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Pharmacy & First year undergraduate

A photo of KingJames77 KingJames77
Hey, I'm an aspiring pharmacist, currently enrolled in high school (G-12.) I was just wondering if it's possible to complete all of the prereq's in your first year? This quote was taken straight from the U of A pharmacy, which is where I plan to attend in the fall of 2012,

A minimum of one pre-professional year of College/University level courses must be taken in order to be eligible for entrance into the BSc(Pharm) program.

So is it possible and just incredibly improbable, or just impossible to complete prereq's in the first year of undergraduate? Or is ir just not recommended to complete them in one year? When do applicants to pharmacy typically get accepted, first year, second year, after a the completion of a bachelors degree in a related field? In addition what are the best courses to take, like for english there's AUENG 103, 104, and ENG 121-125, what do the different numbers mean, or different classes mean? What does a typical first year of undergraduate studies, in which one is trying to complete the prereq's for pharmacy school, look like? Also, how hard is it to get accepted into pharmacy, I have a high eighty average in high school currently, and just don't want to get my hopes up and then have them shot down if I don't get accepted. Sorry I'm kind of a novice when it comes to university haha But any help would be much appreciated, thanks.
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A photo of KingJames77 KingJames77
quote from U of A pharmacy website*
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A photo of mynameismattgotmlgo mynameismattgotmlgo
Yes, you can get into U of A pharmacy school with just one year of undergrad behind you. U of A, and a lot of the other universities in Alberta, allows you to take organic chemistry, which is normally a second-year course and has first-year chem as a prereq, if you had a mark of 90% or higher in grade 12 chemistry.

I'd say about 1/4 of my class got in after first year, 1/2 got in after second and third year, and the other 1/4 got in after fourth year/Master's/PhD/bachelor's + work experience.

What you want to look at is the U of A's academic calendar. That lists all the courses U of A offers, along with brief descriptions of the contents of each.

The cut-off for U of A pharmacy is about 3.3-3.4ish, but you'd have to do better than that to get in just after first year (probably more like at least a 3.5 GPA). There is no direct conversion between % average and GPA, especially because U of A uses the bell curve. A 3.5 GPA probably means that you have mostly A-'s (3.7) and B+'s (3.3), with the odd B (3.0) and A (3.9) and A+ (4.0). A B+ in the bell-curve marking system means that you beat class average by a bit; an A- means you beat class average by quite a bit and are likely in the top third of the class. Translating this to percentages required to get these grades, a B+ =~ 75-80%, and an A- =~80-85%, which is very close to what it would be like at a school that doesn't use the bell curve. So, more or less, you want your average mark received on an exam/assignment to at least be about 80%.
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A photo of KingJames77 KingJames77
Thank you Matt, I was hoping you'd reply, you seem to know your stuff. Plus you're already in the program I'm going to be trying to get into to. Dang I slacked in chem and got <90%, so I can't get in after first year I presume? Alright I'll take a look at the calendar, thank you. Also I just have a couple more questions, What's the difference between bachelor honors, bachelor specialization, and bachelor of science general? Is it almost necessary to be in honors to get into pharmacy school? I applied for bachelor of science general thinking it would be better to have a higher gpa to get into pharmacy, assuming the honors classes were separate harder classes. I just need some clarification so I can switch my major if necessary accordingly. Also, in your opinion what is the best undergraduate major for getting into pharmacy graduate school? Last, would pharmacology be a good option?
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A photo of mynameismattgotmlgo mynameismattgotmlgo
Unless you repeat grade 12 chem (I mean, doing so might make sense: you could save yourself a full year of university), then you won't be able to take organic chem in first year and thus won't be able to get into U of A pharmacy after first year. There are other pharmacy schools in Canada though.

You don't take different levels of classes in honours vs general. To graduate with an honours degree you usually need a few more courses, particularly at the higher level, and usually need to have completed some sort of honours thesis project in fourth year. Really though, the difference is slight, and transferring between the two programs is typically effortless. Also listed in the academic calendar will be the courses that are required to graduate successfully with a certain degree. This will allow you to comprehensively compare different programs and different degree classes.

Program requirements: http://www.registrar.ualberta.ca/calendar/Undergrad/Science/Programs/193.html

Course descriptions: http://www.registrarsoffice.ualberta.ca/Registration-and-Courses/~/media/registrar/pdfcal/11-12calendarpdf/CourseListings.pdf

If you compare programs, you will find that there are a lot of shared required courses among two similar programs. This means that it would be very easy to transfer programs. Remember, what degree you end up with depends on what courses you take.

Pharmacy schools don't give preference to any certain degree; however, if you want to prepare yourself well for pharmacy school, then you should take a mix of pharmacology, physiology, anatomy, pathology, microbiology, and immunology courses in your upper years.

Feel free to really explore the academic calendar. You can really learn a lot from it.
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A photo of ktel ktel
My brother was trying to get into a bachelor specialization program, and like Matt says, the differences are slight and only apply later on in your degree. In first year you will be just in general science, you have to then qualify for honors or specialization after first year.

Like Matt says, read the calendar! It's amazing how many people don't (even among those who are in university). My brother just had to drop a class because he had already taken a similar course and wasn't allowed credit in both. Stupid mistake really.
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A photo of KingJames77 KingJames77
So would you recommend retaking grade twelve chem? The only reason I'm having difficulty deciding is because that would mean I would have 4 cores in one semester, with no spares. They are fairly easy and i got ~90 in all of them last year: Math 30 pure, English 30-1, and Physics 30. I just think it might be too stressful, but if recommended then I think I'll do it. The sooner I make a decision the better. Keep in mind I will be re-doing the Chem 30 diploma in June anyways to try and boost my mark.

I'm still having troubles deciding my undergraduate, trying to choose between honours in biochemistry, honours in pharmacology, honours chemistry, or what would you suggest to best prepare me for Pharmacy graduate school? I'm kind of leaning to switching into honours pharmacology.
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A photo of mynameismattgotmlgo mynameismattgotmlgo
In the end, it's your decision to make. With your current Chem 30 mark, you will not be able to take organic chemistry in first year and thus will not be able to get into U of A pharm school after first year. Instead, you will have to do a second year of undergrad essentially just to take organic chemistry. That's assuming, however, that your marks are really good and/or you have lots of ECs to back them up and are able to get in after first year. If you end up not getting in after first year, a statistically likely outcome, having repeated Chem 30 would have been a waste of your time. So it's your call.

And as a student of the Ontario high school system, I don't know much about the Alberta one. I forgot that you could simply retake the diploma. If you think you can a high enough grade on it to boost your final Chem 30 mark to at least 90, then I think it's worth your time to at least try. At the very least, you'll just end up better prepared for first-year chemistry.

Remember, what degree you end up getting depends on what courses you take. I wouldn't worry about picking the right program for you right now, especially if you only plan on doing only one or two years of undergrad, in which all those programs have more or less all the same required courses (all three very likely have the same first year, and biochem and pharmacology would have either the exact same or very similar second year). DO NOT stress about program choice. Transferring between these programs after first year is effortless, and transferring from biochem to pharmacology or vise versa after second year is also effortless.
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