Real big dilemna, advice desperately needed

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Dr. Josh

Short version of a long story:

I'm trying to decide whether to delay applying to med school another year. I'm graduating in May, need to retake a pre-req in the summer and then take part 2 of the course (for the first time) 2nd summer session. I was planning on taking the MCAT for the first time, most likely in early August, when I'm almost done with summer school. I've barely started with Examcrakers and desire to get As in my courses this semester as well as summer school. I also need to write a good PS, which i don't really feel i have decent material to write about. I was hoping to volunteer with children with cancer at the end of this summer. I also need to shadow a few doctors, I've done a bit already but feel I need more. I'd also like to have more volunteer clinical hours, though I probably have about 125 hrs. I'm also working on an independent medical project which I'd like to complete before application time. I have some research but not the typical medical lab type research. Right now I probably have around a 3.65 GPA. I'm concerned that I have too many obligations, all of which I need to do extremely well on. But I'm also afraid to postpone it; I'm afraid i won't find anything decent to do in my time off (it would now bwe two years before starting med school, if accepted)and I'm afraid i'll be too old. I'll be 24. Now don't everyone tell me non tradionals might be 35; I'm aware of that, but what's the median age of people starting med school? What can I do during my time off; exciting stuff, medically related and I don't have a lot of extra money and actually need to start earning some. Thanks if you read to the end of this.:oops:
 

Quix

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Medical school will always be there, so take the time to do well in your classes to maintain your QPA and provide you adequate time to study for the Beast.

Don't worry about being 24; that's absolutely a non-issue.

Take some time to do some shadowing, get certified as an EMT, work clinically, volunteer, see if you can get some time in research (or a paying position in research), etc. Just don't Chicken Little about this process.
 

bbabul01

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I second everything said above.

Rushing all those things is going to lead to you doing poorly in something, and just being really unhappy. Take the time to really commit to something you enjoy, rather than counting volunteer hours. I've always been of the opinion that if you had to count the hours, it didn't mean anything to you. If it means something, you'll have something to write about.

Also, taking time off is amazing. I have found so much to do with my free time. I go to the gym like 3 hours a day, just because I can. I go out drinking with coworkers all the time. I even learned to row. Do you know how to row? It's a lot of fun. Don't rush life. School will always be there.
 
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Dr. Josh

I second everything said above.

Rushing all those things is going to lead to you doing poorly in something, and just being really unhappy. Take the time to really commit to something you enjoy, rather than counting volunteer hours. I've always been of the opinion that if you had to count the hours, it didn't mean anything to you. If it means something, you'll have something to write about.

Also, taking time off is amazing. I have found so much to do with my free time. I go to the gym like 3 hours a day, just because I can. I go out drinking with coworkers all the time. I even learned to row. Do you know how to row? It's a lot of fun. Don't rush life. School will always be there.

Thanks to both of you above.


I can always go to the gym, go out drinking or learn a new activity; I want to find something to do that is really meaningful. Anyone have any ideas?
 

Quix

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I can always go to the gym or learn a new activity; I want to find something to do that is really meaningful. Anyone have any ideas?

Define "meaningful", first. I'm happy to provide suggestions of activities that might make you an attractive applicant, but don't underestimate the need to cultivate other aspects of your personality (e.g., taking an art history course, learning another language, etc., etc.). Well-rounded students have more than clinical/research time.
 

OncoCaP

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From the title of your post, I was expecting something like 'do I start chemo now or wait until after finals' ...

Anyway, on to your actual question, which seems more like choosing between 'good' and 'better' ... what do you want to do? Do you want to wait or not? Think about it; what do you want to do deep down. If you're motivated and have a reasonable plan, you may get where you want to go if you eliminate or cut back on unnecessary extras.

Here are a few things to consider:

Waiting an extra year to build a better application can be a really good idea. Your age is a non-issue as far as I can tell. You could get a job if you think you'll have too much free time and perhaps improve your finances. Also, taking the MCAT in August and applying that cycle would not be my preference (I'm not the gambling type). I would rather wait a year and get in earlier on the interview cycle, but there are plenty who have proven that taking the August MCAT (especially now with the faster reporting of scores??) and getting acceptances can be done.

