Dismiss Notice

Interview Feedback: Visit Interview Feedback to view and submit interview information.

Interviewing Masterclass: Free masterclass on interviewing from SDN and Medical College of Georgia

Disadvantaged Applicants Q&A's

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by Cambrian, Mar 25, 2002.

  1. Cambrian

    Cambrian Colonel/Senior Member
    10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2001
    Messages:
    284
    Likes Received:
    0
    I hope this thread will serve as some sort of an assistance to all applicants applying disadvantaged. I know this is too late for the entering class of 2002 applicants but it should help the entering class of 2003 applicants.

    I did not apply as disadvantaged. But at the time I was applying, I did consider it. I know that Jamier2 was pondering the same thing but ultimately decided not to apply as disadvantaged.

    AMCAS has a loose standard for applying disadvantaged. So if there is anybody out there who applied as disadvantaged, please share your story and your success, or lack thereof in the appplication process. This is not intended to pry into your personal life, but if you can, please explain the circumstances that qualified (or you think qualified) you as a disadvantaged applicant. I know for a fact that all UC's are required to send you a secondary if you are a disadvantaged applicant (is this true for Stanford?). I received secondaries from all of the UC schools even though I did not apply as disadvantaged. But for most of them, the secondary is as far as I got. Ultimately I only received interview invites from UCI and UCSD. And ultimately, I have only gotten an acceptance from UCSD. Now, the UCSD story is quite an interesting story for me. My GPA is high but my MCAT is only slightly above average. But what got me to the interview stage and the ultimately the acceptance was the secondary. The UCSD secondary is very indepth since you can just write an autobiography and explain every significant detail in your life. In the secondary I explained the hardship I had during my adolescent years. I did not mention any of this hardship in my primary essay. So, I pondered last night about the possible reason for my acceptance was my explanation of my hardship. Because it couldn't have been the numbers that got me in. If this were true, I would have gotten interviews at UC Davis, UCI, etc. So, to judge whether my circumstances qualified me as disadvantaged or not, here is my story:

    I am a Vietnamese immigrant who came to the United States when I was 10 years old (in 1989). I came with my mom and immediately when we arrived, we found out that my dad has been having an extramarital affair with another woman. He also had a child with this other woman. My mom forgave him for this. But for the next two years, he would constantly physically and verbally abuse my mom and me. Seeing bruises on my mom was a common sight. My mom never reported him to the police. Every day I come back from school, I would just sit on the porch hoping that this would all end. All of the great expectations I had of my father has by now vanished. So after two years, my mom finally divorced him and got custody of me. We were very poor and had to move constantly so that my mom can find a better job. My mom and I had to live in the same room until I was 14 so that our rent could be cheap. I must admit that I had a tough time during middle school because of this. But by high school things were starting to look up. Now I don't think having a tough time during my middle school years qualified as disadvantaged for AMCAS. Also by the time, I entered high school, our income had reached about ~19k/year. So I couldn't possibly apply as financially disadvantaged.

    So that's my story. But what bothers me is that I couldn't get a chance to explain my story to UCLA because, IMHO, the UCLA secondary asks the questions that can already be answered in my primary app. I think I should have applied as disadvantaged so that I would be able to tell my story. Maybe I could have a shot at interviewing at UCLA if I had applied as disadvantaged. This really bugs me because my decision to not apply as disadvantaged prevented me from going to my number one choice, UCLA. But it's too late now. I'm sure that there are other applicants out there who have been in much more strenuous hardships than I have. Maybe I should have said this in my primary. Under the advice of my stupid premed counselor (God, I wished I hadn't followed her advice), I only talked about my meaningful volunteering, tutoring and research experience. I barely talked about my life experiences.

    What do you guys think?
     
  2. none

    none 1K Member
    10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2001
    Messages:
    1,903
    Likes Received:
    5
    What makes you think the UCs are required to send anyone apps? I find that very odd.
     
  3. Cambrian

    Cambrian Colonel/Senior Member
    10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2001
    Messages:
    284
    Likes Received:
    0
    I shouldn't say "required" but UC's have a policy of sending secondaries to all disadvantaged applicants. I know this because a few of my classmates confirmed this for me with the admissions people (they were all disadvantaged applicants). Can anyone verify this?
     
