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McGill vs Concordia for Undergraduate

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I don't think a poli sci degree looks better to law schools than any other (I could be totally wrong about this though). I did a political science degree and I think its utility is more how it benefits you when you get to law school than it is getting you into law school. Law school exams (from what I've been told, so again could be totally wrong) have no right or wrong answers and reward you for innovative, logical thinking in your responses and for applying relevant knowledge. Most exams I've written in political science have been a similar format. 

 

I'm not so sure. I mean, exams in any subject are about logically "applying relevant knowledge". But - at least in my experience - polisci exams were "policy" questions: usually there'd be some statement or premise, and you would write an essay-style theoretical response. There was always a little room to bullshit, to interject your personal opinion, to approach the question in a slightly different way.

 

You sometimes get a policy question on a law exam, but most of the questions will be "issue spotters". You are given a factual scenario and are tested on your ability to spot possible arguments the various parties will make in accordance with legal principles. It's actually quite formulaic, with the standard approach being "IRAC": Issue, Rule, Analysis, Conclusion. Rinse, wash, repeat. Occasionally there will be an opportunity to throw in some policy in the sense that you'll spot a rule which, though seemingly applicable in the case, wouldn't quite accord with the policy reasons behind the rule, but very rarely will you have the time to actually make a fulsome argument.

 

Here's an example question, from a property exam:

 

Larry Chan is an avid Blue Jays fan.  On April 10, 2013, he went to a Blue Jays game in Toronto, and was fortunate to catch a home-run ball that had been hit into the stands where he was sitting.  He put the ball in his coat pocket and intended to keep it as a souvenir, ignoring the fact that the ball belonged to Toronto Professional Baseball Corporation and had not been abandoned by it.  After the game, he went to a bar with some friends to celebrate his good fortune.  When he left the bar, unknown to him the ball fell out of his pocket and rolled onto the floor.  It was later found by Joan, a server in the bar.
 
When Larry got home, he realized that he no longer had the ball.  He returned to the bar, recognized Joan as the woman who had served him, told her he had lost a home-run ball, and asked her if she had found it.  She produced the ball and said, “Too bad, finders keepers”, and refused to give it to him.
 
You are a lawyer.  Larry has come to you for advice.  Please advise him on the relative rights to the baseball (considering all possible claimants), and whether he has any chance of recovering it from Joan in a legal action.

 

 

I think where poli-sci grads might have a bit of an advantage is simply in terms of understanding the Canadian legislative framework. Especially useful in constitutional law, but also just for giving you the base knowledge of how laws are made, what 'reading' a bill means, etc. It's not a huge deal - certainly not worth picking a polisci program over something else that interests you - but it is something. 

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Whether McGill grades harder than Concordia isn't a question I'm able to answer. The proposed statement for transcripts sounds like the type of thing that might actually prejudice readers against McGill grads.

 

Also, not sure if having copies of past exams or problem sets counts as cheating. The type of cheating detailed in the article has nothing to do with the type of cheating depicted in the illustration.

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Look at these student reviews of McGill...

 

Lots of people seem to say it is impossible to get an A, which I would desperately need to get into Law school...

 

Here's an article that makes me question whether I should go to McGill....

 

I don't think you should be overly concerned with the grading policy. A friend of mine taught at McGill for a few years (in the English department), and his overall assessment ran quite contrary to what that article suggested. He often complained to me about how disinterested his students were, and how poorly the overall quality of the work was. He was constantly bumping up students in order to meet the required minimum averages. He now teaches at Concordia, and I haven't heard him change his tune. Work hard, apply yourself, and you'll be fine wherever you are.

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I don't think you should be overly concerned with the grading policy. A friend of mine taught at McGill for a few years (in the English department), and his overall assessment ran quite contrary to what that article suggested. He often complained to me about how disinterested his students were, and how poorly the overall quality of the work was. He was constantly bumping up students in order to meet the required minimum averages. He now teaches at Concordia, and I haven't heard him change his tune. Work hard, apply yourself, and you'll be fine wherever you are.

 

Yeah, that's what I'm thinking. I feel like most people who say it's impossible to get an A are ones that just cram and don't give it their 100%. I plan to study every single day, sacrifice my social life a bit in order to get top marks so hopefully this means I will stand out compared to the mcgill students who study hard only before the exam and spend the rest of their time drinking and smoking pot lol

Edited by ljlife

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No contest. McGill. Better school, better parties, better campus, better reputation, etc. 

 

Better parties? You're crazy. And "better" school? Lawl. It really depends on the program. I know many, many dissatisfied Mickey G undergrads.

