Prolonging undergraduate?

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Lt.

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Hi friends,

Was hoping to garner some advice on a somewhat nitpicky topic. I am looking at two roads: to cram a bit and finish my undergraduate degree in Fall of 2024, or prolong it, taking school part-time, and finish in Spring of 2025. This is assuming matriculation to medical school in Fall of 2025. My current intention is to protract the process and deliberately stay longer at my undergraduate university for the sake of: having access to the university's resources/environment, and most importantly becoming heavily involved in research. If this is the course, I will inform my PI that I would like to publish by the end of my tenure, which, I think, would help me further my career more than any other option during this block of time.

The alternate would be to graduate in Fall and take whatever opportunities that may arise in that gap. I think normally students are advised at this point to travel, enjoy their lives, etc. which I have done plenty of and am not prioritizing. Other ideas would be to volunteer extensively, which I have also already done much of, or perhaps get a part-time entry-level medical position (e.g. assisting). This type of experience I can't foresee sprucing up my resume that much, as I have already performed this kind of work in my time as a Hospital Corpsman in the military. We are financially stable as well, so ~8 months of working a menial job's salary isn't too great of a factor.

My question is: is there a good reason to choose graduating earlier rather than later/a way to spend this time in a wiser manner than taking it slower and focusing on research?

Thank you!

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I guess it depends on you and how much it would cost you to continue to pay undergrad tuition as opposed to starting to work and maybe banking a little money before starting medical school. I don't know what changes with your access to resources if you go from student to an employed research assistant. I also assume your PI doesn't have an issue paying you. It appears these aren't big factors.

To that end and based on what you described, it is your choice.
 
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I am looking at two roads: to cram a bit and finish my undergraduate degree in Fall of 2024, or prolong it, taking school part-time, and finish in Spring of 2025. This is assuming matriculation to medical school in Fall of 2025.
Well given that the extra work will happen after your application has already been sent and many schools don't give much weight to update letters with some schools not even having a mechanism to send one. I would say finish in fall and just enjoy that last semester.

The alternate would be to graduate in Fall and take whatever opportunities that may arise in that gap. I think normally students are advised at this point to travel, enjoy their lives, etc. which I have done plenty of and am not prioritizing. Other ideas would be to volunteer extensively, which I have also already done much of, or perhaps get a part-time entry-level medical position (e.g. assisting).

Again this is happening after your application has already been sent since to matriculate in fall 2025, you would have sent your application during summer 2024. And especially now that AMCAS has made two entirely separate boxes for completed vs projected hours for activities, I just don't see this helping your app much.

As far as furthering your career past getting into medical school, volunteering and medical assisting are complete wastes of time, residency directors don't give two sh*ts about that kind of thing, at best it'll be conversation fodder during an interview.

I think normally students are advised at this point to travel, enjoy their lives, etc. which I have done plenty of and am not prioritizing.

Well I'm gonna advise you to do that anyway. The one exception being if you can somehow guarantee that your additional research during spring semester will 100% lead to publication in a prestigious/high impact factor journal.

Not a presentation or a poster mind you but an actual publication. That is something that I could see realistically helping your residency prospects.

I will inform my PI that I would like to publish by the end of my tenure, which, I think, would help me further my career more than any other option during this block of time.

But by the way you describe it, it doesn't really sound like that is what you're on track to do. Starting to get serious now will not lead to a publication in non-clinical science within the year, or at least it is really unlikely to. In which case, you would have "wasted" your time and effort, so to speak.

So I will circle back and conclude with this,

If I have misunderstood how close you are to a publication, take the extra semester.

If I have not, take the early grad and add some more destinations to your travel log.

Whatever you decide, I wish you the best of luck.
 
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I will inform my PI that I would like to publish by the end of my tenure, which, I think, would help me further my career more than any other option during this block of time.
I highly recommend against doing this.

Unless you're extraordinarily lucky, you can't control the pace of science this way. Many projects take years to come to fruition, especially impactful ones. This comes across like you don't understand how lab science works and you want to rush it.

It also comes across like you're only in it for the checkmark on your CV. The assumption is always going to be that work is being published as soon as is reasonable, since that's currency in the academic world. What do you want your PI to change with this new information? It can come across like you don't understand what drives publishing (results in the lab).
 
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