You are applying to medical school but also wondering if it would be worth it to pay extra to hire medical school admissions consultants to help you with your application. Let Edward Chang help you weigh the pros and cons.
Should you use medical school admissions consulting? Is it worth it? Consulting is not cheap; most companies charging roughly $200/hour. Most comprehensive packages that cover the entire admissions process (personal statement, primary application, secondary application, and interviews) cost more than $1000. So first of all, is admission consulting worth all that money?
The answer to that question is complicated. Unlike college admissions, medical school admissions is notorious for being random and unpredictable. There are so many great applicants that when schools are choosing between multiple worthy people, it becomes more about preference than qualification. Nevertheless, even though the admissions process is seemingly arbitrary, there are reasons why certain applicants are accepted and others are not. Those applicants with knowledge about the admissions process will tell you that often times, your acceptance chances are not only about what you’ve done but how you have presented what you have done. Unfortunately not everyone is good at doing that.
Not every applicant needs consulting. There are thousands of applicants every year that matriculate into U.S. medical schools without paying for help. For other applicants, however, utilizing professional consultants can make a world of difference. If you are accepted to a single medical school after paying for admissions consulting, the price that you paid is a drop in the bucket compared to the entire medical school process. Most applicants spend at least $2000 to apply to medical school. If you apply to 20 schools, it will cost you $844 for primary applications, ~$2000 for secondary applications (assuming each secondary costs $100), and ~ $1800 if you fly to 6 interviews paying about $300 per plane ticket plus lodging. That comes out to a grand total of $4644. And most applicants apply to more than 20 schools. I say all this to make the point that applying to medical school more than once is more expensive than utilizing a consulting service to get you accepted the first time. A 15-minute consultation with admission consultants may even help you realize that you should not or you are not ready to apply, saving you time, money, and heartache. Also, the average debt of U.S medical students is $169,901 so paying a couple thousand dollars more to ensure you get into medical school does not really make much of a difference in the grand scheme of things.
With that being said, I think the following types of applicants should consider using medical school admissions consulting:
2. Those who are not confident in their writing skills especially personal statement
3. Those without trustworthy people to help edit their applications (unfortunately this is true for a lot of people).
(Side note: Never apply to medical school without having trustworthy people–such as mentors, medical students, doctors, those with professional work experience, close friends who know what they are doing, family members, etc–look over both your primary and secondary application. These people should also help you prepare for interviews. If you have absolutely no one to help you with these things, you might need a consulting service.)
4. Those with extremely little knowledge about the admissions process
5. Those with weaknesses in their extracurricular activities
Once you’ve decided that you would like to explore admissions consulting, you will have a myriad of choices. You do not need to commit any money before you get a free consultation. Be sure to explore your multiple options before making a final choice. You should ask the following questions when deciding which company to use:
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1. What is the company’s success rate? What happens if you are not accepted to any schools?
Companies that are not transparent about their success rates should not be considered. Trust companies that can give you actual data rather than anecdotes. You also want to know what they offer if you are not accepted to any schools.
2. Do they provide a free consultation?
You shouldn’t pay anyone who is not willing to give you a free consultation. You need that consultation to help you decide which group to utilize.
3. Does the group have actual admissions experience? Are there any physicians and medical students on the team?
Look for companies with team members that have served on admissions committees. They know what goes on behind the scenes. You do not need to be a physician or medical student to be experts about the admissions process but they can add a personal touch that others cannot. However, being a physician or medical student does not automatically give them credibility either.
4. Is there a diverse team?
It is impossible for one person to be knowledgeable about every type of applicant. Having a large diverse team helps ensure that you will be paired with an expert who understands your specific situation. For example, if you are an underrepresented minority, you will probably want to work with someone who has an emphasis on underrepresented minority admissions.
5. Are the prices fair and transparent?
Some companies may not have their prices readily available on their website, preventing you from quickly comparing prices with other companies. Be wary of any companies that are not very upfront about their pricing.
6. Do they care about profit or do they care about you?
This is hard to evaluate but you want someone who is genuinely passionate about helping others get into medical school. Some companies will cut you off at your time limit unless you pay them more. Other companies will go above and beyond their required duties because they genuinely care that you are accepted. Your free consultation should help you determine your consultants’ level of passion. Ask them why they started their company in the first place as feeler question.
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7. Do you trust them?
Many factors go into trust but this is the ultimate question that asking all the other questions will help you decide.
Not admissions consulting companies are created equal. There are some I would avoid and it is not my goal of this article is not to say which company to use or whether you should or should not use medical school admissions consulting. My hope is to give you the tools to help you make that decision yourself as objectively as possible. It is an important decision to make so be intentional and inquisitive when weighing your options.
The following is a list of the majority of medical school admissions consulting companies in alphabetical order (at ProspectiveDoctor, we recommend MedSchoolCoach for application help):
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ProspectiveDoctor.