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Revolution #9

Hi everyone,

I was wondering if any of you that applied disadvantaged could share your stories about how that affected your applicaitons and interviews. The reason I ask this is because while I cleary meet the criteria (as vague as the criteria are), I don't want to have disadvantaged status dominate my application. I have done many things that I am proud of and would like to talk about in my interviews, some things that I believe have helped a lot of young people, and i don't want to have all of my interviews revolve around my circumstances as a youth.
Thank you all so much for your help, many of you were very helpful in my last thread. :) :love:
 

tacrum43

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AMCAS has separate areas for race and disadvantaged status. You aren't an under represented minority if you are white, but from the sound of it, you could definitely claim to be disadvantaged.
 

sdnstud

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If you feel that your education has been hindered by your disadvantaged background, you should apply as a disadvantaged student. Your main goal when filling out the AMCAS is to tell/show as much about yourself as you can to the admissions committees. I feel that your family/personal background is a huge part of who you are.

Many schools will want to know about your family/personal background, either through the secondary application or the personal interview. Thus, your personal background will come up at one time or another during the process.

Does applying as a disadvantaged student improve your chances? Maybe, maybe not.
 

Mistress S

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I applied disadvantaged, and I can honestly say I don't think it made much difference one way or the other. I applied to 15 schools, received 3 interview invites, 1 acceptance, and either rejected or haven't heard a word post-secondary from the other schools. I have decent stats (3.75/32) but applied late because of Aug MCAT. What is good about applying this way is it puts it all right out there--I have been asked about my family and childhood by almost all of my interviewers, which is pretty standard practice; in my case they knew from my app that it is rather unusual (foster care, etc) so it's not this akward story being dropped all of a sudden or feeling like I have to lie or sugarcoat things so as to avoid akwardness. I think some people appreciated the obstacles I have overcome, others it is hard to say if they cared or not. How you present it is important--I emphasized that although my situation was clearly not ideal, I gained some valuable things from it (maturity, independence, coping skills) that have helped me reach my goals. Another good thing about applying disadvantaged is that it is my understanding that some schools have grant/scholarship money for disadvantaged students, and if you do not apply this way initially you may not be considered for this kind of aid once accepted.

If you were truly socioeconomically disadvantaged growing up and this affected your opportunities in life, and you can discuss it in a way that shows what you learned or gained from this background and how it may have affected your goals in medicine (In my case, I have a desire to work with disadvantaged populations and years of experience doing so, and I think my background added depth to this aspect of my motivation), than it can only potentially help you to discuss this. I wouldn't worry about it overshadowing the rest of your app, I had this concern as well but it seemed to be something that received only passing attention from adcoms. BTW, I'm assuming in writing all this that you're not a URM, if you are than it is a different story, and applying as a disadvantaged URM will probably open some doors for you (not trying to insult anyone, just stating a fact). Good luck with your app.
 

cytoskelement

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I would recommend applying disadvantaged if you really are "disadvantaged". As an interviewer and then some, I have seen disadvantaged status rule people out. One student in particular applied disadvantaged and when question why, responded that their family will not be able to pay for medical school for them. No crap... mine neither.

For instance, I could have applied as disadvantaged... single, uneducated mother. However, we lived with my grandparents and if I ever really needed anything, I probably got it. I didn't have a nice car at 16, fancy trips... but there was always food on the table and a Christmas tree. So if I were asked how I was disadvantaged, it would look kinda stupid compared to someone raised as a ward of the court or with a single mother of 12 in government housing, etc.
 

Skaterbabe74

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I actually have a question about all this. Does disadvantaged only apply for your formative years (ie up til age 18)? I wasn't all that disadvantaged growing up - other than the single, non-college educated mother thing, but living on my own at or below poverty levels (without assistance programs due to being a full time student) for the last 7 years with no chance of help from family has placed me into the disadvantaged category I believe. I'm still several years from applying, but I was just wondering if anyone had any experience with how this works.

Thanks!
 

Mistress S

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Skaterbabe74 said:
I actually have a question about all this. Does disadvantaged only apply for your formative years (ie up til age 18)? I wasn't all that disadvantaged growing up - other than the single, non-college educated mother thing, but living on my own at or below poverty levels (without assistance programs due to being a full time student) for the last 7 years with no chance of help from family has placed me into the disadvantaged category I believe. I'm still several years from applying, but I was just wondering if anyone had any experience with how this works.

