My thoughts on the medical school admissions process...

Oct 20, 2013
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We are all familiar with the criteria that medical schools use to evaluate prospective students. Students are expected to excel or at least be proficient in each of these areas to be granted an interview. Doing so is supposed to show that you, as a pre-med, are capable of handling the tough coursework that will be thrown at you during medical school. The truth is, while success in the above factors does make for a successful medical student, it also implicitly suggests something else: that the student is well off.

I took an entire summer off to study for the MCAT. I did practically nothing but study from May until the beginning of August, yet I still did not feel ready to take my MCAT in September. I ended up taking another month and a half (from December to January) to study to really ace the MCAT. Additionally, to boost my application, I spent about 4 weeks in total shadowing doctors, and another 10-15 hours a week as an unpaid research assistant throughout the first three years of my college career. Thankfully, I was able to do this because I received a full scholarship to my state school.

I was fortunate enough to gain admission to my medical school of choice very early in the application season; however, many students aren't so lucky. Many students are wait-listed or are rejected point-blank from every school they apply to. Faced with rejection, many students pursue other interests. If I were to not get accepted this cycle, I believe I would join the ranks of students who pursue other interests. Why? While I would like to take a year off to boost my application and retake the MCAT, the truth is, I lack the resources to provide for myself in that gap year.

However, the students who do have the resources to take a gap year fully take advantage of those resources. They spend months doing research (often for free). They spend thousands of dollars on outreach trips abroad. They spend thousands on expensive MCAT review courses. And then, when the reapply in the following cycle, they are accepted. It's been shown that students who take a year off have a substantially higher chance of getting accepted into medical school. This is expected to be the obvious result - if a student has an additional year (that's 25% longer than the average college student who graduates in 4 years) to boost their application - they're bound to at least marginally increase their chances). As a result of this, many of these privileged pre-meds get into medical school.

The question that I ask is this: if those students who did not get accepted from medical school had the resources to go on lavish medical missions in Guatemala or to enroll in expensive Kaplan MCAT preparatory classes, would they have gotten accepted to medical school? How much of a factor did Daddy's money have on a given privileged kid gaining admission?

I believe money plays a tremendous factor. As a recently admitted student, I feel surrounded by students who are sons or daughters of to-do medical professionals, researchers, lawyers, etc. I would go so far as to say that more than half of my future classmates I have met so far come from households with income in the top 5% of society.

For example, I received a phone call from my med school "peer mentor". He was a third year medical student who gave me a call congratulating me on gaining acceptance, and told me that he was here for me had I any questions for him, etc. I asked him questions about the curriculum and the environment, to which he gave excellent and helpful responses. However, the moment I asked him about FAFSA - the free application for federal student aid - he told me frankly that he was "fortunate enough that family could cover the cost of attendance." He then offered to put me in touch with on the financial aid officers that the school had hired. I politely refused his offer. When I probed him about his place of residence, the response was similar. He had no idea about anything - he was living in a $1200/month studio apartment fully paid for by daddy. I knew then that he was in a total state of disconnect. He simply didn't see money the same way as the rest of us did.

There's something wrong with this picture. Isn't America supposed to be a country where upward mobility is encouraged? What exactly does the American dream promise? Why is it that the bulk of America's future doctors are rich, spoiled, disconnected people? How can this generation of people be taught to empathize with and care for those who have nothing when they themselves have unfairly snatched admission by flashing their store-bought resumes to the admissions staff?

As a senior who has been talking to pre-med students for my entire college career, I know the tell-tale signs of a pre-med who isn't going to make it. Do they have to take a part-time job so they can pay the bills? Probably not going to be able to afford the time to work in a research lab for free 10-15 hours a week. Definitely not going be able to afford a KAPLAN test prep course. Can't take classes over the summer because their scholarship doesn't cover it? Probably not going to be able to take all of the classes they need to take to take their MCAT on time (during junior year).

Now, there are the few students who do make it despite coming from a middle-class family. These are often your extremely hard-workers. Other middle-class students are simply lucky. Perhaps they went to a great high school which prepared them well and they were able to secure a scholarship, or a paid internship, etc. And of course, there are hard-working and intelligent students who come from well to-do families who deserve their admission to medical school.

But the majority of applicants are neither extremely hard-working nor extremely intelligent. They are simply your run-of-the-mill applicant. And for those applicants who are struggling to stand out amongst their peers, a lot of cash goes a long way. Ten hours a week of research instead of waiting tables is not only going to make them more competitive, but it's also going to make them smarter and more capable.

Sure, you might say that medical school committees often take note when students are having to support themselves through school and give them extra consideration when making admissions decisions, but the number of students admitted through such means is few and far between. The standard that medical schools set for admission can only be afforded by the children of the top 5-10% of society. If medical schools wanted to truly create an admissions process that is more conscious of socioeconomic barriers, then the medical schools would have already done so. But that is not the priority. So long as the AMA and the medical schools are able to produce capable physicians, they are content.

I didn't write this piece with the hope of inciting a rebellion. I wrote this as a reflective piece based on my personal experience. Next time you hear news of a young student gaining acceptance to medical student on his second, third, or fourth try, I hope you view his story as more than one of perseverance and indomitable spirit. I see that acceptance more as a credit to his parents' success in providing the best opportunities for their child.
 

Elevencents

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To answer your question (I didn't read the whole post), I don't think money plays a factor in med school admissions. I am a non-trad that has had to support myself for the last 15 years with no parental support. I didn't take an MCAT class, I bought used books for a couple hundred books. Aside from work and school I still found time to do research and volunteer. Motivation, work ethic and time management are much more important factors than monetary support.
 

Doctor Strange

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People with money have an advantage in the world? Shock of the century.

In b4 class warfare.
 
OP
Distinct
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To answer your question (I didn't read the whole post), I don't think money plays a factor in med school admissions. I am a non-trad that has had to support myself for the last 15 years with no parental support. I didn't take an MCAT class, I bought used books for a couple hundred books. Aside from work and school I still found time to do research and volunteer. Motivation, work ethic and time management are much more important factors than monetary support.
I'm not saying that money plays a direct role in med school admissions. It's not like admissions staff will look at a rich applicant and accept him simply because he's got money.

Rich students who get to medical school are no doubt exceptional people. It's just that the whole admissions process seems heavily skewed in their favor. Lots of family support, expensive private schooling, overseas trips, living expenses taken care of, etc. definitely make it easier to find time to do research and volunteer. I'm saying that if you control for motivation/work ethic/time management, acceptance would be steeply correlated with wealth.
 
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mcloaf

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I'm saying that if you control for motivation/work ethic/time management, acceptance would be steeply correlated with wealth.
I'd agree with this, but I think this is a much more measured statement than your OP.
 
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darkjedi

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Money surely helps, but it is by no means a free pass, nor is having money the only way of getting into medical school. I didn't have any lavish medical tourism trips, studied for the MCAT on my own, and worked full time as a researcher. It is certainly obtainable through a lot of hard work if you are not 'privileged'.

