Disadvantaged Status Amcas Essay Tips

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Disadvantaged Doctor: What It Means on Your MD Application

If you are on your way to a doctoratein education, as you are filling out the required American Medical College Application Service forms, you may notice there is a section to let the reviewing committee know if you are in the “disadvantaged status” category. You may wonder what this designation means and how to know if you qualify for disadvantaged status.

This is a question hundreds of medical school candidates, as well as candidates for fields as diverse as marketing MBA and master in public health, routinely face each year. While there are fairly standard criteria outlining which candidates qualify and which do not, there is also a fairly generous window left open for personal information and interpretation. In other words, whether you meet the exact criteria as listed or not, you are still able to make a case for being in the disadvantaged status category, if you want.

What are the Criteria for “Disadvantaged Status?”

You can apply for “disadvantaged status” on your AMCAS application if you were under-served in your geographic area before you reached the age of 18, if your education or social opportunities were limited due to a family matter (this is limited to immediate family members only), or if you or your family received state or federal assistance, or both, before you reached the age of 18. In addition to these three factors, you can also choose to make a case for yourself if you had to work as a minor to help support your family, if your local community lacked sufficient trained medical personnel to care for your medical needs and the needs of the community; it also works if you grew up feeling excluded because of minority status.

How Much Can Claiming Disadvantaged Status Assist with School Bills

While the amount of financial relief or assistance can vary a bit from program to program, the reigning consensus amongst medical students who have successfully met the criteria for disadvantaged status is that the financial relief is negligible. The simple truth is that financing a medical school degree is a big ticket item and will make its impact felt on a budget of any size. There is always a case for claiming disadvantaged status because every bit helps, but don’t count on it totally alleviating the burden of repaying medical school student loans.

Why Do Schools Offer Financial Relief through Disadvantaged Status

Medical schools, like other educational institutions, recognize minorities and students of any ethnicity who may come from a financially difficult or impoverished background can feel reluctant to take on the burden of student debt. In recognition of disadvantaged students being less likely to apply their aptitude in the medical field, the AMCAS has mandated that all colleges under its governance offer an opportunity for students to make a case for being financially disadvantaged at the time of their medical school application.

Do Other Advanced Degree Programs Offer Disadvantaged Status Relief?

There is no uniform policy amongst other institutions of higher education for offering advanced degree candidates the option to indicate disadvantaged status. Often, however, there are other vehicles, such as work-study programs, assistant teaching positions, minority scholarships, grant programs (public and private) and the use of the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form to determine eligibility for federal grants, financial aid, and even scholarships and other financial relief programs at the university level. It is well-established that it is often more difficult to find aid and financing for a graduate or doctoral level degree than it is to finance a bachelor’s degree, but it is not impossible, either.


About the Author

Shannon Sims is working towards her MSN nursing degree and has been fascinated by the healthcare field since she can remember.

Top Reasons People Get Rejected From Medical School

Rejected from medical school

For many people, the involved process of filling out an AMCAS (American Medical College Application Service) application is just about the last thing they would want to do. However, it’s something you will have to do — sooner rather than later — if you don’t want to be rejected from medical school. Sadly (I know, more bad news), the truth is that many of these AMCAS applications don’t even make it past the first screen! It goes without saying that you should become intimately familiar with common reasons that this happens. But fear not — we’ve got you covered here. Finally, some good news!

Completing the AMCAS application, along with applications from the other standardized application services, can seem like a mostly tedious exercise for applicants trying as hard as they can to make it to top medical schools. The flip side of this, however, is to be thankful that you don’t have to fill out a separate application for each school. We’ve got plenty of information on this site to help you succeed on the AMCAS application, as well as packages to make the process even easier.

Applications get rejected from medical school for a variety of reasons. However, there are three key reasons applicants are rejected from medical school: 

Top Reasons People Get Rejected From Medical School

1. Grades Or MCAT Scores Are Simply Too Low

Although medical schools value individual applicants’ personal qualities, the reality is the most important thing when applying is your academic record. Many application are rejected from medical school because of their grades. Some schools (such as the University of California system’s medical schools) screen applicants based on minimum GPA and MCAT scores during the primary application, before secondary applications are ever sent. Successful medical school applicants do not have low GPAs and MCAT scores. Applicants with disadvantaged status or other special circumstances may be specially selected to interview, but they need to be prepared to address any academic shortcomings and provide logical reasons for those shortcomings.

If you had other personal circumstances occur that resulted in a dip in grades, showing an upward trend in GPA in later years can help draw attention away from your checkered academic past. MCAT scores are another area of the application that can end up being very black and white. Medical schools rely on the GPA and MCAT score as an indicator for whether the student will be able to handle the academic rigor of medicine, where faulty knowledge could potentially cost a patient her life.

What can you do if rejected from medical school?

– Re-take the MCAT if you know you’re going to do better

– Highlight your non-academic strengths. We’ve helped people with mid-20’s MCAT scores get into the top 10 medical schools! Schedule a consultation with us if you need help strategizing your application

– Take additional summer or post-bac classes after you graduate. Refer to our blog about summer classes for additional information.

2. Essays and Extracurricular Activities Didn’t Stand Out

Medical schools like to see that applicants not only know what they’re getting into with medical school (i.e. the medical profession), but also that they’ve demonstrated both commitment and some leadership while they’ve been undergraduates. Medical school applicants don’t need to choose a specific specialty, they need to be able to talk about their aspirations in an informed way, and also need to show a sustained track record of involvement in activities. Joining habitat for humanity the spring semester before you apply to medical school, for example, is NOT going to impress an admissions committee. Extracurricular activities pursued half-heartedly or without sustained commitment will not stand out on your AMCAS application or your personal statement. Weak activities lead to weak AMCAS application mini-statements, and even worse, a weak, forgettable personal statement. As a reminder, our book has 50 examples of essays that did stand out. Learn from successful medical school applicants so you are not rejected from medical school!

What can you do if you were rejected from medical school?

– Make your essays captivating and spectacular. We’re currently helping many pre-meds with their personal statements right now and WE CAN HELP YOU WITH YOUR ESSAYS.

– Make sure your AMCAS application essays show depth and reflection about the activities that mean most to you.

– For your top-choice schools, you can include why you want to go to the school in your secondary essays.

3. AMCAS Application Submitted Too Late

Unfortunately, every year, there are students who don’t apply early enough or to an appropriate range of schools and are subsequently rejected from medical school. Submit your AMCAS application as early as possible! We cannot stress this enough. As time goes by, interview spots start to fill up, and by the end of an application cycle, you may be rejected from medical school simply because most of the class is already filled. Applying early gives you the best chance of maximizing your credentials and possibly sneaking into one of your reach schools.

We know a student who applied in September / October. He had a 40 on his MCAT and a 3.8 GPA from an Ivy-League University, and admissions officers told him that if he had submitted his AMCAS application earlier, he would have been granted an interview offer!

As an aside, students may want to consult the AAMC’s Medical School Admissions Requirements (MSAR) webpage to get an idea of the range of schools to which they should apply.

There are many reasons applicants are rejected from medical school. However, here at Cracking Med School Admissions we have advised thousands of students and have seen that these are the most common reasons for rejection. Successful medical school applicants apply early. Fortunately, these issues are also very avoidable, and proper planning and guidance plus some hard work will help ensure these reasons don’t apply to you.

As always, we welcome any questions you may have! Shoot us an email at info@crackingmedadmissions.com.


Don’t get rejected from medical school!


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