On the other hand, do you really want to get started with med school sooner? Have you talked to your pre-med advisor, and what does s/he think? They can look at your current stats and give you an idea. Consider taking a practice MCAT and see where you're at. You may be able to cut back / eliminate some of your plans for the immediate future and then start some of these activities later in the cycle (not good for LOR's but at least you could indicate the activity).
 
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bbabul01

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Clinical Research.

I don't think it's mentioned enough around here, but it's absolutely amazing. It's like shadowing, patient care, research, and paid all in one. I basically manage patients on chemotherapy protocols. I learn sooooooo much. And it's actually fun too. Find a research hospital and see what kind of openings they have. If you're in Boston, I can help out, otherwise, just send out your resume.

Also, it's that job that allows me to afford the gym and provides me with the coworkers to drink with. Win-win situation.
 
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Dr. Josh

Define "meaningful", first. I'm happy to provide suggestions of activities that might make you an attractive applicant, but don't underestimate the need to cultivate other aspects of your personality (e.g., taking an art history course, learning another language, etc., etc.). Well-rounded students have more than clinical/research time.

oh, I'm well rounded, i didn't take a science course until my junior year and i have many creative courses and I'm working on a creative project to submit. I was actually afraid this would hurt me.

By "meaningful" I mean something exciting, different, that I would be passionate about and that could earn me respect. I'd love to do something abroad but I don't have a lot of extra money.
 
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Dr. Josh

Clinical Research.

I don't think it's mentioned enough around here, but it's absolutely amazing. It's like shadowing, patient care, research, and paid all in one. I basically manage patients on chemotherapy protocols. I learn sooooooo much. And it's actually fun too. Find a research hospital and see what kind of openings they have. If you're in Boston, I can help out, otherwise, just send out your resume.

Also, it's that job that allows me to afford the gym and provides me with the coworkers to drink with. Win-win situation.

I'd love to do clinical research; yours sounds amazing since I'd like to go into hem/onc. Wish I lived in Boston, but I don't. Can you give me an tips how to go about a similar position. Do you just blindly send out resumes when I'm clearly not qualified.
 
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Dr. Josh

From the title of your post, I was expecting something like 'do I start chemo now or wait until after finals' ...

Anyway, on to your actual question, which seems more like choosing between 'good' and 'better' ... what do you want to do? Do you want to wait or not? Think about it; what do you want to do deep down. If you're motivated and have a reasonable plan, you may get where you want to go if you eliminate or cut back on unnecessary extras.

Here are a few things to consider:

Waiting an extra year to build a better application can be a really good idea. Your age is a non-issue as far as I can tell. You could get a job if you think you'll have too much free time and perhaps improve your finances. Also, taking the MCAT in August and applying that cycle would not be my preference (I'm not the gambling type). I would rather wait a year and get in earlier on the interview cycle, but there are plenty who have proven that taking the August MCAT (especially now with the faster reporting of scores??) and getting acceptances can be done.

On the other hand, do you really want to get started with med school sooner? Have you talked to your pre-med advisor, and what does s/he think? They can look at your current stats and give you an idea. Consider taking a practice MCAT and see where you're at. You may be able to cut back / eliminate some of your plans for the immediate future and then start some of these activities later in the cycle (not good for LOR's but at least you could indicate the activity).


thanks for your detailed response. Truthfully I'd prefer to start med school sooner unless I could do something really great with that extra year. But I'm really afraid i'm not a good applicant now, especially since I don't think I have adequate time to prepare properly for the MCAT and I really don't want to try and fail.
 

OncoCaP

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thanks for your detailed response. Truthfully I'd prefer to start med school sooner unless I could do something really great with that extra year. But I'm really afraid i'm not a good applicant now, especially since I don't think I have adequate time to prepare properly for the MCAT and I really don't want to try and fail.

