StudyShy

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My first two years of college, I paid for medic school by working at a grocery store (20-30 hours a week). This would be very low on my EC list (like 15), but I was wondering if it was even worth mentioning at all. What is your take for others who have had menial-type jobs? Should it even go on my CV?
 

toff4l

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How does working at a grocery store make you a better applicant for anything?

I would list that at your own risk.
 

farrago

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List it, absolutely. You spent a significant amount of time on it (and you need to account for your time, if it's that many hours) and showing that you can hold down a job, pay bills, whatever, is a good thing.
 

LizzyM

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You would be amazed at how many physicians and other members of the adcom worked at blue collar and retail jobs while in college. It gives you an understanding of the lives of the working class, helps build people skills (whether you are working with the public or just with co-workers), and it shows that you are able to hold down a job and do well in school which demonstrates a capacity for hard work.

Do not leave this out!
 

toff4l

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Hey wait a minute, I used to wash cars in high school. Are you saying I can list this as well?
 
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StudyShy

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Hey wait a minute, I used to wash cars in high school. Are you saying I can list this as well?
I don't think that we can go back as far as high school, but if you did it while in college....perhaps.
 

bucks2010

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I'm listing all of the jobs I've had in college (not that many, but a couple blue collar). I would list it, especially since it's 20-30 hrs/wk (a significant amount of time). Adcoms see how much time you spent on all of your activities, and adding this in will demonstrate your industriousness and productivity with your time.

For those out there that disdain blue collar work or think it's impossible to glean anything from the experience about why you want to attend medical school ... I question your ability for introspection.
 

circulus vitios

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I have a similar job and I plan on listing it because it's a significant (in terms of time taken away from studying) activity.
 

toff4l

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Are you serious? Wow.
Well in all fairness, you guys scold people for wanting to list other certain meaningful activities and tell them that those activities are useless.

I don't understand how you praise listing bagging groceries and frown on Sunday School teachers.
 

LizzyM

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Well in all fairness, you guys scold people for wanting to list other certain meaningful activities and tell them that those activities are useless.

I don't understand how you praise listing bagging groceries and frown on Sunday School teachers.
Teaching Sunday School for 20 hours/wk?? That would be worth listing. Two hours per week, not so much if it would supplant a more significant experience to make 15.
 
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toff4l

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Teaching Sunday School for 20 hours/wk?? That would be worth listing. Two hours per week, not so much if it would supplant a more significant experience to make 15.
I see what you are saying now. It's not about the nature of the activity, it's about the commitment. I agree that 2 hours of Sunday School is nothing to brag about.

But how many of these activities that require lots of hours of commitment can one fit into their schedule?

Some people say show long term commitment to a cause and then others say you have to have quite a few of these and then I can't figure out how to fit that all into a week's schedule.
 

slatermd

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My first two years of college, I paid for medic school by working at a grocery store (20-30 hours a week). This would be very low on my EC list (like 15), but I was wondering if it was even worth mentioning at all. What is your take for others who have had menial-type jobs? Should it even go on my CV?
StudyShy, I think it's a great activity as part of your 15. What are you going to be using the CV for though?

It's relevant for application to med school (people skills/time management); I wouldn't necessarily use it on a CV for something like a bench research position though.
 

NickNaylor

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Well in all fairness, you guys scold people for wanting to list other certain meaningful activities and tell them that those activities are useless.

I don't understand how you praise listing bagging groceries and frown on Sunday School teachers.
I'm not an adcom, but I think that work experience is an extremely valuable activity that teaches you a whole lot of important things that are relevant to medicine: dealing with "customers," working within a team, working in the context of a "system," among others. The work experience itself is irrelevant.

It's shocking to see how many people have never had a job that isn't research-related on the interview trail.

As far as listing it on a CV, I still included my employment history. Obviously it's not relevant to a research position, but I do think showing that you've worked holds some value.
 

slatermd

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It's not about the nature of the activity, it's about the commitment.
It's always about both, and the long-term commitment you mentioned plays a role too. A lot of volunteer positions are 4 hours/week or every-other week (the equivalent of 2 hours/week). But if you stick with them for 3 or four years, you will have accumulated several hundred volunteer hours.
 

