As Sophocles said, “No enemy is worse than bad advice.” Take a second and write that down, because it is some of the truest words you will ever read, and something that many pre-meds don’t understand.
I see so many students running in a thousand different directions, none of which is getting them closer to medical school, and in the end they can’t figure out why they never made it. “I did exactly like Dr. A said… Mrs. B told me I would definitely get in if I did X… The dean said all I had to do was improve Y.”
How many of you have friends who have said similar things? The reality is, there are a lot of people out there claiming to be pre-med advisors, but they simply don’t have the expertise to help you. The wrong advisor could be intentionally, or more commonly, unintentionally leading you to your doom. So, I thought I would take a few minutes and lay out some ground rules for selecting your mentors and advisors:
1. Make sure your advisor has the appropriate experience. If they haven’t been a pre-med and applied to medical school, or haven’t been involved in the admissions process, then how can they guide you to being a successful applicant? The caveat here is that when I say involved with admissions, I don’t necessarily mean they have been on an admissions committee. Actually, at many places, people who have served on the admissions committee are not allowed to disclose too much information about the process, so they end up giving vague and only somewhat helpful advice. My advice is personalized, specific and actionable so that you can get where you want to go.
2. Make sure they have enough self-confidence to admit what they don’t know. This is one of the major reasons mentors fail. They might be a great person and know a lot, but if they’re afraid to look uninformed, they’re useless to you. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to have my future riding on someone’s guess. I’d rather have someone who was willing to tell me if something fell out of their scope of advice. You can do yourself a favor by evaluating advice critically. If someone is being vague or unable to answer clarifying follow-up questions, then you might want to look elsewhere. The beauty of my coaching is that I have been working for over a decade to expand the scope of my knowledge to cover the entire pre-med experience. Students who work with me get advice on everything from med school admissions to how to deal with unsupportive parents. Most importantly, if I’m not sure I can give you the best advice available, I will reach out to my network to get you the most up-to-date information.
3. The most important thing you can do to protect yourself is to have more than one advisor. This is the first thing I tell all the students I work with. Having several mentors allows you to have more people to bounce advice off of. For example, in research, a bigger sample size increases the odds of getting an accurate answer. At the same time, what you don’t want to do is sacrifice quality for quantity. I see this as a common mistake pre-meds make. They have a thousand people willing to advise them, but no real advisors.
4. With a group of advisors, have advisors that have different areas of expertise. One may be a researcher, one may be an admissions expert, etc. And always have one who is a “master of life.” This is someone you can go to with personal issues and won’t judge you. Instead, they’ll give you some sound words of wisdom to get your life back in order. If you are looking for someone to give you great advice and support you, then contact me using the form at the bottom of this page!
5. Become your own expert. Take the time to become informed yourself, so that you can critically assess those around you and the advice they provide you. This is the surest way to get to medical school. I wasn’t born the top pre-med productivity expert in America. I became this because I focused on learning everything about what it takes to get to medical school and I have spent a long time troubleshooting. Start your journey to expertise today.
Bonus: See My Video “The Absolute Worst Pre-med Advisor”