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Another AMCAS Disadvantaged Question--Present or Past?

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Mwolf2

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Hi all,

I know this question has been asked in various forms but I've searched all over this site with no clear answer to my particular question: Should I claim "disadvantaged status" if I presently consider myself disadvantaged, but may not have in the past? I qualified for FAP and definitely would have had to take out a loan or something to apply to schools, but my upbringing wasn't particularly disadvantaged (although perhaps in comparison to those who are very well-educated and wealthy?)

My family's income was definitely closer to upper/middle class during my childhood, and while I did grow up in a rural area that perhaps didn't offer a lot of resources in terms of STEM, it wasn't an especially poor or medically underserved area. There were a few health scares in the family during my formative years (one involving my brother), but I wouldn't say those greatly impacted my academic standing at the time either. Fast-forward through a move to a new suburban area, my father having been laid off twice, we did struggle financially but never to the point of needing government aid. We just lived frugally and made due with what we had. In college we took out loans just like so many others, but I definitely wasn't as worried about the money as some of my peers--but still frugal, and did pass up some educational opportunities due to cost. Over the last two years, however, my family's situation has really run downhill due to a sudden divorce and another lay off. I definitely don't make enough to apply to medical schools with what I have right now, hence my qualifying for FAP--and honestly if I don't get in this year I'm going to have to seriously consider taking out a loan for another shot.

But, all this said, with "disadvantaged" being such a vague term I'm just not sure what to say. My experiences have definitely made me appreciate the power money has to shape our choices and the opportunities we might receive, but I don't feel nearly as disadvantaged as others. Yet, am I more disadvantaged than the "average" candidate?

Thanks for any answers, and good luck to you all!
 

freedoctor17

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Something I've seen a lot here is that disadvantaged doesn't mean you have to be as disadvantaged as others. If you think you can write a justifiable reasoning for why you're considered disadvantaged in the prompt space then do it.

Also you won't need to take a loan if you need to reapply because you can reapply for FAP up to 5 times I think.
 
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OchemOficionado

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Defitnley the past. You should use the disadvantaged section of the app to describe years 0-18 and how they impacted your unreadiness for college level work compared to your peers. If something is currently going on, that may be good for a secondary prompt (in my opinion).

I really like this post from a few days ago.

This is taken from US News:
1. Lacking financial resources: If you had to forego educational opportunities or work to support family due to economic hardship, the disadvantaged statement could be one place to mention this situation.

2. Feeling a lack of belonging: Students from immigrant backgrounds, or who otherwise faced cultural or racial adversity in school, often use this space to discuss those issues.

3. Lacking sufficient social or environmental resources: Applicants from rural or impoverished urban areas often used this section to discuss the impact of their upbringing in these areas on their educational opportunities or overall wellbeing.

And this from the AMCAS Manual:
Disadvantaged Status: You will then be asked if you wish to be considered a disadvantaged applicant by your designated medical schools. You might consider yourself disadvantaged if you grew up in an area that was medically underserved or had insufficient access to State and Federal Assistance programs. Click Yes to be considered a disadvantaged applicant. You will be given an additional 1,325 characters to explain why you believe you should be considered a disadvantaged applicant.

Usually this question is a no-brainer and doesn't require asking a bunch of people online. If you come from a disadvantaged background, you would know it...
 
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Hi all,

I know this question has been asked in various forms but I've searched all over this site with no clear answer to my particular question: Should I claim "disadvantaged status" if I presently consider myself disadvantaged, but may not have in the past? I qualified for FAP and definitely would have had to take out a loan or something to apply to schools, but my upbringing wasn't particularly disadvantaged (although perhaps in comparison to those who are very well-educated and wealthy?)

My family's income was definitely closer to upper/middle class during my childhood, and while I did grow up in a rural area that perhaps didn't offer a lot of resources in terms of STEM, it wasn't an especially poor or medically underserved area. There were a few health scares in the family during my formative years (one involving my brother), but I wouldn't say those greatly impacted my academic standing at the time either. Fast-forward through a move to a new suburban area, my father having been laid off twice, we did struggle financially but never to the point of needing government aid. We just lived frugally and made due with what we had. In college we took out loans just like so many others, but I definitely wasn't as worried about the money as some of my peers--but still frugal, and did pass up some educational opportunities due to cost. Over the last two years, however, my family's situation has really run downhill due to a sudden divorce and another lay off. I definitely don't make enough to apply to medical schools with what I have right now, hence my qualifying for FAP--and honestly if I don't get in this year I'm going to have to seriously consider taking out a loan for another shot.