BHaus9

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I see what you are saying now. It's not about the nature of the activity, it's about the commitment. I agree that 2 hours of Sunday School is nothing to brag about.

But how many of these activities that require lots of hours of commitment can one fit into their schedule?

Some people say show long term commitment to a cause and then others say you have to have quite a few of these and then I can't figure out how to fit that all into a week's schedule.
And then there's the fact that the value of a Sunday School teacher derives from certain background assumptions that are not universal....
 
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BHaus9

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just kidding, though... i think any commitment you make to help others is admirable and worthy of inclusion
 

LizzyM

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I see what you are saying now. It's not about the nature of the activity, it's about the commitment. I agree that 2 hours of Sunday School is nothing to brag about.

But how many of these activities that require lots of hours of commitment can one fit into their schedule?

Some people say show long term commitment to a cause and then others say you have to have quite a few of these and then I can't figure out how to fit that all into a week's schedule.
Let's face it, there are only 168 hours in a week. If you can get a job where you can study while working (library circulation desk is one of the most common in this regard, late night babysitting and reception work are others) you can stretch an hour to cover two activities. Attend meetings held at mealtime and you've combined a necessary activity with a resume builder.

A few long term activities are ideal. I love seeing someone who has had at least one summer job, an academic year job, involvement in an organization for >1 year, a fun activity, a research gig, volunteering, shadowing. That's seven items. Anything more is gravy. You may think we'd prefer to see a semester's involvement in 6 differnt organizations rather than 3 years in a single organization but you'd be wrong.
 

slatermd

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And then there's the fact that the value of a Sunday School teacher derives from certain background assumptions that are not universal....
Depends how you present it. I think there's a lot of value in teaching that could be discussed almost regardless of the subject matter taught.

i.e. "teaching Sunday school has value because of the teaching" has a vastly different feel than saying "teaching Sunday school has value because it's Sunday school."

I guess it's thin ice no matter what, but this could be discussed without assuming religion is of any importance to the other person.
 
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BHaus9

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Let's face it, there are only 168 hours in a week. If you can get a job where you can study while working (library circulation desk is one of the most common in this regard, late night babysitting and reception work are others) you can stretch an hour to cover two activities. Attend meetings held at mealtime and you've combined a necessary activity with a resume builder.

A few long term activities are ideal. I love seeing someone who has had at least one summer job, an academic year job, involvement in an organization for >1 year, a fun activity, a research gig, volunteering, shadowing. That's seven items. Anything more is gravy. You may think we'd prefer to see a semester's involvement in 6 differnt organizations rather than 3 years in a single organization but you'd be wrong.
So what happens when the duration of one commitment requires you to forego opportunities among the Big Seven you mentioned? Is is possible to go about ranking "genre" of activities by perceived importance?
I ask because the necessity that I work all the way through college really limited my ability to pursue lots of volunteer work.
 

toff4l

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I'm not an adcom, but I think that work experience is an extremely valuable activity that teaches you a whole lot of important things that are relevant to medicine: dealing with "customers," working within a team, working in the context of a "system," among others. The work experience itself is irrelevant.

It's shocking to see how many people have never had a job that isn't research-related on the interview trail.

As far as listing it on a CV, I still included my employment history. Obviously it's not relevant to a research position, but I do think showing that you've worked holds some value.
You mean there are a lot of applicants that have never had a real job? I always thought every college kid did some type of part-time work for some spending money? This is new to me.
 

BHaus9

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Depends how you present it. I think there's a lot of value in teaching that could be discussed almost regardless of the subject matter taught.

i.e. "teaching Sunday school has value because of the teaching" has a vastly different feel than saying "teaching Sunday school has value because it's Sunday school."

