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Hi, I'm new to this site and I'm trying to get a more informed opinion on whether doing an unrelated gap year would ruin my chances for a PhD. Most students I know, and a lot on this site, who decide to take a gap year end up in a research lab gaining more experience. However, I currently have a high-ish gpa (~3.7) that I plan to maintain, hopefully a good gre, and research experience (2 years related in an honors thesis, and 1 unrelated year researching bees). So I don't think I need more research experience and I would like to consider doing a gap year teaching English abroad and getting rid of any last wanderlust before chaining myself to a lab bench. I love research but I don't particularly want to be a lab monkey for minimum wage for a job I don't plan to stay in more than a year. Would I come back and realize I have no shot at getting a PhD, or reduced chances?

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Lol a lot of techs actually DO NOT work for minimum wage. In fact, some get paid even more than the actual grad students. Also, some techs actually have their own meaningful projects instead of just running someone else's gel, so I don't know if "lab monkey" is a fair term to use.

With respect to your actual situation, I don't know what to say. Maybe taking a gap year won't really affect you that much, a lot of medical students do and they end up doing just fine.  

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I took a gap year doing private tutoring. It didn't hurt my application at all. Actually, I ended up getting interviews at schools that had previously rejected me. Taking a gap year to do something different can show maturity, as it is a sign that you carefully considered this. Plus, if you want to try something different, now is the time to go for it. It's harder to branch off after your PhD and then come back to it.

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