  4. Tobtolip

    Tobtolip Member
    7+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2002
    Messages:
    91
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hi, I am curious about your situation because I have had a past somewhat similiar to yours as well. Unfortunately, I don't think I can apply as disadvantaged because like you, things improved once I got into high school, and like you my family income is now ~19000 a year also. Not only that, since I moved to Tennessee and a nicer and muchs safer neighborhood compared to LA I don't think that counts as disadvantaged. I think disadvantaged only applies to recent years, hardships that one has had to endure throughout highschool and college (and I think these are extreme cases)

    I could be wrong though, and I would be curious since from childhood (approximately 5) to my last year in middleschoolI was somewhat disadvantaged.
     
  5. Dr. Don

    Dr. Don Senior Member
    15+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2001
    Messages:
    944
    Likes Received:
    0
    Status:
    Resident [Any Field]
    I didn't receive a secondary from some of the UCs and I applied as disadvantaged?!
     
  6. Cambrian

    Cambrian Colonel/Senior Member
    10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2001
    Messages:
    284
    Likes Received:
    0
    Tobtolip, since you didn't apply as disadvantaged, do you think you would have gotten more interviews (or even less?) if you had applied as disadvantaged? Can you tell us how you are doing in the application process?

    Dr. Don, did you check to? make sure that your application was indeed disadvantaged? I'm pretty sure you'd get secondaries from UC's automatically if you are disadvantaged. Also, what circumstances of disadvantaged did you apply under?
     
  7. jmejia1

    jmejia1 Senior Member
    7+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2001
    Messages:
    571
    Likes Received:
    0
    I'm pretty sure that the UCs DO NOT send out secondaries to ALL disadvantaged applicants.

    I think the disadvantaged status arises if any one had economic or social hardships anythime from birth to the present. So you couldn've been on welfare and lived in the ghetto during your childhood while doing much better later on and still apply as disadvantaged.

    I think if anyone has to think too hard about the classification, then maybe they shouldn't apply as a disadvantaged applicant. Also, I know a guy that applied as disadvantaged but had good stats: 3.7, 33MCAT and he didn't get much love. I think schools might get turned off by something like that since they'll assume the applicant couldn't have been THAT disadvantaged and is doing everything possible to get in.
     
  8. Cambrian

    Cambrian Colonel/Senior Member
    10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2001
    Messages:
    284
    Likes Received:
    0
    jmejia1, you have a good point. I didn't want to apply as disadvantaged because of the reason that adcoms might view as just another scheme to get in. But there are cases where borderline disadvantaged does get you a lot of interviews. I think everyone's situation is unique. I just wish AMCAS wouldn't even have this disadvantaged stuff. It makes the process even more complex, as if it wasn't complex enough already. We can all rely on the personal statement to explain our circumstances.

    </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by jmejia1:
    <strong>I'm pretty sure that the UCs DO NOT send out secondaries to ALL disadvantaged applicants.

    I think the disadvantaged status arises if any one had economic or social hardships anythime from birth to the present. So you couldn've been on welfare and lived in the ghetto during your childhood while doing much better later on and still apply as disadvantaged.

    I think if anyone has to think too hard about the classification, then maybe they shouldn't apply as a disadvantaged applicant. Also, I know a guy that applied as disadvantaged but had good stats: 3.7, 33MCAT and he didn't get much love. I think schools might get turned off by something like that since they'll assume the applicant couldn't have been THAT disadvantaged and is doing everything possible to get in.</strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">
     
  9. Dr. Don

    Dr. Don Senior Member
    15+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2001
    Messages:
    944
    Likes Received:
    0
    Status:
    Resident [Any Field]
    </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by Cambrian:
    <strong>Tobtolip, since you didn't apply as disadvantaged, do you think you would have gotten more interviews (or even less?) if you had applied as disadvantaged? Can you tell us how you are doing in the application process?

