Advice: Applying Junior vs. Senior year

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10+ Year Member
Feb 19, 2011
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So I know there can be advantages and disadvantages of applying to medical school your junior year of college vs. your senior year of college depending on your situation.

I'm currently making this decision and I need some advice weighing out the benefits! Here's my scenario:

I'm currently a junior (female age 20) and a biomedical science major with a 3.74 GPA. I've completed all of my required courses for my major except Biostatistics, Orgo Lab, Biochemistry, Calculus, and two medical specialty courses, all of which I plan to complete next year.

Right now I'm enrolled in an MCAT prep course (through Kaplan) and I'm finding that I don't have time to study for the MCAT, let alone complete the "required" course work besides attending class. This semester I'm taking Physics 2 and lab, Organic Chemistry 2, Medical Terminology, Social Psychology, and doing undergraduate research.

I was planning on taking the MCAT this May and applying in late June/early July. However, I'm not particularly a natural when it comes to taking standardized tests and feel very rushed to take the MCAT, as well as apply to med school in general...feeling a bit stressed!

I was thinking that I would take this summer to:
1) study for the MCAT and take it in August 2011 (then apply June 2012 after I graduate)
2) complete a phlebotomy externship (I took a course in December, although no time this semester for the externship).
3) shadow more physicians (I've only shadowed one primary care doctor)
4) go abroad for an international volunteer program for 2weeks-1month (my volunteering has been random events through the pre-med club at my university- nothing special).
...I would also have time during winter break (1 month) to do 3 or 4.

I'm worried that medical schools may favor those who apply their junior year, putting me at a disadvantage. Also, I would have a year off between graduating and medical school. My senior year GPA would also count (although I know most med schools do check up on grades throughout senior year anyway) but I do have some difficult courses left to complete which may bring my GPA down...

So as you can probably tell, I'm kind of leaning toward applying my senior year so I can up my resume with clinical experience/volunteering/shadowing and a (hopefully) better MCAT score. Although, I'm still worried about medical schools looking down upon me waiting another year to apply, (granted I would have a year gap) as well as a possible drop in my GPA.


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Hey Squirrel!

Yeah I totally know where you're coming from. I think the best advice is to listen to what your gut is telling you. Applying a year later will put you in the BEST POSSIBLE position both credentials wise and mental/emotional state. Medical schools definitely favor those individuals that do take a year off (in my opinion of meeting so many directors) to do what they love doing (and are truly passionate about). A year will mean more maturity and a greater sense of readiness and that will show through your application.

You want to apply ONCE with EVERYTHING YOU GOT. No need to rush, as when you are a doctor, you'll be thankful for taking that one year off to enjoy family, friends, and life.

Trust me :)
I would encourage you to apply your senior year if you think it would strengthen your application significantly, which it sounds like it probably would. I'm not sure why you're under the impression that medical schools look down on gap years, but they don't. There are plenty of people applying one or more years after graduation. As long as you do something meaningful during that time, schools won't question it.

You might also consider adding some long-term volunteering in addition to the volunteer program if your only other volunteering has been sporadic. Nothing major, just something you can do a couple hours a week for an extended period of time.
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Lots of people take time in between college and medical school, there is nothing wrong with having a gap year and I have never heard that it looks bad. I do think that you should do it because you have other things in life you want to experience and not just because you need more time to "beef up" your application. I know that as a pre-med we can get caught up in only thinking about what we can put on our application, but try and remember to be a human being from time to time.

If the only reason you want to wait a year is to make a better application, then I think you should go ahead and apply (it sounds like you have a very good chance of gettingin as it is).

If you want the free year for your own personal reasons, then wait until your senior year
I am literally in the exact same boat as you, I am a Junior and I was supposed to take the MCAT the first week of May but then I really started to think about waiting until my Senior year because I wouldn't be so rushed to take the MCAT and that extra year could really help me accomplish some things that would make my application better. The way I look at it is if you can't study for the MCAT then just wait, that extra year will allow you to do whatever you enjoy before you enter medical school and have little free time. I think that extra year for me will be much needed and from what I have heard from other people on this forum and my cousins (both of which are residents now but took a couple years off after undergrad.) that time between undergrad and med school was a great decision because it kept them from being burned out and allowed them to relax and enjoy their friends and families before they went to med school.
Thank you all for your advice :) I found each comment to be very helpful!
I've definitely made the decision to take the MCAT in August and apply early next June! I feel much more relieved and relaxed now...

I'm not sure why I thought applying senior year would look bad to medical schools, I guess I've just always been drilled with the notion that one must take the MCAT in spring of junior year and apply right after.

Hopefully now I'll have a better MCAT score, improve my application, AND be able enjoy a year off with family and friends (guess ya gotta think about yourself and personal life sometimes too eh?)

Good luck to all :luck: