Question of the Week: One Versus Two Glide Years

Sept. 17, 2021

As a senior, I thought I’d take one glide year but now I’m afraid I’ll run out of time and energy to manage MCAT, thesis, medical school application preparation, job search, and everything else. What would happen if I take two glide years?
We’re having this conversation a lot right now—your thesis deadline, classes, and graduation have a fixed deadline, whereas the medical school application timeline is more flexible. Many jobs, especially in research, prefer a two-year commitment; the application process requires a significant financial investment, so a year of work can provide some financial cushion. And with the stress of recent events and mental health concerns, some students want more time to to manage everything. 
On the one glide year timeline, your senior year is your final preparation year and you’ll prepare your application, ask for letters, do school research, take MCAT. Then your glide year will also present many tasks: writing secondaries, sending updates to show your continued interest in schools, staying productive so that you have something to say in those updates, managing interviews, feeling the stress of the unknown.

If you take two years, the first year becomes your preparation/preapplication year. You can take the MCAT, develop additional relationships for letters of rec, gain clinical experience, and just be an adult in the world. Application prep for HPA and our committee letter would begin late fall/early spring, but you will have a lot more time to manage it without coursework.

If there are weaker areas that you’d like to address, with two glide years, you can focus on them in the first year and know that you’ve addressed them prior to applying. Experience/grades on your initial application when you take two glide years are more compelling than a promise that you will gain experience / take classes if you take one glide year.

This is not to say that it's impossible to prepare a strong application sooner--our current applicant pool is about 20% direct entry (including sophomore early assurance applicants), 30% one glide year, and 50% two or more glide years (this graph shows the trends over the 2016-2020 application cycles). Consider your own personal situation, your goals, and what is best for you. We're happy to talk through it with you!

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