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ethanwood17

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Hi all, I had a question about racial designation at research and graduate school programs.

So I'm from Oklahoma, where a great many people have some amount of Native American ancestry. I am part Cherokee, but I am not on the registry and have no possibility of being so (my parents tried previously). My Native American ancestry is my great-great-grandmother, who according to my family's stories was bought off of an Indian reservation by my great-great-grandfather, who was a trader of sorts. My family's Native American ancestry was kept very hush-hush until the last generation, due to racism and other reasons. Crazy, I know.

My question is, do I fall within the designation of a URM, at least in the eyes of most schools or research programs? Since I am not on any registry, there is no way to prove my ancestry, and I look almost entirely white. Basically, if I designate myself URM on an application, will programs call me out for it? I understand some Native American specific programs ask for your Indian card to prove tribal affiliation. I don't mean those sorts of programs. Just for general admissions to research programs and other such things, am I a member of a URM?

I have asked around a bit at my university, but none of the career planning or premed advising people seem to know a definitive answer.

I wonder if anyone else here has this sort of dilemma?
 

ethanwood17

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That's a possibility if it isn't prohibitively expensive. Thanks for the suggestion.

I hadn't really considered that before since this is a relatively new predicament. I only recently became aware of how loose most of these programs are about defining different races. My family acknowledge and to some extent celebrate our Native ancestry. We attend some Native American rituals and functions when we can. I'm just saying, we aren't just totally average white people who have native ancestry. Even though we look like it.
 

gbwillner

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I'm sure there are legal definitions. IMHO you are caucasian based on that story, unless you were a member of a specific tribe.. Otherwise 95% of Oklahoma is Native American. You go back far enough, we are all Neanderthals too.

Now, if you lived on a reservation, and the question is "ethnicity", then you have a great point.
 

correctlywrong

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It is not prohibitively expensive to get an ancestry oriented DNA test. 23andme.com can hook you up for $100.
 
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Elixir6

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I think the question you should be asking yourself here is: Deep down, do you feel like you are disadvantaged? Do you feel that most other applicants have had opportunities not available to you? If the answer is yes, I think you should try your best to get URM status. If the answer is really no, or not really, then I think its probably irrelevant if have 2% or 25% DNA from one ancestry or another. Where you came from, your essays, the college you went, and the space for writing about your disadvantaged status etc... should describe this. Otherwise, its not going to look good at the interview if you check yes for Native American and yet your upbringing/background does not relate to what most URM experience.

And what I'm saying here is not to doubt you. You very well may have had a difficult upbringing. difficulty getting into college etc... but you didn't want to hash that out here. Also, my logic would be a little different here if you were clearly African American or Native American.
 

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I think that interviewers will definitely notice that you look white yet claimed URM status on your application, especially if you have to go to your great-great-grandmother to reach Native American ancestry. You do seem to be more involved in the community so that story may definitely be interesting. I agree with @Elixir6 that you should consider whether or not you feel disadvantaged in your upbringing. What would the people living in the tribe you're affiliated think if you told them that you were claiming Native American ancestry?
 

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I think the question you should be asking yourself here is: Deep down, do you feel like you are disadvantaged? Do you feel that most other applicants have had opportunities not available to you? If the answer is yes, I think you should try your best to get URM status. If the answer is really no, or not really, then I think its probably irrelevant if have 2% or 25% DNA from one ancestry or another. Where you came from, your essays, the college you went, and the space for writing about your disadvantaged status etc... should describe this. Otherwise, its not going to look good at the interview if you check yes for Native American and yet your upbringing/background does not relate to what most URM experience.

And what I'm saying here is not to doubt you. You very well may have had a difficult upbringing. difficulty getting into college etc... but you didn't want to hash that out here. Also, my logic would be a little different here if you were clearly African American or Native American.

From experience at my institution at least this is completely irrelevant. Not one URM (that i know of) was disadvantaged. All of them come from money and most have parents who are physicians.
 

Elixir6

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From experience at my institution at least this is completely irrelevant. Not one URM (that i know of) was disadvantaged. All of them come from money and most have parents who are physicians.

I also have seen this happen, and it's a shame because - at least in my opinion - it defeats the purpose of the whole thing. So whereas it might be functionally more or less relevant for certain students and certain schools, it's obviously not irrelevant to having URM as a special status overall.
 

dmblue

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I also have seen this happen, and it's a shame because - at least in my opinion - it defeats the purpose of the whole thing. So whereas it might be functionally more or less relevant for certain students and certain schools, it's obviously not irrelevant to having URM as a special status overall.

I completely agree; however, my school justifies it is by doing a lot of outreach. By having minorities as medical students they hope to inspire actual disadvantaged students to strive to go into medicine. Whether or not that is effective is up for debate, but I understand where they are coming from.
 

Neuronix

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From experience at my institution at least this is completely irrelevant. Not one URM (that i know of) was disadvantaged. All of them come from money and most have parents who are physicians.

Sigh, I was trying very hard to keep from responding similarly. As a white guy from a poor/disadvantaged background often surrounded by URMs, the focus on skin color in society does continue to bother me. But let's not let this whole thread get derailed by the URM discussion.
 

ratherbefishing

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Most URMs do not come from privileged backgrounds. Just saying.
 

Elixir6

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I agree most minority students are not from privileged backgrounds - otherwise they wouldn't really be URMs. I'm even sure minority students who happen to come from a family of higher socioeconomic standing experience discrimination. But yeah, even though I think these programs are meant to help the most disadvantaged students, it doesn't stop program directors from taking any and all comers to boost up their stats for the NIH or whomever. It's a little hard to blame them since the NIH holds the programs feet to the fire with regards to minority statistics. Although I know of good students this program has really helped, it can also be a bit of an unfortunate numbers game.
 
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plumazul

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Sigh, I was trying very hard to keep from responding similarly. As a white guy from a poor/disadvantaged background often surrounded by URMs, the focus on skin color in society does continue to bother me. But let's not let this whole thread get derailed by the URM discussion.

Perhaps you should have tried harder? So would you care to explain your comment so that I fully understand what you are saying? As an "administrator" I assume you are speaking for SDN?
@Lee?
 

Neuronix

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My comments are speaking for myself, just like the 11,000+ other posts I have made on SDN. I am wary of the pre-allo style discussions of this topic. Thus, if users want to debate this topic at length, I will split this discussion into a different forum that deals with these debates.

Since you asked for clarification, I believe that judging people based on their skin color or genetic background is wrong. I believe that if admissions standards are loosened for some groups of people, it should be based on actual diversity of experience and prior hardships (i.e. disadvantaged). When I was younger, I grew up in a mostly AA community with a growing Hispanic population. My parents were both very ill (father genetically, mother mentally), and I dropped out of my failing high school at 16 and supported myself ever since. I know what it's like to be hungry. I know what it's like to sleep on a flea infested couches for years. As someone who lived that life, I don't understand why anyone would judge someone who looks like me or looks like something else to be different just based on their looks. We should either be held to the same standard or attempt to address the real problem in this country: socioeconomic status.

To the op: no I don't think you should claim URM status. I think a lot of people are going to feel similar to myself and it could potentially backfire.
 

plumazul

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My comments are speaking for myself, just like the 11,000+ other posts I have made on SDN. I am wary of the pre-allo style discussions of this topic. Thus, if users want to debate this topic at length, I will split this discussion into a different forum that deals with these debates.

As am I. SDN appears to be developing a reputation as a URM hostile venue. This saddens me since I think it is a wonderful resource where everyone should feel welcome. But that does not seem to be the case. I was surprised to discover while mentoring minority students at my UG that SDN was already seen as "not for minorities". SDN should act immediately to remove the repetitive URM hostile threads in pre-allo (and elsewhere) and if they must remain at all, put them in a separate "rant" forum where they are not the first thing a new user is going to see when visiting SDN. The damage being done to SDN is real and should not be allowed to continue.
 
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plumazul

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Since you asked for clarification, I believe that judging people based on their skin color or genetic background is wrong.

I agree. And you should never forget that URM racial and ethnic groups exists today because of "judging people based on their skin color or genetic background".

I believe that if admissions standards are loosened for some groups of people, it should be based on actual diversity of experience and prior hardships (i.e. disadvantaged).

As has been pointed out many times by the adcoms in pre-allo, "admissions standards" are not being "loosened" for anyone. Perhaps you just don't agree with the standards being used or you believe in a numbers only system?

