Mar 12, 2010
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Can anyone provide some advice on what I should be aware of applying 1 year after I graduate from college.

Are there certain requirements for rec letters, do I have a different status as an applicant (like a non-traditional)? Anything else you can think of?
 
Dec 30, 2009
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Can anyone provide some advice on what I should be aware of applying 1 year after I graduate from college.

Are there certain requirements for rec letters, do I have a different status as an applicant (like a non-traditional)? Anything else you can think of?

1. Stay in touch with those people you would like to write letters for you. 2. Stay in school. Upping your GPA even by 0.1 can help.
3. Shadow/volunteer throughout your time off.
4. You will not be considered non-traditional.
5. Requirements for letters are whatever the school asks you for.
 
Dec 11, 2009
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Medical Student
No diffferent requirements for letters of rec. Make sure to ask your LOR writers for the letters at least a few months before you actually need them because they tend to be busy with their research, teaching, other letters. It took me over 6 months to get one of my profs to finally finish writing my letter! It came just in time though so it worked out.

I took a year off after finishing undergrad and spend this year applying and working at a research job. I don't think that you necessarily have to stay in school during your year off, especially if you've finished your degree already (it is expensive and if you do poorly you could lower your GPA), but schools like to see that you still involved in activities like volunteering, research, etc. I was asked about my research job in depth at all my interviews. Make sure you can talk about your current activities at your interviews.

Hope that helps!
 

alibai3ah

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I was in the same boat. I applied a year after graduating. I got my letter of recs right after the classes so these people remembered me. I don't think medical schools will think the letters are "too old". As long as you send a letter from somebody that you are working with the year or so that you are out of school.
 

IDoIt4Love

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Dec 18, 2008
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I took a year off, almost 2, and here are my tips:

1. many schools will ask for recent rec letters(i.e. from someone who dealt with you after you graduated) so make sure you're involved in something (volunteer, work, classes) so that you can get that new rec letter.
2. many schools will ask on their secondaries, and also in their interviews, what you've been doing with your time off and/or why you took the time off. have a good answer (you wanted to improve your app, family emergency, took MCAT too late, etc) and not just, "well, i wanted to relax a little." (even though this is personally a great benefit to taking a little time off--do it while you still can!!--it should not be your ONLY reason.)
3. Some schools will specifically ask you on their secondaries, "what have you been doing in your time off to account for FULL-TIME involvement," which means, what work/volunteering/classes/other things have you taken on to account for 30+ hours of your week. Don't sit around and waste that time; you need to be productive in some way or another, even if it's not specifically towards something clinical. Maybe you're working on a project with your church or doing Peace Corps; whatever it is, be productive.
4. YOUR MCAT! Remember that your MCAT scores will only stay good for about 2-3 years at a lot of schools. In the event that you do not get in the first time you apply, you may need them to be good for a second year when you apply again. If you have already taken the MCAT, (I took mine the summer after graduation) I suggest you go ahead and apply to schools ASAP. If you get in and you still need more time off, you could potentially defer your acceptance another year; you just wanna make sure you get in before your MCAT score expires, because nobody wants to have to take that test again!
4. remember your timelines. the application process is a very long one; remember to plan out your next two years carefully to allow you to start the process the summer BEFORE the summer prior to your expected entry to med school. during the summer that you apply, make sure you have ample time to fill out lots of secondaries, because you will want to apply broadly, and secondaries are very time-consuming (that summer, applying to med school will feel like a full-time job), so plan to keep your plate light that summer. If there are any big trips you'd like to take out of the country, take them prior to that summer, if possible (or during the summer before you enter med school), so they don't conflict with the application process.
5. Throughout the application cycle, make sure you always have access to e-mail. You should be able to check your e-mail every day, even if you don't have cell phone access, because almost all schools these days do the majority of their communication with you via e-mail. Responding quickly is vital to keeping the process moving forward.

and finally...