I guess it's thin ice no matter what, but this could be discussed without assuming religion is of any importance to the other person.
yeah, i know, that was a poor attempt at humor... although i think it does bear mentioning that your perceptions about the importance of a certain EC on your app are probably not objective. this is in response to some posts i've seen from people seeking validation about how awesome so-and-so experience was, who then becoming embittered when others indicate that this does anything less than guarantee an acceptance
 

Medwell

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You mean there are a lot of applicants that have never had a real job? I always thought every college kid did some type of part-time work for some spending money? This is new to me.
It's shocking to me too, but I occasionally meet people in college who have never had a job in their entire life. I go to one of the cheapest universities in the country and have to work part-time during school and full-time every summer in order to afford college at all, so I don't really get how people are doing this.
 

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toff4l

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Figuring out which activities to get involved in and how long to stay with them is making my head spin.

Just when I think something is good, it is not good enough and when I think something is not good enough, it usually is way more than enough.

But I will say that I know people that didn't meet the requirements that LizzyM talks about and they got rejected. So I believe her.
 

slatermd

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yeah, i know, that was a poor attempt at humor... although i think it does bear mentioning that your perceptions about the importance of a certain EC on your app are probably not objective. this is in response to some posts i've seen from people seeking validation about how awesome so-and-so experience was, who then becoming embittered when others indicate that this does anything less than guarantee an acceptance
Yeah, I was already typing when you wrote your j/K post so I didn't see it :laugh:

You're right, people want to hear that their EC's are a lock on acceptance somewhere. I think it's great to put your heart into something, but just because you care doesn't mean anyone else is going to. The people who get bitter about that have totally missed the boat.
 

LizzyM

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So what happens when the duration of one commitment requires you to forego opportunities among the Big Seven you mentioned? Is is possible to go about ranking "genre" of activities by perceived importance?
I ask because the necessity that I work all the way through college really limited my ability to pursue lots of volunteer work.
I believe everyone should have 100 hours per year for active volunteer service. That works out to 2 hours per week for three years for the typical applicant who applies after 3 years of college. While some people do clinical volunteering, if you've obtained clinical experience on the job, you might do 2 hours per week as a literacy volunteer, grade school tutor, soup kitchen helpler, assistant scout leader. Some people might do one thing every week year round, and some may do a mix of things by season (coaching little league, working with Special Olympics, alternative spring break)

No research experience is going to hurt you if wish to apply to schools that put a great deal of importance on research. (Look at whether the school has a required or optional thesis.) Some people take an independent study in a lab and get college credit for their research and that can be can be listed in the "experience" section although it is curricular and not "extracurricular". I see the same thing with field experiences/volunteer work that some classes require (e.g. sociology class on urban poverty that requires so many hours of service in a homeless shelter).

Shadowing... you've got 3 years of college to put together 48 hours of shadowing -- that's four long work days over 3 years or six ordinary work days. Most people should be able to manage that. There are people who rack up huge amounts of shadowing but I think that a few work days with one or two providers should be an adequate idea of what the career involves, particularly if combined with some work (paid or volunteer) in one or more health care settings.
 

LizzyM

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You mean there are a lot of applicants that have never had a real job? I always thought every college kid did some type of part-time work for some spending money? This is new to me.
There are some princesses (and princes) who have never worked a day in their lives. What they are getting into in medicine can be a rude awakening.
 

gravitywave

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It's shocking to me too, but I occasionally meet people in college who have never had a job in their entire life. I go to one of the cheapest universities in the country and have to work part-time during school and full-time every summer in order to afford college at all, so I don't really get how people are doing this.
medical students are overwhelmingly selected from the upper upper middle class and higher. your shock will only be heightened once you get here.

it also helps for folks to bear this fact in mind when they read URM threads, or any number of whiney posts that constantly pop up in the allo forum.
 

twentyone

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There are some princesses (and princes) who have never worked a day in their lives. What they are getting into in medicine can be a rude awakening.
Do you hold this against them? I'm wondering if you had two completely equal candidates and one had some grocery store-type job and the other had not worked in high school or college- would that be detrimental. Should people seek out some sort of employment even if they feel they don't need it?

I know some people who think the job of the student is to be a student, and if they can swing it, it works out fine. I"m just wondering to myself now if candidates should be advised to do something, even if its pretty insignificant money and/or timewise. Thanks for your insight.
 

toff4l

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medical students are overwhelmingly selected from the upper upper middle class and higher. your shock will only be heightened once you get here.

