Oct 27, 2020
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Hi everyone,

Do medical schools see it as something negative if I graduate in my undergrad institution in 5 years as opposed to 4 due to taking lighter classes per semester intentionally?

Edit: This is my first time using SDN. So glad to join this community!
 
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justwaking

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Nov 8, 2017
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Hi everyone,

Do medical schools see it as something negative if I graduate in my undergrad institution in 5 years as opposed to 4 due to taking lighter classes per semester intentionally?

Edit: This is my first time using SDN. So glad to join this community!

Yes, not graduating within 4 years is considered a red-flag by some, unless there's something obvious (like a double major) to explain it. Otherwise, you may have to explain yourself, and "I wanted to have an easier course load during college" is gonna turn people off across the board.

For the record, I took light course loads for about half of my undergrad career (talking 13 credit hrs/semester) and still graduated in 4 years easily.


EDIT: Oops, I guess I was misinformed :oops:. I will say that secondary applications will often ask you to explain things like breaks or anomalies in your path to med school (e.g. gap years before college, gap years after college). After taking a look at 35 secondaries this cycle and completing 29, I'm kind of ashamed to say that, upon thinking back more intentionally, I honestly can't remember if any asked for explanations for graduating in greater than 4 years, but I always got the sense (incorrectly), that it might be scrutinized.

But my point still stands that even with light course loads, it's worth looking into if you can graduate in 4 years and save that tuition money imo.
 
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Naruhodo

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Hi @Laughingcow, welcome. Plenty of people (myself included) take/took more than 4 years to complete college. Sometimes life gets in the way of the typical timeline, but look forward (not back) and keep working for your goals.
 
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Catalystik

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Do medical schools see it as something negative if I graduate in my undergrad institution in 5 years as opposed to 4 due to taking lighter classes per semester intentionally?
Taking longer to graduate won't be held against you. How will adcomms know if it was "intentional"? Required classes in a sequence aren't always available when you're ready to take them, due to limitations on enrollment.
 
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Pagan FutureDoc

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Taking longer to graduate won't be held against you. How will adcomms know if it was "intentional"? Required classes in a sequence aren't always available when you're ready to take them, due to limitations on enrollment.
This! Far too many people need 400 level classes that are only offered something like the fall semester of every odd numbered year.
Med schools are aware of the realities of college and real life.
 

gonnif

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Yes, not graduating within 4 years is considered a red-flag by some, unless there's something obvious (like a double major) to explain it. Otherwise, you may have to explain yourself, and "I wanted to have an easier course load during college" is gonna turn people off across the board.

For the record, I took light course loads for about half of my undergrad career (talking 13 credit hrs/semester) and still graduated in 4 years easily.
I would disagree with this. The changes over the past 2 decades in how individual completes college has drastically change. Many people due to financial concerns often complete school on a part time basis while working, having families etc. Additionally, the classic path of High School to College to Medical School is the minority. For example the majority of medical school matriculants take at least one gap year from graduation until matriculating. I consider taking more that 4 years or a break in education a minor issue and is unlikely to have any impact on chances of acceptance.
 
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anniekat2025

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Jun 7, 2018
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I did 5 years in undergrad. Some applications have asked for clarification if you spent more than 4 years in undergrad, but those schools have been few and far between. Either way, I've had multiple acceptances this cycle. I had a full course load every semester, solid grades, and I could clearly articulate why I took an extra year (my ROTC scholarship was for 5 years because I was an engineering student.) I wouldn't stress about it. Besides, if taking a little longer helps you do better in school or have a more fulfilling well-rounded collegiate experience, that can only help your application.
 
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emergentmd

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Graduating in 3 yrs is a big plus similar to a 520 MCAT. Graduate in 2 yrs and usually an automatic acceptance.
 
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Naruhodo

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Sep 5, 2016
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I believe I know exactly 2 people who finished college in just 3 years. For one of my best friends it was definitely all about the $$$ (her family's not rich, and she wasn't on full scholarship so could save them a lot by accelerating her degree). She wasn't loving the college experience at where she was anyway, so was happy to just move on. The other person graduated early to make a beeline to an elite law school. I hope she's happy as it was never clear to me whether the high standards she set for herself were her own or internalized from parental expectations.
 

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