Many pre-health professions students choose to take at least one year off after they complete their Bachelor's degree. In fact, over 60% of first-time applicants to medical school apply after their senior year or later. Having a time off between undergraduate studies and beginning a program in the health professions is often beneficial for applicants and does not hurt your chances of admission as long as you continue to strengthen your application. It allows time to gain additional life experiences, continue volunteering, or pursue non-academic interests; it is a positive thing! Many students ask what they should do during their time off. To create the best plan for you, it’s essential to evaluate yourself as an applicant and determine if you have any weaknesses in your current preparation. Talking with an advisor in the OAA can help you make the most of your time off.
Click here to see the top 10 reasons to take a gap year.
Click here to view the AAMC's page on gap years.
I want to strengthen my research experience.
- Rice has many faculty working on research year-round. Consider joining a lab to work either full-time or part-time during your gap year. Other research opportunities exist in labs housed within the Texas Medical Center.
- Center for Civic Leadership - Fulbright Scholarship
- Center for Civic Leadership - Wagoner Foreign Study Scholarship
- National Institutes of Health Training Programs
- National Institutes of Health PREP Program
I want to gain more clinical exposure.
- Use your time off to shadow physicians or other professionals, or to volunteer. Even if you're working full or part time, you can still volunteer on nights and weekends at hospitals or clinics to gain additional experience with patients or in a healthcare setting.
- Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Internship
I want to boost my GPA and/or MCAT score.
- Take additional science courses as a post-baccalaureate. You may decide to supplement your undergraduate curriculum with addtional science courses in order to boost your overall academic record. You may take these courses at a university close to your home or here in Houston.
- Enroll in a special master's program. Many options exist, but typically they are non-thesis degrees in the life sciences that allow you to go to school full time and demonstrate your academic ability in an upper-level setting. Most of these non-thesis master's degrees can be completed in 1 year.
- The AAMC has a postbaccalaureate pre-medical programs list that can be found here.
- Spend your senior year studying for and retaking the MCAT if you are unhappy with your first score.
I want to volunteer or travel.
- Your gap year(s) may be the only chance you get to devote a significant amount of time to something other than your career. Perhaps there is a non-profit at which you've always wanted to volunteer. Now can be a great time to do that.
- Traveling abroad during your gap year(s) can be very fulfilling. Often, you gain perspective, skills, and unique experience from traveling abroad that can enhance your application.
- Center for Civic Leadership - Thomas J. Watson Fellowship
- Center for Civic Leadership - Luce Scholarship
If you are going to take a gap year and will be a reapplicant, consider these helpful tips as you consider re-applying.