Do you have any proof of this?

Or are you just trying to be funny?

Why would you say that?
 

NickNaylor

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You mean there are a lot of applicants that have never had a real job? I always thought every college kid did some type of part-time work for some spending money? This is new to me.
HA. Yeah, it's supremely exciting. Granted I interviewed predominantly at "top" schools where many students probably didn't have to work, but still. I think work experience should be an unstated requirement because of how valuable the experience is.
 

toff4l

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HA. Yeah, it's supremely exciting. Granted I interviewed predominantly at "top" schools where many students probably didn't have to work, but still. I think work experience should be an unstated requirement because of how valuable the experience is.
Seriously man, I'm still in disbelief. I thought even the wealthy kids did some type of work during college because they were taught that hard work = success.

I agree with Lizzy that if you haven't had to work an hour in your life, med school will probably be more intense than you can imagine.
 

LizzyM

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medical students are overwhelmingly selected from the upper upper middle class and higher. your shock will only be heightened once you get here.
Do you have any proof of this?

Or are you just trying to be funny?

Why would you say that?
Here's proof:

https://www.aamc.org/download/165418/data/aibvol9_no11.pdf.pdf


You see that the vast majority of students have at least one parent with a graduate degree and almost all have at least one parent who graduated college. Compared with the educational attainment of the US population, medical students come from the upper class. And income is highly correlated with education which is why it was used as a proxy for socioeconomic status in this AAMC report.

@twentyone:If two applicants have the same gpa (at the same school in the same major) and the same MCAT but one worked 10 hrs/wk and the other did not, which is the stronger student? the adcom looks at "experience". If one student has had a valuable experience and the other has had no experience other than being a student, which do you think is a more desirable applicant? If you don't need to work for money, leave that job to someone who needs it (particularly in this economy) and find a volunteer gig working with people too poor to pay for your services or with an advocacy group that depends on volunteers. Ten hours of unpaid service per week is just as much an experience as 10 hours in a paid position.
 

toff4l

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Here's proof:

https://www.aamc.org/download/165418/data/aibvol9_no11.pdf.pdf


You see that the vast majority of students have at least one parent with a graduate degree and almost all have at least one parent who graduated college. Compared with the educational attainment of the US population, medical students come from the upper class. And income is highly correlated with education which is why it was used as a proxy for socioeconomic status in this AAMC report.

@twentyone:If two applicants have the same gpa (at the same school in the same major) and the same MCAT but one worked 10 hrs/wk and the other did not, which is the stronger student? the adcom looks at "experience". If one student has had a valuable experience and the other has had no experience other than being a student, which do you think is a more desirable applicant? If you don't need to work for money, leave that job to someone who needs it (particularly in this economy) and find a volunteer gig working with people too poor to pay for your services or with an advocacy group that depends on volunteers. Ten hours of unpaid service per week is just as much an experience as 10 hours in a paid position.
But you don't discriminate those of us who are middle class right?
 

twentyone

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@twentyone:If two applicants have the same gpa (at the same school in the same major) and the same MCAT but one worked 10 hrs/wk and the other did not, which is the stronger student? the adcom looks at "experience". If one student has had a valuable experience and the other has had no experience other than being a student, which do you think is a more desirable applicant? If you don't need to work for money, leave that job to someone who needs it (particularly in this economy) and find a volunteer gig working with people too poor to pay for your services or with an advocacy group that depends on volunteers. Ten hours of unpaid service per week is just as much an experience as 10 hours in a paid position.
Yeah- that makes sense. You need to be doing at least something with your time, but a paycheck doesn't necessarily make it a better experience.
 

StephenMaturin

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I'd take the guy or girl who had this type of experience over someone who was ' president of the premed club', and I think some people list their club activities. But I'm not an adcom, so who knows.
 
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StudyShy

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StudyShy, I think it's a great activity as part of your 15. What are you going to be using the CV for though?

It's relevant for application to med school (people skills/time management); I wouldn't necessarily use it on a CV for something like a bench research position though.
Every year, I update my resume. Several years ago, I deleted non-professional work before I attained my degree. For med school, I need to account for all my time since high school. Demonstrating that I worked so that I graduated debt-free is admirable, however a full-ride scholarship would have been a lot nicer! :)

I formulated a CV for the application process. I'm giving a copy to the professors who I will be requesting an LOR from this week.