When I was younger, I grew up in a mostly AA community with a growing Hispanic population. My parents were both very ill (father genetically, mother mentally), and I dropped out of my failing high school at 16 and supported myself ever since. I know what it's like to be hungry. I know what it's like to sleep on a flea infested couches for years. As someone who lived that life, I don't understand why anyone would judge someone who looks like me or looks like something else to be different just based on their looks. We should either be held to the same standard or attempt to address the real problem in this country: socioeconomic status.

I appreciate you sharing your story, but it seems to have had a happy ending, right? Who judged you? My family has some interesting stories to tell also. My abuelo served in the Army Air Corp during WWII (he was always so proud of his "before Pearl Harbor ribbon"), and came home after the war with a GI bill, but that was not good enough to gain entry into a white only University of Texas. You see, Texas had separate colleges for people of color. My father while in public secondary school in south Texas took a national standardized test as part of the school district's self assessment. When the results came in, the names of the top performers were read over the PA to all the classes during morning messages. (all the names were of white kids even though the school was over 50% minority) Later that day he was taken out of study hall and sent to the office where they informed him that he had scored 99 percentile across all subjects (highest in the school). They wanted to know how he did it. They wanted to know what his "trick" was. After my father finished school, he worked very hard sometimes working 2 full time jobs in order to improve his lot in life and achieve his dream of a college degree. He was able to afford a new car and because of this he was pulled over and actually arrested many times by state troopers and local police for "driving a new car while brown". I have many more stories to share if you are interested.
 
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Neuronix

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As am I. SDN appears to be developing a reputation as a URM hostile venue. This saddens me since I think it is a wonderful resource where everyone should feel welcome. But that does not seem to be the case. I was surprised to discover while mentoring minority students at my UG that SDN was already seen as "not for minorities". SDN should act immediately to remove the repetitive URM hostile threads in pre-allo (and elsewhere) and if they must remain at all, put them in a separate "rant" forum where they are not the first thing a new user is going to see when visiting SDN. The damage being done to SDN is real and should not be allowed to continue.

SDN is a venue where users may freely speak their opinions. If a user is being hostile, harassing, threatening, etc, please use the report post function. We do not tolerate that behavior on SDN. We also have a forum specifically for URM topics: http://forums.studentdoctor.net/forums/underrepresented-in-healthcare.219/

I have remained on SDN 11 years after matriculating into an MD/PhD program to help identify and lend assistance to students who were similarly disadvantaged to myself or who otherwise have insufficient guidance in deciding about medical careers. SDN was the primary source of guidance for me, and I'd like to give back. If you know of anyone who could use my assistance, please point them in my direction.

I agree. And you should never forget that URM racial and ethnic groups exists today because of "judging people based on their skin color or genetic background".

Yes. This should end.

As has been pointed out many times by the adcoms in pre-allo, "admissions standards" are not being "loosened" for anyone. Perhaps you just don't agree with the standards being used or you believe in a numbers only system?

Every program and adcom is different in how they select applicants. However, there is certainly data to support loosened standards for certain groups in: https://www.aamc.org/download/321498/data/2012factstable19.pdf

For example (as per the op's scenario):
Average white matriculant: 3.71 GPA, 31.6 MCAT
Average american indian matriculant: 3.49 GPA, 26.7 MCAT

I believe that being a member of a certain ethnic or racial group alone should not be a factor in admissions. There is no public data for MD/PhD programs, so it is unknown whether race/ethnicity has any effect in MD/PhD admissions. I have asked admissions committee members that question numerous times, but have never received a direct answer. It is widely believed on SDN that it does, and this is reflected by the thread or two like this a year we get.

You could certainly make the argument that certain minority groups are more likely to come from a low socioeconomic status. That is true. However, by raw numbers, there are more poor whites than any other ethnic group in the USA. Further, certain asian ethnic groups are very poor in the USA, yet are lumped with other asians as being not part of the URM groups. I find this all incredibly discriminatory. If we want to increase diversity, URM should specifically state that it is based on disadvantaged background or diverse life experience. Otherwise, it creates the perception of discriminatory treatment based on racial/ethnic group.

I appreciate you sharing your story, but it seems to have had a happy ending, right? Who judged you?

Every time I apply to something I am judged: undergrad, medical school, residency, jobs, etc. We all have people judging us.

