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Should You Use a Medical School Admission Consulting Service?

Deciding on whether or not to use medical school application admission consultants can be difficult.  The application fees for medical schools are already expensive and that’s not taking into account the tuition you face on the other side of an acceptance.  At the same time, you’ve put in all the hard work so why not try to maximize your chances?

So, is it worth it? Should you pay the extra cost?  Do I really need it?  What am I really getting?  If I choose to use one, what should I look for?  These are common questions applicants end up asking themselves.  We’ll try to demystify the decision making process a little bit.

PROS AND CONS OF MEDICAL SCHOOL ADMISSIONS CONSULTING

Thousands of applicants every year matriculate into medical schools without the assistance of admissions consultants.  Not everyone needs admissions consulting.  For example, a highly competitive applicant with great numbers and great extracurriculars will statistically matriculate at a medical school and would most likely not need admissions consulting to secure that acceptance.  However, medical school admissions is unlike college admissions.  It may seem random, unpredictable, and unforgiving at times as schools often are choosing between extremely qualified candidates.  So, if this hypothetical candidate had their heart set on top-tier schools, admissions consulting may be of benefit to ensure the remainder of their application is as strong as it possibly could be.

Everyone’s heard the horror stories of the applicant with a 521 MCAT and 3.95 GPA who didn’t get into medical school.  The application process may seem random and unpredictable, but there are reasons why similar applicants are admitted or rejected.  While your accomplishments play a large role, admissions experts harp on how you present yourself and your accomplishments to admissions committees. This is often what makes the final difference in applications.  Given many people do not have extensive writing or admissions experience, not everyone is particularly good at making sure they put their best foot forward.

The conservative cost of applying to medical school is about $6,000.  The primary AMCAS fee plus 24 additional schools turns out to be $1,106.  25 secondary application fees at $100 each is an additional $2,500.  Let’s assume an applicant gets 7-8 interviews.  If an applicant is frugal, stays with a friend, buys their flights early, they may be able to spend $300 per interview.  This is an additional $2,100-2,500.  The fact that applying to medical school costs so much is an entirely different blog post.  Utilizing an admissions consultant is often less than the cost to applying to medical school.  If this admissions consultant helps you secure a few additional interviews, advise you of the appropriate application strategy, or make sure you get accepted so you don’t have to apply all over again, the relative cost is very small in the grand scheme of things.  This is especially so if you consider the average medical student graduates with around $200,000 in debt.

WHO SHOULD USE MEDICAL SCHOOL APPLICATION ADVISING SERVICES?

While every applicant may see some benefit, we suggest taking a closer look if you fall into any of these categories:

1.       Applicants with average or below average admissions statistics.  If you find your chances of acceptance to be less than <70%, we would suggest closely looking into this so you’re a part of the group that gets accepted.

2.       Reapplicants.

3.       Applicants without a trusted and experienced support system who can help them work on their application.  Having doctors, friends, and experienced mentors work on your application with you is essential.  You’ve put in the work so far, don’t let your application fall through the cracks!

4.       Applicants targeting location (either for personal reasons) or a specific tier (ex: top tier) of medical schools.

5.       Applicants with poor writing skills.

6.       Applicants with holes in their experiences or extracurriculars.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN MEDICAL SCHOOL CONSULTING SERVICES?

If you do decide to work with a medical school advisor, you’ll have a lot of options.  Here are some questions to help you decide on who you are working with:

1.       Who will you be working with?  What are their qualifications?

These are probably the most important questions.  Many companies have tons of advisors, some of whom may not be as qualified as others.  Many of these advisors are perhaps current medical students who were accepted into just a few medical schools.   Often times you may even get an advisor who didn’t even apply to medical school!  You should not pay someone just because they are a medical student, physician, or just because they made an advising website.  That doesn’t qualify you to be an advisor.  Look at their track record:  where did they go to medical school?  The reason that is an important question is it gives you an idea of how successful they were during their own application process. If you’re paying someone, wouldn’t you want to feel confident that they had a lot of success when they were in your shoes?  Where did they match for residency?  Again, it gives you an idea that these advisors know what they’re talking about when it comes to applications.  Do they have admissions experience?  While it’s great to have had personal success, having that translate over to your advising is a different skillset.  

2.       How does the company hire advisors?  What quality-controls are there?

A fact that almost all companies won’t admit to: they don’t know their advisors. The person who hired the advisor and an advisor from the same company may very well pass each other on the street and not know each other.  In fact, many companies never meet their advisors in person nor do they even video-chat interview before hiring!  This should be a red flag.  You are paying thousands of dollars to this company and entrusting them with your application.  The advisors you work with should go through the most rigorous screening and training processes. What ends up happening is larger companies serve as the middle-man:  they hire advisors they don’t know particularly well, you find them, they connect you with these advisors.  Terrifying, right?

3.       What will you be getting?  

You want to know what you’ll be getting when you make the purchase.  Companies that hide this in “Contact Us for More Information” or “Contact Us For Price” are not being transparent with you.  That’s not a great way to start a relationship.

There are unfortunately a lot of medical admission consulting companies out there we would not recommend.  There are a few that do fantastic work and we would suggest them to almost all of our applicants.  While we won’t dive into the details, we hope the above helps you make an informed decision.

At AcceptMed, our purpose is to take all of the guesswork out for you.  All of our advisors have extensive admissions experience, all graduated from Harvard Medical School at the top of their class, and all matched into their top choice residency program. Our team is purposefully small.  We get to know each advisor personally and never hire advisors who we have not carefully vetted through in-person interviews.  We are strong believers in quality over quantity.  Learn more about our difference here.  Still not sure if we’re the right fit?  Feel free to reach out to us to talk about it.  If we’re not the right fit, we will happily recommend some advisors who we fully trust.