You have the right idea. If you can take your application up a few notches (by doing very well on the MCAT for example, getting your GPA up a 0.05 or 0.1 or so, great experiences), most people would probably advise you to take your time. You really should be having this conversation with your pre-med advisor ... hopefully, you've done that already.

However, at the end of the day, it's your life. Don't let other people tell you how to live your life (advice is ok, of course). If you're motivated, you might be able to push your admission forward -- passion counts. I've seen people rush their application and make it, although not to their best potential schools.
 

Quix

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oh, I'm well rounded, i didn't take a science course until my junior year and i have many creative courses and I'm working on a creative project to submit. I was actually afraid this would hurt me.

By "meaningful" I mean something exciting, different, that I would be passionate about and that could earn me respect. I'd love to do something abroad but I don't have a lot of extra money.

Volunteering with projects like Operation Safety Net (a program that provides medical care for homeless people), MSF/DWB, etc., are possibilities. I don't know you well enough to tell you what would be exciting - that's a subjective call and requires some introspection on your part. The Indiana Jones undergraduate pre-med experience is a rarity.

Re: Clinical research. Never underestimate the power of networking; I'd suggest asking any favorite professors in the Bio and Chem departments if they have any contacts in research labs. This can overcome a lack of experience.
 
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Dr. Josh

You have the right idea. If you can take your application up a few notches (by doing very well on the MCAT for example, getting your GPA up a 0.05 or 0.1 or so, great experiences), most people would probably advise you to take your time. You really should be having this conversation with your pre-med advisor ... hopefully, you've done that already.

However, at the end of the day, it's your life. Don't let other people tell you how to live your life (advice is ok, of course). If you're motivated, you might be able to push your admission forward -- passion counts. I've seen people rush their application and make it, although not to their best potential schools.

I have no pre-med advisor or pre-med committee; that's why i ask so many questions here. I was passed all around as far as advisors because i had a strange major. (don't ask; want to remain anonymous)
 
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Dr. Josh

Volunteering with projects like Operation Safety Net (a program that provides medical care for homeless people), MSF/DWB, etc., are possibilities. I don't know you well enough to tell you what would be exciting - that's a subjective call and requires some introspection on your part. The Indiana Jones undergraduate pre-med experience is a rarity.

Re: Clinical research. Never underestimate the power of networking; I'd suggest asking any favorite professors in the Bio and Chem departments if they have any contacts in research labs. This can overcome a lack of experience.

Volunteering with projects like Operation Safety Net (a program that provides medical care for homeless people)?!?! That's EXACTLY the kind of thing I was looking for. I'm going to google it right now!

What's MSF/DWB?
 

OncoCaP

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I have no pre-med advisor or pre-med committee; that's why i ask so many questions here. I was passed all around as far as advisors because i had a strange major. (don't ask; want to remain anonymous)

How competitive do you want to be on your application? Do you just want to get in anywhere or do you have your eyes on a competitive program?

Since you don't have a pre-med advisor, another option is to post your stats, etc., on MDApplicants.com and then ask people to take a look at it. They could give you more specific feedback, especially if they know where you want to apply/go.
 
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Dr. Josh

How competitive do you want to be on your application? Do you just want to get in anywhere or do you have your eyes on a competitive program?

Since you don't have a pre-med advisor, another option is to post your stats, etc., on MDApplicants.com and then ask people to take a look at it. They could give you more specific feedback, especially if they know where you want to apply/go.

I was actually toying with DO because i didn't think I could get into any allopathic program. I am not a prestige ***** or anything so a top school doesn't matter to me; i really would like to get into Stony Brook because it's a good program and affordable for me. Otherwise I'd need grants to go out of state or private.

I could set up an MD applicants account and I probably will eventuaqlly but i realize without an MCAT score, it's pretty meaningless.
 
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Dr. Josh

Medicine Sans Frontiers/Doctors Without Borders

That's another program that sounded fabulous!! I'm going to look into that now but I'm afraid it may not be affordable to me or at least not long-term. But I'd absolutely LOVE to do that; thanks!
 