It would have been nice if I came from a higher class. I'm the first person in my family to graduate from college, although I hear that I had a distant relative who was a physician on horseback (medical school was not necessary during that time).
 

slatermd

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Every year, I update my resume. Several years ago, I deleted non-professional work before I attained my degree. For med school, I need to account for all my time since high school. Demonstrating that I worked so that I graduated debt-free is admirable, however a full-ride scholarship would have been a lot nicer! :)

I formulated a CV for the application process. I'm giving a copy to the professors who I will be requesting an LOR from this week.

It would have been nice if I came from a higher class. I'm the first person in my family to graduate from college, although I hear that I had a distant relative who was a physician on horseback (medical school was not necessary during that time).
CV for letter writers, definitely put it on. Higher class? pfft. Blue collar roots ftw. I seriously hope my kids, grandkids, and so on don't consider themselves pedigreed, cause it will never be true.
 

texahn

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yes put it in your application. if you can get a great recommendation from a supervisor thats a +
 

gettheleadout

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You mean there are a lot of applicants that have never had a real job? I always thought every college kid did some type of part-time work for some spending money? This is new to me.
Stipends do exist in college, you know...And rich parents...and drug dealing...and student loans...
It's shocking to me too, but I occasionally meet people in college who have never had a job in their entire life. I go to one of the cheapest universities in the country and have to work part-time during school and full-time every summer in order to afford college at all, so I don't really get how people are doing this.
More people (in college) than you think have parents that were able to save at least a little bit for college.
HA. Yeah, it's supremely exciting. Granted I interviewed predominantly at "top" schools where many students probably didn't have to work, but still. I think work experience should be an unstated requirement because of how valuable the experience is.
If I'm right in assuming that you value the actual experience of working over the time expenditure, then would you want the work exp. to be in college specifically and why? I don't plan to get a job of the type discussed here (bagging groceries, working at a department store like you Nick, other typical blue-collar jobs) ever again, but I had three of the sort throughout the course of high school.

At the same time, I'm going to work on campus next year as a tutor, but although this will be paid employment it's not the type of experience you're talking about. If it's the nature of the work that sets this apart, should I be allowed to list my high school work experience?
Seriously man, I'm still in disbelief. I thought even the wealthy kids did some type of work during college because they were taught that hard work = success.

I agree with Lizzy that if you haven't had to work an hour in your life, med school will probably be more intense than you can imagine.
LOL no. Unfortunately a lot of kids who are that wealthy are handed everything. This is the same reason rich kids do drugs too; they can afford whatever they want with their $100+ weekly allowance (and that's seriously low-balling it for some people.)
Yeah- that makes sense. You need to be doing at least something with your time, but a paycheck doesn't necessarily make it a better experience.
:thumbup:
I'd take the guy or girl who had this type of experience over someone who was ' president of the premed club', and I think some people list their club activities. But I'm not an adcom, so who knows.
If that's the person's most comparable experience to working, then obviously. However, there's nothing wrong with a stereotypical leadership position like that as it relates to this discussion as long as the applicant also has EC's that are actually time-consuming, like volunteering.
 
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Great thread guys. A link to it will be included in the new Work and Activites FAQ that the Pre-Allo staff is working on :D
Cool! :)
 

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So I have a question. If education is often a proxy for socioeconomic status, is that what is looked at by med schools? What if you have a parent with a PhD but still lived below the poverty line most of the time growing up? Would med schools see only the parent's PhD and assume privileged status even if the person had to work their own way through college? For example, would this detract from any benefit of declaring 'disadvantaged' on AMCAS?
 
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I worked in a grocery store the entire way through undergrad, roughly 20 hours a week. I listed it on my application, and one of my interviewers even asked me about it, and was surprised that I worked the job consistently for more than 4 years.

If it's a meaningful experience to your growth as a person, list it.