There is definitely an argument to be had over whether impoverished students have the same chances, but being a middle class kid by no means holds you back.
 

ponyo

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To answer your question (I didn't read the whole post), I don't think money plays a factor in med school admissions. I am a non-trad that has had to support myself for the last 15 years with no parental support. I didn't take an MCAT class, I bought used books for a couple hundred books. Aside from work and school I still found time to do research and volunteer. Motivation, work ethic and time management are much more important factors than monetary support.
I have a similar story as you--I've been financially independent for the majority of my life, partially thanks to generous alums who contribute to scholarships/financial aid funds and partially because I've worked quite a lot on my own time. I also didn't take an MCAT class, and think that I have greatly helped myself by staying focused and having good work ethic. And I agree with your last statement--that motivation, work ethic, and time management are much more important factors than monetary support.

But it does not follow that money/one's family background is therefore not an important factor in success. You have been able to succeed despite your circumstances, but you still faced more barriers compared to students from better backgrounds. It might be true that neither of us needed an MCAT class, but plenty of people benefit from them. You might have had the psychological stability during puberty to support yourself financially while staying focused in school, but that is not the case with every teen. Maybe you got money from your undergrad school like I did, but both of us could have had to go to a worse school for financial reasons. Ultimately, having a well-off family can help a student navigate many of those types of hurdles along the road, and all-else-held-equal it is certainly an advantage.

And it doesn't stop at the medical school admissions part. Suppose you get into your dream top-tier school and you take out a big loan. Do you really feel like you wouldn't do better without the debt? If you have children but not the money to pay for their nanny, wouldn't your academics suffer? Wouldn't it be nice if you could be focused on your career, at times, instead of worrying about the heat bill or how to afford presents for your loved ones or whether to choose a ****tier health insurance option?

I think ultimately, the one-in-a-thousand success story, the one about whom the American dream is written, will triumph regardless of how many hurdles you throw at her. Maybe you are one of those stories. And a truly incompetent/unmotivated rich person may not make it through the process no matter how many dollars the parents burn on tutors. But for most of the applicants, the ones who are mostly intelligent and mostly hard-working, who sometimes falter and need help, I think money is not a small matter.
 

turayza

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@Distinct US' social mobility is one of the lowest among wealthy, developed countries. Family background plays a large role in having the resources to prepare for medical school. It plays a role in gaining access to post-secondary education, and even making it to the end of high school. That aside, there are plenty of middle-class students who aim for medical school and don't make it because they don't work as hard and don't sacrifice as much as their peers who do make it.
 

ohioguy

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No doubt money helps…the rich kids get the best schooling, the most resources, grow up to value education, etc.

Most of my class (their family) seems to be pretty well off…. not surprising.

However, my family (single parent and sibling) has lived on welfare, depended on donations to pay for schooling, and the like. Now in med school, a needs based scholarship pays for most of my education.

I hate to get all conservative but with enough hard work and the correct mindset it is possible (though probably not likely) to achieve what you want in this country and be taken care of.
 
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OP
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Money surely helps, but it is by no means a free pass, nor is having money the only way of getting into medical school. I didn't have any lavish medical tourism trips, studied for the MCAT on my own, and worked full time as a researcher. It is certainly obtainable through a lot of hard work if you are not 'privileged'.

There is definitely an argument to be had over whether impoverished students have the same chances, but being a middle class kid by no means holds you back.
But that's precisely the problem. Medicine shouldn't be something that's "obtainable" for the rich (applying broadly over multiple application cycles) and something that is "obtainable through a lot of hard work" for the middle/lower classes. I kid you not, about HALF of the students I know who are MS1s at the medical school I'm about to attend have their medical education completely paid for by their parents. Is it fair that 50% of the medical students come from the richest 5% of families and the remaining 50% come from the bottom 95% of families?

/frustrated middle class

Edit: left out some words
 
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Yeah, the number of rich kids in my class does make me more jealous than I would ever care to admit. I swear it feels like almost everyone has at least 1 doctor as a parent. Oh well, my kids will have the same advantage 25-30 years from now, their less privileged classmates will complain, and the circle will continue.

Middle class and below ORM's have it the worst in medicine. URM's get scholarships with below average stats, and upper class kids get their education paid for by parents.
 
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Espadaleader

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Everybody cut the crap with studying for
the MCAT by yourself. Most people don't.

Second. Money matters a lot. Applying, interviews, classes etc.

Medical admissions are skewed.
 

Mad Jack

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We are all familiar with the criteria that medical schools use to evaluate prospective students. Students are expected to excel or at least be proficient in each of these areas to be granted an interview. Doing so is supposed to show that you, as a pre-med, are capable of handling the tough coursework that will be thrown at you during medical school. The truth is, while success in the above factors does make for a successful medical student, it also implicitly suggests something else: that the student is well off.

I took an entire summer off to study for the MCAT. I did practically nothing but study from May until the beginning of August, yet I still did not feel ready to take my MCAT in September. I ended up taking another month and a half (from December to January) to study to really ace the MCAT. Additionally, to boost my application, I spent about 4 weeks in total shadowing doctors, and another 10-15 hours a week as an unpaid research assistant throughout the first three years of my college career. Thankfully, I was able to do this because I received a full scholarship to my state school.

I was fortunate enough to gain admission to my medical school of choice very early in the application season; however, many students aren't so lucky. Many students are wait-listed or are rejected point-blank from every school they apply to. Faced with rejection, many students pursue other interests. If I were to not get accepted this cycle, I believe I would join the ranks of students who pursue other interests. Why? While I would like to take a year off to boost my application and retake the MCAT, the truth is, I lack the resources to provide for myself in that gap year.

However, the students who do have the resources to take a gap year fully take advantage of those resources. They spend months doing research (often for free). They spend thousands of dollars on outreach trips abroad. They spend thousands on expensive MCAT review courses. And then, when the reapply in the following cycle, they are accepted. It's been shown that students who take a year off have a substantially higher chance of getting accepted into medical school. This is expected to be the obvious result - if a student has an additional year (that's 25% longer than the average college student who graduates in 4 years) to boost their application - they're bound to at least marginally increase their chances). As a result of this, many of these privileged pre-meds get into medical school.

The question that I ask is this: if those students who did not get accepted from medical school had the resources to go on lavish medical missions in Guatemala or to enroll in expensive Kaplan MCAT preparatory classes, would they have gotten accepted to medical school? How much of a factor did Daddy's money have on a given privileged kid gaining admission?

I believe money plays a tremendous factor. As a recently admitted student, I feel surrounded by students who are sons or daughters of to-do medical professionals, researchers, lawyers, etc. I would go so far as to say that more than half of my future classmates I have met so far come from households with income in the top 5% of society.

For example, I received a phone call from my med school "peer mentor". He was a third year medical student who gave me a call congratulating me on gaining acceptance, and told me that he was here for me had I any questions for him, etc. I asked him questions about the curriculum and the environment, to which he gave excellent and helpful responses. However, the moment I asked him about FAFSA - the free application for federal student aid - he told me frankly that he was "fortunate enough that family could cover the cost of attendance." He then offered to put me in touch with on the financial aid officers that the school had hired. I politely refused his offer. When I probed him about his place of residence, the response was similar. He had no idea about anything - he was living in a $1200/month studio apartment fully paid for by daddy. I knew then that he was in a total state of disconnect. He simply didn't see money the same way as the rest of us did.

