Plan B Strategies

Students who aspire to enter Professional programs in Medicine, Dentistry, Law, Pharmacy, and so on, are familiar with the notion that they should develop a contigency plan — a Plan B — in case they cannot enter their desired professional program, an alternate academic and career path in which they can nevertheless thrive and find personal satisfaction and fulfilment.

If you stumble academically, and are no longer permitted to continue in your current program, you will need to develop and follow a second itinerary through university — a Plan B — based on your abilities, tastes and career aspirations. Here are some things to consider:

  • Students in an Honours Major-Minor or Double Major program with Biology as minor or second major will need to maintain a minimum gpa of 6.0 in BIOL courses and 5.0 overall. If this is your program, then the following applies:
    • If your overall gpa is just under one of these required minima, you may request a Waiver so as to proceed in the same program.
    • If your gpa in BIOL courses drops below the minimum, you may be required to drop the Biology minor or major, and the best program for you would be one that makes best use of the credits you have already accumulated in Biology. Your options will depend on your year level, the actual courses taken, as well as your gpa:
      • If your gpa over all SC courses is at least 5.5, a suitable program to make use of a significant number of BIOL credits is the Specialized Honours Biochemistry program.
      • If your overall gpa is at least 5.5, another suitable program to make use of a significant number of BIOL credits is the Pharmaceutical & Biological Chemistry stream of the Specialized Honours Chemistry program.
      • If your overall gpa is between 5.0 and 5.5, the likely best program to make use of a significant number of BIOL credits is the Honours Major Chemistry program, since this program allows a significant number of elective credits.
    • If it is your overall gpa that drops below the minimum, you may be required to transfer into a 90-credit Bachelors program, in Chemistry from a Major Chemistry-Minor Biology program or in either Chemistry or Biology from a Double Major program.
    • After transfering to another program, you can attempt to improve the appropriate gpa in order to return to your desired program before the end of your third year. You may consider repeating courses you passed but in which you did poorly, in order to raise your gpa. To keep pace, you would ideally be following the requirements of the combined program, just as if you were in that program, in effect shadowing the program you want until you actually do get back into it. Keep in mind that you may not be able to access all the courses in the program you are shadowing, especially in the highly subscribed laboratory courses, as access to certain courses chosen as electives is subject to space availability. If you are unable to meet the gpa requirements after your third year, you should consider, with the help of an advisor, whether it is best to concentrate on graduating within your new program or to continue to shadow your desired program.
  • Students entering the 120-credit Specialized Honours programs in Chemistry in Fall 2009 or later (including the Pharmaceutical & Biological Chemistry stream) will need to maintain a minimum overall gpa of 5.5. If this is your situation but your gpa drops below this minimum, you have several options which you can explore with an advisor:
    • If your overall gpa is just under the required minimum, you may request a Waiver so as to proceed in the same program.
    • If your overall gpa is at least 5.0, you can transfer into the Honours Major program, an Honours Major-Minor program (except not with a minor in Biology) or even an Honours Double Major program (except not with a major in Biology). These are all 120-credit degrees and, provided you can maintain a gpa of at least 5.0, you can graduate with an Honours degree. Keep in mind that the Double Major programs are usually more demanding, with a higher workload unless taken more slowly. Further, a combined degree will likely require that you take additional courses in the minor or second major.
    • If your overall gpa is at least 4.0, you can transfer into the Bachelors program then graduate with 90 or more credits with a minimum overall gpa requirement of 4.0.
    • You can attempt to improve your gpa in order to return to the Specialized Honours program before the end of your third year. You may consider repeating courses you passed but in which you did poorly, in order to raise your gpa. To keep pace, you would ideally be following the requirements of the Specialized Honours program, just as if you were in that program, in effect shadowing the program you want until you actually do get back into it. If you are unable to improve your gpa sufficiently after your third year, you may still be able to graduate with an Honours degree and a gpa of at least 5.0 overall, or with a Bachelors degree and a gpa of at least 4.0 overall. The requirements for the Specialized Honours programs automatically satisfy the requirements for the Honours Major program and those of the Bachelors program. Additional credits may be required if you instead pursue an Honours Major-Minor or an Honours Double Major program, or if you opt for the Analytical Chemistry Study Plan.
