Reasons for taking a year off (or more) after undergrad?

jv00927

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I was just wondering if it is advisable to take a year off before med school? To anyone who took a year off before matriculation, what was your reason for doing so? What did you do? Was it worth it? I will really appreciate input on this.
 

Blue Scrub

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Since I was accepted early this cycle, I basically have the year off until I start in August...and my time off until starting has been the BEST THING that has happened to me (besides the acceptance of course!). I went to grad school for 2 years right after undergrad, and so I havent had much time to spend with my family, my gf, my friends from home and college....and i havent had time to do whatever the hell I wanted to do, and with this time off, that's what I'm doing....im still working a 9-5 job right now, an easy data-entry job that pays decent, and allows me to do whatever I want......im trying to save up some cash so I can take a trip to Europe and do some hanging out and sight seeing....if you dont mind taking the year off, I would highly recommend you do it....you can gain some really good life experience, as well as re-energize yourself, give yourself a chance to do whatever you want, and catch up on everything you've missed out on since being in undergrad....plus it may even give you a chance to add to your work/volunteer experience which may help you when applying....this is just my opinion, whatever your heart tells you to do cant be wrong....either way, my recommendation is to take the year off and relax....there is no rush...once you start on your journey to getting the MD, there is no turning back (unless you stop), and you may regret not doing certain things before you started......whatever you do, make sure that doesnt happen!
 

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I took two years off. I just wanted to be away from school for a while and do research. I know that in the future, I will most likely not have another opportunity to have some free time to pursue research. I also needed money to apply, so I took time off to accumulate what little money for this expensive process.

You'll never stop learnign in medical school, take a break, sit back, and enjoy some time away from books for a while. I don't regret it at all.
 

beep

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as a somewhat older applicant, i noticed i had more to talk about in interviews, was surer of myself & my motivations, and was calmer than i would have been if i'd applied when i was just finishing undergrad.
 

Shredder

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jv00927 said:
I was just wondering if it is advisable to take a year off before med school? To anyone who took a year off before matriculation, what was your reason for doing so? What did you do? Was it worth it? I will really appreciate input on this.
go abroad. it gets harder to do as you progress in life, and after undergrad is the ideal time to have some fun and learn about other parts of the world. everyone i know who did it recommends it and says they became better people because of it. its a good break after years of hard work and studying too, so you can start afresh afterward.
 

toxicalgalbloom

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i would without a doubt recommend a year off. i got a fellowship to research abroad, but any experience after college will give a little more perspective and a chance to breath a bit. remember, once you are on track to becoming a doctor, there's no getting off for a number of years. it also helps with the application process because you will have more to bring to the table in your applications, essays and interviews. i interviewed at a lot of places and the people who didn't jump right into med school had a lot more experience to bank on and support their conviction for becoming a doctor. plus, it gave me more time to focus on applications since i only work the 9-5. hope that helps. give yourself time to screw around because you are only young once.
 

scrappysurfer

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jv00927 said:
I was just wondering if it is advisable to take a year off before med school? To anyone who took a year off before matriculation, what was your reason for doing so? What did you do? Was it worth it? I will really appreciate input on this.
If you look at average age of matriculation, most students take a year or so off.

I know a whole slew of med students both socially and in the workplace (I advise them on research projects). The general feeling is that those who burn out are those who didn't take time out. They feel as if they are spending the best years of their life in a library or clinic. The ones who took time off, however, are well aware that you really only need a couple of years (of painful Sunday mornings) to realize that the bar/club scene is simply not that rewarding. Not to mention the fear of a lifetime at that awful post-undergrad job.

I've taken two years off and worked as an engineer in a research lab. I'm a pretty serious athlete so I took the time to get that out of my system. I will go to world champs this summer and start med school right after without any lingering regrets about my potential as an athlete.

I feel that the time I took off strengthened my resolve and elimated any doubts I may have had about my career choice. Applying to med school is a difficult process -one you should not undertake unless you are sure. The experience seems to have paid off as far as interviews go...
 

Og kingofBashan

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With my personal situation, what about stretching out the time you take to get your undergrad degree from 4 years to, say, 7 years? Being in my 4th year undergrad, I'm thinking of taking some extra classes, and maybe adding a second major. I am not prepared to go into the application process.. haven't even taken my MCaT yet or anything. It feels like there is still so much to see and do. Is anything wrong w/ having a 7-year undergrad attendance if everything else is fine? Any one else in this situation?
 

