St.George campus. I've always wanted to go to Mac, but recently I've been leaning more towards UofT.

So heres my dilemma:

McMaster is known for the health science/science faculty, as well as their problem based learning method. I love the school and campus because I've always wanted to go to an enclosed university (Queens, Western etc.) just because I feel that there is a sense of community and belonging one cannot get at commuter schools (York, Ryerson etc.) University life and experiences are very important to me (aside from grades :P), because I've always wanted to be at a place that has a tight-knight community and spirit that I never experienced at my highschool, mainly because it was in a bad area. On the downside, money is very tight for me, and it will be difficult for me to pay back my debt if I live on residence all four years. Even if i get money from OSAP, job savings, and family contribution- I don't want to graduate with an enormous amount of debt that will take me years to pay off. ($16,000-$20,000 per year depending, including rez.)

Uoft is known for being one of the top tier research-institutions in the country along with McGill, with scholars and professors who are coming from the top of their field. If I go to uoft, I will be living in residence the first two years, and commuting the third and fourth year. I will be saving a ton of money by doing this, and that just take a lot off my shoulders. I have heard from many that because of UofT's reputation and the people within, the connections that you make and the people you will meet will ultimately end up being your professional network- helping you in the future. And getting a job after graduation is important to all of us. The only downside is, the school is also known for its harsh marking schemes, bell curves, difficulty of courses, competition and I could go on. I get it, UofT is one of the best- it's bound to be difficult, but will I be getting a better education at UofT just because of their reputation? University life and experiences will not be the same even if i live in residence, just because its mainly a commuter school- downtown as well. It has no school spirit, school involvement whatsoever because theres so much competition in the school and its so much more difficult there that most students dont even have the time for fun. That all goes against what I want my university experiences to be like and I don't want to spend my 4 years just studying, worrying about the courseload, or trying to bring my 60% up to an 85%.

So is going to mac and living in rez all four years really worth the thousands of extra dollars and the so called "once in a lifetime university experience"? Will having a degree from UofT really be worth it just to go through 4 years of agonizing difficulty and sometimes suicidal thoughts that an institution like them will enforce?

*on another note, I am considering doing a post-grad in medicine. So GPA/extra-curriculars/volunteerism DOES matter. :) Thanks again all!
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