There's something wrong with this picture. Isn't America supposed to be a country where upward mobility is encouraged? What exactly does the American dream promise? Why is it that the bulk of America's future doctors are rich, spoiled, disconnected people? How can this generation of people be taught to empathize with and care for those who have nothing when they themselves have unfairly snatched admission by flashing their store-bought resumes to the admissions staff?

As a senior who has been talking to pre-med students for my entire college career, I know the tell-tale signs of a pre-med who isn't going to make it. Do they have to take a part-time job so they can pay the bills? Probably not going to be able to afford the time to work in a research lab for free 10-15 hours a week. Definitely not going be able to afford a KAPLAN test prep course. Can't take classes over the summer because their scholarship doesn't cover it? Probably not going to be able to take all of the classes they need to take to take their MCAT on time (during junior year).

Now, there are the few students who do make it despite coming from a middle-class family. These are often your extremely hard-workers. Other middle-class students are simply lucky. Perhaps they went to a great high school which prepared them well and they were able to secure a scholarship, or a paid internship, etc. And of course, there are hard-working and intelligent students who come from well to-do families who deserve their admission to medical school.

But the majority of applicants are neither extremely hard-working nor extremely intelligent. They are simply your run-of-the-mill applicant. And for those applicants who are struggling to stand out amongst their peers, a lot of cash goes a long way. Ten hours a week of research instead of waiting tables is not only going to make them more competitive, but it's also going to make them smarter and more capable.

Sure, you might say that medical school committees often take note when students are having to support themselves through school and give them extra consideration when making admissions decisions, but the number of students admitted through such means is few and far between. The standard that medical schools set for admission can only be afforded by the children of the top 5-10% of society. If medical schools wanted to truly create an admissions process that is more conscious of socioeconomic barriers, then the medical schools would have already done so. But that is not the priority. So long as the AMA and the medical schools are able to produce capable physicians, they are content.

I didn't write this piece with the hope of inciting a rebellion. I wrote this as a reflective piece based on my personal experience. Next time you hear news of a young student gaining acceptance to medical student on his second, third, or fourth try, I hope you view his story as more than one of perseverance and indomitable spirit. I see that acceptance more as a credit to his parents' success in providing the best opportunities for their child.
I find it interesting that you believe that those attaining their admission after multiple years of rejection must be somehow supported by their parents. Many of the people that I have known who have gone that route just worked ordinary jobs on their gap year, volunteered, studied for an MCAT retake, and shadowed in their spare time. Most used the money they earned from their day job to pay for the next admission cycle. If anything, I feel like a gap year is more likely to benefit someone who had less resources in medical school, because this is the first time in their life that they have an opportunity to earn a substantial income of their own. How is a poor/lower middle class kid going to afford to take the MCAT, pay for an app cycle, and travel to interviews if their parents cannot afford to toss them some cash? The only option for such students is often the gap year.

A big problem is that there is no way for wealth to be removed from the equation without arbitrarily discriminating against a group of people for factors that they cannot control. What would you have committees do, expect more of the wealthy kids than they do of the poor because the wealthy can afford to do more? Even if we through out arbitrary extracurriculars, the wealthy would still be at an advantage, as they would be able to afford top-notch tutoring and MCAT preparation, and would not have to work during school. They could admit only a certain number of students from each socioeconomic strata, but then you would end up selecting physicians that might not be as capable as simply selecting the best of the overall pool, thus doing a disservice to society by providing less adept physicians in exchange for increased student socioecomonic diversity.

There is no easy way to make admissions fair, but life isn't fair. Take it from a guy who had pretty much no support through college that had to work full time for the bulk of it just so I would have a roof over my head and not starve. If you're upset about it, once you become a physician, establish a scholarship for middle class kids to help give the hard-up ones a boost, or mentor some premeds and med students that are lacking support resources that really need it. That's what I plan to do someday. The system will probably never change, so if you really care about the issue, pay it forward and do what you can to help those that need it get through the meat grinder that is medical education. You can't change the fact that wealth buys a massive advantage in just about anything one does in life, but you can make a difference in the life of someone who has it just as bad as you did or worse.
 

ponyo

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But that's precisely the problem. Medicine shouldn't be something that's "obtainable" for the rich (applying broadly over multiple application cycles) and something that is "obtainable through a lot of hard work" for the middle/lower classes. I kid you not, about HALF of the students I know who are MS1s at the medical school I'm about to attend have their medical education completely paid for by their parents. Is it fair that 50% of the medical students come from the richest 5% of families and the remaining 50% come from the bottom 95% of families?

/frustrated middle class

Edit: left out some words
Exactly...

What frustrates me more is that sometimes people who feel like they "started from the bottom" believe that because they've made it, those who weren't able to make it are somehow lazier--I know this because I used to feel this way. Just because some of us have done relatively well despite our situations doesn't mean we can't recognize that the system remains flawed.

Feeling like you should get a leg up because you're not super rich is also a sense of entitlement. Life is unfair. You deal with it.
Life is unfair, therefore we should try to make it less so. The world has radically changed, even in the last few decades. There are more scholarships, more mentorship opportunities, more educational programmes than there had ever been before. The fact that people like OP remain dissatisfied is a good thing, because it stops us from being complacent.

There is no easy way to make admissions fair, but life isn't fair. Take it from a guy who had pretty much no support through college that had to work full time for the bulk of it just so I would have a roof over my head and not starve. If you're upset about it, once you become a physician, establish a scholarship for middle class kids to help give the hard-up ones a boost, or mentor some premeds and med students that are lacking support resources that really need it. That's what I plan to do someday. The system will probably never change, so if you really care about the issue, pay it forward and do what you can to help those that need it get through the meat grinder that is medical education. You can't change the fact that wealth buys a massive advantage in just about anything one does in life, but you can make a difference in the life of someone who has it just as bad as you did or worse.
I think the system has changed a lot, actually, and it is precisely due to people who felt the same way as you said and tried to make a difference. There are countries that are much more mobile socially and I think they provide a point to which we can aspire.
 
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Mad Jack

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Everybody cut the crap with studying for
the MCAT by yourself. Most people don't.

Second. Money matters a lot. Applying, interviews, classes etc.

Medical admissions are skewed.
Studied for the MCAT on my own. Scored a balanced mid-30s score (mix of 11s and 12s) after studying for 6 weeks. Prep courses are nowhere near as necessary as everyone makes them out to be, but people think that just because everyone else does them (85% of students use formal MCAT preparation services, last I checked), that if you don't, you'll be at a horrible disadvantage. I've looked over the materials from classmates and felt that the courses are not focused properly, and really do a poor job of individualizing student preparation. By creating your own study plan, you can focus on your weaknesses and brush up on your strengths, rather than going through some cookie cutter course that focuses on the entire test and takes so long that by the end of it, you've probably forgotten the basic stuff you covered at the beginning. I wouldn't say the MCAT prep industry is a scam, but it's pretty damn close. Probably only half of those that attend actually need to, the rest could just do with some review books.
 
