Tangent

The Pitfalls and Benefits of Pre-Med Forums

online-forums

The internet is a wonderful creation.  It is a vast expanse of information of facts and opinion that makes doing research for a school project or job presentation a cinch.  While it is a wonderful fount of knowledge, I want to make it very clear that the internet is far from flawless.  In fact, there are some facets of the web that are absolutely toxic for people to venture into.  What are some of these places that I speak of?  Online forums, specifically pre-med forums.

I guess that you could say that this is an extension of me ranting earlier about why I choose not to have a lot of Pre-Med friends, but I’m writing about this because while they can be beneficial to those with a lot of questions, they can also be very harmful and discouraging to those who spend too much of their time on them.

The Pitfalls:

Here are three reasons why I loathe going on Pre-Med forums:

  1. There is a “cookie-cutter applicant” expectation that is set.
    • There is this unknown standard that people have and when looking at the resumes and experiences of others that are posted on these forums.  It is easy to think that you are worse off than that particular person because you may not have done, or at least done enough of, what that person did.  I have been caught in this trap before and have felt more depressed about myself with feelings of inadequacy.  Keep in mind, as these kinds of thoughts creep into your mind, that medical schools aren’t looking for a “cookie-cutter” type applicant but rather want interesting and unique kinds people that will be the doctors of the future.
  2. You never seem good enough to most of the people on the forum.
    • This is kind of similar to the previous point but the only difference is that instead of you telling yourself that you aren’t good enough, other people on the forum tell you that you aren’t good enough.  I do not know why the invention of the “What Are My Chances” posts came to be.  You are basically asking people to shred your resume to bits because they ALWAYS seem to think that they have done it better.  Not once have I seen a majority of responders to these kinds of posts say, “Wow that’s awesome!  You look like a great applicant” or at least say, “Good job!  Maybe try to get a little more hours with doing ____.”  Sadly, most people say something to the effect of how the person may want to consider doing another career.  I do not believe that crushing someone’s dreams is any benefit to that person.
  3. People are just plain mean on the internet.
    • I think that this should be a given.  Because of the anonymity of the internet, it is so much easier to be rude and to bully other people.  In fact, I think Pre-Meds are more ruthless on the internet than they are in real life.  Come on people, BE NICE!

The Benefits:

Now I would be lying to you if I said that I never go on these forums myself because I occasionally do and while I still think that they can be very toxic, I do believe that they also have a great purpose if used wisely.

  1. They are sometimes visited by Medical students or Physicians.
    • I love to be able to go on there and hear from a person that has made it.  That is the best kind of person that I want to be receiving my advice from, since whatever they did actually worked.  They usually are the most supportive types of forum contributors and are a fountain of knowledge for everyone there.  Whenever they open a forum for a Q&A, definitely take advantage of that!  Especially since these people are usually too busy to do things like this.
  2. People share horror/ funny stories of their experiences through college/ application process/ interviews.
    • Sometimes the whole process is a struggle and it feels like when things go wrong, that you are alone.  I always appreciate and enjoy reading forum posts where people share times when something like a medical school interview went horribly wrong, either if it was because of them or the interviewer.  It reminds me that there are other imperfect people out there in the world.  Although I still think that pre-med forums are toxic, I feel that they can also be a place where people in the same situation can come together and support one another by sharing experiences like this.

Well there is my unsolicited opinion on Pre-Med forums.  My overall advice is to not spend too much time on them, but when you do, take what is posted on there with a grain of salt.  Remember that you are your own person and the more you can make yourself stand out as an individual, the better off you will be.

Do you have an opinion on Pre-Med forums?  Or perhaps do you have something else that you would like me to talk about in the future?  Please feel free to leave a comment below or contact me.

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