Applying to medical school is confusing and understandably unfamiliar process, this is where hopefully this blog and your mentors with first hand experience come into play. Unfortunately, not everyone is lucky enough to have a mentor lying around at their disposal. I recently joined the ranks of Student Mentor Network, an advising service created by medical students to help soothe the fierce impact of applications on premeds. As some of you already may know, I was editing and critiquing student’s personal statements (and some secondaries) pro bono this year. Last year I offered to edit/critique medical school personal statements and about 6 people opted in. This year I worked with about 40 people (and a few last year), each person was given three edits maximum, and it worked out fairly well. A large bulk went onto apply to medical school and a fair chunk (statistically speaking) are now interviewing this season. The unfortunate part is that it’s not realistic that I can read over 100 renditions of personal statements while in medical school, not to say it wasn’t enjoyable to see the papers mature — in fact, I asked one applicant to write a guest post after their interview dust settles. After this last wave was over and I started medical school I was certain it wasn’t realistic to keep pumping out edits. After apologizing to future applicants, I asked a few people on Twitter who follow my blog how to make the process more sustainable both for myself and those who wanted to submit. Some suggested I charge with a sliding scale, do crowd sourcing, or other types of creative things.
I procrastinated on a solution for several months as I languished at the thought of charging those who couldn’t afford to apply to medical school never mind another fee stacked onto their plate. A timely email fell into my email box from Student Mentor Network asking if I were interested in acting as a mentor, after I scoped out the site for a bit I noticed the rates were comparatively lower as most advising services charge a few hundred hourly whereas their site ranged from ~$30-$45 per hour. This is not to detract from all services, some services are worth every penny despite being expensive, especially compared to the cost of re-applying. I was intrigued, but being my usual skeptical self, I was not completely won over. So, I exchanged numbers with the owner of the company and we agreed to talk over the phone about the concept. On a weekend between tests we found time to talk, and he explained how he was initially rejected by all schools he applied to despite having competitive stats. He described this experience as eye-opening, learned “how to apply to medical school”, and was subsequently accepted into Johns Hopkins. We both agreed that the medical school application process is rather daunting, what some perceive to be mysterious. Though, once you understand the process it’s rather intelligible, the problem is most people only gain an understanding of the proper way to apply after they’ve already been rejected after a cycle and have forfeited several thousand to application process. So, the setup of Student Mentor Network is that you only receive advising from medical students (those who know what the current application ecosystem is because they just went through it).
So, my plan on how to handle editing/critiquing personal statements will be different from my previous rounds. This year, I will still take some personal statements (with three edits) for free, first come first critiqued. I’ll give priority to those who follow my blog and/or Twitter account. But, this year and from now on I’ll have to cap the number of essays I review depending on my predicated schedule — this next cycle, I’m shooting for 15 people for free and this may expand in the summer. I’ll also still respond to quick questions or lengthy emails as usual, regardless. The rest, or people who want more help can rent my undivided attention per hour via Student Mentor Network. There, we can talk about anything:
- Personal statements
- Building a resume (CV)
- Taking a gap year
- Obtaining letters of recommendation
But really, I encourage you to try to align yourself with a mentor that fits you, maybe I’m not the fit for you. Even if it’s not me you decide on, I’d suggest considering using this website because investing less than 50 bucks is a lot cheaper than finding out you made a fatal mistake upon applying the first time without empirical based advice.
You can find me under Deandre K.