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What is Disadvantaged?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by pr0foundbsguy, May 14, 2007.

  1. pr0foundbsguy

    pr0foundbsguy 2+ Year Member

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    Mar 28, 2007
    I'm just a little confused by the AMCA's definition of it, but here's my story, you can then vote if it is actually fitting of the status or not.

    I lived in a rural village in India for 12 years before I immigrated to the United States. The nearest hospital was 30 miles away and we only had two doctors serving the entire village of 6,000 some people. When my parents immigrated here, they were working two jobs each and continued to do so until about I graduated from High School four years ago. I also started working at 14 to help support the family.

    But when I look back it all, I still think we were pretty blessed with many things and I know there are people out there much worse off than myself. So I don't feel right in checking that box, thats why I just wanted to get other's input on it.
     
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  3. ropeadope1983

    ropeadope1983 2+ Year Member

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    Apr 2, 2007
    The methodology for determining if someone is "disadvantaged" is fairly cut and dry. The primary factor is your parents' yearly income and total savings/investments. There are other factors, including your race, but your parents income and savings/investments always seems to be the primary deciding factor.
     
  4. Meatwad

    Meatwad Reformed 7+ Year Member

    3,879
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    Jan 19, 2007
    Interesting, I didn't know income and savings played a big role (I assumed it was mainly race). In that case, I may actually qualify...
     
  5. lilnoelle

    lilnoelle Moderator Emeritus 7+ Year Member

    2,892
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    Feb 21, 2006
    crazyland
    Yeah, that would probably be considered disadvantaged.
     
  6. kypdurron5

    kypdurron5 10+ Year Member

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    Dec 3, 2005
    Those are the big ones; you come from a poor country, the place where you spent a majority of your childhood was medically undeserved, your parents worked multiple (probably low-paying) jobs, and you had to contribute to the family. This is disadvantaged by any reasonable determination, especially if your family is larger than just you and your parents. Also, if your family regularly sent money back to relatives in India I'd definitely mention that.
     
  7. pr0foundbsguy

    pr0foundbsguy 2+ Year Member

    21
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    Mar 28, 2007
    Thanks for everyones input.
     
  8. alwaysaangel

    alwaysaangel 5+ Year Member

    5,377
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    Sep 4, 2006
    Orange, CA
    MDApps:
    Wow. This is really really wrong.

    Income/savings may be the determining factor for 'disadvantaged' scholarships. But when it comes to applying disadvantaged they're going to ask about it at interviews and handing them your parents W-2s and bank statements isn't going to cut it.

    Deciding if you are disadvantaged is far from cut and dry and its something only the applying individual can decide. Did you really feel disadvantaged? Did you feel that your education leading up to college was severely hurt by your families situation (eg you went to school only 3x per week because you had to work full time at the age of 15 to support your family). Did you live in a ghetto where getting a decent education was near impossible and getting into college was a miracle? These are the types of questions one needs to ask themselves to determine if they feel disadvantaged.

    Basically, if you feel like you could sit with an interviewer who is grilling you on your disadvantaged status and you could still hold to your belief that you grew up under disadvantaged circumstances and could adequately explain to an interviewer why your primary and secondary education was so hindered then go for it.

    Whatever you do DO NOT do it based on income. I grew up in a family of 4 on 20k/year with ZERO savings in the bank - in California no less. But I still didn't feel like I could justify applying as disadvantaged - because I just wasn't.
     
  9. MyStiKxFury

    MyStiKxFury 2+ Year Member

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    Sep 7, 2006
    Anyone has this info in print or know where to find it? thanks
     
  10. alwaysaangel

    alwaysaangel 5+ Year Member

    5,377
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    Sep 4, 2006
    Orange, CA
    MDApps:
    Page 37 of the AMCAS Instructions found here: http://www.aamc.org/students/applying/advisors/2008amcasinstructions.pdf

    Those are the basic guidelines, but as you can tell they're relatively loose. Its really your own choice and a lot of people who received federal aid when young shouldn't necessarily apply as disadvantaged.
     
  11. ropeadope1983

    ropeadope1983 2+ Year Member

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    Apr 2, 2007
    This is coming straight from the AMCAS instructions for 2008:

    Disadvantaged Status
    Disadvantaged status is self-determined and each medical school has their own
    policies for how they use this information.
    To help determine if you are disadvantaged, click the How do I know if I should be
    considered disadvantaged? link, which displays the following information:

    Underserved:
    Do you believe, based on your own experiences or the
    experiences of family and friends that the area in which you grew up was
    inadequately served by the available health care professionals? Were there
    enough physicians, nurses, hospitals, clinics, and other health care service
    providers?
    Immediate Family:


    The Federal Government broadly defines "immediate
    family" as "spouse, parent, child, sibling, mother or father-in-law, son or
    daughter-in-law, or sister or brother-in-law, including step and adoptive
    relationships."
    State and Federal Assistance Programs:


    These programs are specifically
    defined as "Means-Tested Programs" under which the individual, family, or
    household income and assets must be below specified thresholds. The
    sponsoring agencies then provide cash and non-cash assistance to eligible
    individuals, families, or households. Such programs include welfare benefit
    programs (federal, state, and local); Aid to Families with Dependent Children
    (AFDC or ADC); unemployment compensation; General Assistance (GA); food
    stamps; Supplemental Security Income (SSI); Medicaid; housing assistance;
    or other federal, state, or local financial assistance programs.
    Click the Yes button to be considered a disadvantaged applicant. A Disadvantaged
    Status form will appear. Questions marked with an asterisk (*) are required.



