Why I Am Taking a Gap Year
- Feb 7, 2017
For some reason, this topic seems to be hyperpolarized among preprofessional students. Those who choose to take a gap year are passionately in favor of its benefits while those who choose to go straight to professional school can have a tendency to scoff at those taking a year off. Whatever you decision to make, know this: there is no right or wrong decision when it comes to taking a gap year. For me personally, a gap year was the right choice for a number of reasons and while mine may differ from others, a number of common explanations for taking a gap year include:
- I need more time. I did not make the decision that I wanted to go to medical school until about halfway through my sophomore year. That was a year and a half that my peers had spent building their medical school applications while I was still trying to figure out my life. Taking a gap year allowed me to have an extra year to add substantial experiences to my application, including those during my senior year which would otherwise have not been included. When you are applying against people who have master degrees or PhD's, then you will need all the experiences you can get to make yourself competitive.
You can find some co-curricular experiences to look into here.
- I want to get in more classes before I took my admissions test. Although I ended up scheduling myself to take the MCAT before I decided to take a gap year, many students choose to take a year off so that they can fit in all necessary classes before they take on the MCAT. This allows students to spread out some of their more difficult classes, as well as take some that they otherwise would not have completed. My recommendation would be Immunology and Genetics. While the topics are not directly tested on the MCAT, I found that both courses were extremely helpful when it came to test day.
You can find a layout of the MSU courses recommended for the MCAT here.
- I need to save money. There is no denying that professional schools cost a pretty penny. Many students find that taking a year off from school and being able to work full time gives them the opportunity to tackle some of that burden and better plan out their finances for when school finally rolls around (even if that includes moving back in with your parents ( -__-)
You can find resources regarding the costs of applying to professional schools here and here.
- I want to see the world. At no point in the future will we ever have as few responsibilities as we do right now, making a gap year the perfect opportunity to detach from the "real world" and go on the adventure that you always dreamed of, whether that includes backpacking across Europe, spending a couple months in Thailand, or even road tripping across the US.
- My brain is tired. It is not uncommon to experience the burnout once Senior year rolls around. Senioritis is a real thing. Gap years are a great way to give your brain a break from the hard stuff so that when professional schools begin you can have a fresh outlook and a well-rested noggin.