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AMCAS and TMDSAS Socioeconomic Questions

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical Allopathic [ MD ]' started by BK2681, 05.20.14.

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  1. BK2681

    BK2681 2+ Year Member

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    Hello,

    I am curious as to how the data I enter on the socioeconomic questions on both the AMCAS and TMDSAS is used? I feel like the questions are extremely biased, especially on TMDSAS. I was very fortunate to have grown up with means, however, I feel like my honest answers to some of the questions will hurt me in the end. I'm not trying to sound like a spoiled brat, but I have busted my tail just like every other pre-med to get to this point, and now I feel as if I am going to be looked at as one because of this one section, a section that I have absolutely no control over any of the answers I put.

    Why ask these types of questions in the first place? Who/what I was at age 10 should make no difference in my medical school admission decision, nor anyone else's for that matter.
     
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  3. kyamh

    kyamh 2+ Year Member

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    It makes quite a bit of difference if your family earned $50k when you were growing up or $500k in terms of your application.

    Did you go through an SAT prep course? Did you pay your own way through college and work 40 hours a week? Did you choose to go to a cheap school because you didn't want lots of debt? Are you currently $100k in debt from a private undergrad? Did you take an MCAT course? Did you buy $500 worth of MCAT prep books? Did you spend your summers in high school and college working for pay or doing resume boosting things? Are you a concert pianist because your parents paid for lessons growing up? Are you on the Division I hockey team because you got driven to practice and expensive gear growing up? Were you able to reach all your activities because you had a car?

    Edit: The historical information is particularly important for older applicants. The family of a 27 year old may be in a totally different situation now than they were 10-20 years ago when their finances would have been affecting this applicant.

    Edit 2: TLDR: Step back, look at your activities section, and start crossing off each activity that would have been impossible if you were living off government aid for the first 18 years of your life.
     
    Leslie_Knope, Zelda840 and DokterMom like this.
  4. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers SDN Advisor 10+ Year Member

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    Some of this information ends up being used for statistical purposes. No one says, "let's not take this guy, he grew up rich." In fact the overwhelming majority of applicants come from families of means.
     
  5. BK2681

    BK2681 2+ Year Member

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    I don't see how it makes that drastic of a difference at all. For undergraduate admission purposes? Absolutely plays a factor. The range of public HS quality in the US is very large. But for graduate school admissions in one's mid-20's? Not as much as I think you're thinking it does. I worked during college (though I didn't have to). I went to a University of [Insert State name]. I worked during my summer doing things that boosted my resume.

    I think you took what I was asking and turned it into a scholarship argument. I'm not arguing for a scholarship. I'm speaking only from an admissions standpoint. Say an underprivileged applicant took road A to get to medical school and well-off applicant took road B. Both A and B lead to point C, which is the point of medical school admissions. Of course road A presented more challenges, and he/she should be given a scholarship/financial award over the applicant with means. But we both are at point C and how we both got to point C should not be taken into an admission factor, only a scholarship/financial award factor.

    I feel like you go a little far with your assumptions. Is a well-off student's MCAT score any different from an underprivileged students MCAT score, simply because he/she bought the newest version of EK, instead of the used Amazon 2007 version? No. I just looked at my activities section (like you suggested) and I can honestly say that only one of my activities can be attributed my socioeconomic status.



    Thanks for your response, LizzyM!
     
  6. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers SDN Advisor 10+ Year Member

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    Life experiences that are out of the ordinary (out of the ordinary for med school applicants) can be judged as contributing to the diversity of the classroom and/or increasing the likelihood that one will serve in an underserved community after graduation. Growing up in poverty and/or with parents who were poorly educated is rare among applicants and can be taken into consideration because those applicants bring a life experience to the table that wouldn't otherwise be there. Be thankful if you were blessed to grow up in comfortable circumstances. Most kids who grew up in poor, chaotic families will never get as far enough along the path to apply to medical school.
     
    Dattebayo, accueil and Goro like this.
  7. Reckoner

    Reckoner Lacks theology and geometry Gold Donor 5+ Year Member

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    Assuming you're not trolling, you would do well to use the search function before starting a thread like this. This question has been asked, answered, and debated ad nauseam over the years on pre-allo.
     
    familyaerospace likes this.
  8. DokterMom

    DokterMom 2+ Year Member

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    To use your example, both A and B are now at point C.
    But if Student A had to walk 500 miles through the snow, on a dirt road, uphill to get to point C (without a map), and Student B got to drive there in his new BMW, which student shows more initiative? More determination? More effort?

    Sure, the absence of hardships doesn't say anything bad about Student B, and shouldn't be interpreted as evidence of weakness or lack of character, but it's a heck of a lot easier to get to a well-known place (an advantaged student going to med school) than it is to forge ahead into uncharted territory (an SES disadvantaged student).
     
  9. BK2681

    BK2681 2+ Year Member

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    Not trolling, the only threads I could find were related to scholarships and minorities and not specifically focused on the financial disclosure aspect of the application.

    I agree, big difference between path A and B. And that should be definitely taken into consideration for scholarships. No reason someone with a 3.91 GPA w/ means should get a scholarship simply because his/her GPA and stats are better over someone with a 3.7 who is taking out loans. Why is the MCAT used in the application process? To equally assess all applicants. While it doesn't say anything bad, it sure doesn't say anything positive about an applicant with means. What he/she puts in the financial section of TMDSAS is completely out of his/her control.