Quix

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That's another program that sounded fabulous!! I'm going to look into that now but I'm afraid it may not be affordable to me or at least not long-term. But I'd absolutely LOVE to do that; thanks!

Glad to help. Good luck!
 

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(it would now bwe two years before starting med school, if accepted)and I'm afraid i'll be too old. I'll be 24. Now don't everyone tell me non tradionals might be 35; I'm aware of that, but what's the median age of people starting med school?

The average age in allo med schools nationally is 24 (DO is reportedly older). The median is probably 22-23. You will not stand out as old at 24. If you look at the nontrad board you will find folks toying with the idea of med school at over twice your age. In what will likely be a 40+ year career it doesn't really matter that you started a couple of years later. Folks often find they suffer less burn out, have a better sense of who they are and what they want to do in life, and a better sense of life perspective if they spend some time out of school, so spending a little extra time doing something interesting before taking the plunge is frequently not a negative. Many folks who plow right through from college to med school suffer periods of angst in early med school wondering if it's really worth it, or whether they chose the wrong path. And for some, spending your 20s in the library/wards is rough -- so living a little, outside of academia, first isn't a bad thing. Just my opinion.
 
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Dr. Josh

The average age in allo med schools nationally is 24 (DO is reportedly older). The median is probably 22-23. You will not stand out as old at 24. If you look at the nontrad board you will find folks toying with the idea of med school at over twice your age. In what will likely be a 40+ year career it doesn't really matter that you started a couple of years later. Folks often find they suffer less burn out, have a better sense of who they are and what they want to do in life, and a better sense of life perspective if they spend some time out of school, so spending a little extra time doing something interesting before taking the plunge is frequently not a negative. Many folks who plow right through from college to med school suffer periods of angst in early med school wondering if it's really worth it, or whether they chose the wrong path. And for some, spending your 20s in the library/wards is rough -- so living a little, outside of academia, first isn't a bad thing. Just my opinion.

Thanks, you always give such good advice. I guess I'm afraid of getting burnt out rushing thru all this and cramming in more than I can handle. it would also be two summers in a row I've taken classes (pre-reqs). What will schools think that I took a break is it ok to say I wanted more time to explore the medical field with more hands on and also I was afraid I'd be too late in the cycle to have a chance?

You always have good ideas; what kind of thing would you suggest i do in my 1.75 yrs off? I loved the "Doctors Without Borders"; but after looking it up, I find that they seem to require a minimum of 6 months and that would interfere with the MCAT (if taken at a decent time) or the application process. Not sure if I should chance that.
 

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I loved the "Doctors Without Borders"; but after looking it up, I find that they seem to require a minimum of 6 months and that would interfere with the MCAT (if taken at a decent time) or the application process. Not sure if I should chance that.
It's a moot point. Not sure who recommended Doctors Without Borders, but it's not a realistic volunteer abroad option for most premeds. They recruit physicians, nurses, allied health and the like. They take a few admin type people, but for most positions, they realistically require two years experience.

Lots of folks idolize MSF for the same reason lots of folks idolize Emergency Medicine. It's sexy and gets lots of press. But if you're interested in medical volunteering abroad, there are literally hundreds of opportunities other than MSF. It's only one of many agencies.

Not slighting MSF, but from SDN, you'd swear it's the only group out there. It just has the largest marketing budget.
 

foofish

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Medical school will always be there, so take the time to do well in your classes to maintain your QPA and provide you adequate time to study for the Beast.

Don't worry about being 24; that's absolutely a non-issue.

Agree. :thumbup: And the average age of students beginning med school is 24/25.
 
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Dr. Josh

It's a moot point. Not sure who recommended Doctors Without Borders, but it's not a realistic volunteer abroad option for most premeds. They recruit physicians, nurses, allied health and the like. They take a few admin type people, but for most positions, they realistically require two years experience.

Lots of folks idolize MSF for the same reason lots of folks idolize Emergency Medicine. It's sexy and gets lots of press. But if you're interested in medical volunteering abroad, there are literally hundreds of opportunities other than MSF. It's only one of many agencies.

