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Should I apply as economically disadvantaged?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical Allopathic [ MD ]' started by sn2you, 03.14.12.

  1. sn2you

    sn2you

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    Last edited: 03.18.12
  2. Stumpyman

    Stumpyman

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    In my eyes, yes.

    Should wait for some others to chime in though...
  3. sector9

    sector9 'He's a loathsome, offensive brute' Administrator SDN Senior Moderator

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    Applying as disadvantaged is talking about being disadvantaged during childhood aka 0-18. The more recent stuff about college and working at a biotech company is neither here nor there with regards to your disadvantaged status.

    I think you should apply as disadvantaged based on the information you have provided. However, I'm wondering how you guys managed to live in a "nice neighborhood" in your circumstances?
  4. sn2you

    sn2you

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    Thank you for your comment. As a mentioned before, our family literally stayed with friends and family up until the age when my brother and I were able to hold down a restaurant job. The three of us shared a single room at a family's home for a few years and then at a friend's home for another few years and so on. Because the only people we knew lived in nicer areas of California (middle class areas), we were forced to live there.
  5. Buttermilk

    Buttermilk

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    It sounds to me like you were financially disadvantaged in relation to the general population, and certainly in relation to the average pre-med. Even if you lived in nicer areas, you likely have a different perspective. Did your background shape your desire to pursue medicine? If so, you may have some powerful material for your PS.

    One more thing: Are you still in California? I think I remember hearing that the California state schools require lots of documentation to verify disadvantaged status, so you may want to start getting that in order. However, I have no first-hand knowledge on the matter.
  6. sn2you

    sn2you

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    Yes. In fact, I did base my PS partly on this. My mother actually became very ill during my college years and I attributed her illness in my PS to the lack of proper healthcare that was available to her and our family during my upbringing. Because I mention my upbringing partially in my PS, I didn't want to apply as economically disadvantaged because I don't want to have a " I am disadvantaged" theme throughout my application and rather have them focused on my accomplishments.

    And no I am unaware of the documents. I guess I'll start looking up on it.

    Thank you so much for your comments
  7. candav

    candav

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    Wow, I feel so sheltered and unworldly. Just wanted to drop in and say that you sound like an amazingly strong individual. Best of luck with your applications!
  8. plumazul

    plumazul ☮, ♥, & ♫ Gold Donor

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    YES! This is not even close. Best of luck. :luck:
  9. catzzz88

    catzzz88 Purrrrrr!?!11??

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    By all means: yes, apply as disadvantaged. I have been doing research on this topic as well because I am in a different but similar boat. For California schools as the very least, you will have to document your family income year-by-year if you apply as disadvantaged. If your mother was an illegal immigrant, she likely did not file taxes, especially if she was being paid "under the table" as a babysitter. This might make this process difficult.

    Based on what I have seen, schools see and appreciate an applicant that is economically disadvantaged. Your chances of getting into a school is higher. Whether this is because schools are trying to "diversify" their admitted student population or whether this usually ties in with race and URMs, or whether economically disadvantaged populations usually are seen as mature and showing "perseverance," I am not sure. Could be any or all of them.

    Generally, if you were economically disadvantaged, a.k.a. your family annual income is less than 300% of the poverty line ($15,000 fits the bill), be honest and apply as such. This isn't "whining" or creating a "sob story." It is being honest. Medical school admissions committees want you to answer the question truthfully for a reason; please do so! It can only help you.

    I hope this helped :)

    Best,
    C
  10. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers SDN Advisor

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    No doubt in my mind; you should self-identify as "disadvantaged". If you are a native speaker of Spanish (bilingual), and of Latino heritage those are also listed on your application and taken into account. You bring a lot to the table in terms of skills and experiences that many applicants don't.
  11. sn2you

    sn2you

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    Thank you for the advice catzzz88. This process is reminiscent of how I had to try to convince FAFSA/college financial advisers that my family was living with such limited financial resources. Best of luck on your applications as well.

    No I am not of Latino heritage. My mom had come illegally from Taiwan in hopes of obtaining a better lifestyle for our family. That being said, the issue of illegal immigration is a very complicated issue that I worry may have a negative impact on my application. Whether society admits it or not, illegal immigrants are often very looked down upon and regarded as a burden on society. Almost as if to say my family is poor because we chose to be poor.

    I had actually encountered a financial adviser in college that at first stated I wasn't eligible for financial aid because my family chose to immigrate to California illegally even though I was a born a Californian citizen. This situation partially makes me want to rework/rewrite my PS and leave out the whole illegal immigration because of the negative connotations associated with it. But this is a sensitive issue that I probably shouldn't get into here
  12. TheMightySmiter

    TheMightySmiter

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    If you are a US-born citizen, you are absolutely eligible for aid, it doesn't matter about anyone else in your family. Don't hesitate to put these struggles in your PS if they did indeed shape your desire to practice medicine.
  13. Lazybum2014

    Lazybum2014 Imma Star

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    Actually I'm curious to this as well. I grew up as an illegal but was recently converted. Being illegal and poor has shaped my mind differently from others my entire childhood and definitely steered me towards medicine as a career. But would the adcoms look down on it? I don't want to sound needy or whiny and I definitely dont want to negatively impact my app.
  14. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers SDN Advisor

