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Another "Am I Disadvantaged" Question - Sorry!

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OrganicallyChemist

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I apologize for a long post, trying to paint a full picture. I am a reapplicant and have recently learned from my adviser that I can be considered a disadvantaged applicant. I reviewed the guidelines in the application and I am still wondering if I should claim myself to be of disadvantaged status. From my understanding, the financial/social/educational disadvantages should've impacted me seriously in order to qualify, and it is hard for me to gage.

So, I grew up in Russia in low socio-economic household, raised by a single mom, we received federal financial assistance most of the time to help pay for my food, clothes, school supplies. My parents were divorced but my father didn't pay alimony, he and his side of the family were very verbally and psychologically abusive towards me and my mother. After my parents' divorce, my mom and I lived with her new partner (I consider him my stepdad now), and after a year of us living together he suffered kidney failure and spent the rest of his life in pain. I watched him suffer while my mom was taking care of both of us. Things were very tight financially, I remember that we could only afford the most necessary foods and had to practice strict portion control to make food last. I started working around the age of 15, which allowed me to pay for my own expenses including clothes and school supplies, but I was never required to chip into the household expenses. My family continued to struggle financially, couldn't afford to pay for my college, but I was able to get into a very low-level college on a federal scholarship. My job opportunities were extremely bleak, even with the degree I would've gotten. My family struggled with money quite a bit, besides very low income they were left with medical expenses to pay after my step dad's passing and my grandfather's cancer treatment. So when the opportunity to immigrate came along, I went for it and moved to the US for better job opportunities and I knew I would be able to help out my family. I moved by myself and was limited financially. I worked through my entire undergrad, while financial aid helped, it didn't cover rent, basic expenses, plus I had to pay for immigration-related expenses and was helping out my family. I also had some health issues while in undergrad that cost me a lot of money. I was also limited with scholarship options because I was not a citizen, but I have received multiple Pell grants and FAP. Also, with all honesty, having to work to pay for bills through school really limited me with shadowing and volunteering, because I didn't know anyone in the country, shadowing was extremely time consuming to arrange and I had to spend all my time making money or study. (I still got some of those experiences though:))
Should I consider myself to be disadvantaged? Now, seeing life in the western world, I do realize that we struggled a lot. Even to get a simple blood test, we had to purchase and bring our own gloves and a blade, so every simple blood test (and I was sick a lot as a kid) was an expensive procedure for us and we had to skip a meal, or eat plain noodles or rice for few days to afford that. My mom did a great job at shielding me from ever feeling that way, plus growing up in an impoverished neighborhood I saw families who had it worse, and while I was struggling, it is very difficult for me to recognize/speak about that due to my upbringing.
I would appreciate it if anyone can help me with this!
 
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Rogue42

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It would seem to me that you were disadvantaged. Low-income households usually do not have the finances which leads to living in poor education locations; these locations also allow for poor health outcomes (just a whole load of problems really). Follow that up with being a first-generation college student and immigrant trying to make a better life.

However; ultimately, you have to decide if you were disadvantaged. You should be able to reflect, and know in your heart of hearts that you did not have the same opportunities as other people around you.

If you can look around, and say that you did not have those same opportunities, then say you were disadvantaged. The kicker is that AMCAs is going to make you write another essay about how you were disadvantaged and how it affected you. If you can also write an essay that clearly conveys that you were then, I see no problem.
 
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OrganicallyChemist

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It would seem to me that you were disadvantaged. Low-income households usually do not have the finances which leads to living in poor education locations; these locations also allow for poor health outcomes (just a whole load of problems really). Follow that up with being a first-generation college student and immigrant trying to make a better life.

However; ultimately, you have to decide if you were disadvantaged. You should be able to reflect, and know in your heart of hearts that you did not have the same opportunities as other people around you.

If you can look around, and say that you did not have those same opportunities, then say you were disadvantaged. The kicker is that AMCAs is going to make you write another essay about how you were disadvantaged and how it affected you. If you can also write an essay that clearly conveys that you were then, I see no problem.


Thank you so much! One clarification: not a first generation college student. My mother graduated from college with a degree in accounting. (However, having a degree here and having a degree in Russia are two very different life stories).

I think that is where my problem is, growing up there during 90s (the country fell apart, terrible economical crisis, poverty, outlaw, etc. were kind of almost normal), my family always taught me to look at things in the bright light, so I did, and I've seen worse. I also see people now who came from much worse circumstances then I did. But, if I do look around now and look at the majority that I see, then yes, I absolutely did not have the same opportunities.

I guess it is hard to talk about disadvantages when you were taught to only see advantages in them, haha
 
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ciestar

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You struggled more than I did and I was disadvantaged.
 
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