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lobo.solo

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Applicants' SES and family's background for sure plays a role. But this is not unique to medicine. Having plenty of resources and a good network of people gives upper middle class applicants an edge when applying. I think there are a couple of things that mitigate this a bit like FAP, scholarships to low-income, etc. but this is late in the game. Most of the poor students who wanted to become a doctor get weeded it out before applying. I realize this early in my journey and had to plan really well how to tackle these obstacles. Personally, it makes it more meaningful to me to have an acceptance now, since I had to struggle and overcome many things. Something that I plan to do through med school and my career is to mentor students in their pursuit of a career in medicine. I will put my efforts to those with few resources and who come from humble backgrounds. This problem you pose OP is a systemic problem that requires a complex systemic solution... The only thing we can do is to advocate for change and to help as much as we can to those who are at a disadvantage early in the game.
 
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jeghaber

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I was pointing out a reality: life is unfair and you sometimes, unfortunately, have to deal with it. I wasn't saying that it was right. Dissatisfaction with unjustness is good, but I just don't think rants are that productive either.
 
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nemo123

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But it does not follow that money/one's family background is therefore not an important factor in success. You have been able to succeed despite your circumstances, but you still faced more barriers compared to students from better backgrounds. It might be true that neither of us needed an MCAT class, but plenty of people benefit from them. You might have had the psychological stability during puberty to support yourself financially while staying focused in school, but that is not the case with every teen. Maybe you got money from your undergrad school like I did, but both of us could have had to go to a worse school for financial reasons. Ultimately, having a well-off family can help a student navigate many of those types of hurdles along the road, and all-else-held-equal it is certainly an advantage.
This. I know someone who didn't do that well in college and complained all the time that she nothing worked for her in college and that she couldn't go to med school anymore because she was poor and she blamed it on her parents all the time. I felt bad for her, but at the time same time, it's the people who come out of the adversity they face and are able to achieve their goals despite the barriers they face that make them truly inspirational and exceptional people.
 
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OP
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I find it interesting that you believe that those attaining their admission after multiple years of rejection must be somehow supported by their parents. Many of the people that I have known who have gone that route just worked ordinary jobs on their gap year, volunteered, studied for an MCAT retake, and shadowed in their spare time. Most used the money they earned from their day job to pay for the next admission cycle. If anything, I feel like a gap year is more likely to benefit someone who had less resources in medical school, because this is the first time in their life that they have an opportunity to earn a substantial income of their own. How is a poor/lower middle class kid going to afford to take the MCAT, pay for an app cycle, and travel to interviews if their parents cannot afford to toss them some cash? The only option for such students is often the gap year.

A big problem is that there is no way for wealth to be removed from the equation without arbitrarily discriminating against a group of people for factors that they cannot control. What would you have committees do, expect more of the wealthy kids than they do of the poor because the wealthy can afford to do more? Even if we through out arbitrary extracurriculars, the wealthy would still be at an advantage, as they would be able to afford top-notch tutoring and MCAT preparation, and would not have to work during school. They could admit only a certain number of students from each socioeconomic strata, but then you would end up selecting physicians that might not be as capable as simply selecting the best of the overall pool, thus doing a disservice to society by providing less adept physicians in exchange for increased student socioecomonic diversity.

There is no easy way to make admissions fair, but life isn't fair. Take it from a guy who had pretty much no support through college that had to work full time for the bulk of it just so I would have a roof over my head and not starve. If you're upset about it, once you become a physician, establish a scholarship for middle class kids to help give the hard-up ones a boost, or mentor some premeds and med students that are lacking support resources that really need it. That's what I plan to do someday. The system will probably never change, so if you really care about the issue, pay it forward and do what you can to help those that need it get through the meat grinder that is medical education. You can't change the fact that wealth buys a massive advantage in just about anything one does in life, but you can make a difference in the life of someone who has it just as bad as you did or worse.
I speak from my own experience. It's purely anecdotal. It's entirely possible that there are a lot of middle-class students who take advantage of a gap year. It just seems a little difficult to be able to secure a job right out of graduation in the economy. In addition, it's got to be a job that'll pay enough to support day-to-day as well pay for the next application cycle. It's got to be a job that's flexible enough to give you time off when you need to drive / fly to your interviews.

I agree that a gap year will help middle-class students. It will help all students, actually. But I still believe that the rich benefit more. Consider a scenario where two students have the exact same resume upon graduation from university. The student with a fully paid year off will be able to do a lot more to boost their application - undeniably.
 
May 15, 2010
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Alright, so I will give a counterpoint/counterexample to everyone.

Background. I am poor as possible, enough so that I did not receive any time of help from my parents (the several hundred dollars given to me is trumped by the material contributions I have made at home, my parents both have different mental illnesses. (My dad actually has such a serious case of schizophrenia he tried to kill me/ I had PTSD related nightmares for years as a result.)

The good news: First year I was able to receive a full ride at Michigan; academic/ financial aid. Next three years was able to pay my way by working/ financial aid. (I would not have went to Michigan and chose a pure academic scholarship had I not been so dirt poor.)

MCAT: I self studied. Paid 80-85 dollars for books and practice exams ( 1 verbal book/ MCAT practice test 11). I have supported myself (not asked for money from my parents since I was 18) so I realized that in lieu of buying books spending time studying be optimal. I got a 35 after studying for 5 weeks full time.

Did I get into MD medical school this cycle? Yes 2 thus far

Did I have to work a butt load during undergrad, yes. Do I think I may have gotten into a better medical(s) school if I did not have to worry about money all the time? Yes.

The only downside:I can't even articulate how ****ty I had it to medical schools and chose to purposely avoid mentioning the more unbelievable aspects of my upbringing/ family history (aka only mentioned how my fathers illness inspired me to pursue medicine in my personal statement). Therefore I was able to get into medical school as a white kid with a good GPA/MCAT despite the fact that I couldn't have come from a humbler background.

That being said there are a few reasons my case of poverty was not blighting.
1. I went to a public magnet high school that prepared me for college.
2. I had an excellent peer group throughout high school and college that gave me the social capital to realize how to be successful academically that my parents were not able to provide.
3. Some awesome people donated to help poor kids like myself attend the awesome college that is U of M.
4. I developed a positive philosophy which for me happened to be God-centered

PM me if you need advice on dealing with any issues mentioned in this thread. Don't let comparing yourself to others, especially the wealthy who you think have it easy and the inevitable jealousy hinder you in any way. American social mobility is not a myth... not as long as there are people who care to make to sure that opportunity is available for everyone. I don't actively use this forum so if you don't PM me int he next week or so you run the risk of me never seeing your message.
 

darkjedi

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Everybody cut the crap with studying for
the MCAT by yourself. Most people don't.

Second. Money matters a lot. Applying, interviews, classes etc.

Medical admissions are skewed.
why are you still listed as fellow

90% of my postbac self studied for the MCAT

I almost taught for an MCAT course. There is nothing not much value added to a prep course that most people cannot do on their own.

But that's precisely the problem. Medicine shouldn't be something that's "obtainable" for the rich (applying broadly over multiple application cycles) and something that is "obtainable through a lot of hard work" for the middle/lower classes. I kid you not, about HALF of the students I know who are MS1s at the medical school I'm about to attend have their medical education completely paid for by their parents. Is it fair that 50% of the medical students come from the richest 5% of families and the remaining 50% come from the bottom 95% of families?

