Strengths of Minority Medical School Applicant
Picture a “typical” doctor and what comes to mind? For most people, the answer is a light-skinned male. And while white males may still be in the majority when it comes to doctors, the field is becoming more diverse each and every day. Still, to a minority medical school applicant, it may seem like the odds are stacked against you. But I’m here to tell you that, as a minority applicant, you actually have several advantages throughout the application process.
1) Fresh perspective. Differing backgrounds bring with them unique perspectives and worldviews, and fresh perspective is an attribute always in demand at top medical schools. Any life experience that sets you apart from the norm can be presented as an advantage during the application process—whether you grew up in a foreign country, grew up in a non-traditional family situation, or experienced any other unique circumstance during your upbringing. Emphasize these unique qualities on your application, but be sure to explain how your unique experience shaped you for the better.
2) Scholarships and grants. As a minority applicant, you are eligible for many scholarships, grants, and financial aid options that aren’t available to everyone else. Be sure to take full advantage of these—do extensive research on the internet and talk to advisors and counselors in an effort to take advantage of as much aid as possible. The cost of medical school may not seem like the most critical factor right now, but by the time you’ve graduated and must begin repaying loans, you’ll be grateful for every extra dollar you saved.
3) Extra differentiation. Most medical schools are aware of the lack of minority representation (including low numbers of females) in their ranks, and are eager to balance out their numbers. While you can never expect to be treated differently because of your background, the fact remains that your unique upbringing gives you an extra area of differentiation which appeals to many medical schools.
4) Inner strength. As a minority student, you’ve dealt with being “different” your entire life. You’ve overcome many obstacles that wouldn’t have existed if you were just like everyone else. This experience has prepared you uniquely, not just for the medical school application process, but for the rigors of med school and the stressful career that will hopefully follow. You can count on being tested and pushed to your limits many times throughout medical school—and your non-traditional experience may give you an advantage over other students.
As you can see, there are a number of significant advantages to you as a minority applicant to medical school. Your life experience has given you strength and the ability to persevere—not to mention a fresh perspective on life, a quality very much in demand. You’ll qualify for financial aid that’s not available to everyone, and you’ll have a differentiating factor on your application that many of your peers won’t have. Your background is far from a liability as you begin the med school application process—in fact, it could be one of your greatest strengths. So embrace it!
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Very useful information was provided. Everyone who is serious about medical schools should hear this presentation. B. Z.