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Does School Name Matter?

I’ve been doing a lot of school comparisons lately and looking at which school has what to offer, programs, etc. From what I’ve learned, your GPA matters the most; How well you do and you’ve learned in your years in university. So does school name matter? If I were to go to a top tier university in Canada (e.g. UofT, UBC, McMaster) vs. going to a lower tier university (Windsor, St.Mary’s, Brock, UVic) does it matter? I hear that it’s a lot more stressful for the students as well to study in top tier universities, so is there even a point in going to those? If it helps, I’m looking to work towards medical school after my undergrad.

4 Answers

  1. Not really, unless you’re going into a business program or something along those lines where reputation does make a difference in your future employment prospects. For med school, go to the school/program that will most likely net you a sky high GPA.

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  2. Universities do not get their reputation from undergrad programs, with some exceptions. It matters where you go for business as the top business schools attract recruitment and networking opportunities from the top employers. U of T, Waterloo, and UBC engineering and computer science programs land students in top tech companies in Canada and the US. Otherwise, where your degree is unemployable, generic, and/or merely a stepping stone, it won’t matter where you go.

    That person with an engineering degree from Lakehead will have better job prospects than a women’s studies degree from U of T.

    However, there is a major flaw in your reasoning. You haven’t cracked some science into med school that no one knows about. Med school admissions rates are less than 5% in Canada, and if anyone could just get high grades at Brock and go to med school, they would. There are a lot of variables that you can’t account for here. Also, program difficulty > school difficulty. You can’t just say that every program at U of T is going to be harder for YOU than every program at Lakehead.

    Have a backup plan. Most people that want to go to med school will not get in. So if you decide to pick a “non-reputable” school for undergrad and still don’t get into med school, make sure you will not have regrets down the road.

    Aim for McMaster health science because it sends a lot of students into med school. Otherwise, class averages are in the C range even if you did go to Brock; it is university after all. So don’t expect to be the top student at a lower tier university, because out of tens of thousands of students, I can guarantee you that there will always be someone smarter than you.

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  3. To add, there is a point to attend a better ranked school because usually they have more research opportunities, peers who will challenge you, you will surround yourself with more studious and motivated students, faculty that is usually more higher up in their fields, and maybe better references.

    U of T, UBC, McMaster, etc. all have medical schools of their own. There may be opportunities to work with and study under people that also teach at the med schools. You may get a reference letter or research experience directly under a med school prof. Anything is possible if you hustle.

    It is not only about the grades. There are more people getting into medicine from a school like U of T than there is from Brock – for a reason.

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  4. In official terms all Canadian undergrad degrees are supposed to be equal, whereas it is not supposed to matter which school you go to, unless you pursue a graduate degree (then reputation does matter). With that being said, it is impossible for people to not be biased and since everybody knows which universities are harder, they will judge based on that. But your grades are extremely important and it’s better to excel at a bottom tier school then to do okay or below average at a top tier school. Essentially, you want your grades to be as high as they can be but if you are borderline getting in or not then the school you go to may be the deciding factor.
    I know UofT has a bad rep for ruining their student’s GPAs, causing them to have difficulty finding jobs or applying to grad schools, as well as they had major controversy over their students having mental health issues, but the school not helping them. I’m not saying that is for sure true, but it is their reputation. McMaster and UBC don’t seem to have that reputation so I’m guessing they’re probably a little easier.
    With all that being said, medical school is hard and if you want to get through it then you have to be a hard worker and able to manage difficult courses and a heavy workload. Going to a university that is more challenging may help prepare you more and do well in medical school. With that being said, being prepared won’t help you if you don’t have the grades to get in.
    However, overall rep and program specific rep are two different things so be careful. For example, one school may be unknown and easier but then have one specific program that’s the best in the country and highly respected and vice versa – a top tier, highly respected school may have a program that’s super easy and not well respected at all. So look into the specific program and not just the school!
    If I were you, I would look into all the schools and the program you want to go into to. It also helps to talk to students in the program and try to get a feel of what it’s like and the work load/difficulty level. It’s good to challenge yourself, but you need to be careful because that can screw you over and cause you to do poorly.
    Ultimately, there are pros and cons to both sides. I can’t tell you which is better because I don’t know you and what you’re grades are like/ your drive and ambition. Just look into it and base it off the program and what you think is the best fit for you.

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