Lean On: The “Social Admissions” Advantage for Medical School

By Roheet Kakaday

As a premed student in college, I was perpetually haunted by the specter of a perfect medical school application. What did it look like? Which activities did it include? How high were its scores? Searching for information from a variety of sources, it seemed that the perfect application consisted of a 4.0 GPA, an MCAT score of at least 38, extracurricular activities that include at least a couple of leadership positions, honors, awards, and more.

Why? Because it fits the archetype of the perfect premed: a student who enjoys the opportunity to pick the medical school he or she wishes to attend.

When I applied to medical school, my application was nowhere near perfect, yet I received 13 interview invites and multiple acceptances. Once matriculated, I discovered that my classmates had incredibly diverse backgrounds. That is true of medical schools around the nation as they aim to increase the diversity of incoming classes.

That was when I realized how valuable my classmates’ experiences were. No two doctors are identical, and no two medical students the same. So why should all premeds conform to a perpetuated archetype?

Lean On aims to fundamentally change the way hopeful students look at the medical school application process through our “social admissions” theory: the notion that a peer group one step ahead has a lot to teach matriculating students about how to market themselves as applicants.

The private advising field is filled with physicians and counselors who are years out of medical school and charge high premiums in an already expensive application process. Social admissions changes that by creating a network of current medical students who know exactly what current admissions processes are like and don’t aim to burn holes in bank accounts. In essence, it’s like reaching out to a knowledgeable and successful friend for advice, who can also serve as a mentor.

Through our social admissions, we:

1) Increase diversity in the applicant pool.

Instead of limiting ourselves to the Ivy League graduates who populate private admissions consulting firms, Lean On brings everyone into the fold. By recruiting a growing cohort of medical students across a range of backgrounds, Lean On is able to help all premeds.

We match premeds with medical students who have similar experiences and backgrounds to optimize the premeds’ unique experiences for their applications. While no two students are exactly alike, we imagine the consultant match process as similar to having a successful future version of yourself advising you now on how to achieve your goals. As we grow and further diversify, Lean On will reflect the increasing diversity of medical practice today.

2) Reduce application costs.

As medical students who have recently gone through the application process, we understand how expensive the process is. Current private consultants, many of whom are practicing doctors, charge from $900 to $2,000 for a single personal statement edit. Instead, Lean On charges $49 for any basic service. In the few months Lean On has been operating, we have saved premeds nearly $24,000, and clients have repeatedly expressed how valuable they found those savings.

3) Help alleviate medical school debt.

At the beginning of medical school, my financial counselor summarized my loan situation simply by saying, “Every dollar you spend now, you’ll repay four later.” When you look at it that way, every dollar saved helps.

Lean On is here to make a difference, for both premeds and medical students. The majority of our revenues go directly to our medical student advisors, helping to reduce the massive loan burden they carry. They do most of the work; they get most of the pay.

4) Facilitate valuable mentoring and teaching relationships.

Medical students are eager to share their experiences and premeds are eager to learn what to expect in medical school. By pairing medical students with premeds, we facilitate high-impact mentoring relationships that incorporate current, real-time opportunities, challenges, and barriers. We offer opportunities to build relationships in person or through Skype sessions, making the process both social and accessible.

For example, the new 2015 MCAT will incorporate new disciplines and will be graded on a scale from 420 to 528, quite different from the current 45-point scale. Its early adopters will understand how to change and balance coursework for the new MCAT and can pass that knowledge along to students just a few years behind.

Lean On is continually recruiting from new classes to keep our knowledge base fresh; premeds receive useful advice from the newest generation of health care professionals. Given how quickly the culture and realities of health care are changing, this is an incredibly important advantage.

Incorporating diversity, reducing costs, alleviating debt, and bringing the newest knowledge to the forefront of premed advising is what sets Lean On apart. In the competitive arena of undergraduate pre-medical studies, these aspects will enable premed students to excel in their collegiate strategies and the medical school application process.

As we grow our network of dedicated consultants, we’re actively looking to partner with university advising offices. To learn more, send us an email at info@leanonadmit.com.

roheet-Roheet Kakaday is the founder of Lean On, an advisor at the Stanford University Medicine X conference, and a writer at The Biopsy. He is a M.D. candidate at Oregon Health and Science University.