The Back Story
Deciding to take a gap year is hard. I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while, like since January. I’ve been grappling with the idea of taking a gap year since December/January, and officially decided that I would decide to do it in March. Sometimes I think being somebody who likes to think ahead is a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing in that I always feel like I’m working towards something that motivation is always there (even if it’s a small amount), and it’s a curse in that I tend to get set in my plans and anything that causes to me waver, I run from it. That’s the thing with my gap year decision.
Things don’t always go as planned
Upon entering college, I just knew that I was gonna do my little four years (time goes fast, but the workload is heavy) and then go on to medical school. Nobody could tell me any different. But then life happened. I started learning more about myself and developed some new interests and passions that I know I wouldn’t have the time to explore if I decided to go straight to med school. Not only that but realistically, I don’t think I’ll be ready to study for the MCAT and go through the application cycle by the time Senior year hits. When I first started having thoughts of taking a gap year I was nervous because I thought it could have been the beginning of me not wanting to pursue medicine anymore.
Wait, there’s more
The thought of one gap year led to thoughts of taking a second gap year b
ecause I want to participate in an Americorp program. These programs are typically 9-11 months and are very intense. I just knew that there was no way I’ll be able to apply to med school and do that at the same time. So 2 gap years it is. I think having somewhat of a plan is what made me comfortable with wanting to go this route. That and knowing that in the end, I’ll be just fine. After all, deciding to take a gap year isn’t the end of the world.
Below, I’m sharing an outline of how I came to my decision and I hope it could be of some help to someone.
- It started with me thinking about how much of a struggle it was to balance a heavy schedule (work, classes, extracurriculars, life) which then led to this tweet:
I *might* end up taking a gap year
— andacia (@andaciakay) December 20, 2017
- I spent Christmas break thinking about it too, which resulted in these blog posts:
Questions I asked myself
- During that time, I spent hours trying to plan my new timeline. Asking myself (and Google) questions like:
- When should I take the MCAT then?
- Is this really going to be beneficial to me?
- What were other people’s experiences?
- What if I don’t get accepted into Americorps? Then what? (scribe or work with a non-profit)
- What productive thing am I going to do during the second year other than applying to med school?
- What about LORs? How am I going to keep in contact with my professors? (My school got rid of the committee letter program, which would have been perfect)
- Am I willing to hold myself accountable to this plan?
- Once school was back in session, I visited my advisor and woo chile… I got more answers on Google
- I went to a panel that was hosted by our SNMA chapter that helped me to officially make my decision.
- I talk about it more in this post: link
So that’s pretty much it. I think deciding to take a gap year depends on the person. I know some of us want to be done with school at a certain age, which is fine, but medical school isn’t going anywhere. The average age of medical school matriculants is 24 years old. That being said, there are plenty of people who are taking their time. I’m sure they’re all doing just fine. But still, if you think you can sail smoothly into medical school right after college then, by all means, do it. At the end of the day, this is your journey.
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