    Dr. Don, did you check to? make sure that your application was indeed disadvantaged? I'm pretty sure you'd get secondaries from UC's automatically if you are disadvantaged. Also, what circumstances of disadvantaged did you apply under?</strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">I copied and pasted from another post about disadvantaged status...besides what you will read down here, from age 11 (which is the age that I arrived in the US) to 20 my parents made below poverty level, which for a family of 5 I believe it's around $20,000/year. I have worked since I was 13 years old (not legally of course...)drive bys, shooting, drugs (although I don't know if you can consider mj/bud a drug....my friend always use to say, man weed is from the earth, God gave it to us to stimulate our minds!!! <img border="0" title="" alt="[Wink]" src="wink.gif" /> ) was a common thing where I grew up.. Personally, I have lost two friends due to drive-by shootings. the sad thing was that one of them was just in the wrong place at the wrong time...the other...well, that's a different story which I won't get into...so here's the other post I wrote....

    damn kid, and I thought I had it bad. I also qualified as disadvantaged. Grew up in a sorry neighborhood. Out of my freshman class which started with 800+ students, only 250+ students graduated... alot of them had to take summer school after our senior year to complete their requirements for graduation. I'll say that about 20-30 of the students that graduated went straight to college. Never received AFDC and SCHIP, not because we didn't need it, but because of my family's residency status, so we didn't qualify...I personally have never been wounded, but have been shot at (drive-by). I had someone take out a knife at me...fortunately nothing happened because the cops flashed their lights at us and we had to run (that was the only time I was glad to see a cop!). I also paid my way through college and had to take a semester off school to work full time. I wasn't born here, so needless to say I had to learn a new language and pretty much a new culture, which if you think about it's really a mixture of cultures...european, indian, african american, etc. Anyways, I feel that our experiences are what makes us unique and the fact that we are still here, sets great examples for future pre-meds, and students in general from disadvanted background.

    NOW DO I QUALIFY AS DISADVANTAGED? If I don't can someone please tell me what the guidelines are? :confused:
     
  10. Cambrian

    Cambrian Colonel/Senior Member
    10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2001
    Messages:
    284
    Likes Received:
    0
    Dr. Don,

    From what I have read about your situation, you definitely qualify as a disadvantaged applicant.
     
  11. Tobtolip

    Tobtolip Member
    7+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2002
    Messages:
    91
    Likes Received:
    0
    </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by Cambrian:
    <strong>Tobtolip, since you didn't apply as disadvantaged, do you think you would have gotten more interviews (or even less?) if you had applied as disadvantaged? Can you tell us how you are doing in the application process?

    jmejia1 wrote:
    I think the disadvantaged status arises if any one had economic or social hardships anythime from birth to the present. So you couldn've been on welfare and lived in the ghetto during your childhood while doing much better later on and still apply as disadvantaged.
    </strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Cambrian: Actually, I am not in the application process yet, I just wanted to get as much info as possible so I'll have less grief when its time for me to apply <img border="0" title="" alt="[Wink]" src="wink.gif" />

    Hmm.. well if jemjia1 is correct may I can apply as disadvantaged, but I am not quite sure. I guess if anyone is willing to read my past real quick and see if I qualify I'd appreciate it:

    I was born US Citizen.
    Korean-American.

    Age approximately 6, was placed in foster home for about a year- year and a half (for reasons I'd rather not disclose).

    Mother was able to gain custody of me, under provision that my aunt live in same apartment complex. Stayed with mother for 1 year, she abandoned me to my aunt. Stayed with aunt till 4th grade, mother found me took me to my father. Stayed with mother + father for about a year, we lived in Downtown koreatown, mother then abandoned us, but not before spending a trip to Las Vegas and using up our money. Father remarried to step mother. Father lost job, went on welfare + foodstamps for a year. Step-mother abandoned us. Due to very tough circumstances, was absent much of 7th grade. Left koreatown LA mid 7th grade, moved to Tennessee, life is much better now <img border="0" title="" alt="[Wink]" src="wink.gif" />

    I'm sure koreatown isn't as ghetto as some places, but its certainly not the safest place to be. Although I was never shot at or anything that extreme, its certainly not the safest place to grow up. Not unusual to hear gunshots at night, and I've actually witnessed people get shot before.

    I'm not sure if that qualifies as disadvantaged, because my family was only on welfare for a year. Also, like I said, when we moved to Tennessee 7th grade things got MUCH better, and I was able to catch up in my education. If you do think I qualify as disadvantaged, is it worth using? I'm afraid it will actually hurt my chances since overall I am currently a solid student in college and will likely end up with ~3.8 gpa. (It may look like I'm trying to receive a hand-out or something).