Currently, I would like to apply for this grant for which I would be judged: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PAR-12-052.html

However, I am ineligible based on my race. It is true that I have no data to show that the funding rate for this grant is higher than for other K23s where race is not a criteria for application. However, it again creates a perception of lowered standards for certain groups solely based on race/ethnicity, given that this particular opportunity was created specifically for certain minority groups.

My family has some interesting stories to tell also.

This is not about our families. This is about us. I didn't say anything about my parents in my post, other than that they were very ill. I grew up poor. I had little to no support. When my mother was out of the mental hospital (~2/3 of the time) and supposedly was raising me, I raised myself. I grew up in an urban, multicultural environment with awful schools. I have a GED and lived a unique life for years before coming back to college. Why am I not considered URM? It is because of my skin color. That said, the color of someone's skin should not matter. The reason it does matter, and the reason this thread exists, is because people feel like they have something to gain by claiming URM status. Others are jealous of that perceived advantage.
 
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plumazul

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P.S. - you misspelled "abuelo."
Thank you. Are you sure there aren't any misplaced commas or any other serious problems I should know about?
 
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plumazul

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Every program and adcom is different in how they select applicants. However, there is certainly data to support loosened standards for certain groups in: https://www.aamc.org/download/321498/data/2012factstable19.pdf

For example (as per the op's scenario):
Average white matriculant: 3.71 GPA, 31.6 MCAT
Average american indian matriculant: 3.49 GPA, 26.7 MCAT

I believe that being a member of a certain ethnic or racial group alone should not be a factor in admissions. There is no public data for MD/PhD programs, so it is unknown whether race/ethnicity has any effect in MD/PhD admissions. I have asked admissions committee members that question numerous times, but have never received a direct answer. It is widely believed on SDN that it does, and this is reflected by the thread or two like this a year we get.

So am I to assume by your answer that you do believe a numbers only system should be used? Since nothing you said supports the idea that being "a member of a certain ethnic or racial group alone" is used anywhere, I don't know what to make of your comments. Are you just opposed to the goals of the NIH and AAMC based on some perceived wrong against you? Or do you believe that a numbers only system is being used somewhere/anywhere/everywhere? As for MD/PhD programs using race, my LizzyM score was considerably above the average matriculant score at several schools that didn't accept me. (one didn't even bother to interview me) So by your reasoning, should I conclude it was a race thing? Or maybe they looked at a panoply of things other than my MCAT scores and my GPA in order to make their decisions?

You could certainly make the argument that certain minority groups are more likely to come from a low socioeconomic status. That is true. However, by raw numbers, there are more poor whites than any other ethnic group in the USA. Further, certain asian ethnic groups are very poor in the USA, yet are lumped with other asians as being not part of the URM groups. I find this all incredibly discriminatory. If we want to increase diversity, URM should specifically state that it is based on disadvantaged background or diverse life experience. Otherwise, it creates the perception of discriminatory treatment based on racial/ethnic group.

Yes, and the majority of students admitted to US MD schools with below average scores are whites. As for "diverse life experience", do you not think that growing up black/brown in this country is a "life experience"?
 
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Neuronix

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So am I to assume by your answer that you do believe a numbers only system should be used?

Repeating the above:

I believe that judging people based on their skin color or genetic background is wrong. I believe that if admissions standards are loosened for some groups of people, it should be based on actual diversity of experience and prior hardships (i.e. disadvantaged).

I believe that being a member of a certain ethnic or racial group alone should not be a factor in admissions. ... If we want to increase diversity, URM should specifically state that it is based on disadvantaged background or diverse life experience. Otherwise, it creates the perception of discriminatory treatment based on racial/ethnic group.

Are you just opposed to the goals of the NIH and AAMC based on some perceived wrong against you?

I believe that judging people based on their skin color or genetic background is wrong.

do you not think that growing up black/brown in this country is a "life experience"?

Not any more than growing up any other color. Also, indians and other asians often have a brown skin tone.
 
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plumazul

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Every time I apply to something I am judged: undergrad, medical school, residency, jobs, etc. We all have people judging us.

Currently, I would like to apply for this grant for which I would be judged: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PAR-12-052.html

However, I am ineligible based on my race. It is true that I have no data to show that the funding rate for this grant is higher than for other K23s where race is not a criteria for application. However, it again creates a perception of lowered standards for certain groups solely based on race/ethnicity, given that this particular opportunity was created specifically for certain minority groups.