Thanks!
I believe they are only interested in those who grew up socioeconomically disadvantaged and overcame that to get through college (to the extent that "they" are interested at all; see my earlier post). I mean, almost all students are low-income, some are fortunate to have family paying all their expenses but I would venture that a majority live mainly off of financial aid and are at or below the poverty line, so this hardly qualifies as a unique circumstance to overcome.

I would like to add here, I've seen a lot of posts here over the years asking, "Can I qualify as disadvantaged?" for circumstances like divorced parents, having to pay for college themselves, having a child in college, and similar situations that, while no doubt difficult, are questionable as far as standing out from the difficulties that most people must overcome in their lives. Of course, the AAMC definition is so vague as to allow anyone to apply this way, and in my experience it doesn't help you much even if you were legitmately disadvantaged, but as cytoskelement pointed out, applying disadvantaged for garden-variety obstacles can actually harm your app by making you look either extremely out of touch or like you are trying to manipulate the system for personal gain. There are a minority of golden children out there who have loving, happily married, well-off parents who pay for all of their expenses throughout college and beyond, but most people are not so fortunate, and not being a member of the luckiest few hardly qualifies as a disadvantage. I'm not trying to knock on you Skaterbabe, as I don't think that was the reasoning behind your question, it just seems like this sort of question comes up a lot, and it's kind of dumb. If you have to ask if you were disadvantaged, you probably weren't. No one else can decide for you whether or not to apply this way, but if you weren't desperately poor (like welfare, ghetto poor), a ward of the court, or in some other similarly extreme situation growing up, designating yourself as disadvantaged will be more likely to hurt than help you. Just my thoughts.
 

crys20

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Skaterbabe, can't you take out like, max student loans? I have zero family help too and can only work part-time with classes, but with financial aid and then max loans I can live decently.
 

GuyLaroche

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crys20 said:
Skaterbabe, can't you take out like, max student loans? I have zero family help too and can only work part-time with classes, but with financial aid and then max loans I can live decently.
Then what happens after med school? Aren't you worried you'd have a ton of debt? Just wondering....
 

Skaterbabe74

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Thanks for the reply Mistress S. I figured that's how it worked, but was still curious. And you're right I have seen a lot of those posts myself this year, and agree that in most circumstances if you have to ask you're probably not really disadvantaged. And I don't disagree that a lot of full time students probably live at or just slightly above poverty levels with full financial aid, but I don't know how many students would be considered below poverty levels where if they weren't a student they would qualify for welfare and medicaid. Anyway I was just curious how it all worked. I know I was way better off in my formative years so even if I did qualify for "disadvantaged" when the time comes I probably wouldn't apply that way. Applying is just soo expensive and I'm worried about how to cover it when the time comes.

crys20 - Unfortunately I don't qualify for student loans or grants anymore (too many credits with no possibility to graduate for a few years yet). Just scholarships (most of which I don't qualify for yet gpa-wise) and private loans (which I don't have a co-signer for). But even when I did qualify for full loans and grants it wasn't enough to live on in my town. I pretty much got thrown out of my apartment, had my phone and tv turned off, and was about to have my electricity and water cut the middle of last year trying to survive on full financial aid with only a part time job, and I lived in a "cheap apartment" for my town. Things are better now that I've moved on campus, but it's slightly more expensive to live on campus than where I was off and I haven't quite figured out how I'm going to cover it all next year yet.
 

crys20

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Guy...The debt from undergrad probably won't be too significant when compared with the debt from med school. No matter what kind of a doc you are you're going to be making enough cash I would think to be able to pay off the loans.

Skaterbabe...I'm so sorry you have so many money worries. My life isn't so bad I guess because I think worrying about money is the worst thing in the world.
 

i61164

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I don't think that applying disadvantaged will "dominate" your application. I applied disadvantaged and I have not been asked about it in any of the 4 interviews that I have had so far. I have received one acceptance so I'm pretty sure that applying disadvantaged hasn't hurt me any (especially since I have a legitimate story).

The question is: were you disadvanted for the majority of your life up until you were 18. If you can reasonably answer yes, then fill out that part of the AMCAS. If an ADCOM does not think that your background has any bearing on their decision, they will probably just ignore it.

A lot of people on here like to consider themselves the "broke-ass police." Keep in mind that you did not have to be raised by an illiterate crack ***** to be disadvantaged. On the other hand, if your family fell on hard times for a couple of years while you were in high school, that would not count as the majority of your pre-19 life. Try to use good judgement.