The Problem with Pre-Med 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.