Sep 28, 2011
Northern CA
Medical Student
I agree with DOCBERT: you do qualify as disadvantaged (based on your post) but you must be sincere and not use this section as leverage to get admissions.

Applying as disadvantaged is an opportunity to share more about your background and also give context for your achievements. If you don't have stellar EC's (but hopefully have a few meaningful), the disadvantaged status can explain some of it (i.e. you had to work to support your family and could not dedicate much time to volunteering or participate in other projects - though this won't justify you not shadowing or learning about medicine). If you do have very good EC's in spite of your background it can help support your dedication and hard work. Explain it in a way that is honest but don't just focus on the negative. i.e. you can explain how being disadvantaged has influenced your character, what you've learned from your experience, etc., but don't fall into the trap of turning "negatives" into "positives". Just be honest. Been disadvantaged is hard but here you are.

Hope this helps and good luck with your application.


May 16, 2012
What does URM stand for? Unrepresented Minority?

If I grew up in a poor family in a third world country and came to US for graduate study. Does this qualify me a disadvantaged status?

Applying with disadvantaged status will make up for some gaps in your background, including sub-par ECs, but only to a point. You definitely qualify as disadvantaged, but you'll need to explain the conditions that qualify you in an objective way on the application.

Don't expect an URM advantage. URM students are accepted with lower stats to fill the diversity requirements of the accrediting body; disadvantaged students are not. You'll still get by with fewer ECs, but don't expect much leniency on GPA and MCAT requirements. Applying as disadvantaged can only hurt you if you aren't sincere about your status or use it as an excuse for underachievement. If you explain yourself succinctly, however, it will play to your advantage in the application process.
Mar 27, 2012
How does applying as disadvantaged affect one's application? Will it hinder a school from accepting me, or do they generally try and assist disadvantaged students with getting in? How does disadvantaged compare to minority in terms of acceptance? My mother's side of the family is Tunisian.

Also, should I apply as disadvantaged? My parents are divorced and neither have a job. My dad was diagnosed with PTSD stemming from his time in the navy and he lives off disability. My mom, whose dependent I always was, was also always unemployed. I have three siblings who are all severely mentally handicapped and the amount of time that she had to put into their care kept her from a job. She basically ran the house off social security for my siblings, so our income was typically under $20k/year for five people. We always received food stamps on top of the SS and I did contribute to household funds before 18. I was approved for FAP, which is making my app possible, which is really great. :)

Thanks for any advice!
First, I'm so sorry to hear about the mental health issues facing your family. I bow down at the feet of anyone who cares for loved ones facing mental illness (especially PTSD), and/or are navigating the "system" for psychiatric care in this country.

As to the disadvantaged status, I've read a number of posts regarding this issue, and here's what I've come up with:


Hope that helps. (just kidding!)

In all seriousness, work on what you want to enter into "the box" (should you choose to do so). Nothing but good wishes to you and your family. Best of luck in your application cycle--may it be smooth, as painless as possible, and pay dividends by the end. Heaven knows it sounds (from your post) like you deserve a place in the class of future physicians.