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Gap year effects on socioeconomic diversity of class

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by zaben, Sep 29, 2014.

  1. zaben

    zaben 2+ Year Member

    Jul 11, 2014
    So on the interview trail I have noticed that a good 80-90% of people being interviewed are nontrads, many of whom already hold masters and PhD degrees. There have been multiple interviews where I am the only one still in school, with most people greatly enhancing their application by gaining a year of research/volunteering etc. I think at this rate medical schools will soon just start enforcing this, requiring that applicants have graduated by the time they apply. My beef with this is that it really is just giving more and more leverage to the wealthy applicants. Who can afford to live in the Boston or San Francisco area doing volunteer research for a couple years? who can afford to go on year long volunteering trips and not have to fund raise for years to do it? Who doesn't have to worry about an ailing and indebted family pushing you to get your degree and get out in the real world as fast as possible? And yet somehow all the nontrads I meet who take a year or more off are able to be doing these incredibly expensive things.
    So basically, I applaud people for gaining way more experience than they normally would have been able to if they were a traditional applicant, and I wish I had realized that being a nontrad was actually kind of the normal way to go so that I could have done these things and enhanced my application. But I am just curious what people think the effects of this will be on class diversity/socioeconomic makeup of the classes. And for the record, every urm I have met has been a traditional applicant.
    alamo4 likes this.
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  3. ndafife

    ndafife 2+ Year Member

    Jun 16, 2014
    1. Who says that you have to live in Boston or San Francisco?

    2. Very few non-trads just volunteer. Most have jobs as scribes, CNAs, in research, etc... and volunteer in their spare time and support themselves on their salaries.

    3. People going to grad school get financial aid and stipends based on their income and savings, not that of their parents, so its not like they are digging way into the bank.
    bumpbumped, Mad Jack, Snakes and 3 others like this.
  4. sb247

    sb247 mean I got in? 5+ Year Member

    Jul 5, 2012
    Galt's Gulch
    You are campaigning against something no one is doing and no one has said they were going to do.

    Take a deep breathe brother/sister...
    Mad Jack, Mr Roboto, mimelim and 4 others like this.
  5. zaben

    zaben 2+ Year Member

    Jul 11, 2014
    The people I meet do their volunteer research in these places because they all went to elite expensive schools located in these areas. Most of them are not getting paid or are getting minimum wage with no benefits....hardly enough to finance day to day life. And I don't think most masters degrees are funded, which is the dominant degree people get. My point is just that I dont think it is a realistic option for people who already struggled to get through undergrad without much parental support.
  6. cactus8910


    Jul 8, 2014
    I can't speak for everyone, but personally I'm doing paid research for two years between undergrad and med school. I was very fortunate to be able to live with my parents for the first year, allowing me to save money for med school. Even now, as I am financially independent, I've been able to put some money away for med school. So essentially, I'm not taking gap years because I have the money to support myself in order to improve my application. I'm taking gap years so I can save money and hopefully come out of medical school with less debt than I would otherwise.
  7. raiderette

    raiderette 2+ Year Member

    Feb 2, 2014
    Though I am hoping not to take a gap year, if I do, I will be making it paid work. There are plenty of CNA jobs out there. Hard, honest work. I plan to rent a room in a place with public transit nearby. It is tough, but working class people can get into med school. Of course, knowing what I do now, I encourage all my younger mentees to go for guaranteed admission opportunities to avoid this issue.
  8. zaben

    zaben 2+ Year Member

    Jul 11, 2014
    Its all but official. Its like saying research is not required but every school out there has an incoming class in which 95% did research.
  9. breakintheroof

    breakintheroof MS-Zero 2+ Year Member

    Jan 20, 2013
    I think you raise a legitimate issue, OP, but the replies you have gotten show that you have overgeneralized about gap years. Many nontrads, including myself and those I know, have done paid work and supported ourselves during the "gap" time.

    I do agree that people whose families can support them financially, or serve as a safety net, are taking less of a risk when trying to enter the job market instead of staying in school.
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2014
    lmw312 and zaben like this.
  10. phunky

    phunky 2+ Year Member

    Nov 21, 2012
    Rich people have an advantage in life. Get used to it.