Now that I'm starting med school in a few months, and have a summer research project lined up, I'm seriously thinking of quitting the grocery store really soon! :D
 

slatermd

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So I have a question. If education is often a proxy for socioeconomic status, is that what is looked at by med schools? What if you have a parent with a PhD but still lived below the poverty line most of the time growing up? Would med schools see only the parent's PhD and assume privileged status even if the person had to work their own way through college? For example, would this detract from any benefit of declaring 'disadvantaged' on AMCAS?
There's a new autobiographical section on the AMCAS where you should have the opportunity to clarify how you grew up; I sure you could include working through college as a continuation of growing up below the poverty line.

There are several other threads (one was quite recent) about declaring disadvantaged status, if you want to read up on that in particular.
 

bucks2010

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If I'm right in assuming that you value the actual experience of working over the time expenditure, then would you want the work exp. to be in college specifically and why? I don't plan to get a job of the type discussed here (bagging groceries, working at a department store like you Nick, other typical blue-collar jobs) ever again, but I had three of the sort throughout the course of high school.

At the same time, I'm going to work on campus next year as a tutor, but although this will be paid employment it's not the type of experience you're talking about. If it's the nature of the work that sets this apart, should I be allowed to list my high school work experience?
I think the key with these types of work experiences is that you learn to be in an environment where you're responsible to someone else for your time. Bagging groceries would suck. Some of the jobs I've had weren't fun either. But doing them successfully shows your ability to get the job done and not consider something "beneath" you. If you go into rotations in med school with some attitude of entitlement that's a carryover from your privileged childhood and lack of employment/responsibility, you will be put in your place in fairly short order, and until that time you'll be a huge pain to your fellow rotators. Once in the wards, you're really the lowest of the low... you can't be running around thinking that something is beneath you. If we were students together, I definitely wouldn't want you on my rotations while you were trying to dump your work off on everyone else. So I think holding "low level" jobs helps assure adcoms that you have the ability to do what's expected of you and won't be complaining when you have to go do a rectal.
 

getdown

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Nov 16, 2010
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So I have a question. If education is often a proxy for socioeconomic status, is that what is looked at by med schools? What if you have a parent with a PhD but still lived below the poverty line most of the time growing up? Would med schools see only the parent's PhD and assume privileged status even if the person had to work their own way through college? For example, would this detract from any benefit of declaring 'disadvantaged' on AMCAS?
Only if your parent has a PhD in art history or some other useless "artistic" major. :smuggrin:
 

LizzyM

the evil queen of numbers
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AAMC had good reasons to use education as a proxy for socioeconomic status. While there are outliers, on a population basis when looking at thousands of medical students, for the most part, family income is correlated with parental income. And while many parents with MD, JD, PhD, MBA, etc are making big bucks, we also know that there are circumstances where due to injury, illness or economic downturns a family may not be doing as well as expected given parents' education. (Heaven knows, many college instructors are cobbling together part-time jobs at a string of colleges as tenured positions become more scarce.)

There is no longer a "disadvantaged" check box on the AMCAS application. Every applicant is given the opportunity to provide information about childhood and family.

This information is used to paint a more detailed picture of an applicant and their life experiences. It isn't a substitute for a financial aid application.
 

estradiol9

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Feb 3, 2010
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AAMC had good reasons to use education as a proxy for socioeconomic status. While there are outliers, on a population basis when looking at thousands of medical students, for the most part, family income is correlated with parental income. And while many parents with MD, JD, PhD, MBA, etc are making big bucks, we also know that there are circumstances where due to injury, illness or economic downturns a family may not be doing as well as expected given parents' education. (Heaven knows, many college instructors are cobbling together part-time jobs at a string of colleges as tenured positions become more scarce.)

There is no longer a "disadvantaged" check box on the AMCAS application. Every applicant is given the opportunity to provide information about childhood and family.

This information is used to paint a more detailed picture of an applicant and their life experiences. It isn't a substitute for a financial aid application.
I was wondering about this with the new changes to the AMCAS application. So now it is basically left up to the adcoms to determine if the student was disadvantaged or not? This seems more reasonable. I know a lot of people were questioning whether or not they should consider themselves "disadvantaged".