Question of the Week: What to do During Your Year Off?

Friday, Apr 5, 2019

I'm just curious, what are some of things that people do with their year between college and med school?  I'm thinking about applying after senior year but I'm wondering what my options are with the year off.  Thanks.

Let’s start by rethinking the term “year off.” We like to think of a year (or two) between Princeton and medical school as time to do something you’ve always wanted to do, which will continue your growth, intellectually as well as socially and culturally, even if you’re not in a classroom. Hardly a “year off,” when you think about it! The two most common reasons people elect to take a "glide" year are: 1) They're ready for a break from the rigor of school and to refresh before beginning their medical education, or, 2) They want their senior year (or additional time) to work on their candidacy so that they are stronger applicants.  If you're in the first group, you have more freedom in choosing how to spend your time.  If you're in the second group, you need to be realistic, and work toward filling in gaps -- for instance, taking extra coursework in the sciences if your science grades are not competitive, or volunteering at a hospital or clinic of you have done very little of such an activity since high school.  We thought it might be interesting to list the things that recent alumni are doing with their year.  This should give you a sense of the broad range of things you might consider:

  • Doing clinical research in endocrinology at Mass General
  • Earning a masters of public health at Columbia
  • Working for Africare, setting up HIV/AIDS youth centers in Zambia
  • Developing the curriculum for a charter school in Brooklyn
  • Assisting with research in pathology/immunology at WashU in St. Louis
  • Researching in parasitology at the Univ of Colorado while volunteering in the ER
  • Studying in the special masters post-bac program at Georgetown
  • Working at an AIDS hospice in Houston
  • Volunteering at a health clinic in Spain
  • Coordinating a literacy program in low-income areas of New York City
  • Performing clinical research on breast cancer at UCSF
  • Pursuing Gates, Rhodes, Marshall, Fulbright, P55, Labouisse, ReachOut and Princeton In fellowships
  • Teaching biology and coaching a sport at a New England prep school, and more! 

We have added some links to programs pursued by recent graduates to the Glide Year Opportunities page of our website. 

Looking for more?  Make sure to attend the Glide Year Fellowships for Prehealth Students today at 3:30pm!

QOTW in 2017: Do I Need to Volunteer/Shadow in the US?
QOTW in 2016: How do I know if I need Postbac Courses?