By Monica Takahashi

Applying to medical school is a strenuous and stressful process. In Ontario, you can choose to apply to six different schools, each of them with their own challenges. Arguably one of the biggest obstacles that applicants have to overcome when applying to medical school is the overwhelming cost.

Before even looking at the fees associated with the actual application, you have to consider the fees from the largest hurdle that med-hopeful students face: the Medical College Admission Test. Writing this test alone will put you out $315 USD. That fee is not including the review books, practice problems, practice tests, and preparation courses that you might need to be successful. So already, before you even register to the Ontario Medical School Application Services, you will have had to pay, on average, at least a few thousand dollars. Four out of the six medical schools in Ontario require at least one component of the MCAT, so if you choose to save substantial money by not writing this test, you will be at a significant disadvantage.

Now let’s look at the fees associated with OMSAS. The best way to increase your chances of getting an interview is to apply to as many schools as possible; it’s simple statistics. And yet, not everyone is able to afford this. Each school will cost anywhere from $100 to $125 to apply, plus a standard $220 OMSAS application service fee. This is excluding the fee that some universities charge their students for transcript requests.

Here at McMaster University, we’re lucky we don’t have to worry about this transcript fee, however small. So in a “best case scenario” where you apply to all six medical schools, you will have to pay at least $920, not including the possible transcript-request fee. Do you see the issue there? How can the best case scenario be the one where students are forced to pay just under $1000?

The high price of medical school applications fosters an environment where wealthy parents are able to give their children every resource possible, so they are successful entering medical school, become rich, and can then send their children to medical school. And so the cycle of wealth continues.

If you are paying so much for a service meant to merely submit your application, it’s reasonable to assume that this service will make the submission process as stress-free as possible, right? This was not the case for the 2018-2019 application cycle.

The application for this cycle was due on Oct. 1, 2018 at 4:30 p.m. Around 3:00 p.m. on the day of the deadline, OMSAS malfunctioned. It was so bad, in fact, that OMSAS had to extend the application deadline to 11:59.

[spacer height=”20px”]Imagine finishing your application, going to press submit, and the software just refusing to cooperate. Frankly, this is extremely disappointing for such an expensive service. Students are already at a disadvantage having to pay such hefty fees, and having the stress of being unable to submit their application on-time is a little insulting.

[spacer height=”20px”]In the end, the application was extended until Oct. 3, 2018. You know what the worst part is? When I went back to OMSAS News to verify the times, all of the posts associated with OMSAS system issues had been deleted.

Thankfully, I saved a screenshot of the OMSAS news post made the day of the application deadline. I find it incredibly insulting that, after such a catastrophic event, OMSAS chose to cover its tail and hide any sign of issues. “Out of sight, out of mind”, right? Wrong. Hundreds of students who were made to suffer through this error will remember.

[spacer height=”20px”]I understand that sometimes things go wrong and systems malfunction. The problem arises when rather than owning up to your mistakes, you try to hide as if the problem had never occurred.

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