/frustrated middle class

Edit: left out some words
Honestly that's the case for most 'prestigious' and highly paid industries. It's probably even worse in business/finance because connections are everything. Medicine is probably most immune since there is a strong component of hardwork and intelligence that actually goes into selection.
 
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Syndicate

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Honestly that's the case for most 'prestigious' and highly paid industries. It's probably even worse in business/finance because connections are everything. Medicine is probably most immune since there is a strong component of hardwork and intelligence that actually goes into selection.
This is very true.
 
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ponyo

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This. I know someone who didn't do that well in college and complained all the time that she nothing worked for her in college and that she couldn't go to med school anymore because she was poor and she blamed it on her parents all the time. I felt bad for her, but at the time same time, it's the people who come out of the adversity they face and are able to achieve their goals despite the barriers they face that make them truly inspirational and exceptional people.
I think it comes down to this: From a systemic, statistical perspective, the odds were against her on this one factor, all else held equal. But from an individual perspective, all else is not equal and bad odds do not mean you should give up and stop advocating for yourself and blame it on the system.

It is the same as the gender/race issue. If I ever have a daughter, I'll tell her that the world has its flaws and things like the glass ceiling and sexual harassment and so forth exist and probably will exist for a while. But she, as an individual, can be anything she wants to be. Those possibilities are not off-limits to her as an individual person.
 
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circulus vitios

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I know exactly how you feel. The process is absolutely ridiculous and with every new iteration of 'improvement' -- requiring additional coursework for the 2015 MCAT, requiring more research experience and volunteering, etc. -- it's only going to get worse.

Some fun facts:

Median parental income was $113k for 2011. Source: page 1 from https://www.aamc.org/download/269322/data/msq2011.pdf According to the US Census Bureau, this is easily 80th percentile household income.

The majority of medical student fathers have a graduate degree while the majority of medical student mothers have a bachelors degree.

20% of medical student fathers have no college degree, 28% have a bachelors degree, 52% have a graduate degree.
25% of medical student mothers have no college degree, 41% have a bachelors degree, 35% have a graduate degree.
Compare this to the national average:

69% of men have no college degree, 19% have a bachelors degree, 12% have a graduate degree.
70% of women have no college degree, 19% have a bachelors degree, 10% have a graduate degree.
(Data from 2008.) Source: Last page from https://www.aamc.org/download/142770/data/aibvol9_no10.pdf

I can't find anything on physician parents, but this study says 16.5% of 3777 interviewed medical students have at least one parent who is a parent. https://www.aamc.org/download/264914/data/3-medicalstudentcareerchoice.pdf
 

SunsFun

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Feeling like you should get a leg up because you're not super rich is also a sense of entitlement. Life is unfair.
What if you feel that having doctor parents/super rich family should put people at a disadvantage?

I mean I had to cold call at least 20 different docs to find a few who would be willing to have me come in and shadow for a day. My friend whose dad is a doctor can just go to her dads colleagues and ask for the best rec letters possible without even shadowing.

Let's not also forget about all of the extra tutoring, help, positive push that those kids get starting as toddlers. They know that they want to be doctors before poor kids see a doctor for a first time in their lives.
 

DokterMom

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You bring up some very valid points; but I do think you overstate the importance of family money. I'd argue that it's family education and support in the general sense rather than strictly financial support that provides the outsized advantage to students from professional-class families.

You had a scholarship to your state school. As the child of affluent parents, this was not an option for me, so I had to work (3 jobs) to help pay my own way. (Mom & Dad did cover a lot of it, but so did I) But I also knew that having those jobs would help me in other ways -- building a base of relevant (if low level) experience in my field, networking, demonstrating that I wasn't just some privileged 'trust fund baby'. Working was absolutely a net plus for me, even though it did take time from my studies.

Test prep from prep books, free online sources, and practice tests was all I ever used to study from. But what really helped were the critical thinking skills I learned at home, the intelligent conversations with intelligent adults about substantive topics, and the good habits of reading stuff that was worth reading rather than wasting my time in front of the TV or gaming. Learning a second language was also incredibly helpful. Words you don't know in English are very often similar to words in another language, giving you an edge up on vocabulary-based texts. Standardized tests are very heavily biased in favor of young people from well-educated, native-English-speaking households.

But where my family really helped, was in innately understanding "the System" -- the college selection and admissions process, the importance of demonstrating not just excellent academics, but also the kinds of personal and character attributes that a school / employer / spouse will be looking for. They knew that a well-rounded, high-stat student with initiative and a 'hook' story (some interesting talent, hobby or life experience) was a much more attractive applicant than a marginally-higher -stat 'robo-student' who had no life and might crack under pressure.

True, I'm older. But I think all of these experiences still hold true. Kaplan can't teach critical thinking or innate reading comprehension that grasps the finer distinctions between 'can, often, usually and does'. And those expensive medical mission trips? Maybe the first few were interesting, but they've LONG been known as 'medically themed tourist/vacations' paid for by wealthy parents to 'checkbox' their kids. True, you're missing a fun and potentially enriching personal experience, but you can get a lot more 'admissions mileage' from volunteering in a low-prestige needy American free clinic. Or from donating your time and skills to Habitat for Humanity. Or tutoring low-income or developmentally disabled kids.

Middle class and below ORM's have it the worst in medicine.
True. But how do you fix that?

Most of the poor students who wanted to become a doctor get weeded it out before applying.
Also True. They often get weeded out before even applying to college since they (wrongly) believe they won't get considered seriously or that the most prestigious colleges are out of reach financially. The Ivies are often some of the most affordable colleges for poor kids because they have such substantial endowments that they can afford to be 'need blind' in admissions.


The upshot is that yes, the system is biased in favor of the wealthy, the well-educated, the more attractive, the fit and the skinny.
But that with enough planning, hard-work, perseverance and talent, (not to mention a positive attitude) the less fortunate can work their way up the SES ladder and get a shot.
 
Aug 24, 2013
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I don't know how true this is, but there was a story I heard about how students that have parents who have graduate degrees are expected to have higher grades and MCAT scores. This came from a student who was interviewing at a school, and they asked why his grades and MCAT were just average, and that they expected him to be higher achieving, because his parents have graduate degrees. He ended up getting rejected from said school, which he thinks was due to this fact.

Although I don't know the validity of it, it does make a good point. I mean it makes sense that students who have easier lives could be expected to do better at things. But, this could just be the work of a rogue interviewer.
 

compstomper

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As a first generation college graduate and first generation immigrant growing up on the wrong side of town, I know exactly how it feels like to be the underdog in the admissions process. Yet through hard work and sheer grit, I pulled through and have 7 acceptances so far.

The problem I have with the admissions process is that medical schools and institutes of higher education seem to only pays lip service to the concept of diversity. Having been through the admissions process and met numerous MD candidates as well as medical students, the impression I had was that schools were interested in matriculating a class of highly diverse (racially, culturally, ethnically), highly affluent students. One only has to look at the AAMC data provided by circulus vitios to see that the average MD student grew up in families with household incomes of $113,000, more than 2x the national average for household incomes.

