The Problem with Pre-Med Forums
[Before we expand on the problems with premed forums, here's our response to the false information spread by agents of Premed 101 forum. It appears that they got upset about an article we wrote about them that revealed the truth they don't want you to know. Click here to read the original post.
Here's our response:
1. Most of our students come to us after using our free services or because they were referred by family members or friends. The word of mouth has allowed us to grow exponentially because what we do works and it works consistently. In fact, many of our students are students who had used premed101 in the past but were rejected because the forum doesn't really provide any sort of meaningful help. In our opinion, it's just a quagmire of unverified information run by a bunch of random people with questionable motivations that some might argue are designed to keep a leash on the flow of information about the broken admissions systems in place. The forum moderators continuously indicate that they are there to help you but they will not provide any form of personalized feedback. The will not act as a coach or a mentor to anyone. They won't even reveal their real identity! How's that for accountability? For example, you cannot send your personal statement to them for a detailed and personalized review. They do not provide CASPer or interview simulations, and they certainly will not go over your responses to any CASPer or interview practice to help you get better. What they do is just shuffling around opinions not personalized help.
2. They say that BeMo charges students and they don't. Well, that's incorrect, we provide more free information than they have ever had in their entire history. While they are hiding behind their keyboards and waiting to get into a bickering match to show their superiority over a young premed student, we provide information packed blogs, videos, sample tests, books, reports, and so forth. These resources cost us a lot of time, money and energy to produce but we given them out absolutely for free because we believe everyone deserves access to higher education. We only charge for services that include one-on-one consultation with our trained admissions experts because they are all practicing professionals and they must be compensated for their time accordingly. Furthermore, we do it with full accountability unlike premed 101: a) We have the full details of every single of our admissions experts on our website b) We offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee. Now, it's unreasonable to think that our services must be free. Why should they be free? We pose this question to the Premed 101 agents who claim to be medical doctors (we can't really tell who they are because they keep hiding behind their usernames): Are you not charging your patients for your services? Are you not paid for your services? Just because medical care in Canada is covered, doesn't mean it's free. Doctors still get paid because people pay a lot of money in the form of taxes. So why would another service have to be free?
3. Not only that we have been an outspoken advocate for students, especially those who are marginalized. We offer payment plans, scholarships and deep discounts for those in need but more importantly, as a social enterprise all of our profit goes back into our mission, which is making admissions fair. Current admissions screening practices are outdated and have been shown to cause bias against applicants who are from lower income levels or minority groups. This is why all of our profit goes into the research and development of a new admissions screening tool in addition to the cost of creating free content for students. ]
Now back to the problems with such forums:
Pre-med forums are tricky beasts. They have a huge allure for students desperate for information, validation, or even just commiseration. Preparing for and applying to medical school can be emotionally taxing, socially isolating, confusing, intimidating, stressful, and expensive. It’s natural for students to seek out advice wherever they can find it, and to try to surround themselves with people they believe are going through (or have gone through) the same things they’re experiencing. The fact that such forums are free, easily accessible, and have a perceived sense of authority about them makes them all the more attractive. However, there are many reasons students should be wary of pre-med forums, even above and beyond the fact that much of the advice found there is frequently cringe-worthy for those who are admissions experts.
This is an article written from a place of love. The intention here isn't to "throw shade", or even to suggest that "we-and-only-we" can give you the advice, information, and guidance needed to help you maximize your chances of getting into medical school. There are lots of options out there, and you should choose the ones that work most effectively for you. The intention here, rather, is to issue words of caution to students who have big dreams and who want to know and do everything they can to make those dreams reality. There is a wealth of free, reliable, expert advice on medical school admissions out there, composed and distributed by people who are deeply devoted to student success. With all of that available, there really isn't a need to frequent spaces that are prone to error, misinformation, or inaccuracy, even if that information is given in good faith (and that's a pretty substantial "if"). If you're looking for a space to connect with others who are going through the same things you're going through, that's understandable, and I'll speak more to that momentarily. If you're looking for actionable advice, though, pre-med forums are simply not the best resources out there, and they can do as much harm as good.
Peer Review vs. Peer Support
If you’ve ever seen a professor’s eyes pop and jaw drop in abject horror upon seeing a student essay citing Wikipedia, then you may already have an implicit understanding of a key reason pre-med forums are so problematic.