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Ever Feel Like Med School Is A Big Rich Kids Club?

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Since I started med school, I have been amazed by the extremely biased socioeconomic background of my classmates.  I grew up in a middle class home and feel comparatively disadvantaged.  It seems like the norm for my classmates to have full parental support through med school, all designer clothing and a summer/winter home to vacation in.  I wonder how much of this is due to selection via admission practices, or just the fact that these students grew up in more supportive environments.  I'd be curious to know how my experience compares to other schools.

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Since I started med school, I have been amazed by the extremely biased socioeconomic background of my classmates.  I grew up in a middle class home and feel comparatively disadvantaged.  It seems like the norm for my classmates to have full parental support through med school, all designer clothing and a summer/winter home to vacation in.  I wonder how much of this is due to selection via admission practices, or just the fact that these students grew up in more supportive environments.  I'd be curious to know how my experience compares to other schools.

I hear you, but its not something you can control - at least most people are still quite friendly(at least at my school!).  

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I seriously doubt that this is due to selection via admission policies. It's most likely because they were raised in more academically supportive environments - i.e. parents are well educated (correlated to higher household incomes), education was encouraged and rewarded in the household, etc. It is a step by step process so these students also likely went to the "top" undergrad institutions and maybe a private high school before that. At the end of it all and stats aside (GPA, MCAT), these factors put the beneficiaries at a considerable advantage over other candidates from less privileged upbringings. It is in some ways a self-selecting process and this isn't just true for medicine. If you look at law schools (U of T, Osgoode, etc.) or the top undergraduate business schools (Ivey, Queen's, etc.), you will find a similar type of crowd.

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I seriously doubt that this is due to selection via admission policies. It's most likely because they were raised in more academically supportive environments - i.e. parents are well educated (correlated to higher household incomes), education was encouraged and rewarded in the household, etc. It is a step by step process so these students also likely went to the "top" undergrad institutions and maybe a private high school before that. At the end of it all and stats aside (GPA, MCAT), these factors put the beneficiaries at a considerable advantage over other candidates from less privileged upbringings. It is in some ways a self-selecting process and this isn't just true for medicine. If you look at law schools (U of T, Osgoode, etc.) or the top undergraduate business schools (Ivey, Queen's, etc.), you will find a similar type of crowd.

Really? Have you never considered how much harder it is to have to support yourself through university, *magically* obtain the thousands of dollars needed to write the MCAT/apply/travel to interviews? Above and beyond what student loans offer? And then when you work more....your loan gets decreased....so again, where does the money come from??

 

It comes from people's parents. 

 

I agree with the rest of what you said, but you can't deny that it effects admissions. Rich kids likely have parents in jobs like science, or heathcare, and they get their kids summer positions they would otherwise never be qualified for. I've seen this happen countless times. Working part-time will never, ever, look as good as 'selflessly' volunteering. I was shocked when I was getting help with applications at my school's career center and they told me I had tons of work experience compared to most people-that most have worked maybe 1 summer full-time, and nothing else. 

 

I've noticed that the vast majority of people applying are wealthy. Same with at interviews. 

 

Hopefully this will work to my favor in those bursary applications....

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Really? Have you never considered how much harder it is to have to support yourself through university, *magically* obtain the thousands of dollars needed to write the MCAT/apply/travel to interviews? Above and beyond what student loans offer? And then when you work more....your loan gets decreased....so again, where does the money come from??

 

It comes from people's parents. 

 

I agree with the rest of what you said, but you can't deny that it effects admissions. Rich kids likely have parents in jobs like science, or heathcare, and they get their kids summer positions they would otherwise never be qualified for. I've seen this happen countless times. Working part-time will never, ever, look as good as 'selflessly' volunteering. I was shocked when I was getting help with applications at my school's career center and they told me I had tons of work experience compared to most people-that most have worked maybe 1 summer full-time, and nothing else. 

 

I've noticed that the vast majority of people applying are wealthy. Same with at interviews. 

 

Hopefully this will work to my favor in those bursary applications....