    Finally, what type of records will they need to prove my past disadvantaged status?

    Thanks
     
  12. Michelys

    Michelys Senior Member
    7+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2002
    Messages:
    208
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hey Cambrian...hey everybody. First I'd like to say I'm sorry for all your troubles...for everybody's hardships they've put on here really. It's quite saddening really. I, however, had the same predicament when applying on AMCAS last year. When I first saw that they even had a box for whether you considered yourself a 'disadvantaged applicant' I was actually annoyed and offended they would ask such a question. As if it matters, I thought. Every adcomm just wants Superwoman in ScrubTights who just happened to help eradicate like smallpox from Rwanda or sumthin. I thought that no one, much less the people on the admissions committee, would pay attention to such a statement and would just write the applicant off as some whiny poor person trying to find 'the easy way' into medical school. I mean, I've always known that I've been 'disadvantaged', but I hesitated for these reasons to check that little box. That is until I read over my little Princeton Review Medical Schools thing. Somewhere in that book the author said something that really struck me...the fact that if you're disadvantaged, and have been struggling uphill all your life, all the way up to college, all the way up to everything for that matter, then you probably know that you are indeed disadvantaged. Simply put, the author also said that if you questioned your status, that you probably weren't. All things considered, I was in South Africa at the time of all this and decided to reveal to the adcomm's my 'disadvantaged status'. And in that mandatory paragraph that followed I stated how my biological father had abandoned my mother when I was born and how my step-father abandoned us when I was ten. To make things short, I've been poor ever since. Poor as in having our electricity cut off on regular intervals, scrapping to save money for food and clothes, scrapping to pay our rent, ruining my credit in college to save the little house my mother still doesn't own from the rotted roof in danger of caving in on us. There's more...but it really does consist of everyday of my life. As a disadvantaged applicant, everything has been hard for me financially, not just excerpts from my childhood or middle-school. I think the key point to get across to the adcomm's, however, is the fact that a disadvantaged applicant, if indeed disadvantaged, has used this to overcome their obstacles in education and in their pursuit of a career as a physician, not just to seek out another opportunity at access to a medical class. I personally didn't check the box for an 'easy' way to medical school. Nothing for disadvantaged applicants has been easy, EVER. I checked it to show them further strength, determination, and perseverence in my application. I checked it to show that I didn't give up on what life gave me and that I sure wasn't planning on doing so concerning becoming a physician. As for any handouts, I wasn't accustomed to any, and haven't received any from any admissions committee. I've been accepted to Rochester on my merit and hard work, not because of any consideration of how my disadvantaged status should automatically allow me in any medical school.

    Good luck to you Cambrian in your pursuits. I wish you the best of luck.
     
  13. Tobtolip

    Tobtolip Member
    7+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2002
    Messages:
    91
    Likes Received:
    0
    After reading Michely's post, I must admit that I feel somewhat ashamed for even considering applying as a disadvantaged. I made up my mind that I will not be checking that disadvantaged box after all;) My experiences, probably a little bit off the norm, is no where near that of Michely's, and to be truly "disadvantaged" is to go through something Michely has gone through. Constantly struggling against impossible odds nearly ALL your life, not just childhood. For me, thats not the case, even though I consider my family poor, we are definately not in poverty and have the comforts of electricity, food, shelter, and other conveniences we take for granted.

    Thanks Michely!
     
  14. SMW

    SMW Grand Member
    7+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2001
    Messages:
    3,760
    Likes Received:
    1
    Just because one does not have the absoslutely worst life story on SDN does not mean that one is not disadvantaged. A family of 4 with an income of $19,000 is well below the poverty line (see <a href="http://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty/02poverty.htm" target="_blank">this government website</a> for figures). Also, disadvantage does not have to be financial. Jmejia is definitely right about the definition of disadvantaged. And disadvantage in the early childhood years is much harder to overcome than in later years. I would consider everyone who's discussed their situations on this thread to be more or less disadvantaged. For those concerned that checking the box implies asking for a hand-out, etc. then just describe your background in your personal statement, but I would encourage you to just go ahead and check the box. I do think Cambrian would have gotten more interviews had he/she done either one. I'm really glad to hear about the UCSD acceptance! :) Tobtolip, I urge you to reconsider. Michelys, your story is really inspiring!! Good luck to everyone!! :D Dr. Don, knock 'em dead ( <img border="0" title="" alt="[Wink]" src="wink.gif" /> ) at that upcoming UCLA/Drew interview!! :D <img border="0" alt="[Clappy]" title="" src="graemlins/clappy.gif" />
     