What? I don't follow you at all on this. The NIH identified a need ("Past patterns of cancer incidence and mortality predict that the disproportionate increase in U.S. cancer incidence and mortality will be experienced by both minority and underserved populations.") and is looking for answers, but out of all the grants out there you have to have this one?

This is not about our families. This is about us. I didn't say anything about my parents in my post, other than that they were very ill. I grew up poor. I had little to no support. When my mother was out of the mental hospital (~2/3 of the time) and supposedly was raising me, I raised myself. I grew up in an urban, multicultural environment with awful schools. I have a GED and lived a unique life for years before coming back to college. Why am I not considered URM? It is because of my skin color. That said, the color of someone's skin should not matter. The reason it does matter, and the reason this thread exists, is because people feel like they have something to gain by claiming URM status. Others are jealous of that perceived advantage.

I assume that you shared your story in applications where is was appropriate. And you obviously were accepted. So, once again I don't understand what you are saying. Are you making the argument that the color of one's skin makes no difference whatsoever in their life and hence should never be considered?
 
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Neuronix

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out of all the grants out there you have to have this one?

Certain grants are for certain types of research and people at different levels in their career. Thus, there are very few grants I and my research would be eligible for. An NCI K23 grant is the right grant for me to apply to at this stage in my career. The funding rate is low for the K23, and the competition is high.

Are you making the argument that the color of one's skin makes no difference whatsoever in their life and hence should never be considered?

I believe that judging people based on their skin color or genetic background is wrong.
 

plumazul

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Not any more than growing up any other color. Also, indians and other asians often have a brown skin tone.

This is an outrageous comment. If you cannot agree to some basic facts then there is no need to continue. Have a nice day.
 

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I also find it funny that we distinguish applicants on the basis of race, rather than "achievement vs. upbringing". I'm fairly certain that I'm Native American enough to get tested and throw that down as an application booster, but is that really ethical when I grew up in a white suburb, the child of two college-educated parents? Of course not. Yet, because of the racial status of some distant ancestor that I literally don't even know the names of, I could claim myself to be a "minority" and ask for special consideration. I find it abhorrent. But hey, my genetic background says that I'm Native American, so obviously I deserve more consideration for one of the most coveted academic training positions in medicine than someone else with the exact same upbringing whose great-great-grandmother didn't happen to be a tribal member.
 

plumazul

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I also find it funny that we distinguish applicants on the basis of race, rather than "achievement vs. upbringing". I'm fairly certain that I'm Native American enough to get tested and throw that down as an application booster, but is that really ethical when I grew up in a white suburb, the child of two college-educated parents? Of course not. Yet, because of the racial status of some distant ancestor that I literally don't even know the names of, I could claim myself to be a "minority" and ask for special consideration. I find it abhorrent. But hey, my genetic background says that I'm Native American, so obviously I deserve more consideration for one of the most coveted academic training positions in medicine than someone else with the exact same upbringing whose great-great-grandmother didn't happen to be a tribal member.

I don't think that's how it works. If you have no cultural connections or life experiences (tribal card?) relating to being native, then to claim such an association would probably not be helpful, and might be a red flag of sorts. For example, most northern Mexicans/Mexican Americans are predominately (genetically) from native ancestry. But we have lost our tribal associations long ago. Sanity check, if it were as easy as you describe to claim to be NA, (a very underrepresented group) you would think many students would be trying it and NA numbers would rise quickly and remove them as a URM group. This is not the case.
 
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Looking forward, true "disadvantaged" status and making the most out of the opportunities available to the applicant are elements that most MD/PhD admission committees (ACs) considerably value. For example, I was very proud that 31% of our applicants had received a Pell's grant during their undergraduate studies. ACs are more lenient with academic benchmarks when applicants need to work during their UG studies, but that doesn't typically decrease the research requirements.
 

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Yikes! I was afraid of posting in this thread in the first place because I was afraid it would spiral into arguing :-S

Also to dmblue - point taken. I guess in my mind, the people most in need of a 'boost' are people underrepresented due to a systemic disadvantage, but that's a separate topic.

https://www.aamc.org/initiatives/urm/

URM does not mean disadvantaged. It means underrepresented.
 

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Wow, this thread really blew up. Sorry if my original post left some things lacking. I'll try to clarify.

