Question of the Week: Parental Pressure to Apply

May 22, 2020

Question: Hi HPA - my parents are doctors and are pressuring me to apply to medical school this year. I don't feel ready to apply yet but they don't understand why students take gap years. Do you have advice on how to help them understand my concerns? 
Answer: Glide/gap years are a relatively new phenomenon--the only applicants who took glide years when your parents were going through medical school were likely those who had "problems" with their applications (and it was a lot easier to get in back then!). It can be hard for family to appreciate the newer trends in medical school education and admissions.

Our handout, Ten Reasons to Consider a Glide Year, provides some talking points that may help you talk with them about this decision (you could ask them to read through it and then talk about it). If they have colleagues with ties to admissions, it may help to ask them to talk with their colleagues about trends in applicants that they see.

If data helps, showing them MSAR age demographics for each medical school could help them understand the diversity in the cohort. Sometimes a financial argument resonates with family: cost of attendance and medical student debt have increased faster than inflation--even if your family is helping you with tuition, an investment of time and energy to develop your candidacy and readiness for medical school on the front end could make the medical school investment more worthwhile in the long run: it could mean getting into a school you're more excited about, and you could enter more refreshed and ready to make the most of your medical education.

Try to get to the root causes of your family members' concerns and we can try to help you shape your response.