Haha, you'll be in a for a rude shock...i know plenty of people who simply just move whatever money they have in their own accounts back to their parents etc..and ended up getting more than me for bursaries. When your parents are paying for everything...you tend not to have any money in your own accounts - and thus look poor on paper. And if you have been a certain number of years since high school and/or live alone (something like that), then you don't even have to report your parents information etc. 

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Really? Have you never considered how much harder it is to have to support yourself through university, *magically* obtain the thousands of dollars needed to write the MCAT/apply/travel to interviews? Above and beyond what student loans offer? And then when you work more....your loan gets decreased....so again, where does the money come from??

 

It comes from people's parents. 

 

I agree with the rest of what you said, but you can't deny that it effects admissions. Rich kids likely have parents in jobs like science, or heathcare, and they get their kids summer positions they would otherwise never be qualified for. I've seen this happen countless times. Working part-time will never, ever, look as good as 'selflessly' volunteering. I was shocked when I was getting help with applications at my school's career center and they told me I had tons of work experience compared to most people-that most have worked maybe 1 summer full-time, and nothing else. 

 

I've noticed that the vast majority of people applying are wealthy. Same with at interviews. 

 

Hopefully this will work to my favor in those bursary applications....

 

What you have said is what I was trying to say - higher household incomes allow parents to support these kids (e.g. paying for MCAT prep) but this is not to say that the admission policies favour the wealthy directly (i.e. they don't prescreen based on people's wealth). What is true is that a wealthy background does create a more prepared candidate who more closely meets the requirements that med schools want based on their preexisting evaluation criteria. I hope that makes some sense.

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Haha, you'll be in a for a rude shock...i know plenty of people who simply just move whatever money they have in their own accounts back to their parents etc..and ended up getting more than me for bursaries. When your parents are paying for everything...you tend not to have any money in your own accounts - and thus look poor on paper. And if you have been a certain number of years since high school and/or live alone (something like that), then you don't even have to report your parents information etc. 

That's what I was afraid of...looking at the bursary forms, with the exception of UofT (since they look at all your parents assets, and our property tax assessments) I was pretty disappointed that others just look at personal income.

Clearly, the people who have a higher personal income, such as myself, from working full-time in summers are ~25hr/wk this year to try and pay for travel/applications, are going to *look* like we need less aid by that measure. But obviously the people working multiple jobs, and not those travelling Europe before med school, or even only working part time, are going to be the wealthy ones who really don't need the money.

 

I was hoping the inequalities and struggle to make ends meet would end after med school begins....but looks like it's really just starting 

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What you have said is what I was trying to say - higher household incomes allow parents to support these kids (e.g. paying for MCAT prep) but this is not to say that the admission policies favour the wealthy directly (i.e. they don't prescreen based on people's wealth). What is true is that a wealthy background does create a more prepared candidate who more closely meets the requirements that med schools want based on their preexisting evaluation criteria. I hope that makes some sense.

 

I may be completely misunderstanding what you're saying, so could you explain that last bit? It sounds like you're saying that having a wealthy background somehow makes it easier to obtain the kinds of things that are important to an admissions committee, which I can't say I agree with. 

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Really? Have you never considered how much harder it is to have to support yourself through university, *magically* obtain the thousands of dollars needed to write the MCAT/apply/travel to interviews? Above and beyond what student loans offer? And then when you work more....your loan gets decreased....so again, where does the money come from??

 

It comes from people's parents. 

 

I agree with the rest of what you said, but you can't deny that it effects admissions. Rich kids likely have parents in jobs like science, or heathcare, and they get their kids summer positions they would otherwise never be qualified for. I've seen this happen countless times. Working part-time will never, ever, look as good as 'selflessly' volunteering. I was shocked when I was getting help with applications at my school's career center and they told me I had tons of work experience compared to most people-that most have worked maybe 1 summer full-time, and nothing else. 

 

I've noticed that the vast majority of people applying are wealthy. Same with at interviews. 

 

Hopefully this will work to my favor in those bursary applications....

 

 

 Like was already said Medway12 was just saying the admissions committees do not look at your income, so no they don't directly select for people of higher incomes. I am not really sure what you mean by getting their kids jobs they are not qualified for in sciences and healthcare as that is likely not legal. They could perhaps know someone to give a really good reference on an application or something, but I really doubt your run of the mill average higher socioeconomic family has those kind of connections.