Not slighting MSF, but from SDN, you'd swear it's the only group out there. It just has the largest marketing budget.

ok, point taken. Can you recommend any realistic ones for someone with no experience preferably either with a stipend or something that pays living expenses or the like.
 

foofish

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ok, point taken. Can you recommend any realistic ones for someone with no experience preferably either with a stipend or something that pays living expenses or the like.

Most of the programs abroad for premeds that I know of require you to pay them for the opportunity....but if anyone knows of an exception, it's bound to be someone on SDN....
 
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Dr. Josh

Most of the programs abroad for premeds that I know of require you to pay them for the opportunity....but if anyone knows of an exception, it's bound to be someone on SDN....

figured as much; i was surprised the Doctors Without Borders paid as they did; that gave me hope that maybe there were other similar programs. I'd do something for no pay as long as I didn't have to pay for expenses while i was there. I'm a poor college student with no job. :( And I can't volunteer forever; maybe a month fulltime away from home.
 

bones11

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I just don't see where you got the nerve to call yourself "Dr." when you are just a pre-med student with average grades

Maybe he already earned his Doctorate in the field of "Not-Being a D0uche-Bag Pr!ck". You should look into that . . .
 
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Dr. Josh

I seriously doubt that :p

well you certainly need lessons in how not to be such a prick; i never saw you around here before but i just did a search on your posts and yea, that confirmed it; you're definitely a prick; totally unhelpful. I'm really not sure why you are here. Maybe you should spend more time resolving issues with your ex by discussions rather than being obnoxious around here.
 

pyrois

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I just don't see where you got the nerve to call yourself "Dr." when you are just a pre-med student with average grades

Maybe for the same reason you call yourself the name of a hit TV show by Steven Spielberg about people abducted by aliens who gain special powers when you probably have never been abducted by aliens and likely don't have any super powers.

This is a pre-med board man, let the guy have aspirations to become a doctor, and I won't call you on having aspirations of being probed by aliens.
 

pyrois

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ok, point taken. Can you recommend any realistic ones for someone with no experience preferably either with a stipend or something that pays living expenses or the like.

I was lucky enough to get funded by my local Rotary group. Rotary, as well as Lions club members are often very generous with regards to international projects/expeditions, so you might go down that route.

You can also do your own personal fundraising project. You really have to put yourself out there, and sometimes it can be very embarrassing, but the people who matter will respect your goals.

Personally, I'm far from wealthy, so I know where you're coming from, but don't think going abroad is such a great thing. If you can muster up the bankroll to go, then it's definitely a great experience. Otherwise, we have a lot of problems right here in the States, and I'm certain you know of people in your area that could use your help.
 
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Dr. Josh

Maybe for the same reason you call yourself the name of a hit TV show by Steven Spielberg about people abducted by aliens who gain special powers when you probably have never been abducted by aliens and likely don't have any super powers.

This is a pre-med board man, let the guy have aspirations to become a doctor, and I won't call you on having aspirations of being probed by aliens.

:laugh: :laugh: :laugh:
 
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Dr. Josh

I was lucky enough to get funded by my local Rotary group. Rotary, as well as Lions club members are often very generous with regards to international projects/expeditions, so you might go down that route.

You can also do your own personal fundraising project. You really have to put yourself out there, and sometimes it can be very embarrassing, but the people who matter will respect your goals.

Personally, I'm far from wealthy, so I know where you're coming from, but don't think going abroad is such a great thing. If you can muster up the bankroll to go, then it's definitely a great experience. Otherwise, we have a lot of problems right here in the States, and I'm certain you know of people in your area that could use your help.

actually it's not that i can't afford to go abroad; i did study abroad o ne semester; it's paying to live there for any period of time when i should be saving to pay for med school. what did you do abroad? I'm also looking for ideas of what works for a pre-med student.
 

pyrois

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I apologize. I bust my ass everyday, in order to "earn" the title of "Dr." in 3 years. I just felt that you don't deserve the title.


