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How do adcoms compare applicants of different SES?

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mattpehler

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Like suppose a reviewer first looks at an applicant with a high-SES or physician parent, 3.9+ gpa, 521 MCAT, prestigious college background, great ECS and they decide to invite them for an interview. The next applicant they look at is first gen/very low-income with a 3.8+ gpa, 517 MCAT, good public undergrad, good ECs. The latter may be more rare than the former and traveled a "greater distance". Do they have data/tools to compare fairly or are they using their own judgements to see who deserves an interview?

Also does the same reviewer read these apps or are their specific reviewers for Low-SES/disadvantaged/URM applicants?

Do adcoms sometimes consciously know they're not being "equitable " when comparing candidates across different backgrounds but do it anyway in favor of their class goals.
 
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KnightDoc

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I'm not an adcom, but my understanding, after studying this for a few years, is that there is no representation that adcoms will be "equitable," either consciously or unconsciously. Their task is to build a diverse, well qualified class, and their "holistic" review of everyone is performed with that in mind. Every application is reviewed on its own merits, and there is no effort to normalize a high-SES applicant to a low-SES one.

Hopefully the experts will confirm or deny my understanding. @gyngyn @LizzyM @Goro @gonnif ?
 

Moko

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Like suppose a reviewer first looks at an applicant with a high-SES or physician parent, 3.9+ gpa, 521 MCAT, prestigious college background, great ECS and they decide to invite them for an interview. The next applicant they look at is first gen/very low-income with a 3.8+ gpa, 517 MCAT, good public undergrad, good ECs. The latter may be more rare than the former and traveled a "greater distance". Do they have data/tools to compare fairly or are they using their own judgements to see who deserves an interview?

Also does the same reviewer read these apps or are their specific reviewers for Low-SES/disadvantaged/URM applicants?

Do adcoms sometimes consciously know they're not being "equitable " when comparing candidates across different backgrounds but do it anyway in favor of their class goals.
The answer you're looking for is both school-specific and reviewer-dependent. Schools use different methods to distribute applications for review. The extent in which an applicant's upbringing is factored into their evaluation will depend on each reviewers' priorities and preferences.

As an example, I adjust for both EO1 and socioeconomically disadvantaged status, whereas another reviewer within my school's admissions committee may judge an application solely on its achievements without much regard to the fact that low-income applicants do not have the luxury of volunteering hundreds if not thousand(s) of hours as a unpaid research assistant or leader of various organizations, etc. Some of the achievements we see are only made possible by not needing to work while still having complete financial stability.

Just my thoughts.
 
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LizzyM

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There may be some institution-wide attempt to assess the "distance traveled" and to give a boost to those students who needed and had the grit to get where they are while others reached a similar position by winning the parents lottery.
 
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Zuggelder

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There may be some institution-wide attempt to assess the "distance traveled" and to give a boost to those students who needed and had the grit to get where they are while others reached a similar position by winning the parents lottery.

Yes, but how would that be done uniformly and equitably across ALL applications? It would concern me if adcoms don’t have a standardized process for evaluating this, which appears to be occurring at @Moko’s school, and application reviews are based on the individual whims of the reviewer.
 

gyngyn

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All reviewers and committee members at our school are trained on the effects of SES on outcomes. They are expected to take this into consideration in the admissions process. As this is a stated expectation of service, anyone unable or unwilling to do so is asked to step down.
Applicants are not compared to each other. They are each evaluated independently.
 
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Goro

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Yes, but how would that be done uniformly and equitably across ALL applications? It would concern me if adcoms don’t have a standardized process for evaluating this, which appears to be occurring at @Moko’s school, and application reviews are based on the individual whims of the reviewer.
With 180 medical schools in the USA, you're not going to get a standardized process.
 
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KnightDoc

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With 180 medical schools in the USA, you're not going to get a standardized process.
Right -- the question is whether it is even standardized at any individual school. My sense is that the answer is still no, and the schools never claimed otherwise.
 

LizzyM

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Right -- the question is whether it is even standardized at any individual school. My sense is that the answer is still no, and the schools never claimed otherwise.
Much of what happens in a holistic review is qualitative and results in a narrative written by a reviewer in response to a prompt. One prompt for reviewers can be "other circumstances taken into consideration when making this recommendation" and the special circumstances can include low SES, single parent household, rural upbringing, foster care, etc.
 
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KnightDoc

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Much of what happens in a holistic review is qualitative and results in a narrative written by a reviewer in response to a prompt. One prompt for reviewers can be "other circumstances taken into consideration when making this recommendation" and the special circumstances can include low SES, single parent household, rural upbringing, foster care, etc.
This is pretty much what I thought, as expressed in my post above (and below! :)):

I'm not an adcom, but my understanding, after studying this for a few years, is that there is no representation that adcoms will be "equitable," either consciously or unconsciously. Their task is to build a diverse, well qualified class, and their "holistic" review of everyone is performed with that in mind. Every application is reviewed on its own merits, and there is no effort to normalize a high-SES applicant to a low-SES one.

Hopefully the experts will confirm or deny my understanding. @gyngyn @LizzyM @Goro @gonnif ?
 
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