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    You are not required to say that your family was undocumented or illegal. Immigrant without modifier is sufficient.
  15. sn2you

    sn2you

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    Thank you for your comment. So you agree with my suggestion that I leave the illegal part out? There are obvious differences between documented and undocumented immigrants.
  16. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers SDN Advisor

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    The disadvantaged section doesn't ask about documentation. The questions regard family size, annual income, whether you received gov't benefits (which would include free school lunch which you might have received), and whether you worked while in HS and if your wages were your spending money or went toward the household expenses. There is also a percentage breakdown of your college costs were covered: merit based aid, need based grants, loans, family, student, other (one common "other" is the military paying in exchange for your service). There is also a section about whether you felt that your community was "underserved" meaning that there were not enough primary care providers or not enough hospitals to meet the needs of people like your family. That is totally your self-interpretation.
  17. sn2you

    sn2you

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    According to the 2011 HHS Poverty Guideline http://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty/11poverty.shtml , for a family of 3 the poverty level would be at $18,530 (probably lower in the 90s). To be honest if I combined my brother's income with my income during high school along with my mother's income, I would have probably exceeded this level by a couple thousand. Therefore if admissions based the economically disadvantaged on the poverty level, it would probably be in my best interest to avoid applying as disadvantaged. What do you think?
  18. Acoustica

    Acoustica

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    What if your family's annual income has been for the past 10 years or so been below the threshold, but you don't feel like you're disadvantaged?
  19. CodeBlu

    CodeBlu Van Wilder Lifetime Donor

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    Definitely disadvantaged. Apply away. Good luck!
  20. Morsetlis

    Morsetlis SGU MS-4

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    The point is, was money an overriding concern that could have affected your college grades relatively significantly more than your peers?

    I didn't apply disadvantaged because it would've been silly to do so with parents making >$200k during my college career and all my jobs going to spending money, even though I grew up half my childhood in a third world country and the other half on welfare... high school doesn't count ;p
  21. percy

    percy

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    I remember UCLA did this for discrete age ranges (0-7, 8-12, etc.), but UCSF didn't ask for this information at all. You can, mind you, withdraw your disadvantaged status at UCLA individually, but I decided I wasn't comfortable with UCLA's wording and policies and withdrew my application altogether. Suffice it to say that OP and I have several things in common.

    Also, just for the record, I'm not sure if this has been mentioned already, but the more accepted term is undocumented, not illegal. http://colorlines.com/droptheiword/
  22. ppfizenm

    ppfizenm

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    Not making fun of anyone. I just wanted to point out where my mind ran to as well when I heard illegal immigrant. It must be very ingrained that we associated illegal immigrants with latino now-a-days.
  23. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers SDN Advisor

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    The vast majority of applicants I saw this past year (the first year where every applicant "disadvantaged" or not was given an opportunity to report average family income) reported family incomes of $75,000+ (the top level). Many of these families have 2 family members with professional degrees (MDx 2, JD x 2, one of each, etc) and I'm sure some were making multiples of $75K.

    Don't self identify if you aren't comfortable doing so but report your income and how you paid for college etc anyway.
  24. catzzz88

    catzzz88 Purrrrrr!?!11??

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    There are two important terms here: "poverty level/line" and "lower class."

    Based on the data you cited (its different for every city in the US), $18,530 or less would be considered below the poverty line for a family of three. Those living below the poverty level are pretty much homeless, living in assisted housing, 10 children to a room, etc. Unfortunately, most people never make it out of that rut, let alone come to apply to medical school.

    "Disadvantaged" is flexible, but generally speaking anyone who is in the "lower class" is considered economically disadvantaged. "Lower class" is a social term rather than an economic term, but it can generally be understood as an annual income of 200% times or less than the poverty line. For example, in your citation, it would be roughly $37,000 annually. In other words, anyone in a family of three making 37K or less is generally considered lower class, anyone making 18K per year or less is below the poverty line. Remember, this is your entire family's income for a full year. If you and your brother and your mother combined were making less than $37K per year, WHEN YOU WERE 18 OR YOUNGER, you can easily apply to medical school as economically disadvantaged and no one will question you at all. Remember, this has NOTHING to do with any income after you turned 18 years old. This is for the general application and they only want to know your economic status as a youth. When you apply for financial aid, it is a different situation and they want to know only the most recent income. Applying as disadvantaged is not a "sob story," it is legal fact.

    I hope that this helps you because I found all of this info by my own personal research and it was not easy at all. I don't know why this stuff is so convoluted... I will be applying as disadvantaged based on much research. Originally, I was having the same dilemma as you... to claim status or not? Now, I feel confident that the statistics back up my gut feeling. Don't apply as disadvantaged if you feel uncomfortable doing so, but don't not do it because you are worried about not fitting the bill. You fit the bill, now make an informed decision.

    Good luck; this stuff is not intuitive or easy to navigate. Feel free to PM me if you have anymore specific questions. I am not an expert, but I have tried my best to understand the complexities of this issue because it could make a big difference in my application.

    Best,
    C
  25. Bacchus

    Bacchus PGY Too-many-expectations Moderator

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    You have nothing to lose. Apply disadvantaged.
  26. sn2you

    sn2you

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    Last edited: 03.18.12

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