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Yeah, that's what I'm thinking. I feel like most people who say it's impossible to get an A are ones that just cram and don't give it their 100%. I plan to study every single day, sacrifice my social life a bit in order to get top marks so hopefully this means I will stand out compared to the mcgill students who study hard only before the exam and spend the rest of their time drinking and smoking pot lol

The people who have to ditch their social life for academics usually have lab/research commitments and are trying to get published. I don't even know how you could fill 20 hours a week of real studying on a full social science courseload outside of exams unless you were totally disorganized or just didn't know what you were doing.

Edited by Eeee
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The people who have to ditch their social life for academics usually have lab/research commitments and are trying to get published. I don't even know how you could fill 20 hours a week of real studying on a full social science courseload outside of exams unless you were totally disorganized or just didn't know what you were doing.

 

Yeah. Honestly, if you just do the readings you're ahead of 85% of the class.

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I'm not so sure. I mean, exams in any subject are about logically "applying relevant knowledge". But - at least in my experience - polisci exams were "policy" questions: usually there'd be some statement or premise, and you would write an essay-style theoretical response. There was always a little room to bullshit, to interject your personal opinion, to approach the question in a slightly different way.

 

You sometimes get a policy question on a law exam, but most of the questions will be "issue spotters". You are given a factual scenario and are tested on your ability to spot possible arguments the various parties will make in accordance with legal principles. It's actually quite formulaic, with the standard approach being "IRAC": Issue, Rule, Analysis, Conclusion. Rinse, wash, repeat. Occasionally there will be an opportunity to throw in some policy in the sense that you'll spot a rule which, though seemingly applicable in the case, wouldn't quite accord with the policy reasons behind the rule, but very rarely will you have the time to actually make a fulsome argument.

 

I think where poli-sci grads might have a bit of an advantage is simply in terms of understanding the Canadian legislative framework. Especially useful in constitutional law, but also just for giving you the base knowledge of how laws are made, what 'reading' a bill means, etc. It's not a huge deal - certainly not worth picking a polisci program over something else that interests you - but it is something. 

 

 

I imagine its an 'experience may vary' type situation. Some political science programs are probably geared more in one direction and others in another. Different professors and course choice will probably also determine the nature of the exams you are writing. For example, I've taken international law, a human rights course, a public law course and am currently in a refugee and migration course which I imagine approximate law school exams more closely than did my American foreign policy or Canadian defense policy courses. At any rate, I'm sure they're not identical but maybe more similar than say English lit or history degrees might be. That being said, you've been to law school, I haven't, so I'm just speculating. I'll be sure to report back in 2016 for the next cohort :P. Also, what you say about understanding the framework is probably a large part of why people recommend political science for people hoping to do law. Of course, its entirely possible to avoid almost anything related to Canadian politics after your first year so even that experience will probably vary from person to person and school to school. I'm excited to see what it's all about anyway. I've got about 5 books I've been told are must-read over the summer to get me ready!

Edited by Alistriwen

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Yeah, that's what I'm thinking. I feel like most people who say it's impossible to get an A are ones that just cram and don't give it their 100%. I plan to study every single day, sacrifice my social life a bit in order to get top marks so hopefully this means I will stand out compared to the mcgill students who study hard only before the exam and spend the rest of their time drinking and smoking pot lol

 

I would agree with what others have said.. Undergrad isn't much more difficult than high school, you just need to go to the classes and do the readings. If you are even moderately intelligent this will get you a solid average at any school. A+ is a bit harder to achieve but it's all pretty doable. I've managed to get an A+ in a lot of courses and with my ~35 hour work week and volunteer commitments spending an eternity in the library or whatever wasn't even a possibility. The advantage today is that most academic resources are available online through your school's library and if you make use of that you will save yourself a lot of time commuting and looking through the inevitably disorganized library. I can't even tell you how much time I wasted rummaging around Weldon Library at UWO (back when dinosaurs roamed) looking for this book or that journal.. Now I can just get it from the online catalogue. Time management is probably the most important skill you can learn. 

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Yeah, that's what I'm thinking. I feel like most people who say it's impossible to get an A are ones that just cram and don't give it their 100%. I plan to study every single day, sacrifice my social life a bit in order to get top marks so hopefully this means I will stand out compared to the mcgill students who study hard only before the exam and spend the rest of their time drinking and smoking pot lol

 

Well whatever floats your boat I guess. I went to Mcgill and I can honestly say that some of the most brilliant and successful people I know were partying, drinking, smoking pot, etc. You should also try to have fun at school, these should be some of the best years of your life. Not saying you necessarily have to do those things to have fun, but that is a specific kind of fun that you should probably try to experience at least a little :rolling: .  Fwiw I hated Mcgill, and although I admit that I was never engaged in my studies, I just found the overall culture to be kind of stuffy and elitist (you will get enough of this in law school anyways!). I pretty much only did well on exams where I regurgitated the profs opinion back to them, regardless of what I actually thought to be right. Where you go for undergrad does not matter for the purposes of getting into law school. So unless you have a passion for a specific program at a specific school, I see absolutely no problem with going to a place where good grades will come more easily. Looking back, I wish I had thought about the end game more because I definitely made the road to law school more difficult than it needed to be.

