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Are "top-tier" schools out of reach for older applicants (>35 years), even with good stats?

stayathomemom

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    I know age discrimination is technically illegal, but it is impossible to prove during admissions. How does age affect the admissions process across different tiers of schools and in regards to MD vs DO?
     
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    Goro

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      I know age discrimination is technically illegal, but it is impossible to prove during admissions. How does age affect the admissions process across different tiers of schools and in regards to MD vs DO?
      All you need to do is look at MSAR and you'll see school by school age distributions of their students.

      Harvard has 4 students 30-39 in their Class of 2019; Stanford has three. Six in their 2018s and one 40-49 year old in their 2017s
       
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        I think you'll always be able to find a student that fits your query, whatever it may be. In this case, you'll always be able to find an example that lets you see what you want (or don't want) to see in terms of age.

        And if I may give my 2 cents about top schools...I'm non-traditional but not >35 and I applied to a lot of top schools. I also know and kept in contact with a lot of "top caliber applicants" from my own circle and the interview trail. - Instead of age, I think you should shift your view to what you bring to the table. Imagine the school is publishing a new edition of their beautiful brochure to tell parents of eager premeds how much better they are than Harvard. They'll feature students with incredible profiles. What do you bring to the class that they would be proud to feature on their brochure? Sure, you should dabble in everything but you should also excel and be spectacular in something.

        Also, tippy-top MCAT scores and good research helps A LOT. I know a handful of people who got into T10s with 4.0/524+ and research, while clinical, leadership, etc were minimal. No Olympians, no entrepreneurs, no politicians, no movie stars, no community initiatives, etc. Just (very) high scores and publications. Of course, this too is anecdotal (n = ~11) and there are different ways of getting into top schools. My personal opinion is that the most common ways are: insane stats+research or good/insane stats+something unique, and I'm sure a prestigious undergrad also somehow fits into that equation.
         
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        KnightDoc

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          I know age discrimination is technically illegal, but it is impossible to prove during admissions. How does age affect the admissions process across different tiers of schools and in regards to MD vs DO?
          I honestly think you'll find less age discrimination in academia than in many other walks of life.

          The issue with medicine is that there is a chronic shortage of practitioners and it is a long, difficult, expensive road to finally make it into practice. This makes it increasingly less attractive for a candidate to pursue as one ages, both due to the increasingly high opportunity cost (much higher for an established 35 year old than for a 22 year old just starting out) as well as the reduced payback period if one is going to exit a residency in their mid to late 40s (or older) as opposed to late 20s or early 30s.

          So, at the end of the day, I'm sure there are relatively fewer 40-somethings in the pool than 20-somethings, with the sweet spot probably being 23-27. While it's not discrimination per se, there is a justification when dealing with a chronic shortage to have a preference to train those with a 40+ year potential career than someone who might be 20 years or less to retirement, given the limited number of spots and very high demand. Rather than discrimination, it can easily be framed as a highest best use of a scarce resource. Kind of like how people older than a certain age do not receive priority on organ transplant lists.

          My bet would be that the relative scarcity of matriculants as you climb the age ladder is probably related both to relatively fewer older candidates, and their needing to be relatively more impressive than their younger counterparts (after a point that probably begins in the early 30s) to receive positive attention from an adcom. I'm no adcom, but I seriously doubt this differs across tier of school. Maybe the adcoms can speak to that?
           
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          gonnif

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            about 10 years ago I had to analyze the AMCAS and AACOMAS data on age and had two basic findings
            1) The ratio of 30+ applicant to the aggregate applicant pool was about 5% which is the same ratio in the matriculant pool
            2) Most of the variation within the eldest 5% can be attributed to GPA and MCAT when those factors are controlled for
             
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            KnightDoc

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              about 10 years ago I had to analyze the AMCAS and AACOMAS data on age and had two basic findings
              1) The ratio of 30+ applicant to the aggregate applicant pool was about 5% which is the same ratio in the matriculant pool
              2) Most of the variation within the eldest 5% can be attributed to GPA and MCAT when those factors are controlled for
              So the schools don't actually reason that a seat would be "wasted" on an older (not so much 30+, but maybe 35+) candidate based on reduced expected years of service? If so, is this consistent across the spectrum (35, 40, 45, etc.)? It would be great if that were true (equal opportunity for all!), but I'd be surprised if that were the case. 30+ really doesn't tell us anything, since, with the trend toward the preference for gap years, there really isn't that much difference between 26 and 31. Stats for 35+ or 40+ would be more revealing, if they are available. It would be great if admission stats were consistent for all ages. Are they?
               
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              gonnif

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                So the schools don't actually reason that a seat would be "wasted" on an older (not so much 30+, but maybe 35+) candidate based on reduced expected years of service? If so, is this consistent across the spectrum (35, 40, 45, etc.)? It would be great if that were true (equal opportunity for all!), but I'd be surprised if that were the case. 30+ really doesn't tell us anything, since, with the trend toward the preference for gap years, there really isn't that much difference between 26 and 31. Stats for 35+ or 40+ would be more revealing, if they are available. It would be great if admission stats were consistent for all ages. Are they?

                In the data that I looked at showed that high end of the top 1% by age (at the time it was 32+) were significantly less likely to be accepted. However, when controlled for GPA and MCAT, these applicants were more likely the aggregate applicant pool of similar GPA/MCAT. The stats for age are no longer released except by permission of AMCAS. However the AACOMAS data is available (see below). At the time I looked into this, there was was wider spread in the AACOMAS applicant to matriculant age ratio then there was in AMCAS, However, that could be attributed to the much larger size of the applicant and matriculant pools and the impact of less data points in the age category thus increasing the skewing.

                There have several cases against various schools for age discrimination against applicants. There is no case that I am aware of that has been successful
                 
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                KnightDoc

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                  In the data that I looked at showed that high end of the top 1% by age (at the time it was 32+) were significantly less likely to be accepted. However, when controlled for GPA and MCAT, these applicants were more likely the aggregate applicant pool of similar GPA/MCAT. The stats for age are no longer released except by permission of AMCAS. However the AACOMAS data is available (see below). At the time I looked into this, there was was wider spread in the AACOMAS applicant to matriculant age ratio then there was in AMCAS, However, that could be attributed to the much larger size of the applicant and matriculant pools and the impact of less data points in the age category thus increasing the skewing.

                  There have several cases against various schools for age discrimination against applicants. There is no case that I am aware of that has been successful
                  Thanks!!! You didn't include the AACOMAS link!! Everything you are saying makes a lot of sense, so it sounds like there really isn't age discrimination after controlling for stats. As long as there are always some older students, it sounds like a lawsuit will always fail due to the inherent difficulty of anyone being accepted, and, as you note, the inherent difficulty of older applicants to have stats, recently acquired, to compare to those of the younger applicants.
                   
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