I consider myself disadvantaged. My family has always been poor. My dad completed college after nearly a decade of going back and forth between college and odd jobs. He is currently an elementary teacher. My mom did not complete college because she became pregnant with me. They were 18 and 19 when I was born. I have 5 siblings, so living on a teacher's salary is tough. We also live in a poor farming community, with atrocious schools. The highest math class offered is trig, but most years they don't teach it because no one takes it.

I qualified for and got Pell grants, as well as my high school's free and reduced lunch program. I would call that economically disadvantaged.

I do consider myself Native American. It isn't as big a part of my life as some people's. I don't go to powwows or anything like the stereotype. However, my primary motivation is knowing that for reasons I don't entirely agree with, a great deal of opportunity is predicated on skin color, rather than socioeconomic background. One of my friends is a banker's son. He is the whitest guy I know. He is a redhead and covered in freckles. But he also has an Indian card because somewhere back in his family tree he had a NA ancestor. He is in no way affiliated with a tribe, other than having paid a service to find his ancestry. He got a 21 on the ACT, and I got a 32. He is going to college for free (and failing), while I struggle to go to college. All because he has a card I don't. Frankly, if other people are going to abuse the system in such a way, I think I have more of a claim to the advantages than some of them do.

That other guy has never wanted for anything in his life. His family has always been rich. Yet he gets free school from the tribe. I support my parents and siblings with my scholarships. The school pays me to go, but it isn't enough to keep me from having to work to put food on the table. My dad also recently applied and was accepted to medical school after several years of taking the prereqs. Come fall, he will stop working and start school. My mom is too ill to work. Quite literally, my parents and 5 siblings will survive on what I can provide. While being a 20 year old college student. Double majoring. Doing research. Shadowing. Volunteering.

Quite honestly, I feel that if anyone deserves some help, it's me. Not that other guy who needs no help but gets it because he has NA ancestry. And he is not the only person like that I know. He is just the most extreme example. I know multiple people who get free school, not from merit or need, but their race.

I originally posted because I wanted to see if I could look into getting any of that aid. Sorry for the rant. Sometimes it's just a little overwhelming thinking about what I am trying to take on here.
 

Neuronix

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I consider myself disadvantaged.

You should clearly apply as disadvantaged.

I do consider myself Native American. It isn't as big a part of my life as some people's. I don't go to powwows or anything like the stereotype. However, my primary motivation is knowing that for reasons I don't entirely agree with, a great deal of opportunity is predicated on skin color, rather than socioeconomic background. One of my friends is a banker's son. He is the whitest guy I know. He is a redhead and covered in freckles. But he also has an Indian card because somewhere back in his family tree he had a NA ancestor. He is in no way affiliated with a tribe, other than having paid a service to find his ancestry. He got a 21 on the ACT, and I got a 32. He is going to college for free (and failing), while I struggle to go to college. All because he has a card I don't. Frankly, if other people are going to abuse the system in such a way, I think I have more of a claim to the advantages than some of them do.

Many of us know anecdotes of people who gamed the system in this way. The definition of URM from the AAMC is vague, and up to the individual schools to interpret. However, I think given all of the above, declaring yourself as a URM is more likely to hurt you than help you.

Nevertheless, the reality is that for MD/PhD, you're looking at full funding regardless. So this is a moot point for you. Regardless of URM status, you will get the same funding at any MSTP.

Quite literally, my parents and 5 siblings will survive on what I can provide. While being a 20 year old college student. Double majoring. Doing research. Shadowing. Volunteering.

You should know that this plan has limited feasibility. If your mother is too ill to work, she should be declared disabled and she should apply for public assistance. Your family can pool its resources as best it can, but know that you will need to apply to on the order of a dozen MD/PhD programs, and you may have to live far from your family. This means you will need to pay your own living expenses, which can vary from place to place. You may be able to send a couple hundred dollars a month back home, but not more than that.

