Reddit: the good, the bad, and the ugly. If you’ve ever been on Reddit, you know it’s a mixed bag. There’s lots of information on there, but not all of it is useful, and there’s no way to decipher the truth from the misleading, biased, or false information. Premed Reddit is no different. While there’s a plethora of advice, strategies, and success stories on /r/premed, some of it is unhelpful, time-wasting, or downright false.
That said, there are also benefits to premed Reddit, and depending on your needs and where you are in your premed journey, you may be able to get a lot out of it. The key to making the most of the platform is a cautious and balanced approach. In this post, we break down the pitfalls of premed Reddit, what it is useful for, and how you can get the most out of the platform.
What Are the Pitfalls of Premed Reddit?
1 | Blind Leading the Blind
In many ways, premed Reddit is the blind leading the blind. There are exceptions, of course, but for the most part, it’s premeds participating and posting on /r/premed.
Premeds are students trying to get into medical school, and many of them will not succeed.
Only 37% of students who apply to medical school actually matriculate. And then there’s the group of students who don’t make it through the grueling application process either due to poor grades, difficulty with the MCAT, or other extenuating circumstances. Any of these students can post anything they want on Reddit, whether it’s good advice or terrible advice.
Take advice coming from other premeds with a grain of salt. What worked for them may not work for you, and their situation may be the exception that proves the rule. Use your skills of deduction—if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Did that premed matriculate into medical school? Is the advice coming from a medical student or doctor who has the experience to back up their claims?
2 | Lack of Individual Nuance
The advice and strategies shared on premed Reddit lack individual nuance. A hack might have worked for one student, but that doesn’t mean it will work for you. There are always exceptions to the rule. To find success, you must figure out your own strengths and weaknesses to craft a personalized strategy.
When you simply follow what worked for one person, you miss out on the whole picture. Maybe they were able to gain an acceptance by studying certain hours, using a specific Anki deck, or writing their own letters of recommendation, but your application is more than any one component. What else did they do that contributed to their success? It could be that it was their unique and compelling personal statement that ultimately led to their success—not the hack they swear by.
That doesn’t mean everything on /r/premed is incorrect; it means you need to be careful not to fall for one person’s success story. That’s because you’re only hearing about the success in these cases.
This is called survivorship bias—the tendency to put focus solely on one success. All previous failures that led to the success are ignored, and all of the other scenarios that didn’t work out (or lead to an acceptance) aren’t given the same attention.
“I stayed up all night cramming information before the night of my MCAT, and I scored a 519!”
Sure, that may be true for one person, but what about all of the other stories where success didn’t occur? How many students pulled all-nighters and didn’t succeed? And how many of those students are running straight to Reddit to share the story of their silly mistake?
3 | Over-Reliance on FREE
Is free always good? Not exactly.
Some people might think free is always a good thing. We’d like to offer a counterpoint. Is free food awesome? Sometimes! A free delicious sample from the grocery store—perfect. But what if that free offering isn’t any good? In this example, the free food sample was made by someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing. It tastes terrible and leads to foul and embarrassing future consequences.
Free is only a good thing if what’s free is helpful and worthwhile.
Premed Reddit users often over-rely on what’s available for free. Why pay for advice when you can find some of it on Reddit for free? Why put in the time to craft your own personalized strategy when you can use the same one someone else already made? Why think up your own personal statement narrative when you can repurpose what you heard worked for someone else?
Free advice is often free for a reason. In reality, the cost of applying to medical school is a balancing act of many different costs. There’s the financial cost, but time and effort are also very legitimate costs—ones you only have so much of.
So long as you do research to find quality resources and services to aid your journey, it’s an investment in yourself and your future education. We’re not just trying to sell private tutoring here because it’s not for everyone. Learn more—Is Medical Admissions Consulting Worth It?
The real takeaway here is that just because the advice on online message boards is free, it doesn’t make that advice helpful. And getting bad advice at critical movements of the application process could set you back in a major way or lead to not gaining an acceptance.
4 | Negativity and Anger
Reddit, along with many online message forums, can be a negative space.
People use these platforms to vent, complain, and share their anger. Since it’s a generally anonymous place, people can be rude, obnoxious, mean, or a complete troll without much consequence.
Be careful about spending too much time in these places, and watch to ensure you’re not taking in too much negativity while spending time on Reddit. Getting into debates or arguments online is only a distraction. It will use up your limited time and leave you feeling drained and lacking the motivation you desperately need as a premed.
Always ask yourself, “what am I getting out of this?”
If you spend 20 minutes on Reddit only to come away from it feeling annoyed or frustrated by the comments, it’s time to reassess how you spend your time. Zapping your energy and mood costs you much more than 20 minutes.
Of course, there can be a lot of positivity on /r/premed, too, especially when it comes to understanding the premed struggle and sharing success stories. Assess how you feel after using the platform to determine whether or not it is actually providing you value.
5 | Comparison Anxiety
All of those success stories, though positive, can cause comparison anxiety. My MCAT score wasn’t that high. Will I still get in? So many people already have acceptances. Is there any hope for me?
If you’re spending time on the medical school Reddit /r/medical-student, you might be distracted and disheartened by all of the successful Match Day stories.
These exciting success stories can be a real drain on your self-esteem when you are unsure of how you will do or if you are currently experiencing setbacks. Always keep a close watch on your mood and wellbeing, especially during the application process or leading up to an exam/test. If the stories on Reddit are bringing you down, make an effort to remove that source of stress from your life.
