How Can I Advocate For Myself?

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ADG 203: How Can I Advocate For Myself?

Session 203

This student poses the question, how can I advocate for myself in a firm but not annoying way?

Ask Dr. Gray: Premed Q&A is brought to you by Blueprint MCAT. Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.

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[01:24] Question of the Day

“Advocating for yourself is really important. How do you recommend most students start advocating for themselves or speaking up for themselves in a way that’s not irritating?”

A: There’s a fine line between advocating for yourself and annoying them. Trying going in with a question. For instance, if you’ve already researched things about their school but you’re still missing something then ask if they can help you.

Don’t email them about your life story and ask them what they think about it in the end. This is not a question and it only shows a lack of empathy for the person on the other end of the table. They don’t need a huge backstory. They just need to know the relevant information they need to help answer the question that you have at hand.

[03:35] Getting Clinical Experience

Q: I go to college out-of-state and it’s pretty far away like six hours. I’m looking for clinical positions and a lot of them say they need a six-month commitment or a one-year commitment. And I can’t do that. I can’t make that promise because I’ll be going back and forth from where I live. For people who have to move around and aren’t really tied to one place, what are some good options for clinical experience?

A: You just have to find a position that allows for flexibility with your schedule and they have to be okay with that. On the other hand, see if you can be flexible, maybe staying in one location, one summer, and really just committing to that experience.

Another option is to not get any clinical experience while you’re in school. Wait until you graduate then go home and take a gap year or two, and get clinical experience at home before you apply.

[05:43] Seeking Out the Right Resources

Q: There’s obviously a huge industry for advising premeds. And just going through all that can be really overwhelming. What are the biggest green lights for resources and the biggest red flags?

A: There will be differences in styles and recommendations. Sometimes people are completely off base, and they have really bad advice. But that’s few and far between.

Start with your school’s premed advisor.

Always start with your school advisor. You’re paying for them through tuition. So they’re a resource to help you start with them. They know what’s happening on campus as well as the specific courses that work and don’t work.

Use third-party resources.

Then supplement that with videos and books. YouTube videos are free. Buying a book is relatively cheap, without much investment. And then when it comes time to apply, go to your advisor. See what sort of resources they have and whether they will help you with a personal statement or help you craft your application.

Then if you need help outside of that, and you don’t think you can do it on your own and you want a little extra hand-holding, look into a company and see what they have to offer.

'There's no one right way or wrong way to go about finding a company.'Click To Tweet

Mappd and all other companies are basically doing the same thing. It’s just a matter of who’s doing it.

There’s one company out there and their big selling point is everyone’s a physician and all of their advisors are physicians who have admissions committee experience. That means they were on the admissions committee.

Being a doctor doesn’t necessarily mean that you have knowledge about the application process.

Our Team at Mappd

On my team, I have two former directors of admissions at medical schools who are the ones in charge of what’s going on. Our biggest philosophy is that we don’t care about the MD/DO title. What we want is the hard experience of being a director of admissions.

We also have a person on the team who wasn’t a director of admissions. But she was in pre-health advising for several years at an undergraduate institution. Students love her as well and she has built that knowledge base as needed.

We have our newest advisor coming on and she used to serve as the Director of Admissions at a DO school. She’s concerned about the knowledge of MD schools because it’s a little bit different. But it’s a lot the same. But for the most part, having been a director of admissions, she understands 95% of it.

[11:14] Why I Don’t Recommend Dual Enrollment

Q: The meat of this question is dual enrollment. My average GPA is 3.3. I didn’t even know I was wanting to be a physician when I was in high school, and I just took all these classes. I was not ready for almost any of them yet. How do they exactly process that?

A: Those grades are going to be on your application, assuming you got grades, and you didn’t just withdraw from them all. That being said, your average GPA is not bad. Ultimately, assuming you have better grades post-high school into your college years, it’ll be fine. It’ll look like someone who took college classes in high school and wasn’t ready for them.

“Live each step of your journey for today.”Click To Tweet

Too many students are trying to shortcut here and shortcut there. It may make sense from a financial standpoint. But I don’t recommend that students take dual enrollment or take any AP classes.

It can be a lot cheaper to do dual enrollment as a high school student through community college, get those credits, and then start university as a sophomore or junior. So you’re shortcutting the financial aspects. But it adds a lot more to your plate as a high school student that may cause you to burn out and lose your passion.


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