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how much can good research offset a low GPA?

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blackmojo

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I'm looking forward to applying this cycle, my gpa is low though (3.6), although I go to a top 10 school known for grade deflation. I've thought about taking a year off and applying next cycle, but my gpa probably won't change much considering I've taken so many courses already. But if I take a year off, I might potentially get another first author paper (I have one already).

What do you think? Is it worth it to take a year off, or will it not help much because I already have publications?

Thanks!
 

Cytotoxic

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3.6 is on the lower end, but I wouldn't worry about it. Assuming the rest of your application is solid, a 3.6 won't close any doors, even in the top 10.
 

StIGMA

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I agree. As long as your letters are great and you apply relatively early, you should be competitive for the top10/20 programs.

I don't know what it is about some of these elite undergrads (in my experience) making applicants think they should take more time off/get more research, but with the stats you have, you are already at the top end of applicants. Two potential caveats are how much time you have spent with research (you have plenty of experience) and your personal intentions for applying MD/PhD (if these are correct, again not an issue). Somewhere around 15-20% of applicants (matriculants?) are authors on papers when they apply (I can't remember where I got this number is from, maybe someone who knows can chime in). A second paper is unlikely to significantly strengthen your application.
 
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Shifty B

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Supposing your research experience is on par with other applicants, only take time off if there is something you really want to do. When you are 30 and finishing, you will be happy you're not 31.
 

blackmojo

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thanks for the input guys. i think my research (see mdapps) should be at least on par if not above average, since I have a first author paper in review..but the premed office at my school (MIT) said its unlikely I'll get into a top 20 program due to my gpa...
i've just been pretty ticked lately since I came to MIT so I could get good engineering training and research opportunities..which (for me at least) are more important than getting high grades..
 

Neuronix

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thanks for the input guys. i think my research (see mdapps) should be at least on par if not above average, since I have a first author paper in review..but the premed office at my school (MIT) said its unlikely I'll get into a top 20 program due to my gpa...

It's time served, LORs, essays, and interviews, not authorship on manuscripts, that is important. Aim for 2+ years of research. Though if you have a first author manuscript accepted, that probably means you have been working in lab a long time and this shouldn't be an issue.

You have an excellent chance at top-20 with an MCAT in the upper 30s. But, you will still get an excellent education and full-funding even in the top-50. So I'm not particularly worried for you. They told me I'd never land at any top schools either (for me it was not enough research/no publications). Though somehow my school keeps going up in the USNews rankings every year so I look more impressive than I did when I started :laugh:

i've just been pretty ticked lately since I came to MIT so I could get good engineering training and research opportunities..which (for me at least) are more important than getting high grades..

Welcome to the rest of you life if you go to med school or stay in academia. Everything is metric/score/evaluation based. That's just life in a competitive world. But 3.6 isn't that low, especially from MIT, so don't worry and apply.
 
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