Anxiety can also develop as premeds hear stories from top-performing students. Hearing how many extracurriculars other applicants have or how high people scored on the MCAT can leave you feeling like your lower scores are not enough.
You might see that someone with a 520 MCAT score and 3.9 GPA didn’t get into medical school. How can you get in then if your scores are much lower? Cue your negative thoughts, worries, and anxieties spiraling out of control. This, again, is only a fraction of the story. Those scores are only one part of the application process. That applicant may have had a terribly generic personal statement or a lackluster letter of recommendation that led to failing to get into medical school.
If you struggle with self-confidence or find yourself continually comparing yourself to others, Reddit may be a toxic place for you to spend your time.
6 | Hidden Agendas
Unfortunately, there are a few hidden agendas that can make it through the Reddit moderator process.
Posts are supposed to come directly from individuals, without any sales or business component, but that isn’t always the case. For any given post, you have no way of knowing if it’s coming directly from an individual student, a business pretending to be a student, or a student being paid or motivated to express a specific opinion.
It’s the Reddit moderator’s job to watch out for falsities, self-promotion, and slander, but they can’t catch everything. There’s also no way of knowing what preferences and biases the /r/premed moderators hold themselves or if they are directly affiliated with a company.
All that to say, there are plenty of premed Reddit users who are authentic and posting honestly as themselves, but it’s something you have to watch out for on every online message board, not only /r/premed.
What is Premed Reddit Ideal for?
It’s not all bad, though. There are times when premed Reddit can be a huge advantage, and it’s certainly a valuable resource for many students.
1 | Orientation
Premed Reddit is an ideal place to get yourself oriented as you begin your premed journey. It serves as a valuable resource as you get your bearings and learn the basics of the application process and timeline.
There’s some great information there on what you should and should not be doing, but it can only help you so far. It’s ideal for getting yourself oriented from 0-30% or sometimes even 0-50%, but you will never get to 100% of the knowledge and familiarity you need from Reddit alone.
So, if you’re looking for some free information to get you started, Reddit can help you—just don’t rely on it exclusively, and know that you will need to branch out. When it comes to the details and learning what you need to know in order to stand out, look beyond Reddit.
2 | Community and Support
The second huge benefit of premed Reddit is it can provide you with a community of like-minded people who are on the same path as you.
When Reddit users are being positive, and when Reddit is at its best, you’ll find a community of support with over 250,000 members. Over 1000 members are online at any given time. These are mostly premeds, but some are also medical students who want to help and share their experiences.
If you’re feeling lonely on your journey or are simply looking for a group of people who understand your pain, the /r/premed message board could be exactly what you’re missing.
From premed memes to jokes only premeds would understand to personal stories, you’re likely to relate to this community. It can be especially valuable to premeds who don’t know anyone else applying to medical school or students whose friends are all pursuing other career paths.
How to Get the Most Out of /r/premed/
Many other online resources might lead you to believe that premed Reddit is completely negative. We believe it certainly has its pitfalls and reasons to tread with caution, but there is value in the platform, depending on where you are in your premed journey, and the type of community supports you are looking for.
No matter how valuable you find the platform, you always need to be careful about how you spend your time as a premed. Social media is a dangerous trap. And even though premed Reddit can provide value pertaining to your application, it is addictive, and it can eat away at the already limited time you have available.
Ensure you set specific time limits for how long you spend on the platform. And if you find you are continually going over those time limits, put stricter limitations in place, such as Pomodoro timers or a website blocker.
Strategies for getting the most out of premed Reddit:
- Monitor how you feel after using the platform. Consider your mood, anxiety levels, energy, and emotional state. If you feel bad or worse than you did before going on premed Reddit, limit its use or stop using it altogether.
- Set time limits when using Reddit so that you don’t get caught up in the moment or waste too much of your time. Remember that, like all other social media platforms, Reddit can be addictive, and it’s designed to keep you on the platform as long as possible.
- Use common sense, and don’t believe everything you hear. Anyone can post what they want on Reddit without it being fact checked, so you need to put your deductive reasoning skills to work. If it sounds fishy or too good to be true, it probably is.
- Don’t directly compare yourself to the results you hear about on Reddit. Everyone is on their own unique journey, and you don’t have all of the facts. The medical school application is made up of many components, so one good or bad result doesn’t illustrate the full picture.
- Don’t contribute to the toxicity yourself. If you are angry and need to vent, take it to your journal first. You can come back to it and write a more composed post or reply after you’ve had time to calm down and reflect.
- Remember that your education is an investment—free isn’t always a good thing. You’re investing in yourself as you choose the tools, resources, and services you utilize to propel you further in your medical career. Your time and energy are also valuable resources beyond money that you only have so much of.
Succeed as a Premed and Beyond
Gain an edge over your competition with the resources and strategies you need to stand out as an applicant.
Med School Insiders offers one-on-one advising that pairs you with a physician advisor who best fits your specific needs. We’re here to answer all of your questions, set you on a path to success, and, ultimately, help you gain acceptance at your top choice schools.
If you’re on the hunt for more free (but 100% reliable) resources, visit the Med School Insiders blog, where you’ll find hundreds of guides, how-to articles, student stories, and strategies that will give you a competitive edge.
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