An open editorial to the premed community from Don Osborne, owner of INQUARTA.com
Before I started working as an admissions coach, I was an MCAT test prep instructor. For 15 years, I worked with well over 10,000 premeds, helping them with the MCAT. I shared in their joys and triumphs, bittersweet moments and tears. It was fun and very fulfilling work; I loved working with the students as they took on one of the biggest challenges of their lives and as they took command of the beginnings of their career path. Pursuing a career in medicine is a noble, amazing challenge!
I loved hearing about students’ succeeding and getting great MCAT scores. And I’ve sat with more than my fair share of premeds who broke down in tears because their MCAT score meant that they most likely weren’t going to get into medical school — at least not as fast as they wanted to.
But of all the students I remember, it’s the ones who could not afford the tuition to step into my prep class who haunted me.
It’s time for a change.
It’s time for that to change. For a long time, I’ve wanted to find a way to help every student who wants to study for the MCAT, but isn’t sure they need a full-on test prep course. Becoming a physician and pursuing medicine is a huge and noble calling. It’s filled with challenges and adversity, and the rewards – literally saving someone’s life — are unparalleled. To see a young person’s dreams die because they can’t afford the cost of a test prep course … that’s a huge loss for all of us, and it’s something I can’t permit to go on. For a long time, I’ve wanted to find a way to help students who can’t afford this step in the admissions process, but who nevertheless need a structured way to study for the MCAT.
Now, thanks to the internet, I think I’ve found the answer.
An “open source” approach to the MCAT
It’s time for test prep to go “open source.” I believe the future of test prep requires a new model, and the new model needs an open platform that allows students to experiment with how they study for standardized tests, tests that have such a huge impact on their career, and their lives.
An open source MCAT course will result in better test prep “technology” for everyone, meaning that students will not be passive consumers of information, but will be part of the process of creating an MCAT course that works best for them.
An Open Source MCAT course will reduce a major financial burden that premeds face. You are already worried about being able to afford college, much less medical school. And the cost of the primary application (about $1,200) plus secondaries ($750+) plus airfare for interviews (over $1,000), means that students are paying in excess of $3,000 JUST TO APPLY to medical school.
Adding another $1,500 or $2,000 onto that for test prep creates a financial mountain that some students just refuse to climb. More than a few students have told me they feel guilty for even asking their parents for this kind of money; so they just don’t start the admissions process.
I believe in the open web, and MCAT content as part of an open web.
My objectives in creating Open Source MCAT Course (OSMC)
I want the Open Source MCAT Course to be the first resource a student uses when he or she is considering studying for the MCAT. OSMC will give you insight into whether or not you should take a more-complete MCAT course, or not.
I also want students to take a more-active role in their own learning, and the management of their learning. I know from many years of experience that there is no “one right way” to study for the MCAT; yet, many students will pursue a “grail quest” in which they look for that one technique, that one magic bullet, that solves the MCAT for them. To resolve this, OSMC will reflect different learning styles, and allow community members to guide each other to what’s best for them. Your way may not be better for me than my way, but at least now you’ll know about the different ways that exist.
Open Source MCAT Course Features:
- Course is free to everyone!
- Over 350 hours of online video training
- Course content covers all of the sciences — Bio, Gchem, Ochem, Physics, Verbal Reasoning.
- Videos from top universities across the country — MIT, Stanford, etc., etc.
- This is a beta version
- Open source or creative commons
- All content is attributed to and belongs to its authors
- Culled from thousands of videos all over the web to bring you the best available content
- Always improving as more students use and give feedback on the course
You are among the first people I’ve invited to take a look at my “baby.” Please participate in the “comments” section, and give your feedback so I can improve Open Source MCAT Course (OSMC) and make it better for everyone! But be gentle, this is a fledgling idea (think “baby chick!”) and I am asking for your encouragement and positive suggestions. Please do not squash my baby chick.
The vision of OSMC is to create the world’s first open source test prep program. By “open source,” I am referring to the contribution of thousands of users to the overall content within OSMC. OSMC is made for, and improved by, its community.
Joining OSMC is about more than just gobbling content to cram for an important test; it’s about thoughtfully contributing to a unique learning environment for many, many thousands of future physicians-in-training.
I welcome your contributions and feedback.
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See you in the comments section!
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