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scrappysurfer said:
If you look at average age of matriculation, most students take a year or so off...
I wouldn't think "most". The average age of matriculation is skewed higher because of the several nontraditionals in their 30s or 40s at each school.
I am a big fan of people taking time off -- maturing and growing as a person before undertaking an ordeal such as med school -- it can only help in the long run. And you probably have a better tolerance against burn out if your years of studying have been broken up.
 

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Og kingofBashan said:
With my personal situation, what about stretching out the time you take to get your undergrad degree from 4 years to, say, 7 years? Being in my 4th year undergrad, I'm thinking of taking some extra classes, and maybe adding a second major. I am not prepared to go into the application process.. haven't even taken my MCaT yet or anything. It feels like there is still so much to see and do. Is anything wrong w/ having a 7-year undergrad attendance if everything else is fine? Any one else in this situation?
I think adcoms view not completing undergrad in about 4 or 5 years as a negative, unless you have special circumstances. You are better off getting your bachelors and then doing graduate study (or if you didn't take the prerequisite sciences, taking them in a postbac after undergrad is also fine).
 

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Time off now is better. Whats the hurry to medical school? You're going to have to work the rest of your life anyway, might as well enjoy a year off before you delve into 7+ years of additional study. I did it somewhat reversed. Took a couple years off after high school before going to college. It has enabled me to have a clear path for why I'm in college to begin with, as well as develop a better rapport with my professors since I'm a few years older than my classmates and have had a decent amount of real life experiences.. But if you don't feel like you need a year off or you're just super anxious to enter medical school, by all means, apply June 1st! :)
 

relema

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I took off a year because i was not mentally ready to apply my senior year of undergrad. It allowed to relax and enjoy my last year in college without the stress of applying. I also wanted to get into researchand see if I liked it. Taking a year off was the best thing I did. I think the research helped my application. I also realize that I want to go back to school. The jobs you can get after undergrad especially with a biology degree though interesting are usually poor paying. I busted my butt too hard for four years in undergrad to get paid less than the national average.
 

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scrappysurfer said:
The ones who took time off, however, are well aware that you really only need a couple of years (of painful Sunday mornings) to realize that the bar/club scene is simply not that rewarding. Not to mention the fear of a lifetime at that awful post-undergrad job.
This is so true. I am nearing year two of my "year off" after graduating from college. The first year was really fun. I was never much of a party person in college, so taking my "year off" gave me plenty of time to go out and have fun and get all that pent up wild and craziness out of my system. However, now, it's getting a little old and I'm feeling like it's time to get serious again. Also, as scrappysurfer says, the "awful post-undergrad job" is also a HUGE motivator to get back to school. It would be incredibly sad to spend the rest of my life working at a job for which, as relema commented, I'm paid "less than the national average".
I don't regret taking a year off, but I do regret letting that one year become two. If I had known I was going to end up out of school for two years, I would have liked to have done Peace Corps instead.

Good luck to you. :luck:
 

Shredder

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hmm everyone assumes taking a year off before admission into a school. cant you just gain admission and then defer it, avoiding all the uncertainty about the future? and about the post undergrad job, yeah relaxing for a year would motivate you to achieve a life greater than that.
 

sunny123

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Shredder said:
hmm everyone assumes taking a year off before admission into a school. cant you just gain admission and then defer it, avoiding all the uncertainty about the future? and about the post undergrad job, yeah relaxing for a year would motivate you to achieve a life greater than that.
Some schools will allow you to do that I think.
 

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Shredder said:
hmm everyone assumes taking a year off before admission into a school. cant you just gain admission and then defer it, avoiding all the uncertainty about the future? and about the post undergrad job, yeah relaxing for a year would motivate you to achieve a life greater than that.
A lot of schools only allow you to defer for specific reasons or reserve the right to say no to a requested deferral -- it's not something guaranteed upon acceptance that you can count on.
 