  • Students in Specialized Honours programs entered before Fall 2009 or in any other Honours program will need to maintain a minimum overall gpa of 5.0. If this is your situation and your gpa drops below this minimum, you may be placed in the 90-credit Bachelors program and you then have three options:
    • If your overall gpa is just under the required minimum, you may request a Waiver so as to proceed in the same program.
    • If your overall gpa is at least 4.0, you can graduate in the Bachelors program with 90 or more credits and a minimum overall gpa of 4.0.
    • You can attempt to improve your gpa in order to return to the Specialized Honours program before the end of your third year. You may consider repeating courses you passed but in which you did poorly, in order to raise your gpa. To keep pace, you would ideally be following the requirements of the Specialized Honours program, just as if you were in that program, in effect shadowing the program you want until you actually do get back into it. If you are unable to improve your gpa sufficiently after your third year, you may still be able to graduate with a Bachelors degree and a gpa of at least 4.0 overall. The requirements for the Specialized Honours programs automatically satisfy the requirements for the Bachelors program. Additional credits may be required if you opt for the Analytical Chemistry Study Plan.
  • If you are in the 120-credit Specialized Honours program in Biochemistry, you will need to maintain a minimum gpa of 5.5 over all SC courses. If this gpa drops below this minimum, you may not be allowed to continue in this program. To nevertheless continue your studies and graduate with a degree, you can transfer into another program. Good choices for alternate programs, which enable you exploit your BCHM credits and other Biochemistry-mandated courses, are listed in the Biochemistry Handbook available from the Biochemistry web site. While you are in an alternate program, you then have two options:
    • You can stay in your alternate program and complete it, so long as you meet the minimum gpa requirement for that program.
    • You can attempt to improve your gpa in order to return to the Specialized Honours Biochemistry program. To keep pace, you would be following the requirements of the Specialized Honours program in Biochemistry, just as if you were in it, in effect shadowing the program until you actually do get back into it. You may consider repeating courses you passed but in which you did poorly, in order to raise your gpa. Gaining a transfer back into the Biochemistry program is not guaranteed, however, even if you are able to sufficiently improve your gpa, because of space limitations. There are other matters to consider:
      • If you are required to transfer out of Biochemistry after your first or second year, shadowing the Biochemistry program will likely mean taking courses not required by your alternate program and your ability to get into those courses specifically required for the Biochemistry program will be subject to space availability, especially for the highly subscribed courses BCHM 3140 and BCHM 4290. If, after your third year, you still cannot meet the minimum gpa for Biochemistry or if you are not allowed to transfer back at that time because of space limitations, you must decide whether it is best to concentrate on meeting the requirements of your alternate program in order to be able to graduate in a timely manner, or whether you should continue to shadow the Biochemistry program, thereby running the risk of needing more than four years and needing to complete more than the minimum number of credits in order to graduate in any program.
      • If you are required to transfer out of Biochemistry after your third year, you may not have enough time to either sufficiently improve your gpa or to shadow the Biochemistry program, even if space limitations are not a hindrance, without spending more than four years and taking more than 120 credits.

University is a time when young people discover themselves, try new things and refine their goals, aspirations and ambitions. There is no shame in discovering that your initial goals were not the most appropriate for you. What would be a shame is if you end up in an academic path that you don't really like or value. It is therefore important that you know about all your options and to choose wisely, yet allow yourself to make mistakes. Talk to your advisor about your options.

It would also be a shame if you were not allowed to pursue your goals and to see your opportunities become more limited simply because you did not put in your best effort, for one reason or another. To give your best effort, you may need help with particular courses, help with your academic skills, or help with personal issues.