affirmative action

Hey guys, I just wanted some input on a rather controversial issue. I am a blonde, blue eyed upper middle class girl with a wee bit of Spanish blood in me from waaaay back. Recently a colleague revealed that he (a Hispanic male) got into Harvard med school with a 3.7 GPA. He urged me to “go ahead and check the mixed box” on my apps, because Hispanic women are quite underepresented in medicine, so it can give you a significant edge. I do speak Spanish, which I have been told is helpful because it gives you a “stronger tie” to the culture in the eyes of the adcoms. My questions are:

  1. How deeply do schools delve into your ethnic background? Can they research it somehow and decide that it “doesn’t count,” affirmative action-wise?

  2. How much of an edge does it give your, really?

uh oh!!!

Uhhmmm I think when asked what your race is what is meant is according to what your parent’s race is. I would rather get in to medical school based on my grades and merits and not on my race. It is my understanding that your race is not and should not be a factor in getting in anyway. Yikes!!

In short,

!.) No, they cannot (or would not) check to see “how” Hispanic you are.

2.) Legally speaking, adcoms can use race as a so-called “soft” factor when making decision. They cannot use quotas, per se, but they can consider race in the context of other criteria. Achieving a diverse student population is the prerogative of adcoms, so you–as a Latina–would likely have an edge of somebody with similar statistics.

I think identifying with hispanics when it’s convenient is appropriately foul.

And FYI, I have blue eyed, blond relatives who are black so you should probably get some non stereotypical life experience before applying to med school anyway.

I think you could expect to be questioned during an interview about your ties to your minority community and the degree to which you have been involved. If there is no discernible attachment to the community, you likly will be doing yourself more harm than good by claiming minority status.



I think that’s cheating. Point blank. And no one likes a cheater. Are you hispanic? Do you have ties to the hispanic community? Have you been persecuted because of your hispanic/African “insert other appropriate ethnicity here” roots? Because that is what AA was founded on and if you have not then you have NO right to use AA. And I would hope that any Adcom would see right through that ruse and stop you dead in your tracks.

That checkbox is there as an attempt - whether or not it is succeeding is another topic of discussion - to level the playing field for those whose ethnic backgrounds caused them to be educated in sub-optimal circumstances. For example, the Native American who grew up on a reservation with horrid schools or the African-American/Latino descendant who grew up in the inner-city ‘projects’.

It is not for someone who was not/is not at a competitive disadvantage due to their ethnic heritage. And while you might get away with it, because there probably is no way the AdComs can research your pedigree, it is flagrantly disengenuous and tantamount to academic dihonesty.

Frankly, I have no desire to have anyone for colleague who is will to sacrifice their integrity to get into medical school. If you are willing to fudge at that level, then you cannot ever be entrusted with the level of responsibility of being a physician and making heavy-impact, sometimes life & death decisions.

So, please do not do this. The one you will hurt the most, at least at first, will be you. As awesome as being a physician is, it is ot worth selling your soul or your integrity.

I think there’s nothing wrong with mentioning your Hispanic heritage and the fact that you are multilingual. I mean, med schools definitely want multicultural people, and there’s a growing need for Spanish speakers in the health professions. You could mention it in your personal statement.

But you should definitely be truthful about how strong your ties are to the Hispanic community. Pretty much anything you mention on your application is fair game for an interviewer and if you get a Hispanic interviewer they may decide to see how “for real” you are.

Best of luck,

I think mentioning she’s multilingual is awesome! By all means play up the fact that you can speak spanish. I definitely would if I knew anything besides Hola and some words that I probably should never say to a patient but probably will want to! I think my great-great grandpa or grandma or someone maybe like 4 generations back was Native American but heck it’s so far back and so diluted that I have no clue anything about what American Indians went through…I can’t claim that and use it to get into medical school. It’s simply not fair to someone who truly is a Native American and did have to suffer and go through hardship because of their background.

My two cents - I am a British-isles-anglo-mutt white male and I have to say that I’ve benefited from AA. I grew up on government assistance, was in foster care and didn’t get adopted until I was 9-years old. This type of disadvantage is too familiar to folks of color in this country. Given my high school grades (my junior college grades were a little better), I’m sure it was considered when I was accepted to UC Berkeley. So, yes it is there to make up for a real disadvantage, not just to check a box because you have a few drops of ethnic blood.

I agree with Dave - your integrity is not worth the minuscule increase in your chances of getting into school.