How to Choose a Pre-med Mentor and Work With Them

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July 6, 2020

Pre-med counsellors or guides are experts who help medical school applicants improve their chances of getting admission in their desired medical schools. Nowadays, there are a number of platforms which provide such pre-med counselling services. Many students are actively opting for it and many students continue to depend upon online resources. Both of them are good strategies, but none of them will guarantee your admission in a medical school. This is a fundamental misconception regarding pre-med counselling. Most of the pre-med counselling services run parallel blogs and Youtube channels. A student never really knows who is providing counselling behind the garb of a website or a Youtube channel. Some smart charlatans will even pose as Pre-med counsellors, when they are in reality merely essay writers and spell-checkers. In pre-med counselling industry, advise is available aplenty, but not for dime a dozen. Pre-med counselling is quite expensive, and many students get discouraged by looking at the increasingly soaring prices. Even if a medical school applicant can afford pre-med counselling, many a times they are paying for services they don’t require, but it is part of the “Medical School Admission Counselling Package” or “Pre-med Counselling Package”. In essence, it is very rare that a student can avail targeted guidance.

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A prime reason behind seeking guidance is a common belief among students and parents that medical school admissions are highly crowded and therefore very competitive. However, this is only partially correct. Medical school admissions are difficult because fulfilling even the basics of the application and the application process itself are arduous, demanding, and somewhat complex. However, the process is mistaken to be shrouded in administrative mysteries and perceived as inscrutable. The sheer volume of essentials and prerequisites can be staggering for students. A majority of students don’t even realize that there are numerous variables to each pre-requisite, and they need not force themselves inside a box of “proven strategies” to make it to a medical school. Unfortunately, many pre-med counselling service providers take advantage of a student’s ignorance..

One of the fundamental aspects of Medical School Applications process is that they are tilted in favour of Andragogy, rather than pedagogy. This means that your medical application process has to be self-driven. The small and big decisions you make in the journey are supposed to be your own, which means you have to be aptly informed in order to make better decisions. This is where a Pre-med mentor comes in.

So, what is the right strategy and approach? The right strategy is to avail the services of a pre-med counsellor, but continue being in-charge of your application process also (remember the application process is andragogical in approach). You cannot trade your agency to take decisions in the application process. Having said this, there are three critical and noteworthy advantages of hiring a pre-med mentor.

  • COST-FACTOR: Pre-med counselling is expensive but it is not a total waste of your money and time. Medical School Applications, both primary and secondary are expensive. If we factor-in the costs of attending interviews, then total expenditure increases by atleast 1000 dollars. This means you will be spending a lot of money even before you get admission in a medical school. Therefore, it is advisable that you get pre-med counselling in order to strengthen your application, because either way the benefit is higher than the costs involved. cost
  • TIME-FACTOR: If you are a late-bloomer, that is, you have just decided to try for medical school admissions and only a year away from writing your Primary application, then Pre-med counselling can definitely help you, despite the common advice to drop a year and prepare for medical school. Pre-med mentor can help you figure out a time-bound action plan, and possibly save a year.
  • AGE-FACTOR: If you are a non-traditional student, then pre-med guidance can help you complete the pre-requisites for writing your primary application as soon as possible. Since age is always a pressing concern, we suggest you get pre-med counselling in order to clearly lay out your path and avoid making any mistakes.

Once you have weighed the above factors, it is time to start looking for a pre-med mentor. In order to do that effectively, you must first briefly understand what a Pre-med mentor will essentially do for you:

