By Andrea Trespalacios, Peer Advisor
In recent years, there has been quite a shift in the demographics of medical school students. Ten years ago, 60% of Harvard Medical School students were coming straight out of college (The Harvard Crimson). Nowadays, their most recent statistics show that about 65% of admitted students have spent some time off between college and medical school. This data combined with the rising cost of education and the increase in competitiveness for top schools has prompted many students to take gap years.
Students choose to take time off between college and medical school to strengthen their academics by:
- Taking other classes to boost their GPA
- Studying for the MCAT
- Earning other degrees
Students also take their time off to prepare financially for the commitment of having to pay for another degree. With the average debt being around $183,000 (American Association of Medical Colleges), students spend their time:
- Working and saving money
- Applying for scholarships
Thirdly, pre-med students focus primarily on gaining relevant experience that will make them stand out from other applicants. They spend their time:
- Doing research
- Working as a medical scribe, EMT, or at a doctor’s office
- Interning at non-profit organizations
- Volunteering at local clinics or hospitals, Peace Corps, and hospices
- Shadowing doctors in a range of specialties
The video below does a great job of explaining why gap years should be considered if you are applying for medical school. But is also important to remember that gap years are not for everyone and ultimately, students should weigh all the elements and factors that go into this decision!
Good Luck, Canes!