 

 

NOW, i don't disagree. having watched over candidates go on with me in the competition. many of them never worked a summer job all undergrad or even part time during school, they just volunteer or pursue hobbies. That is a higher socioeconomic thing, but it extends down further than you think. A have a lot of friends with parents making middle/middle-high incomes and their kids just dont work.

 

 That said I also think you can just pick a school that doesn't favor only volunteering when applying. I think in general schools are better at that now anyway. I got into med school and I only listed one volunteering experience on my application, the rest was entirely paid work experience. So yes there are in general more people of high socioeconomic status, but i dont think it is unfairly predisposed to them. 

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What you have said is what I was trying to say - higher household incomes allow parents to support these kids (e.g. paying for MCAT prep) but this is not to say that the admission policies favour the wealthy directly (i.e. they don't prescreen based on people's wealth). What is true is that a wealthy background does create a more prepared candidate who more closely meets the requirements that med schools want based on their preexisting evaluation criteria. I hope that makes some sense.

Oh, yes that makes perfect sense. I misinterpreted what you meant there.

 

Funny enough, I think the schools are catching on to some extent. In more than one interview this year, I was directly asked about financial privilege and the for-profit companies in the admissions process. Could have been a bit awkward for some people to answer, I'm sure

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I may be completely misunderstanding what you're saying, so could you explain that last bit? It sounds like you're saying that having a wealthy background somehow makes it easier to obtain the kinds of things that are important to an admissions committee, which I can't say I agree with. 

In many indirect ways, it does.  Not having to work, or have substantial family obligations - allows one to be able to focus much more on their career aspirations/requirements(i.e. academics, being involved etc). Is it possible to meet requirements with these limitations - of course! Myself and many of my peers have done that time and time again. But its no doubt easier to get a 4.0 and spend a whole summer studying for the MCAT, when thats all you have on your plate in addition to extracurriculars. 

 

Indirect. Not Direct. 

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That's what I was afraid of...looking at the bursary forms, with the exception of UofT (since they look at all your parents assets, and our property tax assessments) I was pretty disappointed that others just look at personal income.

Clearly, the people who have a higher personal income, such as myself, from working full-time in summers are ~25hr/wk this year to try and pay for travel/applications, are going to *look* like we need less aid by that measure. But obviously the people working multiple jobs, and not those travelling Europe before med school, or even only working part time, are going to be the wealthy ones who really don't need the money.

 

I was hoping the inequalities and struggle to make ends meet would end after med school begins....but looks like it's really just starting 

 

Most of the feelings of inequality will end by residency when you will be paid the same standard salary as anybody else. But it won't completely go away until you have paid off all your loans. Or you can just try to put these differences aside and just compare yourself to others based on how you do in med school and where you end up with your goals instead of based on the financial cards you have been dealt.

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I may be completely misunderstanding what you're saying, so could you explain that last bit? It sounds like you're saying that having a wealthy background somehow makes it easier to obtain the kinds of things that are important to an admissions committee, which I can't say I agree with. 

For a number of reasons, such as:

- You will never be forced to work to pay for school: less time taken away from academics, less added stress

- You have a stronger social support system: more confidence knowing that your parents have your back whether you succeed in getting in or not

- You can pay tutors, take prep classes, buy as many books as you need

- You may be connected via your parents to other people who can help you get that research position at hospital X

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 I personally think that work experience should be held as valuably as volunteer. Having done both I can say i learned more and was forced to do more I didn't want to do as a worker. As a volunteer you can just not do what you want, maybe skip a week if you are busy etc.. these things dont happen in jobs.

 

 I also like to see international medical trips for premeds being looked upon less amazingly as a good thing to for a variety of reasons. 

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In Quebec, tuiton is way lower that in Ontario, and we can get in medschool directly from cegep (at age 19) where tuiton is about 150$ a semester. French schools also don't look at your CV at all. 

 

While I clearly see that the average person in medschool is richer than the average, I don't think it is as pronounced as what is found in Ontario, based on what's been described in this and other threads. This tends to show that the environement is indeed better when you come from a higher class family, but that's not entirely what explains the demograhics in Ontario medical schools.