    Sounds pretty cut and dry to me. Also sounds like family income is the primary deciding factor.


     
  12. alwaysaangel

    alwaysaangel 5+ Year Member

    5,377
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    Sep 4, 2006
    Orange, CA
    MDApps:
    The bolded is the part you are missing and is the most important part. Income levels notwithstanding you will have to justify the claim of disadvantaged to your interviewers. And if you grew up in fairly safe area with decent schools and had everything you really needed but just couldn't afford to go shopping every weekend with friends its going to be a tough sell. I am just warning the current applicants that they really need to think about whether they want to claim disadvantaged or not.

    A lot of people receive federal assistance, unemployment, GA, etc. etc. but really don't feel disadvantaged didn't REALLY have a hinderance on their primary/secondary education and really shouldn't apply disadvantaged. So while yes, first step is "do I have a low enough income" second step is everything I described above. So I stand by my statement that whatever applicants do they should not do it based strictly on "am I below a certain income level or not."

    But buddy, if you feel disadvantaged because you have a low income then by all means have at it. I'm not trying to disparage your way of reading it or your decision. I am just trying to tell applicants like it is. And if your interviewer walks away feeling like you're just some brat who decided to apply disadvantaged because he thought it would give him a leg up and his family didn't make that much but really had no problems getting to college then its not going to go well for you.
     
  13. ropeadope1983

    ropeadope1983 2+ Year Member

    144
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    Apr 2, 2007


    Here's more from the 2008 AMCAS application worksheet:

    Disadvantaged Status
    Do you wish to be considered a disadvantaged applicant by any of your designated medical schools,
    which may consider such factors (social, economic or educational)?

    If you answered yes, please answer the following related questions.
    A.
    In what area did you spend the majority of your life from birth to age eighteen?
    Country State/Province
    County City


    Description. Check only one:□ Military or Government Installation □ Suburban□ Other □ Urban□ Rural
    B.
    Do you believe that this area was medically under-served?
    □ Yes □ Don’t Know□ No □ Decline to answer
    C.
    Have you or members of your immediate family ever used federal or state assistance programs?□ Yes □ Don’t Know




    □ No □ Decline to answer
    D.

    What was the income level of your family during the majority of your life from birth to age eighteen?
    Circle the answer that applies.

    Don’t know $10,000 - $12,499 $25,000 - $29,000 $50,000 - $59,000

    Less than $5,000 $12,500 - $14,999 $30,000 - $34,999 $60,000 - $74,000
    $5,000 - $7,499 $15,000 - $19,999 $35,000 - $39,999 $75,000 or more
    $7,500 - $9,999 $20,000 - $24,999 $40,000 - $49,999 Decline to Answer
    E.
    Did you have paid employment prior to age eighteen?
    □ Yes □ No □ Decline to answer
    F.
    Were you required to contribute to the overall family income (as opposed to working primarily for your own discretionary spending money)?
    □ Yes □ No □ Decline to answer
    G.
    How many people who lived in your primary household during the majority of your life from birth to age eighteen?
    H.
    How have you paid or did you pay for your post-secondary education? For each of the applicableoptions below indicate the average percentage contribution towards your post-secondary education. The
    percentages entered should equal 100%.
    Academic scholarship %
    Financial need-based scholarship %
    Student loan %
    Other loan %
    Family contributions %
    Applicant contribution %
    Other %
    TOTAL 100 %

    I.
    Do you believe that you have faced any hardships from birth to the present that interfered with your educational pursuits? If yes, briefly explain on a separate sheet of paper. The available space for each description is 1,325 characters (including spaces), or approximately 1/4 full page. Hard returns (‘enter’ key) count as two characters.







    SURE SOUNDS HEAVILY DEPENDENT ON FAMILY INCOME LEVELS.
     
  14. alwaysaangel

    alwaysaangel 5+ Year Member

    5,377
    34
    Sep 4, 2006
    Orange, CA
    MDApps:
    Dude, I know all this. I applied last year. Been there did that. Qualified for disadvantaged - decided against applying as such. Of course they do the initial qualification on numbers there is no other objective way for AMCAS to do the initial measurement.

    Again, the initial qualification is income based (or based on growing up in an underserved area) but ultimately disadvantaged status is "SELF-DETERMINED" once you qualify - you have to decide if you feel you were disadvantaged.

    If you don't believe me then fine. I'm done. I'm going to assume there is enough info here and on the many other threads on this forum that have discussed this that most people can make their own intelligent decision and won't be quite as ignorant as you are being.

    You're being really defensive and I'm sorry if what I said made you feel somehow insecure about your decision on applying as disadvantaged or whatever your major malfunction is. But applicants need to be prepared to justify their claim with something beyond numbers.
     
