September 21, 2008 8:57 PM
Pros and Cons of Studying Abroad in Junior Year
Junior year is a great year to study abroad. After two years at Berkeley, you've gotten the hang of things. Going off in your junior year allows you explore and get to know the students at the other schools. You're mature enough to know how things work. And, the students you're hanging out with aren't those job focused seniors.
A year abroad is long enough for you to get settled and long enough to really absorb the culture. A semester has often been said by people that its just long enough to settle...and then you have to leave. So if you're going... just go for a year!
However, if you're planning to apply to med school, being gone during Spring semester of your junior year can hurt. It means that you'll need to take your MCAT before you leave for study abroad. You have many study abroad things...physicals...shots... forms.. to get filled out before you leave. Do you really have time to study? Also, your grades don't get back to you until 90 days after the program ends. (I'm still waiting for my Japan program grades to get on my Berkeley transcripts...only a couple more days... hopefully.) Many schools (like the Texas system) require that your spring grades be in before they consider you. You''l need to get letters of recommendation from professors before you leave. Thankfully, the Letter Service is a great way to store the letters.
If you're planning to take a gap year after graduation, then it'll work out for sure. But if you want to go straight to med school... you may be risking your top schools a bit. Many med schools work on a rolling admissions basis. Your application may be slightly hurt by the wait in transcripts.
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