What to do during application year?

Hi Everyone!

I am, as you could guess, a non-traditional student. I went back to school last fall to finish pre-reqs and will have completed them by next spring. I plan to take the MCAT next April and apply that summer (2017). I am currently doing a “do-it-yourself” post-bacc program and am looking for some advice on what to do during the year between applying and (hopefully) matriculation. I have a degree already, but have thought about taking the year to finish a certificate of degree in applied mathematics, purely because I enjoy it. However, this would not be the most financially beneficial option. I am also open to working but not really sure which direction to go. I have been a bartender for a few years and that would definitely be the most financially beneficial, but will add nothing to my application. Maybe getting certified to be a CNA would be better? I am completely open to suggestions. What would you do??

THANKS! Rock-on old pre meds!

Do whatever you actually WANT to do versus what you think you need/have to do. It’ll be the last time you have that much time to do what you want until you’re done with residency and beyond, don’t squander it away on stuff that probably won’t really help you in the grand scheme of things as it relates to med school. Being a CNA might get you in the environment, but you won’t really be doing medicine, per se, and the skills you learn will only loosely apply to those you need as a physician. You will probably gain an appreciation for the care-team concept and understand what different jobs do for patient care. If it’s something you think you’ll enjoy for the experience, though, by all means do it.

I spent that year trying to get familiar with some of the subjects covered in school (ie immunology, anatomy, etc) and I was still working full time. The amount I actually retained was so minimal that it was almost a waste of time doing it. The money I saved during that year was worth it though (wife and 2 kids to support). Enjoy yourself, save the suffering for later.

In a perfect world, you could get a job that pays the bills (and covers your application costs, which will range around $2,200 if you apply to 15 schools; does not include interview travel) and gives you flexibility to go on interviews, relax and have a bunch of fun. It doesn’t need to, and probably won’t regardless, enhance your application. In that time you’ll focus really hard on doing the things you want to do, whether it’s traveling, making memories with friends and family, making a dent in your read-for-pleasure book list or learning a new skill/hobby. Remember that you’ll need to save up some transition money for school, especially if you need to movie (first and last month’s rest and security deposit, all due before you’ll get a loan credit back).

I’d also certainly keep volunteering for two reasons: You show that you’re not just volunteering because of applications and because if you do need to reapply, you’ll have that extra year under your belt and if you’re writing update letters, you’ll have something to say. I know that sounds cynical, but there you have it.

I wouldn’t spend money on additional education and certificates unless you’re truly interested in the topic. Again, this doesn’t enhance your application.

Thanks for the replies! It’s easy to get swept up in the resume enhancing tornado. Good to know it won’t matter much what I do. :slight_smile:

Hello and welcome! As others have said, schools may or may not ask what you are doing currently when you interview. Most will focus on what information you provide on your application. If you feel like you need to work, then do that. But it certainly won’t hurt if you have some activity, volunteering, research, what have you, that shows you still want to grow as a person and improve yourself as an applicant. (the following is general advice for all applicants) It’s important on the off chance that you do not get accepted that you continue to build your application. But really don’t stress too much. This year durring application season and then the summer of between M1-M2 are your last real time for relaxation. Please enjoy it while it’s available. Good luck to you on your journey!