As a premed, you hear a lot of advice from many different people — advisers, professors, other pre-meds, etc. They all give you their two cents on what you should do and it’s your job to sift through the BS and use what’s actually useful. And sometimes you get advice that’s just downright wrong.
Some of the forum posters over at Student Doctor listed some of the worst medical school advice they’ve ever received. Here are six that stuck out to me.
- “Just take the MCAT now. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t studied. You know, just to get the feel of it.”
Definitely something you should not do. The MCAT is a long exam, and not something to be taken lightly. When you do take it the first time, make sure you are as prepared as you could be. After all, do you really want to take the exam again?
- “Shadowing counts as clinical experience.”
Shadowing and volunteering at a clinic are two very different things, and shadowing does not demonstrate aptitude as well as hands-on clinical experience. Shadowing is also less rigorous and, although you should definitely dedicate at least six months to some form of exposure to a career in medicine, volunteering is seen more positively by medical schools.
- “Schools won’t start releasing secondaries until September/October so there is no need to rush your application until then.”
This is just entirely false. Although the AMCAS deadline is October 1st, this does not mean you should submit it on the last day! If you submit it in early June, you can expect secondaries that same month — sometimes in mid-June, before medical schools receive your primary from AAMC.
- “Don’t take science courses over the summer, that looks bad.”
Taking science classes over the summer to fulfill your requirements actually looks great on your application. It shows commitment and maturity. I actually highly recommend taking science classes (or any classes) over the summer to boost your grades because this will improve your chances.
- ” It is better to do 20 one-hour activities then a few activities you are passionate about.”
This is just plain bad advice. While committing yourself to an activity is find, you don’t want to be defined by it. To make yourself a versatile candidate, you need to get involved in many different organizations. Medical school admissions are looking for premeds who have plenty of experience (either through community service, clinical research, shadowing, volunteering, etc.) so don’t confine yourself to only one.
- “Be yourself.”
This is one of those trite comments that you hear so often when applying for practically anything. It’s a platitude, and it doesn’t really mean anything, but people say it all the time. It’s a non-comment. There’s no such thing as NOT being yourself — even if you’re trying to be as fake as possible, you are still you being fake.
Yes, you should be yourself, but most importantly you need to present yourself in the best way possible. You are trying to sell yourself to medical school admissions — and if “being yourself” just doesn’t cut it, you might need to make some appropriate changes. (link to personal statement and blueprint).
As a premed, have you heard some horrible advice on medical admissions? Please add your worst advice in the comment box below. Thanks! –DonO