Diversity — Financial Diversity and GPA

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In the last article I focused on diversity and applicants’ socioeconomic status (SES) correlation with the MCAT. This time we will discuss SES and the overall GPA. Gleaning information from the last article we’ve already discussed the following:

  • The AAMC and the TMDSAS both have found a trend, the higher the students’ family income bracket the higher their mean MCAT score.
2012 EO-1 Applicants' who's parents less than bachelor degree, EO-2 applicants' parents with at least bachelor and unskilled labor as a profession. EO-3, EO-4, and EO-5 all represent bachelors, masters, or doctorate degrees with executive or professional positions.
2012 EO-1 Applicants’ who’s parents less than bachelor degree, EO-2 applicants’ parents with at least bachelor and unskilled labor as a profession. EO-3, EO-4, and EO-5 all represent bachelors, masters, or doctorate degrees with executive or professional positions.
  • Just over 75% of the accepted medical students come from families in the upper two quintiles (income brackets).
  • Less than 10% of the accepted medical students will come from families in the lower two quintiles (income brackets).

makeup

 

The average median income for applicants' parents was $57,000 in 1987, it is now $100,000.
The average median income for applicants’ parents was $57,000 in 1987, it is now $100,000.
  • This trend has been pervasive, but not for the lack trying from the AAMC and medical schools continual attempt at intervention with the introduction of SES consideration & holistic interviews.

-We also most mind the logical caveats in the data:

  • Averages don’t equate to a snapshot of any one applicant; SES isn’t fate, either in a positive or negative light.
  • Not qualifying for SES status necessarily guarantee both familial support financial and emotionally. I was in this boat, long story short in college I never qualified for SES consideration because of my parents income that I never tapped into. Regardless, I slaved away like everyone else healthy GPA and MCAT score, fund my ability to work for free (volunteering), applications etc. 
  • We can’t use these numbers to correlate with who works harder, and there will be variations in applicants regardless of SES that would appear within any pool.

This time we will examine the talking point data presented by the AMCAS and TMCAS to examine the following questions:

  1. Is there any correlation with SES and GPA?
  2. How is SES related to ethnicity? *We will look at the TMDSAS because of their unambiguous preferences for consideration of SES.

This time we’ll focus on the Texas equivalent of the AAMC, the TDMSAS applicant joint study talking points and data. For the applicants and accepted, the TDMSAS broke down SES into three categories: parental education & relationship, household (wealth, household size), and hometown (inner city and rural etc.) considerations. For our conversation, we will limit our time to talk about the applicants. Lastly, those who scored more points ranked higher on the SES scale, the higher your SES rating the higher your grade ranging from SES A-D — getting an A wasn’t a good thing.

1. Is there any correlation with SES and GPA? By graphing the aggregated data supplied to us by the X, we get a graph like so:

Data take from report, and graphed with Sigma Plot.
Average GPA versus Year. Data take from report, and graphed with Sigma Plot. TDMCAS assigned SES A – high qualifying SES classification, whereas SES D is on the other side of the spectrum with no (for intents and purposes) SES qualification.

In general, since they’ve started to consider SES there are several short term trends. Overall, over the years everyone has gotten higher GPAs however those with less SES (higher parental income and education etc.) consideration fared better in their overall GPA.  The average  currently shows a trend of groups SES B & C besting (higher incomes) always trumping group SES A (most SES consideration by points). Interestingly, the lowest effected by SES had the most variability in scores, however note that this group always either floats near the performance of groups SES B & C, this group also has the highest average GPA overall.  In other words, there is a correlation with GPAs and SES status.

2. How is SES related to ethnicity? *We will look at the TMDSAS because of their unambiguous preferences for consideration of SES.

*2008 Estimations to nearest whole percent.*Other races not included because values not given, so values may not total to 100% Percent of Total Applicant Pool SES-A (4% of Applicant Pool) SES-B (~10% of Applicant Pool) SES-C (~25% of Applicant Pool) SES-D (~remaining 61% of Applicant Pool)
White/Caucasian American 50% 28% 41% 52% 56%
Asian/Pacific Islander 23% 17% 17% 20% 26%
African American 7% 17% 11% 8% 3%
Latino American 13% 30% 20% 11% 7%

From the chart above we can see that the lowest SES, SES-A, only made up a measly 4% of the applicants in the 2008 cycle whereas the the top two categories (low SES score) made up over 75% of the applicant pool. Caucasian Americans (a mixture of ethnic groups) are the most likely to be in the upper two brackets, however note there are certainly Caucasian Americans qualifying for SES status — in fact, just over 1 in 4 of those with the highest rating of SES were in Caucasian Americans in the TMDSAS — as a whole this is a diverse group economically.  Asians are listed as a conglomerate, from Chinese, Vietnamese to Pakistani, therefore it’s really hard to say much about “Asians” because it’s too broad of an ethnic category. Never the less, all we can really say is that Asians are also a diverse group, and should not be excluded from the SES conversation — in the lowest income bracket (SES-A) by percent alone Asian Americans  qualified as much as African American applicants. African Americans and Latino Americans (another conglomeration) have the least applicants by percentage applying in the upper two (low SES scores) groups C & D, with only 3% and 7% of African American and Latino American applicants’ families qualifying for SES-D respectively. In other words, SES is a multi-racial issue and all races would likely benefit from its application. 

In conclusion, the AAMC and the TMDSAS both recognize that there is a correlation between SES status and academic performance (MCAT & GPA). The AAMC also acknowledges that there is currently a disparity, or lack of diversity, in terms of the financial backgrounds of their applicant pool — this lack of diversity in the applicant pool eventually translates to financial skew of matriculates towards the upper income brackets (and parental education). In response to this reality, the SES is considered by medical colleges as a purview of legitimate holistic review. However, despite genuine efforts to diversify in this area, there hasn’t been much change in the financial portrait of students — in the next, and hopefully final article on the issue, we will discuss some reasons possibly why.

No matter if you agree or not, data is data; and it happens to be the data medical schools take under consideration.

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2 thoughts on “Diversity — Financial Diversity and GPA

    […] AAMC and the TDMSAS have recognized a correlation with MCAT & GPA and parental finances (this also includes other factors, such as parental education, household […]

    […] Part 2:  the effect of SES status, diversity and GPAs […]

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