Quite often, many premeds surf academic advice through the web, from determining which MCAT books to purchase to preparing efficiently for your classes, via student forums. However, students often overlook the strong perspectives present in the advice and might accept the general notion that the premed curriculum is an obstacle versus a journey. After personally taking part in various mentorship programs and seeking excellent advice from highly experienced professors and pre-health advisors at Loyola University while occasionally referencing the web, I have become increasingly skeptical of student forums. Although they can offer realistic advice, it is imperative to take various measures to create a strong social support system for seeking viable information from trusted individuals.

What better platform to voice opinions through a forum with premeds, right? Granting, I have gained helpful knowledge and insight from these forums regarding balancing applications, school, and volunteering, I believe relying solely on the internet for premed advice is a disadvantage to the aspiring physician who is full of potential. Hence, in addition to student forums, try to extend your social support system to professors, mentors, and physicians. Speaking from experience, as I read through some forum topics this past summer, I began to see challenging classes as an obstacle versus a chance to build upon knowledge from intro level classes. However, I quickly turned from that toxic notion after I joined a mentorship program that challenged pessimistic pre-med myths and promoted positivity through encouragement.

At Loyola University, a mentorship program, known as LUC Mentors, networks students with medical students to foster a stable source for genuine and experienced advice. After being exposed to such a valuable basis of information, I started to realize why all premeds should not purely rely on student forums and the web for advice. Having a mentor-mentee relationship helps an individual’s view on hardships, since they become one of your supporters during hard times. Having social support is integral for mental health and healthy aging, according to recent research, and can indirectly supplement your journey to becoming a physician (Sneed and Chang 1). Thus, this personal encouragement and connection is clearly lacking through the web. Hence, joining a mentorship program at your university or seeking out an undergraduate mentor can make all the difference at how you perceive your hardships in life and school.

Lastly, expanding my social circle to professors has truly amplified the inner fire and drive to seek knowledge as an ambitious, aspiring student. Professors have seen many of their students graduate and succeed in their professions, so they often guide and give meaningful advice based on expressed interests. For instance, this past year, I reached out to a professor for advice on preparing for the MCAT in the summer, and he graciously connected me with one of his prior students who did exceptionally well on the assessment. Pre-med forums lack the personal encouragement and connections that a strong social network can provide you. I encourage all pre-health students to seek an extended social network in order to supplement their personal journey and prepare for professional school and beyond.

Sources:

Sneed, Rodlescia S., and Po-Ju Chang. “Social Networks Linked to Better Health for Older Adults, Studies Find.” Apa.org. American Psychological Association, 28 May 2014. Web. 23 Nov. 2016.