When to Apply
The best time to apply is when you are the strongest possible applicant.
If you know that there are aspects of your candidacy that you could improve, you may want to reassess the timeline of your application. In most cases, it’s better to devote your time, and energy to strengthening your academic record, gaining health-related experience and/or improving your MCAT or DAT score then just going ahead and applying because “that was always the plan”.
Additionally, it’s best to apply for the year you want to begin, rather than trying to apply, be admitted, and then ask for your admission to be deferred. If there is something you’d like to do prior to professional school, you should consider postponing your application. If you are not sure what to do, make an appointment with a pre-health advisor.
About 60-70% of Bates applicants (and applicants nationally) take time off between graduation and matriculation to health professions school. The average age of matriculating medical/dental students is 25.
Why wait to apply?
- The senior thesis is an impressive achievement, and will be a part of the application for those applying in their senior year or beyond.
- Grades tend to trend upward in the senior year, which improves your candidacy.
- Advanced classes are smaller, so letters of recommendation may be more detailed and stronger (and students can have a letter from the senior thesis adviser).
- The time pressure to take the MCAT is lessened – students applying as seniors often take the MCAT between junior and senior year or after graduation – using the summer to study.
- The year off provides a rich opportunity to expand your knowledge of health care, develop professionalism in a ‘real world’ setting, and help reenergize you after the intense college academic experience.
Here is a link to a great article about making the most of your glide/gap year: https://students-residents.aamc.org/applying-medical-school/article/making-most-your-gap-year/