6. During your time off, do stuff you can't do while you're a full-time student/employee/parent, etc. This is your chance to take that long backpacking or road trip you always wanted to take. Do it now before med school, and residency, and eventually, parenting happen in your life. This may be your last big chance to take extended trips before you retire! Don't miss out! Even if you can't find a job or don't plan on taking classes, set goals for yourself during this time, so you have something to work towards; it'll keep you from getting lazy/unmotivated during a time where your life seems to be on hold.

Well, I hope this helped. Taking time off is beginning to lose the stigma it once had, as it becomes increasingly more common amongst applicants to med school. It doesn't hurt your chances in any significant/noticeable way, from my experience (probably due in part to the fact that I worked a few part-time jobs and volunteer gigs to stay involved "full-time" throughout my year off). But at the same time, I also saved up money to go on some great trips around the world this year too, and it was a lot of fun to just relax for once. I wish you the best; good luck!
 

PedsDoc14

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Mar 2, 2010
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DO IT!!!!

I just wrote a long response full of original, insightful, and indespensable wisdom but it got lost somehow when I tried to submit it...

But seriously, you'll be so happy that you did and as long as you spend the balance of your time off doing something productive, even if you do take two months to fish, ski, whatever, it'll probably be a help to your app. and not a downside. I'll be entering school this fall after 3 years off and am so glad that I did. Best of luck though.
 

mvenus929

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2. Stay in school. Upping your GPA even by 0.1 can help.
Not when your GPA is already pristine, and if you stay in school, you're more likely to burn out. There is a world of opportunities that can only be had when you're not in school, so it's not right for everyone to stay in school through the end of med school. I didn't, and it's one of the best decisions I ever made.

OP, I applied during my senior year, and failed to get in anywhere. I waited another full year before applying, because I didn't think my application had improved enough to get me an acceptance somewhere (plus I was broke and couldn't afford another cycle at the time). The year off gave me time to figure out what I really wanted, to spend some time with my family. I highly recommend it.

You won't be considered a non-trad unless you've been out of school for like 3 or more years, I think. On the interview trail, I knew more than a few people who weren't currently in school.

You do want to do something during your time off; a job is a good idea, especially considering the costs of this application process. Find something you enjoy doing, and take a couple of vacations while you're at it. Have fun. Do something to add to your application: shadow, volunteer, do clinical work... something.
 

Morsetlis

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Biggest thing to worry about: MCAT expiring.
 
Nov 23, 2009
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Pre-Medical
Hi! I highly, highly suggest taking time off, and 2 years is perfect (I'm biased--it's what I did!). Anyhow, no worries about the MCAT expiring with 2 years off. From what I remember, none of the schools I applied to had any limits shorter than 3 years, meaning you'll even have 1 buffer-year just in case you want an extra year out.

I did not take academic classes at any point during my 2 years off, although I did always work full-time. I've done what I really like doing; took a ceramics class (doesn't count as school :rolleyes:), done a lot of reading, hanging out, etc. My interviewers were always positive about time off, and many said that they find candidates who take time off to be stronger than the average in-school candidate. Life experience is worth a lot, and it comes across in interviews!

As for letters of recommendation, I got my college professors to do them while I was still in school. My pre-med committee held on to the letters for me and had my pre-med committee letter all ready even before I left school; they updated it right before my application cycle the year after I graduated. I added 2 letters from post-graduate activities, which my advisor incorporated. Everything went really, really well!

One suggestion is to make sure that whatever job/volunteer position that you take in the year you're applying is aware that you're doing med school. My job the first year I was out of college was a hospital-oriented job and they were used to med school applicants coming and going. But my second job is a social work-related job, and it wasn't typical. I made sure to explain that I would probably be traveling throughout the fall to interviews, and they were surprisingly flexible. Make sure you work somewhere that won't make your life really difficult if you need to travel. You can still do this even if you're abroad; many schools are very helpful and allow you to request specific interview dates. I also had a lot of luck with "in the area" emails. Just be sure you get vacation time, or that you're allowed to flex hours (sometimes I did a 40 hour week in 3 days so that I could travel for interviews...practice for medical school!).

Good luck with everything, and enjoy your years off!