ERIC Number: EJ1067832
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015-Aug
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 54
Medical School Personal Statements: A Measure of Motivation or Proxy for Cultural Privilege?
Advances in Health Sciences Education, v20 n3 p627-643 Aug 2015
Students from state schools are underrepresented in UK medical schools. Discussions often focus on deficient academic and motivational traits of state school students, rather than considering the effects of student support during the admissions process. This qualitative study explored student experiences of support from schools and families during the medical school admissions process with particular focus on the personal statement. Interviews were conducted with thirteen medical students at a British medical school who had each attended a different secondary school (classified as private or state funded). A thematic analysis was performed. Bourdieu's concepts of capital and field were used as a theoretical lens through which to view the results. Interviews revealed substantial differences in support provided by private and state funded schools. Private schools had much more experience in the field of medical school admissions and had a vested interest in providing students with support. State schools were lacking by comparison, offering limited support that was often reactive rather than proactive. Students from private schools were also more likely to have social contacts who were knowledgeable about medical school admissions and who could help them gain access to work experience opportunities that would be recognised as legitimate by selectors. While medical schools endeavour to make fair admissions policies, there is an unintended link between a student's access to capital and ability to demonstrate commitment and motivation on personal statements. This helps explain why academically capable but financially or socially challenged students are less likely to be recognised as having potential during the admissions process. Medical schools need to be challenged to review their admissions policies to ensure that the do not inadvertently favour cultural privilege rather than student potential.
Descriptors: Foreign Countries, Medical Schools, Medical Students, Admission (School), Personal Narratives, Private Schools, State Schools, Financial Support, Paying for College, Access to Education, Equal Education, Qualitative Research, Interviews
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United Kingdom