The Disadvantaged Essay

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ADG 208: The Disadvantaged Essay

Session 208

Walk through editing and reviewing a disadvantaged essay with me! The essay is focused on conveying the applicant’s disadvantaged status.

On the AMCAS application, there is a limited character count of 13,125 to communicate this information and express that the applicant identifies as a disadvantaged student. The challenge is how will you be able to convey your message well.

Ask Dr. Gray: Premed Q&A is brought to you by Blueprint MCAT. Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.

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[00:44] Starting up with Context

PART 1 – After graduating from high school, I immigrated to the United States from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to start college. 

My parents traveled with me to make sure I had accommodations for an extended stay but had to travel back home. 

So French, being the first language needed additional time to complete school assignments.”

The beginning part of the essay provides context – the student is an immigrant but being an immigrant to the country alone is not sufficient to determine the disadvantage. 

The applicant provides additional details, such as French being their first language and requiring extra time to complete school assignments.

This could be considered a disadvantage, but despite the fact that additional time was needed, the student was able to complete the assignments.

[01:56] Non Tangible Evidence

“For my first two semesters of college, I experienced a heightened level of homesickness and found myself depressed many times.”Click To Tweet

Being disadvantaged does not only equate to poor academic performance. Objective indicators of struggle, such as low grades (getting C’s and D’s), are not the sole criteria for determining disadvantage. 

Experiences like being homesick and dealing with depression can have an impact on both grades and overall well-being. The applicant’s struggles as an immigrant and feeling alone in a new country are valid disadvantages, even without specific tangible evidence like low grades.

The applicant’s disadvantage of being homesick for a few semesters is not unique to immigrant students, as it can happen to any student studying away from home.

While the language was also a factor, delving deeper into the challenges of acclimating to a new country and cultural issues would have been more interesting too. This will make the reader understand its impact on being a premed student.

The purpose of the application is to assess how the disadvantage hindered the applicant’s academic performance, extracurricular activities, and overall fit into the typical pre-med student profile. This will provide the reader context allowing a point of comparison between the applicant and others in similar situations.

[04:13] Positive Ending

A twist that highlights how the experience has helped the student is included in the essay creating a satisfying positive ending. 

It successfully conveys the message that despite facing challenges, the student has found ways to adapt and persevere. It effectively communicates that the writer is an immigrant and shares the personal disadvantages experienced in their new country, particularly homesickness.

However, the essay’s strength may be questionable as it primarily focuses on homesickness and its impact on academic performance.

Despite this, if the essay accurately reflects the writer’s story, it can still be effective in conveying their struggles and reasons for subpar grades.


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