Six Pros of the “Gap Year”

February 8, 2015

Six Pros of the gap year

Students tend to feel that having to take a gap year is the worst thing ever. They see it as a sign of failure. The gap year is far from being a sign of failure. The truth of the matter is more applicants are rejected each year, than those who are accepted to professional school. Don’t believe me, check this out.

In 2014 for example, there were a total of 49,474 applicants to medical school. Of that number, only 21,355 were accepted. That’s only 43%. That means a gap year for a lot of people. So, just know that if you find yourself needing to take a gap year next year, you are not alone. You are not a failure. This is not the worst thing ever. The gap year might actually be a great thing!  Below are six pros of the gap year.

  1. Time to get more shadowing experience

One of the most important parts of deciding to apply to professional school is an awareness of what you’re about to get yourself into. It is imperative that any student who hopes to become a doctor, dentist, optometrist etc, spends time talking with and observing someone in that profession.   During your gap year, you can arrange a regular and consistent shadowing opportunity.   This will help you to see if the profession is right for you and if it is, will motivate you to keep going. Specific experiences gained during shadowing also can be great anecdotes to use in your personal statement.

  1. Time to pay off undergraduate debt

Professional school is expensive and funding in the form of scholarships and grants are few. During your gap year / years, you can focus on tackling personal debt and undergraduate student loans.

  1. Time to decide if your desired field is truly right for you

Things happen for a reason; and sometimes, apparent failures are just life’s way of trying to move you into another direction. During you gap year, you really have the time to evaluate what your goals are. You may find that a career in healthcare, in the way you had initially planned isn’t for you. Better to use this time now and sort that out rather than doing that once you are a professional student.

  1. Time to take a little breather

Life as a pre-health student can be rigorous. You’ve just done four years of hard-core studying. Maybe you just need to relax. Too often, healthcare professionals don’t take the time to explore their other interests.   Maybe you’ve always wanted to travel. Maybe you want to do mission work but were too focused on passing Organic Chemistry to look up mission opportunities. Now is a great time! Maybe you enjoy things that aren’t science / healthcare related. Now is a great time to explore them.

  1. Time to take courses and improve your GPA

If your GPA wasn’t at the average for acceptees * to medical school because you had to take Organic, and Physics, and Survey of Calculus during the same semester; your gap year is a great time to retake a course that you performed poorly in to improve your GPA. (*Note that this is the applicant and matriculant data for all applicants and matriculants. Don’t pay attention to the average GPA for applicants. You don’t want to just be an applicant. You want to be a matriculant. So pay attention to the average GPA for accepted student. This is the average for all students. It is not broken down by race. That data was deliberately not presented. Your goal should be based on all applicants, not on your race. OK, spiel over 🙂 )

  1. Time for adequate test prep

If your MCAT score wasn’t at the average for acceptees to medical school because you had to take Organic, and Physics, and Survey of Calculus during the same semester and so didn’t have time to study for the test during the school year, your gap year is a great time to devote the time necessary to prepare for the exam.

Hopefully by now, you won’t feel badly about needing to take a gap year/years. It’s not the worst thing ever. It’s not a sign of failure. Look at it as an opportunity to become a better applicant; and that can never be a negative thing 🙂