While some students go straight from their undergraduate studies into a graduate health professions program, many students take a year off, or a glide year (occasionally called a gap year).
What’s the benefit? Here are four reasons taking a year off between your undergrad studies and graduate school might be something to consider.
You’ll gain more experience
Younger applicants are often overshadowed by older, more experienced applicants. In fact, the average age of successful applicants to U.S. medical schools at anticipated matriculation is 24.
Not only can your glide year provide you with more time to study for admissions tests if you haven’t taken them yet, but you can also use this time to take a few more classes and improve your GPA if it isn’t competitive enough. Add on top of that the fact that you’ll have more time to secure stronger letters of recommendation as going on to post-baccalaureate class work could give you more chances to get to know faculty. If you work during your glide year, you could add an excellent professional reference.
A year off = an extra year to focus on applying to schools
There are so many things to think about during the final semesters of college that time quickly runs out. The glide year is a great opportunity to focus on applications, instead of having them take a back seat to studying.
You can earn some money
Student loans typically start coming due about six months after graduation. Adding to them may not be the best idea. With the opportunity to work during your glide year, you can both start paying off the undergraduate debt and start saving for future expenses.
You’ll have time to reassess your goals
Whether it’s volunteering somewhere in the United States, traveling to another country for volunteer work or fun, learning something new or pursuing independent research, the glide year is a great opportunity. You have a lot of time ahead of you for school and a career, don’t rush it too much. Your school may have resources for a volunteer year, travel programs or fellowships.
It is important to remember the glide year is not just for taking a break or time to goof off. Setting goals and understanding why you are taking the year off will help keep you on track. If you do decide to take a glide year, you might find this Association of American Medical Colleges article on making the most of your time to be helpful.