How to Discuss Breaks in Your Education in Secondary Essays

If you’ve had any breaks in your education, be prepared to talk about those in your medical school secondary essays. 

Schools would want to understand why you’ve taken time off because they’re worried you may need to take more time off in medical school.

Understand the medical school’s perspective about taking time off 

If you have to end up taking off time during medical school, that’s going to be a bit of a hassle for the school. Rearranging their classes to fit in students in different years can be a challenge.

It could also come back to bite them during their own accreditation process. It could suggest that too many students are needing to take breaks during their curriculum.

So if you’ve had any breaks in your education, understand that medical schools are coming from the standpoint that you may need to take more breaks and they could be concerned about that.

Taking a break due to medical issues

If you’ve had health issues in your past and they’re over with, talk about it. 

Don’t mention your specific diagnosis because you don’t want to call yourself out and potentially cause any alarms in the reader’s mind. 

Just say that you had a health issue, mention what happened, and say that you have it under control now. 

Say whatever you need to say to give confidence to the admissions committee that you are okay and that you’re not going to need another break for the same issue.

Own up to mistakes in your past

If you had to take time off for academic reasons or some other shortfall in your life, own up to those mistakes. 

Be really open and honest about your failures. 

Tell them what you’ve learned from those failures and how you’ve overcome them. Explain how you’ve course-corrected and how you’ve improved.

Again, the goal is to give the admissions committee confidence that you won’t repeat those failures and need more time off in medical school.

Reassure the medical school that you have it under control now

The medical school’s biggest fear is to accept a student who’s going to either fail out or need to repeat a year or take a prolonged period of time off. 

Just make sure you reassure them that whatever issues you’ve had in the past are now over with—and you will be okay.

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