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WITHDRAWING (W) from Research? How bad is it?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by Plue00, Oct 1, 2014.

  1. Plue00

    Plue00 7+ Year Member

    Nov 10, 2007
    I've been doing research for the past 2 years now in 2 different labs. I've been in my current lab for a year and I'm thinking of just withdrawing from it this semester due to timing issues and rejoining the lab in the spring. I even plan to be a lab tech for a year after I graduate this spring.

    My research is 3 credits and the drop deadline was ~3 weeks ago. Would it look horrible if I withdrew? My PI would understand and he would still write a great letter, and said I can even come back next semester. He understands that the time issue isn't my fault, but would medical schools understand?

    On top of that, it would leave me a lot more time to study for my MCAT that's on Nov 7.

    I've withdrawn from a class before (calc 1) because I had biolab during the testing blocks for calc 1 and there was no way I could skip biolab to take the tests or skip the tests to go to biolab, so I just retook it next semester.

    Should I withdraw? I would definitely leave lab this semester if it wouldn't show a withdraw on my transcript, and since I already have had one before from calc 1, would two Ws look terrible?

    Sorry for any typos, was typing this in a rush.

    Thanks for the help!
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  3. cactus8910


    Jul 8, 2014
    I'm not entirely sure how adcoms view Ws, but if I were in their position, I'd be wondering why you didn't drop it earlier. In some ways, withdrawing shows that you can recognize when you've taken on too much...but perhaps not quickly enough. Does that make sense?
    How much time does the research actually require this semester? Could you work something out with your PI where you work less this semester and more next semester to make up for it, so you can still get the credits but don't have to withdraw?
    Your MCAT score is certainly more important than another semester of research, but if you're asked why you withdrew and say you needed time for the MCAT...I just don't think the adcoms are going to like that excuse. The followup question would be why did you register for it in the first place if you know you'd be studying for the MCAT at the same time?
  4. allantois

    allantois 2+ Year Member

    Jan 27, 2013
    Try to find out whether your PI can give you a grade of incomplete (that's how it would be called at my school) for now and then change the incomplete to a normal grade after you return and satisfy whatever commitment you made to the lab.
  5. Plue00

    Plue00 7+ Year Member

    Nov 10, 2007
    It's more that I can't use the lab's instruments for a large block of time (needed for my experiment) with my class schedule (lots of gaps) since my lab operates 9-5pm. I can only do it one day and I don't think it's enough time to get much done this semester and it seems like a huge waste for me, my postdoc, and my PI in which we could be spending our time doing something more productive. With only being able to do it one day, I still have to come in everyday and take care of my cells, which is useless for the days I'm not running an experiment.

    I would usually spend 12-18 hours a week in lab in my previous semesters. My postdoc who said he would write a LOR for me said he would explain the situation in my letter if I wanted the explanation in there, but I just don't want med schools to see the W and freak out.
  6. Ace Khalifa

    Ace Khalifa I am the definition of awesomeness Banned 2+ Year Member

    Jun 18, 2014
    I have 2 W's on my transcript and subsequently my submitted AMCAS. I still got interviews. No one ever asked me about them. You should focus on the MCAT.
  7. gtbROX

    gtbROX 2+ Year Member

    Apr 8, 2011
    Bay Area
    You answered your own question.

    Your PI can simply explain your issue in the letter and say that he understands and supports your reasons. Most letter writers wouldn't mind adding extra notes to explain extenuating circumstances. My letter writers all asked me if there were things I wanted them to specifically point out.

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