Help: Very Confused! Take Year Off Or Extra Semester?

paki20

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Jan 15, 2005
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TAKE YEAR OFF OR EXTRA SEMESTER?

this is kind of a long post but please help me i am really confused.

i am going to be a senior and have a 3.7+ GPA majoring double major in bio and political science, i haven't taken the MCAT and dont have any research experience at all. i have been pre-med forever but did not take the MCAT yet because I just want to take it once and get the best score possible once I have thoroughly prepared for it. i am not applying this cycle now as its too late now but for next year should i take a year off or take an extra semester (i have a full ride anyways and its valid for 5 years)? if i take an extra semester i think i will be getting a lot more out of it because i can start research this semester and eventually graduate with honors (maybe even highest honors) and hopefully get a decent LOR. i just got my EMT certification as well so I will have some time to get some clinical experience by working with the university hospital. I will also have time to take classes that actually interest me while raising my GPA. i can also do a lot of unique internships offered at my school. i do A LOT of unique extracurricular activities as it is but if i continue i think i can grab some of the more prestigious scholarships/awards offered to seniors by my university. also i REALLY want to avoid the questions/essays that ask "what have you done in your year off."

i really want to go to a top 20 med school and I think I'll have a chance as long as i get a high MCAT but i am just extremely worried that taking an extra semester might look really bad and raise eyebrows because i was looking at the MSAR and it says one of things the admissions committee looks at is the years taken to complete the degree program. i mean i have completed all the requirements for both degrees its just that i WANT to take an extra semester but dont want to sacrifice my chances at med school. what you guys think: a year off or extra semester??

i'm just really confused and i'd greatly appreciate any advice thanks!
 

LizzyM

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Mar 7, 2005
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I got tired just reading ... You can afford to take a fifth year of college to focus on course work & research opportunities that interest you. This is not a red flag for adcoms. They will see, given the way that AMCAS is laid out, that you had enough credits to graduate after 4 years but that you stayed an extra year. No worries.

You want to take the MCAT once. Not a bad idea. Take it in Jan or April 2007 and you should be fine going into the admission season that begins in June '07. You'll interview in Sept-Dec '07 (the start of your fifth year) and maybe into early 2008. You'll graduate in Spring '08 and start med school in Fall '08. Now, if you have enough credits to graduate in Dec '07 and are relatively assured of a place at a med school (you may already be holding an offer or two by Thanksgiving), then graduate and spend 8 months doing what you want! At that point you'll be beyond questioning by the adcoms. If the admissions season isn't looking so good for you, then you can always stay on an extra semester.

Breathe. Have fun. I hope you aren't to tired reading this. ;)
 

ParvatiP

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Jun 21, 2006
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I'm kinda confused as to why you would attend college an extra semester if you've already satisfied your major requirements. I think you might be better served finding some employment (if its medically related it can still help your app just like an extra semester would). You'd still have to explain in interviews probably why you attended college for over 4 years anyway. I don't think adcoms will look at taking a year off as a negative thing. It's actually more common than you think. And with your time off I think you'd be able to do something just as impressive to med schools.
 
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paki20

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ParvatiP said:
I'm kinda confused as to why you would attend college an extra semester if you've already satisfied your major requirements. I think you might be better served finding some employment (if its medically related it can still help your app just like an extra semester would). You'd still have to explain in interviews probably why you attended college for over 4 years anyway. I don't think adcoms will look at taking a year off as a negative thing. It's actually more common than you think. And with your time off I think you'd be able to do something just as impressive to med schools.
Thanks for the replies. Actually I know taking a year off is really common I wasn't worried about that I just didn't want to talk about what I did in my year off. I was more worried about how adcoms would react to taking an extra semester. I really want to graduate with honors but I won't be able to finish the requirements this year as you have to have at least 3 semesters worth of research which I can do if I take an extra semester. Plus I wanted to take some interesting class and raise my GPA to a 3.85+, which I can do in 3 semesters. Also I am doing some service projects/internships next summer which will GREATLY increase my chances of getting some really prestigious awards from my university if I take an extra semester as I'll still be considered a senior.