Contrast the data regarding the typical medical student with the stated commitment to diversity in medical school mission statements, and it's not difficult to see the various internal contradictions in current medical admissions policies.
 

SunsFun

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I took all of my prerequisite courses except for one, at community college, precisely because I wasn’t “well off”. See my signature to find out if that worked out for me or not.


I worked full time while I studied for the MCAT – I studied over the course of 8 months. I grew up in a working-class home, and this fostered discipline from an early age, to work hard for the things you want, because no one is going to hand them to you. Most people in the position you think you are defending also realize this.



It’s called “get a job.” You have a college education? Chances are there is an employer somewhere that won’t regard you entirely useless or easily replaceable. I postponed applying to medical school to work and support myself through the preparation process.



I worked in a restaurant full time and volunteered in a lab part time until the lab decided to hire me. This went on for about 7 months. No social life, but in the end, I was hired and paid a relatively substantial salary.




I didn’t take an MCAT class. I bought some books, but I also had a JOB that I EARNED for my good will, and I was able to buy the “expensive” books. In the grand scheme of things, those books were an investment in my future. I perhaps spent no more than $700 total.



You must be a fool, to think the most privileged need to take a year off to improve their application. I didn’t have any money to apply when I was ready to graduate, and neither did “mommy and daddy”.




Lavish? I seriously suggest you keep these comments to yourself once you’ve started medical school. For the record, a group of students and myself did 4 months of fundraising to send 6 students to Guatemala to help a village build solar ovens and houses. “Mommy and Daddy” didn’t pay for those students to go abroad and help people.


You are letting ONE person inform your entire perspective of your medical school class? You should look at your medical school financial aid website and see what percentage of students are receiving aid. The medical school I will be attending extends aid to about 80% or so of all students. The person who is in disconnect is YOU if you take one persons experience as representative gospel.



Just so you know, Toni Braxton’s son has autism. Do you not think that is a crippling experience for any parent to go through, regardless of socioeconomic status? Jack Osbourne, the son of the famed (and crazed) Ozzy Osbourne has Multiple Sclerosis - do you think this does not peril him and his family? My neighbor (who is LOADED by the way) lost his wife to pancreatic cancer – does the fact that he has a butt load of money make him immune to the travesty of losing his one true love? Is their pain any different from mine, growing up taking care of a severely disabled quadriplegic sibling with cerebral palsy? You should be ASHAMED of yourself, to judge someone’s capacity to sympathize with a fellow human.



Let me finish that sentence for you chief: ….nothing. You know relatively nothing. You especially are not in a position to JUDGE who will or will not make it, because guess what, you haven’t attended or graduated from medical school yet. How do you know you’re not going to fail out? How do you know someone close to you won’t be in a terrible accident and will challenge your ability to both fulfill your coursework and be there for them?



Middle class? You are seriously making the comparison between middle class and “the 1%” ? For purposes of the discussion you are trying to foster, there is no difference between the two.


That’s because the number of such students is also few and far between.



That’s kind of the point of medical education. Sorry it’s not as wide-spanning and inclusive as you would like it to be. If you are not born into privileged life circumstances, you can either work really hard, spread yourself thin and hustle, or if you are an under-represented minority, there is often a forgiveness factor based on perceptions of SES that doesn’t create an expectation for a lot of what you have complained about in your little tirade.


Then you shouldn’t have posted this on SDN, you should have posted this on your blog or your facebook. Sorry chief, but you seriously need to reconsider your views.



Here is an extra large sugar cube, for that very high horse of yours.



Please, please, grow up before you attend your medical school orientation. It sounds like you may have even had it easier than me, but I’m not bitter about people who are getting accepted to medical school right out of college, or who are more financially well off than myself.
Aside from pointless insults, is there a point you're trying to make?
 
Nov 30, 2013
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I hate to get all conservative but with enough hard work and the correct mindset it is possible (though probably not likely) to achieve what you want in this country and be taken care of.
Have you by chance read Think & Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill? I am in total agreement with your post. I'm a middle-class white male, no scholarships or advantages have been thrown my way. I do appreciate that I have two parents though.
 

SunsFun

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I don't know how true this is, but there was a story I heard about how students that have parents who have graduate degrees are expected to have higher grades and MCAT scores. This came from a student who was interviewing at a school, and they asked why his grades and MCAT were just average, and that they expected him to be higher achieving, because his parents have graduate degrees. He ended up getting rejected from said school, which he thinks was due to this fact.

Although I don't know the validity of it, it does make a good point. I mean it makes sense that students who have easier lives could be expected to do better at things. But, this could just be the work of a rogue interviewer.
I also have heard adcoms saying that they would hold someone from an affluent and "conducive to medicine" background to a higher standard but in my experience I cannot at all confirm it. The data doesn't seem to show this either.
 

Aerus

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First generation high school graduate here. I completely agree with you that the admissions process favors the wealthy, but it's not anything we can do about. It's just life. Hard work gets you a lot further than you might expect. The people who make it through despite being poor are not "few". There are plenty of them.
 
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While I agree that the financial costs of the medical school application process favor students with wealthy parents, what do you propose should be done to remedy the situation? Should MCAT prep classes and overseas medical trips be illegal because not everyone can afford them? Should medical schools be forced to pay for travel and housing costs of everyone it interviews? As @jeghaber already said, life is unfair so unless you can come up with some ideas on how to improve the admissions process, your thoughts aren't too useful.
 

LostinLift

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But the majority of applicants are neither extremely hard-working nor extremely intelligent. They are simply your run-of-the-mill applicant. And for those applicants who are struggling to stand out amongst their peers, a lot of cash goes a long way. Ten hours a week of research instead of waiting tables is not only going to make them more competitive, but it's also going to make them smarter and more capable.
I learned significantly more about being a physician and a better person through waiting tables than doing research. Smart adcoms and schools that care about physician-ship over academic research will understand the value of this.

Why do you think people who are neither extremely hard-working nor intelligent deserve to be doctors? I'm not holier than thou about being a physician but if you are going to care for my health, I would want someone who is "extremely" hard-working, "extremely" intelligent, or some combination of both.

Why do you think only the rich can take time off before medical school? I worked 3 jobs in my post-bacc and supported the entire process myself. If I were only working and doing volunteering/shadowing I could have saved a bunch of money as well. There are these things called jobs, most people get them after school.... Not sure why you don't think you can have a job after undergrad, even if you are premed, while you prepare a stronger application. In fact I would recommend taking time off after undergrad for every applicant to learn more about the world from a different perspective, gain additional experiences, etc.

Those lavish medical mission trips aren't as good as you think they are on applications, adcoms don't think highly of them by any means.

Life isn't fair. Do you really feel better about yourself and your family's situation by belittling other people's fathers, many of whom worked hard to provide for their children? While I feel similar feelings to people who are wealthier than me I recognize that it is completely unhealthy and foolish to dwell on it. Life is going to be long and painful for you if you continuously compare your life to the more privileged. There will always be someone more privileged.

If you are a troll, I commend you sir. If not, I recommend you take a step back and evaluate your opinion of the world. Things aren't fair, they most likely never will be. That doesn't mean you can't try to make the world a better place by making others happy and healthy, which in turn will most likely make you happy and healthy.
 