    Most people who take a gap year get a paid job and support themselves though.
    Aerus, lmw312 and Goro like this.
  11. Goro

    Goro Faculty 7+ Year Member

    Jun 10, 2010
    Somewhere west of St. Louis
    You are engaging in the sin of solipsism. The majority of med school matriculants are tradition 4 year UG grads. And most non-trads are NOT wealthy, they juggles jobs, family life and schooling. Just ask @doctormom or @Law2Doc.

  12. lmw312

    lmw312 2+ Year Member

    Aug 31, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2014
  13. sb247

    sb247 mean I got in? 5+ Year Member

    Jul 5, 2012
    Galt's Gulch
    <---- or the non-trad college dropout with a family and a full time job that did all their prereqs at a community college and almost everything else online......don't believe the hype about it being impossible, just perform well
  14. Aerus

    Aerus Elemental Alchemist 5+ Year Member

    Apr 20, 2012
    hSDN Member
    hSDN Alumni
    The main benefit of gap years if to improve your application and take time off to explore interests and venues you otherwise would not have time for. Nobody should take gap years solely to help pay off debt, unless their gap year job has a decent/good salary, since gap years require sacrificing future physician salary.
    Mr Roboto and Goro like this.
  15. ridethecliche

    ridethecliche Meep Meep Meep 5+ Year Member

    Feb 2, 2011
    Tied to a library chair
    Dear OP,

    I've been working for four years before applying to medical school due to:
    a) Situations out of my control
    b) Not having the means to pay for an app cycle and travel costs till now.

    But yes, please talk about how hard life is for you and how easy it is for non-trads.

    I think you'd be well served with a few gap years, not for the academic/work/volunteer experience, but for the life experience because you really sound like you barely have any.

    turayza, lumpyduster, ciestar and 5 others like this.
  16. QofQuimica

    QofQuimica Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting.... Administrator Physician PhD Faculty Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 10+ Year Member

    Oct 12, 2004
    This. I went to med school in my 30s after having earned minimum wage in research for a decade. They don't exactly pay you a six figure salary when you're in grad school!
    Mad Jack, Mr Roboto and Goro like this.
  17. DokterMom

    DokterMom 2+ Year Member

    Mar 1, 2013
    Sounds like a fairly straight-forward case of "The grass is always greener on the other side..."

    For what it's worth, I bet many of those non-trads wished they were in your position too...
    (or were in your position, and are only non-trads now because they weren't accepted straight out of school.)
  18. GaiusOctavius

    GaiusOctavius 2+ Year Member

    Jun 21, 2014
    Mean age of applicant at time of matriculation for 2012:
    It appears that most students apply while still in school or apply immediately following graduation. What they do during the application year likely varies. Your 80-90% figure is highly anecdotal.
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2014
  19. alamo4

    alamo4 Dudeist 2+ Year Member

    At my school, I would guess that maybe 30+% of admitted students had some sort of gap between graduation and matriculation, as I try to go through people in my mind. Many have prior graduate training, with I think 3+ people with PhD, multiple with some sort of master's level training.

    Many people did as have been described here and did research work, or worked in medicine somehow, including some who did international work of some kind. A handful were people who did a post-bac to become premed after studying something else in undergrad.

    I also agree, that this does favor people who aren't leaving undergrad with considerable debt already. Although many of these positions are paid, they aren't paid well. Doing a research position in a lab pays less than many other jobs, and may be difficult for someone who owes a lot of money or has significant financial responsibilities (e.g. sending money home). It may be impossible to live at home if you are from a rural area; there just may not be good medical or research jobs in your area if you don't leave in/near a major metropolitan area.

    One aspect that is also daunting is that if this an increasing trend, as this article would suggest:
    this is a problem, because the length of training is also expanding on the other side. More and more people are doing long residency and fellowship training. So if they defer entering med school by a bit, it makes for exceptionally long training periods.

    However, all that having been said, my impression would be that the students with the gap year(s) might have lower parental income, in general and are less likely to have had a physician parent. Again, I have no data on that, but just trying to think about all the students I know and what I know about what their parents do.

    Historically, medicine is a career pursued by people who's parents were physicians or who grew up on the poorer side and work hard to make a better living. One idea is that it's not a great way to make a lot of money, and people from wealthy/business families realize that and send their kids into professions that make a lot of money with fewer hoops: finance/business.

    The story that gets told that interprets the data: Poor/immigrant kids don't even think about being a financial adviser or corporate lawyer as a job, so if they are motivated, they work hard and try for one of the jobs they know about which seem respectable and good careers: police, nurses, physicians.