It's no big deal, many pre-meds don't make it to med school anyways. And over 90% of medical students get their degrees. So call me a prick all you want, at the end of the day, you're still the pre-med student with average grades.

Wow.

What's the point of learning to save people's lives if you so flagrantly attempt to make the lives of those who are living so miserable?
 

pyrois

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what did you do abroad? I'm also looking for ideas of what works for a pre-med student.

I hiked into the Himalayan mountains to participate in a medical expedition in a region that nobody had ever ventured to previously (it was their first attempt to get that far in).

I had a lot of great experiences on the trip, but to be honest, due to the limitations of the reliability of physician visits in the area, the expedition itself suffered from the typical problems of "medical tourism."

In truth it was a project that I started when I returned from the trip that I found to be truly helpful in the long term for these people.

Kind of a long story, but if you're interested in the details, just PM me.
 

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Thanks to both of you above.


I can always go to the gym, go out drinking or learn a new activity; I want to find something to do that is really meaningful. Anyone have any ideas?

I second doing the international stuff...

I'm a big proponent of doing something clinically-oriented abroad. It sounds like you have the time to do it and it really sets you apart as an applicant. If you are interested in traveling and working with under-served populations, great way to spend the year and solidify your app (because the experience will absolutely give you something to talk about).

PM me if you want names of organizations to look into...
 
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Dr. Josh

I apologize. I bust my ass everyday, in order to "earn" the title of "Dr." in 3 years. I just felt that you don't deserve the title.


It's no big deal, many pre-meds don't make it to med school anyways. And over 90% of medical students get their degrees. So call me a prick all you want, at the end of the day, you're still the pre-med student with average grades.

obviously these usernames on here don't mean much; some are out and right jokes. of course I know i'm not a doctor, but i am also busting my a$$ everyday to work towards that goal; so please don't insult me for fooling around with the title. And in the future if you can't provide helpful information or at least be nice, please refrain from responding.
 

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Short version of a long story:

I'm trying to decide whether to delay applying to med school another year. I'm graduating in May, need to retake a pre-req in the summer and then take part 2 of the course (for the first time) 2nd summer session. I was planning on taking the MCAT for the first time, most likely in early August, when I'm almost done with summer school. I've barely started with Examcrakers and desire to get As in my courses this semester as well as summer school. I also need to write a good PS, which i don't really feel i have decent material to write about. I was hoping to volunteer with children with cancer at the end of this summer. I also need to shadow a few doctors, I've done a bit already but feel I need more. I'd also like to have more volunteer clinical hours, though I probably have about 125 hrs. I'm also working on an independent medical project which I'd like to complete before application time. I have some research but not the typical medical lab type research. Right now I probably have around a 3.65 GPA. I'm concerned that I have too many obligations, all of which I need to do extremely well on. But I'm also afraid to postpone it; I'm afraid i won't find anything decent to do in my time off (it would now bwe two years before starting med school, if accepted)and I'm afraid i'll be too old. I'll be 24. Now don't everyone tell me non tradionals might be 35; I'm aware of that, but what's the median age of people starting med school? What can I do during my time off; exciting stuff, medically related and I don't have a lot of extra money and actually need to start earning some. Thanks if you read to the end of this.:oops:

I would definitely take the year off. I just got accepted to NYCOM this year, and I'll be 25 when I start medical school. I had fears of being too old too, but now I don't feel that way at all. It was my first year after college and I was working in an ER and taking my pre-med requirements and I was considering taking the MCAT that August because I wanted to go quicker, but a PA that I worked with told me, "Look, you're going to eventually turn 30 regardless of what you are doing, just make sure you do this right and don't worry about how old you'll be". So I pass that advice on to you. A death of a friend fo mine eventually made it impossible for me to cram for the MCAT that August anyway and I took the next year to study, work, travel, volunteer and I am REALLY glad that I did. I took my time with studying for the MCAT and did well, I took my time writing my personal statement and my secondaries and it was just much better. If I were you, I would take an extra year for sure and just don't worry about it.
 
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