But, all this said, with "disadvantaged" being such a vague term I'm just not sure what to say. My experiences have definitely made me appreciate the power money has to shape our choices and the opportunities we might receive, but I don't feel nearly as disadvantaged as others. Yet, am I more disadvantaged than the "average" candidate?

Thanks for any answers, and good luck to you all!

I don't think this would make the cut. While your struggles are real and unfortunate, the disadvantaged question is really intended to identify those who have suffered structural, systematic detriments to their educations. It's not purely economic; one could have been raised on a decent income while only having access to very underperforming schools, for instance. But the basic idea is to enumerate what factors may mitigate any current shortcomings in your academic history. FAP is a good marker, but it's a proxy. Same goes for family reliance on TANF, etc. during formative years.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but in your case I would not self-designate as disadvantaged.
 
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Mwolf2

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I don't think this would make the cut. While your struggles are real and unfortunate, the disadvantaged question is really intended to identify those who have suffered structural, systematic detriments to their educations. It's not purely economic; one could have been raised on a decent income while only having access to very underperforming schools, for instance. But the basic idea is to enumerate what factors may mitigate any current shortcomings in your academic history. FAP is a good marker, but it's a proxy. Same goes for family reliance on TANF, etc. during formative years.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but in your case I would not self-designate as disadvantaged.

Hi Med Ed,

Thank you for your response. I want to hear more of your thoughts on these additional bits of information because I trust you'll be honest with me.

I just spoke to my brother on the phone regarding all this to get another perspective on my experiences, and he reminded me that I did move twice between my middle school to high school transition and that we grew up in an area that didn't really focus on college as the end all of schooling (many in our town just wanted to get married and have kids). We were also one of the only families of a minority background in our area--as such we didn't grow up with any role models who looked like us, and our family has also never been within the medical field, so connections and understanding of the field had to be made from scratch.

I understand that these disadvantages are definitely not as extreme as many others have had to overcome. I'd just like a bit more of your honest perspective on the question and what qualifies.

Either way I'm sure these details will come through somewhere in my secondaries, I just want to be honest about my experiences and not undermine or overexaggerate them.

Thanks again!
 

getdown

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Everybody has to overcome challenges throughout their lives thus having challenges does not make someone disadvantaged. I'm sorry but I would agree with Med Ed, none of those examples you listed makes you disadvantaged.

1. You moved twice during school. Ok, a lot of kids have to deal with this especially military kids.
2. You lived in a rural area that didn't value education. Pretty much sounds like every small town ever in the entire country.
3. You're a minority living in a predominantly, I'm assuming, white area. But your family is upper middle class. Sounds like you're doing better than most people in your town.
4. Not having family members in the medical field is not a disadvantage. A majority of premeds don't have family members in the medical field. Sure it may be harder to find out information about the field but that's why you have SDN, premed advisors, shadowing opportunities.

You can classify any of these things as challenges you've had to face but none of these makes you disadvantaged. I can assure you you are not unique in any of these situations you listed. And I don't see how any of these things somehow directly impacted your ability to perform in college. You had to support yourself through college working multiple jobs? Disadvantaged. Growing up in a single parent home in a rough neighborhood where drugs and violence abounds? Disadvantaged. Undocumented immigrant in college? Disadvantaged.
 
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Mwolf2

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Everybody has to overcome challenges throughout their lives thus having challenges does not make someone disadvantaged. I'm sorry but I would agree with Med Ed, none of those examples you listed makes you disadvantaged.

1. You moved twice during school. Ok, a lot of kids have to deal with this especially military kids.
2. You lived in a rural area that didn't value education. Pretty much sounds like every small town ever in the entire country.
3. You're a minority living in a predominantly, I'm assuming, white area. But your family is upper middle class. Sounds like you're doing better than most people in your town.
4. Not having family members in the medical field is not a disadvantage. A majority of premeds don't have family members in the medical field. Sure it may be harder to find out information about the field but that's why you have SDN, premed advisors, shadowing opportunities.

You can classify any of these things as challenges you've had to face but none of these makes you disadvantaged. I can assure you you are not unique in any of these situations you listed. And I don't see how any of these things somehow directly impacted your ability to perform in college. You had to support yourself through college working multiple jobs? Disadvantaged. Growing up in a single parent home in a rough neighborhood where drugs and violence abounds? Disadvantaged. Undocumented immigrant in college? Disadvantaged.

Hi letdown,

Thanks for your honesty, and I appreciate your examples, those really help put it into perspective. I won't be claiming disadvantaged on the primary and will just use these things as needed in my secondaries.

Thanks again!
 
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