If you have ever had the experience of applying to a medical school, you’ll know how excruciatingly hard and confusing the whole procedure is. To top that off, it is also pretty normal for medical schools to have an acceptance rate of less than 5 percent.
Just a very tiny fraction of the very best of the best applicants manage to score an admission in good medical schools. What do you have to be one of the lucky ones? Well, according to Haziq Siddiqi, an incoming medical student at Harvard University and the co-founder of a medical admissions consultancy startup, being just a good student is never enough.
Meet Haziq Siddiqi
Born in Karachi, Haziq is just 21-years-old and already on an upwards career trajectory. He was brought up in a mix between the United States, Karachi, and Australia and has spent a good part of his childhood moving about.
Nephew to the former editor for the Express Tribune, Kamal Siddiqi, Haziq became interested in writing when he was young. He wanted to be an author or a lawyer, but then he started reading the works of great medical writers like Atul Gawande, an American surgeon and health journalist; and Paul Kalanithi, an Indian-America neurosurgeon and writer; and eventually became convinced that medicine was what interested him the most. His mother’s work as a pharmacist also served as a great inspiration, motivating him towards healthcare.
“I heard her stories about the clinic and the science behind treating patients, so I wanted to do the same,” says Haziq.
He completed his Bachelors in Molecular and Cellular Biology from Johns Hopkins University, an American private research university, last year. Since then, he has been working on a research project as a Fulbright Scholar in Spain.
Planning to pursue further education, Haziq applied to Harvard Medical School this year and, to his own surprise, he got his acceptance letter just a few months later.
“Getting into Harvard has been a great blessing, and I’m extremely grateful for this opportunity.” he added. “ There’s so many people that helped me along the way that I am indebted to – my parents, my friends, my mentors, my teachers. My favorite part of the experience was being able to tell my mother I had gotten in- she was extremely happy, even happier than I was.”
Excited as he was, Haziq couldn’t forget the hard time he had to go through during the application process. There was almost no support, and very little guidance. The few consultancy companies that did provide help in applying to medical schools were way too expensive, costing as much as two thousand dollars.
Realizing the lack of a good affordable option for helping medical school applicants, Haziq teamed up with two of his friends, Melaku Arega, and Lamin Sonko, to launch their own medical startup called “White Coat Strategists”.
Melaku, another incoming Harvard medical student who has gotten over $2 million in total scholarship offers, has been friends with Haziq since their first year at Johns Hopkins while Lamin Sonko, who is attending the University of Pennsylvania this fall for medical school, met Haziq through the Muslim student group at Johns Hopkins.
“We think we can bring value to pre-med students by giving them more accessible advising services from students who know what the experience is like,” says Melaka Arega.
What Do White Coat Strategists do?
White Coat Strategists provides affordable consulting and guidance services for students looking to get into medical schools. They have a number of different packages depending on the quantity of application support required, from writing the initial essay to editing the personal statement to conducting mock interviews, etc.
The reality is that a lot of candidates have great grades, letters, and test scores, so being just a good student is never enough. Some applicants are inventors, others have won prestigious scholarships like the Rhodes, other have even gotten a PhD before medical school.
“The way to get in is to have something “extra” that separates you from the crowd.”
What White Coat Strategists promises to do is to find what that “extra” factor is for every applicant and then help them highlight it. Their rates too, are extremely reasonable, costing from $299 for the Bronze Package to $699 for the Gold Package, less than one-third of what most other medical consultancy companies will charge you. You can also sign-up for a free consultation.
It is no secret that getting into medical schools is incredibly competitive but what makes it even worse is the messed up application process. One of the co-founders, Sonko, even goes as far as calling his whole experience of applying into medical schools as chaotic. However, Haziq feels that, having gone through the whole process himself along with his co-founders makes White Coat Strategists uniquely superior to other consulting companies in helping students out. He also believes that is own experience and skill at writing has enabled him to help applicants better express their own stories and talents.
“When we work with clients, we draw upon that experience and provide an insight into applications that no one who hasn’t applied themselves can provide.” he said.
Moreover, he also says that WCS offers free services for applicants that cannot afford their packages. This is to ensure that everyone has access to application support, regardless of their financial background. Their startup has already been featured by a number of publications, including John Hopkins’ own News Letter, Technical.ly Baltimore, and Jopwell.
Lastly, I asked Haziq for any advice for Pakistani students who want to apply to medical schools and here’s what he said,
“There’s actually a good amount of Pakistani medical students at Harvard. Many US medical schools do not accept international applicants, but Harvard is one of the exceptions. For Pakistani applicants applying to US medical schools, we would work with them just like we work with our American clients. Our focus would be on identifying their story, and how they can distinguish themselves from the competition.”