    Anyway, that's partly how the graph below sometimes gets interpreted:

  20. RoadNurse33

    RoadNurse33 2+ Year Member

    Apr 28, 2014
    VA wife went into labor while I was taking a practice MCAT. "Simulate actual testing conditions" wasn't possible the rest of my prep period.

    But the labor practice test was also my best score!
  21. Long Way to Go

    Long Way to Go 7+ Year Member

    Jan 2, 2011
    Who does volunteer research for free full time? Sure that's a thing you do in undergrad (maybe for academic credit), but full time research assistant positions will pay you more than enough to live on (including student loan payments if you assume that those are capped at 15% of your net income). This is true in Boston, San Francisco, New York, and any other place you choose. You might not get to live in the heart of the city, but any of those three you can make it on that salary while commuting via public transit for less than an hour each way and living in a decent-sized apartment.
  22. ridethecliche

    ridethecliche Meep Meep Meep 5+ Year Member

    Feb 2, 2011
    Tied to a library chair
    Kid had no idea what goes on in the world.
  23. Mad Jack

    Mad Jack Critically Caring Gold Donor Classifieds Approved 2+ Year Member

    Jul 27, 2013
    4th Dimension
    A gap year doesn't make you a nontrad. A gap year is a freakin' gap year. And how is working not a viable option for anyone ever? If you don't get in this cycle, guess what? You're going to have to work, just like everyone else has to post-college. I've never met one of these mythical people you speak of that does a year of volunteer research in a super expensive city. Most of the real nontrads (second-career types, people several years out of school) that we have were on the middle of the SES spectrum- firefighters, soldiers, nurses, paramedics, and the like- with a couple PhDs thrown in. I don't really consider people who spent a year earning a Master's degree directly after their BS to boost their app as "real" nontrads- most were going for medical school from the beginning but had a low GPA and needed an extra year of coursework to boost their app. Many of those types do come from higher SES backgrounds of the sort that can afford to pay for a fairly expensive master's level year of training, but I haven't met a whole lot of people in this category.
    ridethecliche likes this.
  24. alamo4

    alamo4 Dudeist 2+ Year Member

    In case anyone is curious, someone has actually done this calculation, "You Need to Earn $29.83 an Hour to Afford a 1-Bedroom in San Francisco":

    Now, of course, people often have roommates which makes things a lot cheaper, but it is also possible that things go the other way and someone could have kids or other dependents (ill parents, etc.), or really bad student loan burden from undergrad changing this equation. You'd also have to put on top of that the cost of medical school application: test prep, apps, travel to interviews, etc.
  25. breakintheroof

    breakintheroof MS-Zero 2+ Year Member

    Jan 20, 2013
    I think this is more or less what @zaben was trying, and failing, to get at in the original post. He seems to think that more and more applicants with high SES backgrounds and fancy alma maters are taking a year or two to beef up their non-academic credentials, like research, in a sort of extracurricular arms race. This might have some truth to it.

    Anyway, if he is still reading this, he has received a thorough schooling in what being nontraditional really means.
  26. Long Way to Go

    Long Way to Go 7+ Year Member

    Jan 2, 2011
    I know precisely one person less than 25 years old in the US who lives in a one-bedroom apartment, and they live in a tiny studio and pay less than they would sharing in a three-bedroom. Living with roommates and/or significant others is normal and expected after college if you're not living with family. It is the rare pre-med who is a single parent themselves or is taking care of ill relatives without any other household source of income. Yes, student loans might be accruing more interest than anyone wants, but IBR caps payments at 15% (now 10%?) of disposable income.

    If you work in research, money will be tight. Scribe jobs pay even worse. And medical school applications are expensive. But with advance financial planning and discipline, it is doable to take a few years off and still apply from anywhere in the US if you have a full time job without going into significant debt.
  27. alamo4

    alamo4 Dudeist 2+ Year Member

    You can do a lot of things on your Gap Year:
  28. EMDO2018

    EMDO2018 Banned Banned

    Oct 8, 2013
    I don't know
    Trads can be annoying sometimes, and if anything trads are usually from wealthier backgrounds than non trads. That's how they can do all the stuff that med school requires in 4 years- they don't have to work, support a family, etc, etc.

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