Also, there is no reason to double major. It will not impress anyone. If it helps your social or economic situation, you should drop one of the majors and take a light, full-time schedule each semester. Your academic focus needs to be on GPA, MCAT, and research, with a light amount of shadowing and volunteering.
 

ethanwood17

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I don't have a choice on the double major. I got a scholarship for a particular major, which pays enough money I need to keep that major. And to get my science prereqs I need to major in a science discipline. I need to major rather than just take the classes because majoring makes me eligible for departmental tuition waivers. It's also not quite as bad since one major is science, and one is not, and is actually rather easy. So I don't think GPA will be a problem. By hours I am a junior and still have a 4.0. And I will start taking less science classes soon, maybe 1-2 per semester.
 

ilikeargyle

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Looking forward, true "disadvantaged" status and making the most out of the opportunities available to the applicant are elements that most MD/PhD admission committees (ACs) considerably value.

Thank you for noting this. It takes the right amount of mentorship, opportunity, and gusto to dig oneself out of that systematic hole, but the people I often most respect are those that did take advantage of this combination, and don't have a big head about it.

As has been pointed out many times by the adcoms in pre-allo, "admissions standards" are not being "loosened" for anyone. Perhaps you just don't agree with the standards being used or you believe in a numbers only system?

I appreciate you sharing your story, but it seems to have had a happy ending, right? Who judged you? My family has some interesting stories to tell also. My abuelo served in the Army Air Corp during WWII (he was always so proud of his "before Pearl Harbor ribbon"), and came home after the war with a GI bill, but that was not good enough to gain entry into a white only University of Texas. You see, Texas had separate colleges for people of color. My father while in public secondary school in south Texas took a national standardized test as part of the school district's self assessment. When the results came in, the names of the top performers were read over the PA to all the classes during morning messages. (all the names were of white kids even though the school was over 50% minority) Later that day he was taken out of study hall and sent to the office where they informed him that he had scored 99 percentile across all subjects (highest in the school). They wanted to know how he did it. They wanted to know what his "trick" was. After my father finished school, he worked very hard sometimes working 2 full time jobs in order to improve his lot in life and achieve his dream of a college degree. He was able to afford a new car and because of this he was pulled over and actually arrested many times by state troopers and local police for "driving a new car while brown". I have many more stories to share if you are interested.

Unintentionally (probably, I hope), this comes off as one-upping. We all have our sad stories* and they all affect us in different ways whether or not the outside world views them as more disadvantaged than the other.

*I don't mean to disregard and dismiss your family history or father's struggles when I say that, so I hope you don't take offense.

IMHO, the answer is pretty straightforward for any applicant: setting aside medical school applications and chances, do you truly view yourself as disadvantaged (SES, minority, or otherwise)? If yes, check the box and explain when necessary (I'm hoping people know enough about the world around them to gauge what it means to be disadvantaged, but then again I have met a lot of naive people). If not, don't check the box and move on with life. That is the best and most honest thing you can do as an applicant. I had a couple of interviews where I was asked why I did not apply as disadvantaged, and the idea of claiming myself as such honestly disgusted me a bit, because I believe I've lived a privileged life far beyond others. Admission committees will read or hear your explanation and take it into consideration. Either way, if you're good enough, race/SES are not going to be the deciding factor. If they laugh and throw your application out the trash, it's probably not because they heard a more sappy story, it's because you probably need to gain some perspective (i.e. grow up).

You can't change an entire system that has inherent flaws by complaining on SDN nor really asking on a thread whether to do this or that. How much race affects admissions is unclear nor how much it plays itself up/down with SES. If it bothers anyone on SDN that much, perhaps a different career focus on education and administration is in order. Yes, there are going to be a lot of applicants that milk the system no matter what their SES is. Do you want to stop that? Ask the very simple question above and start with yourself, and teach your friends, kids, students, etc. the same thing.
 
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plumazul

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Unintentionally (probably, I hope), this comes off as one-upping. We all have our sad stories* and they all affect us in different ways whether or not the outside world views them as more disadvantaged than the other.

*I don't mean to disregard and dismiss your family history or father's struggles when I say that, so I hope you don't take offense.

You missed the point. All the "sad stories" mentioned were examples of race specific discrimination (the very thing the person I was answering said didn't exist).
The "outside world" (AAMC, LCME, etc.), agrees that these disadvantages are worthy of consideration, and so do I.