  • Application Review Support: This involves a thorough analysis of your application. It is a wholesome and laborious exercise. The Guide will spend time going through your Application, work/activities, long and short Essays, and Secondary Application Essays. They will help you to figure out what went wrong the first time if you are planning to apply again.application form
  • Choosing Medical Schools: Choosing the right medical school often involves a lot of research. A pre-med mentor helps you to figure out which schools to target and where to apply according to your grades, interests, MCAT score (if you have it), and work/activities experiences. They will also help you to choose a school that is best suited to your financial capacity.
  • Primary Application Support: This is a common assistance program and most students are likely to take this up. This program ideally starts the summer you take MCAT or atleast 3 months prior to Primary Application submission. It includes guidance related to short and long essay writing, including the often feared “Personal Comment Essay”.
  • Secondary Application Support: Almost all schools send out invitations for filling the secondary application forms and most of them weigh your primary and secondary application together in order to evaluate the strength of your application. Secondary application support will include guidance on writing long and short essays (SAs have anywhere between 6-14 essays), and strategically answering problematic yet crucial questions on gap year, academic lapses etc.
  • CASPer Support: This involves a Pre-med counsellor helping you prepare for a CASPer test that is a pre-requisite in some medical schools. Although a CASPer test cannot be prepared for through any standard books like MCAT, a pre-med mentor can help you figure out what approach can be taken to answer the problem and situation based questions.
  • Interview Support: Another sought after program, Interview support involves comprehensive guidance and training for interview preparation. This includes guidance regarding MMIs, Traditional Interviews, Oxbridge interviews and even Video interviews. The Counsellors will help carve out a preparation strategy according to the medical school that has invited you to appear for the Interview rounds. interview
  • MCAT support: This is a longer and more targeted program and the Guide will help you to select the right and fool-proof sources to study from. You can ask the Guide to track your progress so that you finish within a good time-frame that will leave you with revision time as well. The Guide will also help you to improve your score, and have clarity about your target score.
  • Work/activities Support: This is the most important assistance program. Seeking guidance on Work/activities can drastically improve your chances of selection. On the other hand, haphazard listing of work/activities in the primary application can easily lead to rejection. A Guide can help you to figure out the right work/activities to list in the primary application, choose the most appropriate meaningful experiences to write about. If you seek guidance a year before writing your primary application, then your Guide can also help you choose the best places to intern or work at in order to build a strong and noteworthy Work/activities section.
  • A to Z support: As the title suggests, this involves counselling support throughout your pre-med journey. This will involve building your primary and secondary application from scratch and slowly building your Resume towards selection in your designated schools. a to z support
  • Foundational Support: Also called as Resume/CV support, this involves a Guide helping you to set clear milestones and achieving them within a time-frame so that by the time application season starts, you have completed all the pre-requisites in order to qualify for secondary application round.
  • Non-traditional student support: This is specifically meant for non-trad students who are looking for counselling on completing their pre-requisites before filling the Primary Applications. Many non-traditional students have trouble regarding letters of recommendation. Sometimes, they need to complete credit courses and join post-bacc classes. This can only be figured out once a Counsellor goes through their CV or Resume. The milestones are set according to the case at hand.
  • Miscellaneous counselling: Paived allows the pre-med students to request counselling on a particular issue they are facing which may be unique to their situation or circumstances. They can simply approach any Counsellor on the platform and submit a request for guidance or counselling on a particular issue.

Now that you know how a Pre-med counsellor can help you increase the odds of your selection in a medical school, it is time to figure out how to go about choosing a Pre-med counsellor:

  1. Credentials: This is the most fundamental criteria for selection. The Pre-med Guide must have strong credentials. They should be successful medical school applicants. For instance, mentors on Paived are properly screened for the authenticity of their credentials. All our mentors are Medical school students and medical graduates.
  2. Targeted Guidance: The Pre-med Guide must be willing to provide targeted guidance. They should be open to understanding what exactly you require and provide guidance accordingly. Many Pre-med Guides will try to confuse you so that you buy more services than you require. This is a green signal to look for a different Guide. However, as a student, if you are comfortable with a Guide, and find their counselling beneficial, then it is alright to pay little extra as well. The idea is to find what you are looking for, not what others are trying to sell you. Targeted Guidance
  3. Track-record: A Pre-med Guide should ideally have a good track record. Apart from being a Medical professional or student, he must have some experience in training and guiding students in past.
  4. Post-rejection support: Always ask your Guide if they are open to providing post-rejection support. Most of them are willing to do so. However, it is best to ask before-hand. Rejections are more common-place than you would think and therefore it is wise to have a Plan-B.
  5. Community support: Many Pre-med Guides are willing to connect you with other pre-med students seeking their guidance. This creates a healthy community of people pursuing similar goals who can interact with one-another. Another factor to consider here is to look for a Pre-med guide who specifically belongs to your community and understands the peculiarities of your identity or class struggles.
  6. Non-traditional student support: Similar to finding a Pre-med Guide belonging to your community, you can also look for a Pre-med Guide who may have been a Non-Traditional Student themselves. Such a guide will be more equipped to help you carve a fairly fool-proof trajectory for selection in a Medical School.

Finally, always remember that a Pre-med guide will not take decisions for you but they can help you take informed and smart decisions. The more informed you are, the better you help a genuine Pre-med counsellor to Guide you effectively.

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