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Please, please, grow up before you attend your medical school orientation. It sounds like you may have even had it easier than me, but I’m not bitter about people who are getting accepted to medical school right out of college, or who are more financially well off than myself.
I hope you realize that his post wasn't a personal attack on you. He is simply providing his insight, which is actually fairly valid. Money may not directly affect one's chances of getting into medical school, but it provides opportunity which is invaluable. Opportunity and luck will always outweigh hard work in this world; keep in mind, I am in no way saying hard work is a waste of time. Hard work only results in great reward when it is associated with opportunity and/or luck which is why it is ridiculously difficult to change your socioeconomic status. Even after your listing of all of your trials and burdens and how hard you worked to make it where you are, your hard work would be meaningless without luck and opportunity. Both my parents have worked 2-3 jobs each their entire lives and will likely die with the same socioeconomic status they were born into, lower-middle. But because their work ethic provided me with the opportunity to attend college and I was lucky to be smart enough to do well, it will likely result in me becoming a doctor (a slight change in socioeconomic status). So before you decide to berate someone about their valid viewpoint I would take a step back and actually think before typing out your rage-induced rant.
 

BurberryDoc

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I hope you realize that his post wasn't a personal attack on you. He is simply providing his insight, which is actually fairly valid. Money may not directly affect one's chances of getting into medical school, but it provides opportunity which is invaluable. Opportunity and luck will always outweigh hard work in this world; keep in mind, I am in no way saying hard work is a waste of time. Hard work only results in great reward when it is associated with opportunity and/or luck which is why it is ridiculously difficult to change your socioeconomic status. Even after your listing of all of your trials and burdens and how hard you worked to make it where you are, your hard work would be meaningless without luck and opportunity. Both my parents have worked 2-3 jobs each their entire lives and will likely die with the same socioeconomic status they were born into, lower-middle. But because their work ethic provided me with the opportunity to attend college and I was lucky to be smart enough to do well, it will likely result in me becoming a doctor (a slight change in socioeconomic status). So before you decide to berate someone about their valid viewpoint I would take a step back and actually think before typing out your rage-induced rant.
Trust me when I tell you that I realize the OP was not writing a personal attack. However, their 'insight' is poorly informed, and suggested a very narrow scope of the socioeconomic diversity of entering medical students, and is marked with undertones that villify the middle and upper class, while also providing no constructive commentary to what steps could/should be taken to resolve their complaints. I'm of the opinion that you don't complain about something if you don't have an idea (good or bad) on how to resolve the issue at hand. More simply, put up or shut up. That the OP was accepted to medical school, is commendable, but when you start making claims like "How can this generation of people be taught to empathize with and care for those who have nothing when they themselves have unfairly snatched admission by flashing their store-bought resumes to the admissions staff?" You lose all credibily. (See my comments on Toni Braxton and Jack Osbourne.) I don't believe in luck - I believe in creating opportunities for yourself when they don't avail themselves. If you want to call 'luck' my living in the New York metro area (as opposed to say, a rural area like central Nebraska_ where I was able to contact 100's upon 100's of researchers and physicians before being told "yes, you can have an opportunity to volunteer with my lab/observe my practice", then sure, I'm very lucky. I do not believe luck has played any role in my achievements. Certainly, luck prevails, as the adage goes, but I personally wouldn't regard myself "lucky." I am not concerned with the perceived validity/reffutability of my comments, but rather that I was heard by the OP - I am not incorrect in my proposition, that they will want to keep these sentiments to themselves in medical school - if their entering class is as socioeconomically privileged as stated, these remarks will most likely come off inflammatory and alienate the OP from their classmates - bad move in an environment like medical school.
 

Espadaleader

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why are you still listed as fellow

90% of my postbac self studied for the MCAT

I almost taught for an MCAT course. There is nothing not much value added to a prep course that most people cannot do on their own.


Honestly that's the case for most 'prestigious' and highly paid industries. It's probably even worse in business/finance because connections are everything. Medicine is probably most immune since there is a strong component of hardwork and intelligence that actually goes into selection.
Sorry. "Almost" doesn't count. I actually taught an MCAT course. The overwhelming majority of pre-medical students use professional courses. Surprisingly everyone on SDN self-studies for 6 weeks and scores in the 95th percentile of the exam. Give me a break. Yes, you can self-study, and I know a good friend that did - however, most students need the structure and content review that a professional course provides.

I am listed as fellow because I am one. A research fellow. Everyone on this forum knows I am a pre-med research fellow. Get off my back and get a life.
 

histidine

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Sorry. "Almost" doesn't count. I actually taught an MCAT course. The overwhelming majority of pre-medical students use professional courses. Surprisingly everyone on SDN self-studies for 6 weeks and scores in the 95th percentile of the exam. Give me a break. Yes, you can self-study, and I know a good friend that did - however, most students need the structure and content review that a professional course provides.

I am listed as fellow because I am one. A research fellow. Get off my back and get a life.
You aren't a fellow in SDN's definition. You are a NIH postbac IRTA fellow. Not a post-MD fellow. Quit using that tag.

And just because you taught a MCAT class doesn't mean you know that the overwhelming majority of premeds took a class. Out of the couple dozen friends that I know that did extremely well on the MCAT and got into med school, a whopping 0 took a prep class.
 

darkjedi

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Sorry. "Almost" doesn't count. I actually taught an MCAT course. The overwhelming majority of pre-medical students use professional courses. Surprisingly everyone on SDN self-studies for 6 weeks and scores in the 95th percentile of the exam. Give me a break. Yes, you can self-study, and I know a good friend that did - however, most students need the structure and content review that a professional course provides.

I am listed as fellow because I am one. A research fellow. Everyone on this forum knows I am a pre-med research fellow. Get off my back and get a life.
sorry but research fellow is not a physician fellow, should a english PhD respond to 'doctor' in the hospital?
 
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BurberryDoc

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Sorry. "Almost" doesn't count. I actually taught an MCAT course. The overwhelming majority of pre-medical students use professional courses. Surprisingly everyone on SDN self-studies for 6 weeks and scores in the 95th percentile of the exam. Give me a break. Yes, you can self-study, and I know a good friend that did - however, most students need the structure and content review that a professional course provides.

I am listed as fellow because I am one. A research fellow. Everyone on this forum knows I am a pre-med research fellow. Get off my back and get a life.
Sorry dude, I wouldn't be the one to call attention to it, but I'm with the others on this - Fellow is really meant for physicians currently in fellowship. You should put "Pre-med" as your status or Undergraduate student or whatever the majority of your time is devoted to at this stage of your career. I realize I'm splitting hairs here, but it sounds like you're trying to distinguish yourself where it's really not warranted. Sorry buddy.
 
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Syncrohnize

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Wow...This post is full of hate. I'll admit I'm one of the lucky ones who had parents pay for all my expenses including the MCAT books, MCAT fees, application fees, secondaries, etc. but at the same time I did try to help where I could. Knowing that my parents were paying for my stuff, I have respected all their wishes regarding my living arrangements, etc. and don't really buy much without consulting them. I had a job throughout most of college (not really financially dependent on it but it paid for 1/2 of tuition each semester) and definitely worked hard and put my studies first and got admitted right out of college because I knew how much my parents were laying down for me and didn't want them to have to spend more than they had already. Sure, I may have not moved up considerably on the social ladder but I don't think anyone who did should feel superior to me...more hardworking yes...but I think OP crossed a fine line in his initial post.
 