IMHO, the answer is pretty straightforward for any applicant: setting aside medical school applications and chances, do you truly view yourself as disadvantaged (SES, minority, or otherwise)? If yes, check the box and explain when necessary (I'm hoping people know enough about the world around them to gauge what it means to be disadvantaged, but then again I have met a lot of naive people). If not, don't check the box and move on with life. That is the best and most honest thing you can do as an applicant. I had a couple of interviews where I was asked why I did not apply as disadvantaged, and the idea of claiming myself as such honestly disgusted me a bit, because I believe I've lived a privileged life far beyond others. Admission committees will read or hear your explanation and take it into consideration. Either way, if you're good enough, race/SES are not going to be the deciding factor. If they laugh and throw your application out the trash, it's probably not because they heard a more sappy story, it's because you probably need to gain some perspective (i.e. grow up).

Well said :thumbup:

You can't change an entire system that has inherent flaws by complaining on SDN nor really asking on a thread whether to do this or that. How much race affects admissions is unclear nor how much it plays itself up/down with SES. If it bothers anyone on SDN that much, perhaps a different career focus on education and administration is in order. Yes, there are going to be a lot of applicants that milk the system no matter what their SES is. Do you want to stop that? Ask the very simple question above and start with yourself, and teach your friends, kids, students, etc. the same thing.

Mexican Americans make up over 10% (and growing fast) of our nation's population. This should mean over 2,000 annual matriculants to US MD schools. Instead there are around 400. It is currently very clear, that if you are born black or Mexican American, your odds of being admitted to medical school are very much lower than the average American. This "bothers" me, and I will work both within and outside my profession to change this.
 

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plumazul, do you accept private conversations?

You missed the point. All the "sad stories" mentioned were examples of race specific discrimination (the very thing the person I was answering said didn't exist).
The "outside world" (AAMC, LCME, etc.), agrees that these disadvantages are worthy of consideration, and so do I.

You're also missing my point, which is that sharing this story on SDN is great and yes you gave an example of active race-specific discrimination. But the way you wrote that paragraph comes off as high horsed (and like I said when I quoted you, it's probably unintentional), in particular the first and last sentence of that paragraph: "I appreciate you sharing your story, but it seems to have had a happy ending, right? Who judged you? My family has some interesting stories to tell also.... I have many more stories to share if you are interested." If you still cannot understand how your statement came off and want to roll your eyes, then I personally wish not to bicker over phrasing at this point and agree to disagree.

Mexican Americans make up over 10% (and growing fast) of our nation's population. This should mean over 2,000 annual matriculants to US MD schools. Instead there are around 400. It is currently very clear, that if you are born black or Mexican American, your odds of being admitted to medical school are very much lower than the average American.

Per this link, the number of Hispanic applicants in 2012 was 3,701 compared to those who do not identify as Hispanic being >41,000. Accept 2,000 of these kids and that's a >50% admittance. I did not say that being a minority made your chance at medical school just as good as the average applicant. I said it's unclear, because of how different schools operate and their blurred lines, how a single person thinks when they're reading an application, and because part of the problem is the lower number of applicants from minority groups to begin with. It's not just at the medical admittance level, the problem lies before that at a college level, elementary/secondary education level, and societal level with how minorities have been treated in the US and how that has systemically engrained itself into the SES, upbringing, and educational goals of the majority of minorities.
 
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You will be surprised but you know each other, and probably have much more in common than you think. Plumazul, there is a Diversity workshop on Wednesday PM at your incoming MSTP school including the deputy NIH director as a guest lecturer. The workshop will discuss strategies to improve representation in the research and physician workforce. Contact your administrator.
 
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If you are interested in this subject, you should read these resources including the two NIH workforce reports:

NIH 2014 Physician Scientist report: http://acd.od.nih.gov/reports/PSW_Report_ACD_06042014.pdf
NIH 2012 Research Workforce report: http://acd.od.nih.gov/biomedical_research_wgreport.pdf
Strategies after Affirmative Action:
Website: http://apps.tcf.org/future-of-affirmative-action#story-cover
Book: http://tcf.org/assets/downloads/FOAA.pdf
Article on this latter book: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/...egies-dont-consider-race#sthash.Tgnz47P3.dpbs

I am a strong proponent of a holistic review as adapted for MD/PhD careers. See these AAMC resources:
http://www4.utsouthwestern.edu/stua...ions/SGSA Holistic Review_Final_051309ppt.pdf
https://www.aamc.org/download/358384/data/holisticreviewbrochure.pdf
http://www.cossa.org/diversity/reports/Integrating_Holistic_Review_Practices.pdf
 
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