Question of the Week: How Many Glide Years is Too Many?

Friday, Oct 26, 2018

I think I want to take one glide year, but I’ve talked to a lot of students who took two. Is there a point where medical schools worry about how much time you’ve taken off?
According to the 2017 Matriculating Student Questionnaire, over 20% of entering students started medical school 3 or more years after college graduation. A primary concern of medical school admissions committees is the applicant’s ability to negotiate the intensive, fast-paced didactic work in the first year. You have to provide evidence of readiness for a rigorous academic environment. If you were a strong student at Princeton, one or two years away is highly unlikely to cause concern, especially if your glide year experiences include a significant critical thinking/science component. Many students take two glide years because they find amazing research opportunities that require a two-year commitment or take a one-year international fellowship but do not want to manage med school interviews while abroad: in these cases, you’re very likely to maintain an academic mindset. If your GPA and/or MCAT score may be cause for concern with schools, it would be worthwhile to take some classes or retake the MCAT during your years off. Beyond one or two glide years, we have still seen students accepted with no additional academic work. In this case, though, it may be helpful to take the MCAT closer to the time of application if you’ve taken multiple years off since that will provide a more timely gauge of your readiness than counting on a score that’s a few years old. You’ll also want letters of recommendation from recent experiences that speak to your readiness to jump into the academic setting. Each medical school will evaluate academic readiness for their own curriculum: the MSAR provides data on age of students at matriculation, which may help you gauge which schools are friendlier toward “non-traditional” applicants. And every applicant is different—we are happy to provide guidance based on your specific situation.

QOTW in 2017: Planning for Internship Applications
QOTW in 2016: Do I Have to Do Research?