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Oct 20, 2013
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Medical Student
Trust me when I tell you that I realize the OP was not writing a personal attack. However, their 'insight' is poorly informed, and suggested a very narrow scope of the socioeconomic diversity of entering medical students, and is marked with undertones that villify the middle and upper class, while also providing no constructive commentary to what steps could/should be taken to resolve their complaints. I'm of the opinion that you don't complain about something if you don't have an idea (good or bad) on how to resolve the issue at hand. More simply, put up or shut up. That the OP was accepted to medical school, is commendable, but when you start making claims like "How can this generation of people be taught to empathize with and care for those who have nothing when they themselves have unfairly snatched admission by flashing their store-bought resumes to the admissions staff?" You lose all credibily. (See my comments on Toni Braxton and Jack Osbourne.) I don't believe in luck - I believe in creating opportunities for yourself when they don't avail themselves. If you want to call 'luck' my living in the New York metro area (as opposed to say, a rural area like central Nebraska_ where I was able to contact 100's upon 100's of researchers and physicians before being told "yes, you can have an opportunity to volunteer with my lab/observe my practice", then sure, I'm very lucky. I do not believe luck has played any role in my achievements. Certainly, luck prevails, as the adage goes, but I personally wouldn't regard myself "lucky." I am not concerned with the perceived validity/reffutability of my comments, but rather that I was heard by the OP - I am not incorrect in my proposition, that they will want to keep these sentiments to themselves in medical school - if their entering class is as socioeconomically privileged as stated, these remarks will most likely come off inflammatory and alienate the OP from their classmates - bad move in an environment like medical school.
@BurberryDoc: You're absolutely right in that I need to keep my mouth shut about this kind of thing while I'm in medical school (or even afterward). This isn't the type of subject that would make for polite dinner conversation. That's why I created a second account to make this post. I don't want my friends knowing that I feel this way because I have friends from all across the board.

I admit that my initial post in this thread simplifies the differences between the top 5% and the middle-class. As for not providing constructive commentary: trust me, I would have provided some had there been any constructive commentary to suggest. I wrote this piece up hoping to spark some lively discussion where there might have been some solutions being thrown around. I think it's important to bring up your complaints even if you don't have a solution because someone else might - man is a social and collaborative being - what I cannot see, you might.

When you went through and dissected the OP, you did a fantastic job of providing anecdotal evidence about your own case. Thank you very much for that. Your story is indeed inspiring. However, you pretty much completely failed to address the main point of the post. Let me reiterate it for you here: Right now, it is MUCH EASIER to make yourself a competitive applicant for medical school (High grades, MCAT, research, volunteering, etc.) if you come from a wealthy background. There are a disproportionate amount of students from wealthy households who attend medical school. I am not suggesting in any form or fashion that it is impossible for those who are middle class to gain acceptance to medical school. I am only saying that it is much, much harder.

You must be a fool, to think the most privileged need to take a year off to improve their application. I didn’t have any money to apply when I was ready to graduate, and neither did “mommy and daddy”.
I guess I'm a fool then. I know plenty of privileged students of average or below-average intelligence who have taken a year off to improve their application. You call me a fool, yet you don't present any evidence to the contrary. Your second sentence is just anecdotal.

Lavish? I seriously suggest you keep these comments to yourself once you’ve started medical school. For the record, a group of students and myself did 4 months of fundraising to send 6 students to Guatemala to help a village build solar ovens and houses. “Mommy and Daddy” didn’t pay for those students to go abroad and help people.
There you go again with the anecdotal evidence. I assure you that you in the minority if you spent 4 months fundraising to send kids to Guatemala. I can offer anecdotal evidence of my own: at my university, all of the students I know who go on these medical missions have their parents pay for them.

You are letting ONE person inform your entire perspective of your medical school class? You should look at your medical school financial aid website and see what percentage of students are receiving aid. The medical school I will be attending extends aid to about 80% or so of all students. The person who is in disconnect is YOU if you take one persons experience as representative gospel.
I prefaced that paragraph with "here's an example." Typically, what follows are sentences describing that one particular experience. I talk elsewhere in the post about how I believe that upwards of 50% of my class seem to have their medical education paid for by their parents. That is a piece of information that has helped shape my perspective of my medical class.

Just so you know, Toni Braxton’s son has autism. Do you not think that is a crippling experience for any parent to go through, regardless of socioeconomic status? Jack Osbourne, the son of the famed (and crazed) Ozzy Osbourne has Multiple Sclerosis - do you think this does not peril him and his family? My neighbor (who is LOADED by the way) lost his wife to pancreatic cancer – does the fact that he has a butt load of money make him immune to the travesty of losing his one true love? Is their pain any different from mine, growing up taking care of a severely disabled quadriplegic sibling with cerebral palsy? You should be ASHAMED of yourself, to judge someone’s capacity to sympathize with a fellow human.
Again with the anecdotes. These unavoidable calamities which may or may not help someone empathize better don't simply occur to rich or to the poor. They occur uniformly across the board. If you control for these negative experiences, I firmly believe that someone who is middle-class is more likely to be able to empathize with a patient who is unable to afford their medical treatments or is laid off from their job. I am not judging an individual, I am judging a group. INDIVIDUALS experience things such as MS or giving birth to disabled children. However, THE ENTIRE MIDDLE CLASS wrestles with affording rent, mortgages, bills, layoffs, etc. They are more relatable (empathic) to the common man because they ARE the common man. I think this is an entirely fair statement to make.

Let me finish that sentence for you chief: ….nothing. You know relatively nothing. You especially are not in a position to JUDGE who will or will not make it, because guess what, you haven’t attended or graduated from medical school yet. How do you know you’re not going to fail out? How do you know someone close to you won’t be in a terrible accident and will challenge your ability to both fulfill your coursework and be there for them?
Things like failing out of medical school or not completing medical school or getting into an accident are things that can happen to anyone, rich or poor, and are rarities. Those should not stop us from being able to make broad generalized statements that apply to the MAJORITY of people within a certain group. The fact that there is an exception doesn't mean that there shouldn't be a rule. If that were the case, Orgo would be a nightmare - eek - exceptions everywhere!

Sigh. The point is, I am writing about an observable fact, and you're throwing in your observations based on your own experience. I am saying "most apples are red," and you are saying "some apples are yellow."
 
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histidine

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No one is disputing that money gives an advantage. You present it as if applicants from middle class families are an almost insurmountable disadvantage, which is not true at all. Furthermore, most people on the forum, including adcoms and docs, agree that healthcare mission trips abroad are a huge waste of time and money and don't add anything to one's application.

Discussing the advantages and disadvantages that money brings to the table is an interesting topic. However, you lost all credibility when you stated that you "lack the resources to provide for myself in that gap year." You then go on to say how people who take gap years are privileged and wealthy. If you find disdain at the thought of finding a job and supporting yourself for a year or two out of college, you, sir, are the spoiled one.