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Well whatever floats your boat I guess. I went to Mcgill and I can honestly say that some of the most brilliant and successful people I know were partying, drinking, smoking pot, etc. You should also try to have fun at school, these should be some of the best years of your life. Not saying you necessarily have to do those things to have fun, but that is a specific kind of fun that you should probably try to experience at least a little :rolling: .  Fwiw I hated Mcgill, and although I admit that I was never engaged in my studies, I just found the overall culture to be kind of stuffy and elitist (you will get enough of this in law school anyways!). I pretty much only did well on exams where I regurgitated the profs opinion back to them, regardless of what I actually thought to be right. Where you go for undergrad does not matter for the purposes of getting into law school. So unless you have a passion for a specific program at a specific school, I see absolutely no problem with going to a place where good grades will come more easily. Looking back, I wish I had thought about the end game more because I definitely made the road to law school more difficult than it needed to be.

Trust me, I've had enough of that fun in cegep  :wink: lol. If I can handle the work, with all of the EC's i'll also do, i'll probably end up partying a bit.

Edited by ljlife

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So i was accepted into Concordia's Honours In Political Science program! Now i'm still waiting for McGill and I'll have to make a tough choice....

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I did my undergrad at McGill and am doing a law degree there. If you want to go to law school outside of Montreal, being at McGill may be an asset as reputation can help. Both unis are solid. One of the advantages about Concordia is that it has a much more activist student culture compared to McGill, not that it's absent at McGill, but just not as prevalent. If you're a hard worker, don't be deterred by going to McGill due to its purported difficulty. If you can't get good grades in a poli sci undergrad at McGill (or Concordia) then you won't get into McGill law. Class sizes are important, but so are quality of profs and areas of research (e.g. if you want to do research with a prof, the research done at one faculty may interest you more than the other). 

 

Just keep in mind that you can't make a bad decision because both are good schools that will provide you with all the opportunities you require.

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A friend of mine graduated from poli sci at McGill, and she said that it was hard as hell, consistently with what many other people said. On the other hand, being in McGill you'll be surrounded by very competitive people, and that will keep you on your toes more-so than it will be the case at Concordia. For me it's a no brainer that McGill is a better choice. Reputation is not only an asset when applying to law, it's also an asset when you sit in the library at 4AM and ask yourself why are you doing all this, but it happens that that lifestyle is highly shared by McGill students. You'll have premeds, and wanna-be-meds [like me] at the lib all day all night and that'll push you to do better.

 

As for Concordia, I'd only advise you to go for JMSB, comp sci,  or engineering. 

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A friend of mine graduated from poli sci at McGill, and she said that it was hard as hell, consistently with what many other people said. On the other hand, being in McGill you'll be surrounded by very competitive people, and that will keep you on your toes more-so than it will be the case at Concordia. For me it's a no brainer that McGill is a better choice. Reputation is not only an asset when applying to law, it's also an asset when you sit in the library at 4AM and ask yourself why are you doing all this, but it happens that that lifestyle is highly shared by McGill students. You'll have premeds, and wanna-be-meds [like me] at the lib all day all night and that'll push you to do better.

 

As for Concordia, I'd only advise you to go for JMSB, comp sci, or engineering.

I wouldn't say that reputation is an asset when applying to law. Maybe for the french schools who tend to factor in degree of program difficulty.

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A friend of mine graduated from poli sci at McGill, and she said that it was hard as hell, consistently with what many other people said. On the other hand, being in McGill you'll be surrounded by very competitive people, and that will keep you on your toes more-so than it will be the case at Concordia. For me it's a no brainer that McGill is a better choice. Reputation is not only an asset when applying to law, it's also an asset when you sit in the library at 4AM and ask yourself why are you doing all this, but it happens that that lifestyle is highly shared by McGill students. You'll have premeds, and wanna-be-meds [like me] at the lib all day all night and that'll push you to do better.

 

As for Concordia, I'd only advise you to go for JMSB, comp sci,  or engineering. 

 

Thanks for the comment! 

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