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PineappleGirl said:
Also, as scrappysurfer says, the "awful post-undergrad job" is also a HUGE motivator to get back to school. It would be incredibly sad to spend the rest of my life working at a job for which, as relema commented, I'm paid "less than the national average".
Good luck to you. :luck:
I'm not really taking a year off, since I'm working full-time and taking class at night-- i was a psych major in college and am now finishing up my pre-reqs after graduating in '03 (didn't realize i wanted to go to med school until later on...).

Anyhow, this is sooooo true about getting a 9 to 5 job (or in my case, 7-4...). I am in the middle of deciding whether to apply to school this year with an august MCAT or wait until next year, but the prospect of applying is SO very exciting to me at this point. I wouldn't be nearly as stoked if I hadn't had this experience as an admin assistant (and as a lab assistant last year).
Seriously, not going to school/doing stupid work makes you realize how much you like learning and being challenged, even if you don't feel that way while you're in college (unless you DON'T like learning, in which case a year off would be a good time to figure that out!).
Having said that, I think I'm paid above the national average. But it doesn't even matter-- being in the business world makes me yearn for the days of being in the academic world.

So whether you screw around and travel for a year, or get some medical experience, or get a regular old job, whatever, I think it's a good idea. My perspective has changed SO much since graduation.
 

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TwoLegacies said:
Seriously, not going to school/doing stupid work makes you realize how much you like learning and being challenged
SO TRUE. My boring job has claimed more than a fair share of brain cells, I am sure. I can't wait to get back to school.
 

lorelei

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I'm in my second year off, and I'm so glad I did it this way. (I had to take at least one year, because I wasn't premed until close to graduation.) In fact, it's slightly possible (due to personal and employment situation) that I'll defer for a year, and I wouldn't be sad to do it.

Having a job is nice; I can afford what I want to buy and have had the opportunity to make some purchases (car, TV, sofa, cats) that will be helpful in med school. The 8-5 thing is pretty nice; I volunteer, play in a handbell choir, and teach for Kaplan, and still have time to have a serious social life.

I'm really glad to have real-world experience - I've become much more confident and assertive, as well as gaining experience in networking and working with people.

The social life thing also can't be beat. I'm having such a great time.

I feel like I'm more even-keeled than a lot of premeds; I just go into the interviews and see what happens, because my life isn't totally wrapped up in applications. Plus all the extra experience gives me more to talk about.
 

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It's so great to get off the academic treadmill. Youth is short, and a year spent doing fun, enjoyable things (or at least not having to study every weekend and weekday night) is a great year indeed. Highly, highly recommended.
 

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hello all,

sorry if you see this in other threads..i just need as much feedback as possbile...

i got permission to defer my acceptance for a year. what i really want to do is immerse my self in religious/spiritual learning at a suitable center/monastery. I had made plans for this one center in India (my homeland). However, my parents freaked out at the idea. They do not want me to pursue any sort of religious learning since they think it has nothing to do with medicine and the center was located in an unsafe city. So that got cancelled and i found a unique research position in the area of spirituality and health in the U.S. However, being an international student, i am having major Visa issues which make the job very unlikely. So i am basically stuck with two options-either goto med school in the fall (yes, they can still give me a spot) or go back to India and somehow fight with my parents to let me do what i want to do. Finding a suitable religious learning center would require a lot of travelling and taking risks. I am dependent on my parents financially and its unsafe to travel all alone in India and probably the whole Indian subcontinent. However, i feel this something i have to do because i won't get to do this any other time in my life and i need to prove to my parents that i am serious about spirituality.

So what would you do if you were me?

(sorry for the one big paragraph..i couldn't figure out where to split it!)
 

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Take the time off, you dont want to spend you're entire youth studying, working, and stressing out. A large number of med students who did not take anytime off before going to med school really regret not doing so. Med school isnt going anywhere.
 

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Definitely, definitely take a year off. I'm in my second (and last!) year off, and taking time off between undergrad and med school was one of the best decisions I made. Not only did it give me time to establish that yes, I really want to go to medical school and yes, I can handle it, but it's given me some great experiences that I know will serve me well in the future.

And if all that isn't enough, it's certainly given me something to talk about in interviews. No one ever asked me about my undergrad classes. All they wanted to know about was what I'd been doing since I graduated, and what my ECs were in college. Class is dull, and it's so nice to have something else to discuss.