Why wait? Why not?
Of the applicants to start health professions school in Fall 2009, about 30% are class of 2009 (who hope to go to medical school in the fall directly after graduation); about 25% are class of 2010 (who hope to take one year off between graduation and medical school), and the rest are alums who have taken additional time off, either to work, explore other interests, or continue to take classes to improve their candidacy before applying to health professions school.
When to Apply?
The best time to apply is when you are the strongest possible applicant. Reflect on your preparedness for health professions school, based on your understanding of what it takes to be a successful applicant. If you're unsure of what this is, make an appointment to meet with a pre-health advisor. If you know that there are aspects of your candidacy that you could improve dramatically, you may want to reassess your timeline of application. In some cases, it's better to devote time, energy, and money to strengthening your academic record, gaining health-related experience or otherwise becoming a stronger candidate rather than to an application process when you aren't at your strongest.
Additionally, it's best to apply for the year when you want to begin, rather than trying to apply, be admitted, and then ask for your admission to be deferred to a future year. Schools have varying policies on deferment. Some will grant you a deferral of one year if you have a well thought-out plan for what you will spend that year doing. However, schools vary in their flexibility and you are advised not to assume that you will be allowed to defer. If you have plans for something you’d like to pursue in the year or two before entering medical school you should consider postponing your application. If you are not sure what to do, consult with a pre-health advisor.
You will begin working with Brandeis' Premedical Board of Advisors about two years prior to your desired matriculation to health professions school. So, if you know you want to begin your professional program the Fall semester after you graduate from Brandeis, you'll begin the application process in the Fall of your junior year.
Students who wish to take time off before beginning medical studies may start the process in their senior year or wait until after they’ve graduated. If you decide that you would like to take time off after graduating from Brandeis you are encouraged to at least begin the application process before you leave by interviewing with the Board of Premedical Advisors and gathering letters of recommendation. If you are unsure of the best timeline for your particular situation, set up an appointment to weigh the options with a pre-health advisor.Note that your age when you decide to apply does not bias medical schools against your application. The average age of matriculating medical students is 24, so taking a year or two off does not harm your chances. Applying early in your chosen application year, however, is to your advantage, since most schools are on a rolling admissions policy.