    I completely agree with LizzyM. However, I feel there are better ways to gain this type of information (like personal statements and optional essays) about disadvantaged applicants than to make everyone fill out a personal, financial information section about the value of the house they grew up in, their parents income, etc., which are things they have no control over. If growing up in an underserved community or having parents on Federal Assistance is a big part of someone's application story, then, by all means, they should be given a chance to explain the challenges they faced. But asking mandatory, personal socioeconomic questions is not the way to solicit this information from applicants.
     
  10. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers SDN Advisor 10+ Year Member

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    OP, this may be of interest to you:
    AMCAS advice to adcoms & school administration on best practices with regard to using socioeconomic status information.
    https://www.aamc.org/download/330166/data/seseffectivepractices.pdf

    Data can't be used effectively unless it is entered into fields where it is easy to store and use for statistical analysis. Putting everything in a personal statement wouldn't solve the problem.
     
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  11. DokterMom

    DokterMom 2+ Year Member

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    You won't be discriminated against because your parents are well off - really. That's the norm in medical school admissions, not the exception.

    But I do disagree that the disadvantages should only factor into scholarship awards, and not into admission decisions -- if that is what you're saying. The path for Student A was so much more difficult than the path for Student B that I believe some admissions preference should also be given. How will we ever level the playing field without any sort of affirmative action for students who have overcome serious obstacles? (Not necessarily race-based, more disadvantage-based, and race is often one such disadvantage.)

    I also disagree that the MCAT equally assesses all applicants. I have enough exposure to standardized testing to see the flaws and biases that favor the children of highly-educated native-English speaking parents for YEARS after childhood. Common idioms that are 'no brainers' for us (yes, I'm one of them) require thoughtful analysis for unfamiliar listeners, often resulting in lost time and 'over-thinking' errors. And what's referred to as 'common knowledge' is often really cultural knowledge.
     
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  12. ciestar

    ciestar 2+ Year Member

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    How I managed to get this far is beyond me. Growing up on welfare with my dad in prison, both parents addicts, etc..made my life, hard. I'm thankful I got past all of that.
     
  13. Goro

    Goro 5+ Year Member

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    Concur 100% with my learned colleague. What many people don't realize is that this process is meritocratic, and that merit is not always measured by GPA or MCAT scores.

     
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  14. familyaerospace

    familyaerospace 5+ Year Member

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    I grew up insanely poor and had to work from the time I was in upper elementary school to support my family, I was one of the few people in my neighbourhood to go to college as education was not stressed. I was very lucky that I went to college at all and worked throughout college full time, not because I wanted to but because I HAD to. And as I was only qualified for financial aid for a certain amount of semesters, I had to overload as much as possible. It was a struggle just to get the few hundred dollars my family still had to pay per semester. Every semester, I assumed it was going to be my last semester. I would cry every semester when I realised I could afford one more semester. Everyone cried when I graduated with my AA as that meant I was the first college graduate in the family.

    Did my growing up in a poor family affect my undergraduate career? You bet your butt it did. 40 hours a week and 20 credit hours a semester while dealing with a huge amount of dependents and supporting multiple family members who barely passed high school, trust me it had an effect. A poorer applicant is just not going to get the same opportunities, even in college, as a rich one. I only just last year earned one opportunity (I was given a scholarship to do it and the rest was crowdsourced) that rich students always had the opportunity for.

    Also, as someone who has been homeless a few times, I would argue that someone who is SES is also much more likely to be able to understand and serve the impoverished population. Food stamps maximum for one person in my state is $189 a month. Do you have any ideal what it is like to try to produce a reasonably healthy diet on that amount of money? It's not easy. I once had to spend less than $25 for a MONTH on food. I also get what some of the homeless population is going through, especially those people who were victims of circumstances. I think people who are better off would also be less likely to really go beyond the call of duty for the impoverished. Last year, for six months I had five homeless people living in my house. Most people growing up with means would not do that. Heck other members of my family, before their "fall from grace" as it were, also would not do that.

    When I studied for the MCAT nearly every book I had was free and a few years old because I could not afford newer books or a prep-course. I was on FAP every year. People were basically selling blood to get the gas money for me to go to interviews. (Crowdfunding medical school interviews, that should be a unique EC!) The reason I cannot afford round 4 of applications is because I cannot afford the DISCOUNTED MCAT fee which is more than I made last year. I wish there was a way to trade hours in the day for a further discounted rate.
     
  15. RumbaToMD

    RumbaToMD 5+ Year Member

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    So I had a similar upbringing as well (prison, welfare). Would it be disadvantageous to discuss the prison part? Since prison is stigmatized, I'm not sure how med schools would perceive it...thoughts?
     
  16. ciestar

    ciestar 2+ Year Member

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    I don't see how it would be. It's not like you were the one in prison!
     
    RumbaToMD likes this.
  17. GEToutLADYits6AM

    GEToutLADYits6AM 2+ Year Member

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    Hey guys sorry to bring an old thread back up. I worked during college to help out my family as my dad is physically disable according to the law.(He has parkinson's disease) We have a family owned business store and I worked there through my college years. On the tmdsas application, it says "Were you required to contribute to the overall family income (as opposed to working primarily for your own discretionary spending money) while attending elementary and/or high school?* SO if I worked there in college, I can;t check this box right? Thanks
     

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