ADEA AADSAS Application Instructions

SES - Education/Occupation Indicator [NEW]

This section of the ADEA AADSAS Instructions is new for the 2016 Application Cycle. 

Socioeconomic Status and the Education/Occupation Indicator

Dental education continues to experience pressures to diversify the incoming first year class. In response, ADEA AADSAS researched and developed additional application tools to better identify and understand a dental applicant’s self-report disadvantaged and socioeconomic status.

Historically, socioeconomic status is comprised of three components based on the social and economic position of the family while the children are at home. These three components are parental income, education and occupation.  While ADEA AADSAS historically has included questions these three areas, the 2013 ADEA AADSAS Advisory Group undertook a serious review of these questions looking for better alignment with holistic review practices and more meaningful data. This review concluded that parental income was unreliable for two basic reasons: applicants either under-reported parental income or it simply wasn’t known to them.

In further reviewing tools to measure socioeconomic status, ADEA AADSAS reviewed research done by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) that stated any socioeconomic indicator should meet the following criteria:  “intuitive, valid for the concept being examined, accurate as possible, easy to collect and stable over time” (Grbic). Through their research, parental occupation and education levels were reliable and acceptable indicators of socioeconomic status.  Occupation had been shown to be stable over time while a person’s level of education remains static or progressive.  Additionally, students can provide complete and accurate information on both their parent’s education level and occupation and both can be classified into relatable categories.  As an indicator of an applicant’s socioeconomic status, parental education level and occupation are stable and more easily accessible.

What is the EO Indicator?

Beginning in the 2016 ADEA AADSAS application cycle, a new tool is being implemented to complement the current tools used by dental schools during their holistic review of applications.  This new tool is called the Education Occupation (EO) indicator.  The ADEA AADSAS EO indicator is derived from an applicant’s parental[i] education and occupation information.  Four education levels and two aggregate groups of occupations provide the schema that is used to determine the EO indicator for each parent of each applicant.

One of the following EO indicators will be displayed for each parent of each applicant on the ADEA AADSAS application:  EO-1, EO-2, EO-3 or EO-4, NC (not calculated).  The lowest socioeconomic group is EO-1 and the highest is EO-4.  As shown on the chart below, the occupational categories are aggregated into service, clerical, skilled and unskilled labor; and executive, managerial, and professional. These categories are based upon the Standard Occupational Classification scheme.  The educational categories are aggregated into less than a bachelor’s degree, bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and doctorate/professional degree.

  Parental Occupation
    Service, clerical, skilled and unskilled labor Executive, managerial, professional position
Parental Education Level Doctorate/professional degree EO-3 EO-4
  Master’s degree EO-3 EO-4
  Bachelor’s degree EO-2 EO-3
  Less than Bachelor’s degree EO-1 EO-2


The EO indicator is based upon having complete information for each parent.  When complete information is provided for two parents, an EO indicator is provided for each parent.  An indicator of NC (not calculated) will display when the parental occupation is listed as retired, military, homemaker, other, unknown or not applicable.  Additionally, when the parent is deceased and/or the education/occupation information data is not available, NC will be the EO indicator listed.

An EO-1 indicator would theoretically indicate that an applicant comes from a family in which both parents have less than a bachelor’s degree, both work in the service industry and therefore the applicant would be considered to be from a socioeconomically disadvantaged background, while EO-4 would point to parental education of a doctorate/professional level and an occupation in managerial or professional positions.

How does the EO indicator affect the ADEA AADSAS application?

Each applicant will have two EO indicators listed in his/her application on the Parental and Family Information section. Applicants can view their EO indicator after the application has been submitted. The information used to derive the indicator- parental occupation and education level- cannot be edited after ADEA AADSAS has been submitted.

In the 2016 ADEA AADSAS application cycle, no other changes will be made to the disadvantaged section of the application. Additional analysis and discussion by the ADEA AADSAS Advisory Group will continue over the next year to determine if and when any other changes will be made.

How will the EO indicator be used by ADEA and dental schools?

The EO indicator is a tool that is intended to provide additional information on an applicant’s socioeconomic status which can aid a dental school’s review of applicants as part of a holistic review process.  It is intended to help schools more accurately identify individuals who may be from a socioeconomically disadvantaged background. Dental schools can use these data along with other important factors to identify which applicants best help them to achieve their institutional goals and support their core missions.

Dental schools use a holistic process of reviewing applicants for admission into their various programs, thus using multiple variables in making these decisions.  The holistic process includes reviewing applicants based upon a number of variables. These variables include:  biographic information, personal essay, non-cognitive variables like personal history and, shadowing experiences, self-reported disadvantaged status and Pell Grant status.  As applicants are multidimensional, metrics can provide some predictive values, yet they do not give complete pictures of an applicant.

ADEA AADSAS encourages dental schools to use the ADEA AADSAS EO indicator along with other factors in the screening, interviewing and decision-making of applicants for their programs.  It is an additional tool that provides a more comprehensive picture of each applicant.  Dental schools should use this information to further explore all details about all applicants to enhance the holistic review process. 


i While the term parent is used in this document, applicants provide information on two parents and/or guardians.


Grbic, Jones, and Case. “Effective Practices for Using the AAMC Socioeconomic Status Indicators in Medical School Admissions.” Association of American Medical Colleges. March 2013.