  15. Cambrian

    Cambrian Colonel/Senior Member
    10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2001
    Messages:
    284
    Likes Received:
    0
    SMW, thank you for your kind words and providing us with information. Yes, it really hurts me emotionally that I did not apply as disadvantaged. Perhaps I would have gotten an interview at UCLA (the lover of my life; well it's a one-way love story I guess). But if you think about it, what else can explain my acceptance to UCSD other than my explanation of my disadvantaged background on the secondary application? I mean, I was waitlisted at UCI. This means that since I did not elaborate to UCI about my background, they perceived me as just another typical Asian guy (that's right I'm male :) .) And I don't think a typical Asian guy with high GPA but average MCAT (30,R) would stand out through the eyes of the adcom. So for anybody out there who may think you are disadvantaged either through some social or economic hardship, then by all means, apply as disadvantaged. Take it from me, it's better to have applied as such. You don't want to be biting your lips, regretting your decision later on.

    BTW, Michelys, thank you for your input and help. Was Rochester your first choice?

    </font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by SMW:
    <strong>Just because one does not have the absoslutely worst life story on SDN does not mean that one is not disadvantaged. A family of 4 with an income of $19,000 is well below the poverty line (see <a href="http://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty/02poverty.htm" target="_blank">this government website</a> for figures). Also, disadvantage does not have to be financial. Jmejia is definitely right about the definition of disadvantaged. And disadvantage in the early childhood years is much harder to overcome than in later years. I would consider everyone who's discussed their situations on this thread to be more or less disadvantaged. For those concerned that checking the box implies asking for a hand-out, etc. then just describe your background in your personal statement, but I would encourage you to just go ahead and check the box. I do think Cambrian would have gotten more interviews had he/she done either one. I'm really glad to hear about the UCSD acceptance! :) Tobtolip, I urge you to reconsider. Michelys, your story is really inspiring!! Good luck to everyone!! :D Dr. Don, knock 'em dead ( <img border="0" title="" alt="[Wink]" src="wink.gif" /> ) at that upcoming UCLA/Drew interview!! :D <img border="0" alt="[Clappy]" title="" src="graemlins/clappy.gif" /> </strong></font><hr /></blockquote><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">
     
  16. Drako

    Drako Senior Member
    10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2001
    Messages:
    300
    Likes Received:
    1
    Status:
    Attending Physician
    If you feel you are disadvantaged, then say it and let others (in high places) to decide for themselves if you are indeed disadvantaged (and pray they are just and of sound mind). Your job in filling out the application is to be honest and to do it to the best of your abilities and knowledge. If you get in because of your disadvantage status (which is a purely hypothetical situation IMHO), more power to you. Just remember what you went though and be a good doctor when you come out of med school. Disadvantage considerations are not handouts. They are part of your personal history and make you who you are today. Stating it is merely telling the truth. There is no shame in telling the truth is it?
     
  17. pocwana

    pocwana MD/MBA candidate c/o 2008
    7+ Year Member

    Joined:
    May 11, 2002
    Messages:
    1,128
    Likes Received:
    3
    Status:
    Medical Student
    I first want to thank you all for starting this thread. It's been awhile since anyone has added to it, so I don't know how much response I'll get, but I was wondering if anyone from 2002 application applied disadvantaged and was asked about it during their interviews.

    It's weird enough for me to talk to people about my past, but to do it with total strangers would be completely awkward. I'm sure I would get all choked up during my interview and that's probably not such a good thing.

    Thanks in advance for your posts :)
     
  18. efex101

    efex101 attending
    Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2002
    Messages:
    2,713
    Likes Received:
    74
    Status:
    Attending Physician
    I have to agree with the previous posts that if you have to *think* wether you can apply disadvanage or not then you probably should not. It boils down to what you personally feel were your hardships in life. Cambrian if you already have one acceptance why are you so bummed out about not applying disadvantage? you did well this application cycle, you got in!
     

Share This Page