Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Deferring admission post-acceptance: Interview with Alex

I took a year off between undergraduate and dental school. Partly because I was not ready, partly because I found a great research opportunity.

Alex, my best friend of five years and counting, also decided to take a year off. In her case, she got into medical school and decided to defer her admission to teach English in Spain. She writes about her teaching experience at her blog Tortilla y Tortilla. During our senior year we spent quite a few nights contemplating our decisions. Here we are, the night before graduation at IHOP.
Our gap years were indeed different: Alex knew where she was going to medical school while for me it was an if. But considering Alex deliberately chose to start a year later, I wanted to chat about her gap year experience.

Why did you decide to defer your admission?
My reason to defer from medical school is for a selfish reason. I wanted to travel again. I wanted one year free to travel to France, to the Peak District in England, to places I didn't get to travel to my first time in Europe almost three years ago. I simply wanted a break from studying before taking the plunge and going in deep, so to speak.
Her plan to take a break became more realistic when she heard about the Spanish Ministry of Education's Language & Culture Assistant Program. She admits she still struggled with the idea at first. In the end, she decided to "do it with security". Three things needed to happen: 1) Get into medical school. 2) Get into the program. 3) Get permission to defer. In this order.

Is it common to defer your admission like you did?
I simply filled out a deferment form and submitted it to admissions with an explanation of what I intended to do with my year off. Some people do it, but I think it's more common for students to go straight into med school or simply wait a year to apply. I don't know why. Deferring is easier as it's given me a peace of mind regarding a seat in the incoming class.
What has this gap year meant to you?
With this year off, I have been given a whole other world to learn from and live in. Not just literally as I'm living in Spain but figuratively in that I live in the world of teachers. You can't imagine the feeling of awe when a student surprises you. That moment when a student you had placed at the bottom of the class just one day begins to volunteer and participate, that, that is a wonderful moment. To realize they were listening and actually learning from you. It makes it all worth it.
Would you do this again if given the choice? Do you regret taking this year off?
I've also learned a lot more about taking care of myself. I've always been independent but moving to an unknown city with zero living arrangements is... instructive. I've grown wiser, and older. I've learned about another culture and about myself. And I've gotten to travel. So no. There is no way I regret this year off.
How do you think this gap year will be useful/helpful in your career?
There is no one specific scenario. You are a mash-up of everything you encounter. I like to think that because of my travels, I am more culture-sensitive, more open-minded, more patient, and more curious about the world than ever before.
And as her friend, I see it too. Through her unique experience, she has matured and grown more confident of herself. In some weird way, I am very proud of her. Plus, we will be starting our first years together this fall, albeit 1468 miles apart.


  1. The need to travel again is not a selfish reason, in my opinion. Going to medical school will definitely be a life-changer. All aspects of life will be affected. Why not do something different before plunging into the path of being a doctor? Wish everyone has the same spirit. - Layce of

  2. You did a great job, girls! Children you worked with in Spane, their parents do appreciate your help. Probably it's very hard to get back to the medical school after the gap years. If you have any problems with any kind of writing assignments is always there for you! Feel free to contact them! Good luck!

  3. Going to medical school will definitely be a life-changer.


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