MCATBROS LEARNING COMMUNITIES - "Group Chats"
For MCATBROS founder Raj, a group chat and community was instrumental both academically and emotionally in feeling less alone (and more connected to like minded people) on the MCAT journey during a gap year. After Raj's exam, Raj began to continue what helped him and began to start offering community support to the next generation of premedical students which remains one of the large things Raj spends his time doing completely free of charge. During Raj's prep the community Raj ran into was on reddit and skype. On skype he found students who were willing to help answer his questions for free and he met some students who he still is connected with today (many of whom are in medical school). With skype not being used by the new generation, and voice chat/video calling features not being super necessary - and to create a better interface - Raj started to host the new modern group chat on GroupMe. Raj found that the community was far better than most tutors - giving instant responses, free of charge and allows allowed students to participate as teachers - a form of learning.
The first community MCATBROS made was on an app called "GroupMe," but we quickly outgrew it. Our GroupMe group was used by over 7,000 premedical students in late-2017, 2018, 2019, and for a brief part of 2020 - when we began to have moderation. In 2020 we briefly experimented with Slack and Discord and eventually we finally decided on Telegram. Discord was anonymous and less personal, slack was too professional and having the # of channels we had was far too confusing for members. In 2020 we switched our group chat's from GroupMe to a more modern platform - telegram, which was exactly like GroupMe, which is where our "Group chat" community is hosted today and now houses 5k+ members within just a year. We are housing our groups on telegram for now.
While running our GroupMe groups - we realized the community was limited in size and to recruit more students and also provide announcements/a platform/landing page for advice to existing members - we needed a social media platform so in 2018 we made a Instagram page to spread our advice and find more students who were interested in joining our community to keep it going . Our instagram page is used by 30-50k students a year and has 30k followers.
On GroupMe, over time, with the growing community we branched out from a few groups (for each test month and a general group) to the other needs of students - medical school applications and many subgroups like for personal statements and more. Today these same groups and subgroups are hosted on the telegram platform.
While running these groups, while GroupMe was helpful in having an interactive chat and no advertising and quick responses with a close-knit feel - students left and it also wasn't a good place to host information and announcements and create a "forum" like feel. As we were very socially oriented and found that to be fun - and because we noticed one brand monopolizing facebook groups for the sake of advertising - we also began using Facebook to host our community. Our Facebook group quickly grew to 10,000 members by 2019, and 20k+ members by 2020, and 40k+ members by 2021.
With the forums we have had great success with students sticking around after their exam to give back to new students/test takers.
In 2019 we also added more Facebook Groups for various parts of the application process as our group grew, and in 2020 we went full out and began to have micro-communities for literally every single premedical situation/medical school application situation. In 2021, we have further expanded these communities and our main group now reaches 40k+ premedical students. free communities of like-learners and applicants so they can learn from each other and help each other.