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Since I started med school, I have been amazed by the extremely biased socioeconomic background of my classmates.  I grew up in a middle class home and feel comparatively disadvantaged.  It seems like the norm for my classmates to have full parental support through med school, all designer clothing and a summer/winter home to vacation in.  I wonder how much of this is due to selection via admission practices, or just the fact that these students grew up in more supportive environments.  I'd be curious to know how my experience compares to other schools.

 

If I had to sum it up in one sentence. Like parents like children. 

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Been noticing this to some degree on the interview trail.

I've noticed that the vast majority of people applying are wealthy. Same with at interviews. 

Rich kids likely have parents in jobs like science, or heathcare, and they get their kids summer positions they would otherwise never be qualified for.

I do agree that the admissions process favours the wealthy, and that individuals who apply usually are of higher SES, but I'm just curious as to how you can come to this conclusion through brief interactions with other candidates at interviews?

 

This occurs in EVERY industry, however to call these people unqualified might be a bit of a stretch. Competitive applicants will undoubtedly be able to secure these opportunities and this isn't something exclusive to those who are well off...

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I have noticed this a lot in my class, too. I don't consider myself disadvantaged as I do have a supportive family, but we are nowhere near as well off as the majority of my classmates. Never really noticed this disparity in undergrad. Idk how some of my classmates are able to afford super expensive apartments and go on exotic vacations pretty much every break! 

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Wow, so much discussion, thanks guys!  When I introduced this post by wondering whether admissions is selecting for high SES applicants, obviously I meant indirectly, and you guys have articulated that really well.  What I am most intrigued by is the fact that the differential is narrower in Quebec.  This illustrates to me that it is a system issue that can be mitigated by school policies, such as admissions/tuition, opposed to supportive rearing environments.  My classmates are all really lovely, and I have no doubt that they'll make wonderful physicians.  I do feel though that it would be better to have a group of physicians who is more representative of the populations we will ultimately be serving, though that's a matter that's up for debate.

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Yeah, the stats generally bear out that med students are, on average, from very privileged backgrounds.

 

I technically come from a relatively privileged family but my parents' financial status has no bearing on mine as I've been independent of them since I was 18, married since I was 19, and am completely out of contact with my parents anyway. My husband and I paid for my schooling with the small amount of student loans available to me plus working a lot. Work got in the way of my studies a fair bit but it wasn't as if I could just take time off or stop working. Because we had a very carefully balanced life, affording things like my MCAT (which required travel with an overnight stay because of where we lived) and applications was a significant challenge. Had I had more than the two interviews I did, it was possible I may have had to turn them down because of an inability to afford the travel which very well could have jeopardized my chances.

 

Financial constraints certainly do make it more challenging to be an appealing candidate. Volunteering in a lab for 10+ hours a week to try to get a pub just wasn't possible. I'm fortunate that the types of work experiences I had - several in health care - were at least beneficial to my applications.

 

I do think med schools are becoming increasingly aware of this. MUN, for instance, actually has a section of the application that directly addresses the fact that economic factors or geographical limitations may impact someone's application and they give you space to talk about how this may be reflected on your application.

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In Quebec, tuiton is way lower that in Ontario, and we can get in medschool directly from cegep (at age 19) where tuiton is about 150$ a semester. French schools also don't look at your CV at all. 

 

While I clearly see that the average person in medschool is richer than the average, I don't think it is as pronounced as what is found in Ontario, based on what's been described in this and other threads. This tends to show that the environement is indeed better when you come from a higher class family, but that's not entirely what explains the demograhics in Ontario medical schools.

Note that many students do complete an undergraduate degree in Quebec before applying to or being accepted to medicine, and while tuition is lower than other provinces, many individuals still need to work to pay for their education. While the French medical schools don't require a CV, that only leaves anglophones with McGill, which does look at your extracurriculars. Of course many students apply out of province as well, but again extracurriculars play a strong role.

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The median income among Canadian medical school matriculants is much much higher than the median income for all Canadians. It's a real problem not just an anecdotal one... the physician workforce should reflect the population they serve as far as life experiences go, we're missing the mark pretty hard right now.

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