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Gap Year graphic
Gap years are not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. There are many pros, and they can almost all be associated with time.
Time for coursework
Registration can be tricky, and unless you have planned ahead and gotten lucky, it can be difficult to get all the coursework done in time enough for an application at the end of junior year. Planning for a gap year can give you more semesters to take the classes you need, take additional coursework to strengthen your application, or to continue to distance yourself from any missteps you may have made early in your academic career. Maybe a postbacc program is in the cards for you, and that will be default necessitate a gap year or two.
Time to gain direct patient contact/clinical experience
Many of the opportunities for direct patient care or significant clinical exposure/experience are paid, meaning they require a significant commitment. This can’t always be accomplished in addition to coursework, so planning to work in the field post-graduation is a great experience-builder. And did I mention, they’re usually paid?
Time for extracurriculars and other credentials
It can sometimes feel impossible to maintain a difficult courseload and find time to get involved with student organizations or service opportunities. Rather than trying to cram in all your activities during summers or breaks, realize that a little can go a long way…if it’s done over a long period of time. Planning for a gap year can give you extra time to find and participate in these activities.
Now, consider this as a gap year con: nothing.

This could be interpreted as “there is no downside to a gap year”. And that may well be true. But what it can also mean is that doing nothing and not using your gap year to continue to bolster your application and demonstrate your sincere desire to become a health professional can be hugely detrimental.
When considering the pros and cons of a gap year, including possible activities, stop thinking “what do people do for a gap year?” and start thinking “what should *I* do for *my* gap year?”

Resa Anderson
University Career Services

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