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Is a gap year deep?

‘Will a gap year affect my medical/dental application, or make it harder to get in? Is a gap year a bad thing?’ – no. Yay! Everyone breathe a sigh of relief right now. Let’s sort you out in this guide 😆

The biggest fear that medical/dental applicants have throughout the entire applications process (and this is quite an obvious one), is not getting into medical/dental school for the first time. And understandably so. You’re working so hard, day in day out, to achieve this goal, and not ‘succeeding’ would inevitably be heart-breaking. But does it need to be? Not if we can change our mindset, and realise that the ‘worst-case scenario’ of not getting in first time isn’t actually that bad, and might actually have more net positive effects than negative!

What is a gap year? 📅

Essentially, a gap year is a year which you take out after completing your school education, obtaining your A Levels, to apply/re-apply to medicine/dentistry depending on your circumstances. Some gap years are ‘forced’, because you either didn’t get any offers the first time round, or didn’t achieve the necessary grades. Others can be taken voluntarily, perhaps because you didn’t feel ready the first time, or because you only realised you wanted to do medicine/dentistry later.

note: you can also take a voluntary gap year once you get your medicine/dentistry offer from university as part of ‘deferred entry’ – we will touch upon this elsewhere

What do you do on one? 🏃🏻

Alongside focusing on getting into medical/dental school, there’s so many things you can do, and this is what makes gap years so awesome! You have the time to do things that you would never have otherwise been able to do, had you continued straight to university. Here’s some inspiration…

  • Travelling overseas, exploring countries you’ve never seen before and perhaps enrolling onto a language/study programme there! For example, one of our team members at Medology went to Jordan to learn Arabic on their gap year, and came out as as fluent Arabic speaker!
  • Working on a skill/habit that you’ve always wanted to develop – whether this is consistently going to the gym, writing, blogging, video editing, coding etc. You’ve got bags of time to explore and develop other passions that you might not have had the time to during school.
  • Starting a spiritual journey 👀
  • Taking up a job, and earning some money – who doesn’t want Ps? You’ve got loads of options, maybe working in retail, as a GP admin, tutoring etc.
  • Starting a side hustle that you can slowly work on and expand over coming years – for example, a cake business.
  • Getting more medical/dental work experience, perhaps even taking up a volunteering sort of role to make yourself an even stronger applicant and increase that fire you have inside to study medicine/dentistry.
  • Watching loads of TV shows, movies, reading loads of books that you’ve always wanted to read. Working through that Netflix backlog!

We haven’t even scratched the surface! There’s so much you can do. But just a little warning – don’t feel pressured to do anything specific, just do the things that you genuinely feel like you’ll enjoy a lot, grow from and feel content with.

Wait… but isn’t it a waste of a year? 😩

This is a statement you might hear from a certain demographic of Aunties and Uncles… we’re not going to say any more, but you know who they are 😅

For some reason, a lot of parents think that gap years will just be something where their child ends up wasting their time, not really doing anything productive and treating it like some year-long lazy holiday. But speak to anyone who’s taken a gap year and gotten into medical/dental school, and they’ll tell you it was an experience that changed their life.

There’s also this fear, from parents and students alike, that you’ll be ‘left behind’ in comparison to your peers. Let us refute this.

  • You’re embarking on a life-long journey with medicine/dentistry. Starting a 30-40 year journey, 1 year later, will that do anything? No. Remember anyways, verily, in this life, we’re all on our own journey. Comparison is the thief of joy.
  • In medical/dental school, age is an irrelevant thing. Remember that ‘year below’ and ‘year above’ vibe you guys would feel in school/college? That doesn’t exist at university. No one cares about age, and many more people than you think will have also taken gap years, come in as post-grads or come via a non-traditional route. There’ll be times when even though you started university after a gap year, you’ll be the youngest in the room!

So no, nothing’s being wasted, and it’s an experience that you’ll never forget.

Will it decrease my chances of getting in? 😧

A common worry – but no! Not at all. In the majority of cases, all applicants, whether they are school leavers, gap year students, post-grads etc. are judged the same when deciding who gets the offer – the interview score (for the same course). It does not affect your application!

Okay, there may be slight differences in the admissions test cut-off score to get the interview, but that’s about it. In some cases, universities actually prefer applicants with achieved grades (i.e. those on gap years have a better chance of interview), so… please don’t worry about this at all. And you don’t need to have fancy gap year experiences to get in either. These things don’t matter. It’s just your passion, insight into medicine/dentistry, skills and reflections from whatever experiences you have that get you in.

note: if you have to take a gap year due to missing the grades, the situation is a little bit different. universities are often much stricter with resitting applicants.

A message from us 💙

In our collective opinion at Medology, you, reading this guide, are in a sick position! You’re either getting into medical/dental school this year, in which case, a fantastic achievement. Or, things might not work out as you intend this year, so you have to take a gap year, and then you get in after that! When the worst-case scenario is so beautiful, what is there to fear?

There are tooooo many people in medical/dental school who wish they’d taken a gap year before getting in, because it is a unique and amazing opportunity that you’ll probably never get again in your life. Don’t fear it! If it comes, embrace it with full heart because that is what was meant for you. We can guarantee – speak to anyone who’s taken a gap year and they’ll concur with us. If not, get in touch, and we’ll have to do something 🤣

Just remember – throughout the entire applications process, stay on top of your A Levels, and make sure that no matter what, you secure the grades. A gap year could be a little more laborious if you have the pressure of having to re-sit an A Level or two, we’ll admit. Your mindset when choosing to do any activity throughout the applications process should be – ‘if this is going to take away from my A Levels, then it’s not worth doing’

Oh and just remember – a gap year will not affect your application!

Let’s not live in doom and gloom. Things are going to work out, Lions! 🦁