You’re almost at the end of four years of undergrad school and are thinking about your GPA, MCAT, and everything else that goes into your medical school application. Are you ready to go straight to med school, or do you want to take a “gap year” – a year off between college and medical school? Many students are seeing the benefits of taking this time “off,” using it to their advantage, to improve their chances of getting accepted to their dream medical school. Some use it to improve their premed credentials, while others use the time for personal growth.
Here are 5 advantages of taking a gap year:
1. You can use this time to improve your GPA.
It’s important to show an upward trend in your undergraduate GPA on your application. This can often determine your likelihood of acceptance. Adcoms are actively seeking students who can manage a heavy BCPM load and still get top grades. If you need to improve your qualifications, you can take several math or science courses to boost your undergrad GPA, take premed courses, or enroll in a formal postbac program.
2. You can use this time to boost your MCAT.
You can also improve your credentials by having a higher MCAT score. If your MCAT result wasn’t what you were hoping for, using this time to focus only on taking an MCAT prep course and test would be a great idea for you. Studying for the MCAT while taking classes often hurts your MCAT, grades, or both.
3. You can pursue a grad degree in a field or discipline that interests you.
If you have a passion for a certain topic or research area, doing a Master’s program can give you the chance to study the subject in more depth and make you a stronger medical school candidate. You can also improve your professional network and gain greater clarity on your education direction and goals.
4. You can evaluate your non-academic credentials.
If your GPA and MCAT are where you want them, you can take advantage of this time to look at your non-academic experiences. Will your application show research experience, clinical exposure, community service, and leadership qualities? If any of these areas are lacking, a gap year is the perfect opportunity to find a new experience to round out your app. You should take this year to look for openings that will supplement your current inventory of medically relevant experiences and give you time for personal and professional growth.
5. You can focus on personal growth.
Are you feeling burned out after four intense academic years? A gap year is the perfect chance for you to pursue your passion. Whether it’s travel, teaching, volunteering, art, or music, spend this time on self-development and enhancement. Once you’re in med school, this opportunity won’t be available!
Although it often feels like it, acceptance to medical school isn’t a race. Spend your gap year doing what is right for you, whether growing academically, personally, or professionally. Focus on you reaching your goal, not forcing yourself to get there with the rest of the crowd. This will ultimately give you a stronger app, and a better chance of reaching your ultimate goal – being a doctor.
Do you want to make the most of your gap year and position yourself to become a stronger medical school candidate? NOW is the time to start working with your personal admissions coach. Check out Accepted’s Medical School Admissions Consulting Services and gear up for a successful medical school application!
• A Second Chance at Medical School: The A-Z of Applying to Postbac Programs, a free guide
• Rejected From Medical School 3x – Today a Pediatric Resident and Mom, a podcast episode
• When Should I Apply to Medical School?