Medical would i be considered disadvantaged?

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GoSpursGo

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I'm trying to decide which of my experiences would be most beneficial to discuss in the disadvantaged status essay. I've been through a fair amount of hardship throughout my childhood and college, but am unsure what adcoms are looking for when reading this essay specifically.

For context, here are some of the more major difficulties I've experienced:
  • My mother has bipolar I and has been in and out of involuntary psychiatric holds my entire life. She has also been an alcoholic for that period of time, and has recently started abusing narcotics such as meth and ketamine. Over the past 4-5 years, she has become increasingly unstable and has been evicted and incarcerated multiple times. Despite having reliable consistent income from the pension my father left her, she has been voluntarily homeless and has ruined her credit. A big portion of my time in undergrad went towards fighting the battle of getting her care.
  • My father died when I was 16 of pancreatic cancer.
  • Throughout childhood, I was subject to emotional, physical, and sexual abuse from my parents. I was also emotionally and physically neglected. Recently, my mother gave my social security number out to a homeless person she doesn't know, which my therapist has defined to me as financial abuse.
  • I was homeless for a portion of last year in part due to COVID.
  • I am both nonbinary and bisexual. While my immediate family wasn't frequently homophobic or transphobic, my extended family was.
These experiences have definitely disadvantaged me in many ways. In addition to the time and financial expenditure to take care of my mother while going to school, the symptoms of abuse are widespread and affect every aspect of my life. The only thing to do is to stay positive and look towards the future, which I always have. Many of these experiences will be discussed in my personal statement and/or secondaries. My journey as a nonbinary person has been especially meaningful to me, and I look forward to serving the queer community as a doctor.

While I have definitely been disadvantaged, I also come from a middle class family of an academic background with good healthcare. My access to opportunity and enrichment has always been good, and from the way the question is phrased it seems like disadvantages affecting that sort of access are what medical schools may be interested in here. Which, if any, of my experiences should I discuss in the "Disadvantaged Status" essay?

Additionally, would it be a bad idea to list the time I spent caring for my mother as an activity? Because of the time I dedicated to her, I have plenty of space in the activities section. I grew a lot from that experience, but am wary of including it because she is family.
I'm so sorry you went through this.

I find this page to be helpful in terms of how to define "disadvantaged": https://www.usnews.com/education/bl...o-be-a-disadvantaged-medical-school-applicant . Based on what you are describing, I certainly think you would meet any reasonable criteria. I would write your essay based on what would fit some of the definitions on that webpage, as well as what you personally think disadvantaged you the most.

Unfortunately you can't list caring for your mom as an activity. I'm sure you learned a lot, but it just isn't something you can formally list.

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I'm going to disagree with my colleague and comment that I do not believe that you are disadvantaged. The prompt is not for people who have had horrible things happened to them recently, but more for things that happen to you that affected your ability to do well in college, such as growing up poor and having rotten schools.
 
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I'm going to disagree with my colleague and comment that I do not believe that you are disadvantaged. The prompt is not for people who have had horrible things happened to them recently, but more for things that happen to you that affected your ability to do well in college, such as growing up poor and having rotten schools.
While I generally agree that I think of the term as meaning "underserved" in terms of healthcare resources or requiring financial support, I think it depends, and probably not every school views things the same way. For me, the parts that I think seem most appropriate to be considered "disadvantaged" would be the involuntary psych holds mom's life, and father dying at age 16. That means for at least 2 years (and immediately prior to entering college) they were living on the father's pension, which may or may not have been adequate. It would not surprise me based on this story to hear that at some point they received other financial assistance, or that other factors occurred during those two years hindered the OP's readiness for college.

Furthermore, it's not clear to me that the cutoff for being disadvantaged ends at 18. Being homeless in the last year prior to applying to med school would seem to place an applicant at a disadvantage. While a school can choose to factor that in or not, I don't think one would be seen NEGATIVELY for writing a disadvantaged essay given the circumstances.

I would tend to agree that I would not discuss the abuse or the nonbinary/bisexual piece because it is more difficult to directly apply those to being "disadvantaged" rather than it just really being awful.
 
There is a lot to unpack. You should talk with a diversity expert or officer at your undergraduate school or at a medical school to help you with this. Have you declared these disadvantages in the past (when you applied to undergrad)?

I say this because every school has flexible definitions and criteria. You may be a first generation college student but not every one knows how they are disadvantaged. It does sound to me like the lack of a supportive family structure argues for being disadvantaged.
 
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