  15. Critical Mass

    Critical Mass Guest

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    Feb 23, 2007
    Different schools will define it in different ways. Most of my applications that referred to disadvantaged status asked for an essay or description of my circumstances.
     
  16. lilnoelle

    lilnoelle Moderator Emeritus 7+ Year Member

    2,892
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    Feb 21, 2006
    crazyland
    I think the important thing in applying as disadvantaged is how the school views you. You can apply for disadvantaged and perhaps been given a better chance at an interview, but if you can't convince the interviewer that you really were disadvantaged, then they'll not considered you as such when they review your application (or worse they'll think of you negatively).

    I'm not saying that your gonna be grilled at the interview because you applied as disadvantaged. I don't know. I didn't apply as disadvantaged. (Although like alwaysangel, I probably could have.)

    Just make sure that if you feel you were disadvantaged and if you apply as such, that you know how your status affected you while growing up and why it makes you disadvantaged as compared to other applicants.

    For me it was the lack of exposure to medicine as an option (due to income and status) and the inability to find time for a lot of clinical experience (due to needing to provide for my kids once I realized medicine was what I wanted).

    I felt my reasons for applying as disadvantaged sounded like I was trying to excuse my lack of clinical experience and therefore didn't apply as such. I didn't really feel disadvantaged in my education, because even though my parents had very little income, I was always encouraged to excel in school and didn't have any resistance as far as getting into and performing in college.
     
  17. alwaysaangel

    alwaysaangel 5+ Year Member

    5,377
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    Sep 4, 2006
    Orange, CA
    MDApps:
    Yeah I don't think getting grilled about it is common - but I know a friend who applied disadvantaged and at 2/4 of her interviews they asked about it - weren't satisfied and grilled her pretty brutally. It left some pretty bad interview experiences for her and she didn't get into either of those. I don't know if thats because of her poor explanation of being disadvantaged or not, but she feels it was and regrets her choice. Its anectdotal but its scary enough to leave me glad I didn't apply disadvantaged.

    But if you really were disadvantaged you should be afraid to claim it. Just be cautious if you're borderline.
     
  18. lilnoelle

    lilnoelle Moderator Emeritus 7+ Year Member

    2,892
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    Feb 21, 2006
    crazyland
    I think I would only apply as disadvantaged if you are afraid that your poor stats will prevent you from getting an interview (provided you are disadvantaged of course). Otherwise, what is the benefit?

    If you are in good shape for getting into med school without applying as such and you can bring your substandard living conditions into play during your interview or even your PS, it may make you an even more interesting applicant.
     
  19. ropeadope1983

    ropeadope1983 2+ Year Member

    144
    0
    Apr 2, 2007

    Having also applied and been accepted in the 2007 application cycle I know all this as well. If you want to lead others to believe that it is a good idea to give it a try and be liberal with assigning yourself as disadvantaged for flimsy reasons, then that's just your ignorance. What do you think all of those follow-up questions are getting at? The only other reasons I can think of that are more worthy than financial hardship in assigning the disadvantaged status are medical handicaps (which, unfortunately, will bring into question whether the technical standards can be met for medical schools), serious family disruptions (often of which also entail financial hardship) or things of that nature.

    Here's my final 2 cents for all those applying and thinking about checking that disadvantaged box on the AMCAS: Take a good hard look at yourself in the mirror and reflect on your life and upbringing. This is something that they take very seriously so you better make sure you have very good reasons. It might be the biggest mistake you make if medical schools see your reasoning as inadequate (I sure wouldn't want to ask medical schools to count me on a level playing field with people living in poverty or with severe medical afflictions unless I felt equally disadvantaged for very, very good reasons).
     
  20. pr0foundbsguy

    pr0foundbsguy 2+ Year Member

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    1
    Mar 28, 2007
    Well here's my rationale/explanation on AMCAs, feel free to rip it apart if you like, this'll just give me some perspective into what others are thinking.

    My parents and I immigrated to the United States in 1998 seeking asylum/refugee status after my fathers life was threatened by the state police. I spent 12 years of my life in a small village named Miani in the state of Punjab in India and attended school in the main city which was 30 miles away.

    Miani was a village that was medically underserved. The nearest medical facilities were in the main city also. In order to get to a hospital, bus transportation was needed, which only operated during the day. The village did however have 2 doctors, both of whom were general practitioners and in the event of an emergency, they were the first and last resort.

    When we moved to the United States, my parents could not sell their land to financially establish themselves in the U.S. Their primary goal was to escape and thus we had no financial support when we arrived. My parents each worked two jobs to help support my 2 siblings and I. They worked two jobs for over four years after our arrival. I also started contributing to the family income at age 14 by working at McDonalds.
     
  21. alwaysaangel

    alwaysaangel 5+ Year Member

    5,377
    34
    Sep 4, 2006
    Orange, CA
    MDApps:
    I would mention how many people those two doctors served like you did in your original post but otherwise sounds convincing to me. Might want to make some mention of how being low-income and having to work at such a young age affected your primary/secondary school education and ability to get into college.
     

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