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Depression in high school and its impact on college admission

Jadette08Jadette08 Registered User Posts: 15 New Member
edited March 21 in College Admissions
Hi I am a parent. My daughters is a sophomore and has been diagnosed with depression by two doctors. Her school is aware of it too and are in touch with her doctor. She is on medication. Her grades are fallen badly as a result.

I have seen a huge improvement in her. She is definitely getting better with meds and therapy , however now she's better enough to 'start caring' about her grades and that's stressing her out and I'm worried it will become a vicious cycle.

My question is : how does this affect her college admissions ? As we have a medical reason for her bad grades , can we disclose the reason in the additional info box ? Is writing about her struggle and overcoming it , something she can work around in her essay ? Do colleges discriminate or are leery of accepting students who've have this struggle in the past?

There is a definite reason for her bad grades which has been diagnosed by professionals and the school is also aware of it. What are the steps I can take to make sure her future does not suffer as a result ?

Please help me. Thanks !
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Replies to: Depression in high school and its impact on college admission

  • LindagafLindagaf Registered User Posts: 4,597 Senior Member
    Conventional wisdom says that she is more than just her depression and should not write about it for her college essay. Have a meeting with her cousnelor, because this is who you will want addressing her medical issues on her college application. It's more credible, and it's proof that there was a genuine issue.

    Colleges are indeed leery of students with anxiety, depression, etc... These students are more of a liability. College is a very unsettling and stressful experieince for many freshman. I might add in the additional info box that her depression is under control with therapy and medication, and state how long it has been under control, if her depression went on for an extended period of time. If you are talking of maybe several months as opposed to a full year of school, then maybe not. Her counselor should have some ideas.

    Her essay absolutely should not focus on it. It's going to be an unavoidable element of her application, so she should use it to show something about herself that an admissions committee can't find in the rest of her application.

    Going forward, if she is still prone to depression, you might want to take that into consideration while compiling a list of colleges. She might be a great stduent,,but aiming for super selective colleges may not be a smart move. If she is still fragile, look for colleges that have a non-competitive atmosphere, and maybe not too far from home. And remember that colleges these days tend to have pretty good sounseloThe centers that are free, because they want students to be supported and succeed.
  • gardenstategalgardenstategal Registered User Posts: 1,836 Senior Member
    She's a sophomore right now so to the extent that you can, really keep everything focused on the Here and Now. As she is feeling better now and the treatment is working, her grades will probably improve. Thinking about the grades only in the context of what they mean for college applications is indeed stressful. I would advise all students to avoid this mindset!

    If when you get to the point of applying for colleges you need to explain the sophomore year it is far easier to do so if it really looks like an anomaly. It sounds like one of the things that your daughter is going to have to really work on is figuring out how to manage her mental health. Keep that the priority. If she is less stressed by taking 1 or 2 fewer honors clssses, dropping an EC, or taking a class or 2 over the summer, do that. She should focus on getting the best grades she can while making her health her priority.

    I understand how the grades compound the stress, but she needs to make her well being the priority.
  • Jadette08Jadette08 Registered User Posts: 15 New Member
    Thank you Lindagaf and gardenstategal


    I am in regular touch with her counselor who unfortunately is leaving at the end of this school year. We are focusing on here and now and baby steps. I have left it totally to her which courses she wants to take. ATM she is doing AP World which is very stressful. Next year she plans to take up AP's which she likes.

    I just want her to feel well and am doing absolutely everything to make sure of that. We are not thinking of any highly selective universities for later, rather those which are more friendly. Unfortunately we dont live in a place which has good colleges. She will need to go far from home and if this isn't under control, ill be going with her. Its that simple.


    We are working with her, not to think of the grades, future etc but to take each day at a time and do what she can do to the best of her ability.

    All this is helping, However, I personally cannot ignore the fear of what happens in the future. how will this affect her?


  • intparentintparent Registered User Posts: 26,885 Senior Member
    I'd let the counselor reveal that a medical issue affected her grades during this period, and not address it otherwise. But I'd also be realistic in picking colleges. Academic reaches or colleges far from home are higher risks. Don't get caught up in the glamour of chasing prestige. Fit and safety for her are going to be key.
  • Jadette08Jadette08 Registered User Posts: 15 New Member
    @MaineLonghorn Im sorry for the problems you've faced, but at the same time, thankful that your kids have you as a parent! Very sorry to hear about your nephew..

    ive talked to her about taking a gap year. Even spoke to the couselor but she is not willing to do that. She wants to push through high school and then see. Ive frankly even told her college is not important. If she doesnt want to go. She needs to just first look after herself and set goals for her future as she wants. This so that she knows she has a future. This is not the end as so many times kids under depression feel.

    I am with her 24/7 once she is back from school.. not sitting on her head but around if she needs me. Im actively now taking charge of her schedules to make sure she hasnt forgotten something or isnt piling up things till the last minute which will cause her more stress. Not pushing at all... I've stopped talking about the future, ACT blah blah, pulled her out of her extra classes which she didn't want to do. Just taking baby steps for the next day. we prioritize her work schedule to whats most important , then next and so on and take it from there depending on how she is.If there are tests coming up we give time for her to study so she doesn't have excessive stress last minute. Like i had said, she is better, she's opened up to me, talks about everything ... but it breaks me to see her suffer like this...

    She is being extremely strong and resilient and is pushing herself forward though she says, she doesn't feel any motivation or suffers from a total lack of concentration. I guess our home support is helping her..

  • MaineLonghornMaineLonghorn Super Moderator Posts: 27,997 Super Moderator
    Sounds like you're doing great!

    If you get a chance, check out NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness). They offer a free, 12-week Family to Family course that's wonderful. You learn all about mental illness, but also communication strategies and self-care. The adjective that most people use to describe this class is "lifesaving." It's offered in many towns all over the country. I've just received training to teach it myself - I will start this fall.
  • Jadette08Jadette08 Registered User Posts: 15 New Member
    Oh I' don't stay in the US. That's another long term problem cause it's a 12 hour flight from where we live but that's where she will be going to college. Anyway will cross That bridge when we come to it. She'll definitely not go or go alone if she doesn't feel upto it. X
  • MaineLonghornMaineLonghorn Super Moderator Posts: 27,997 Super Moderator
    ^ @yankeeinGA (ha, the opposite of my situation - southerner living in New England), I love your last paragraph. My college freshman daughter has told me the same thing - now her HS friends are falling apart, but she's thriving, thanks to the counseling and meds she gets. She is telling all of her new friends they should take advantage of the school's counseling services, which don't cost extra. She thinks that ALL high school kids should go through therapy!
  • Jadette08Jadette08 Registered User Posts: 15 New Member
    edited March 21
    That is awesome advice!!! I got tears in my eyes right now... it's just a beautiful way of explaining it. Thank you ...

    You know when you spoke of how far she had come from not being able to get out of bed.... for her it was as close as a month back. I literally had to carry her out of bed to go brush her teeth for the night. Even now she has a tough time getting up in the mornings Inspite of all how she must be feeling , she is dealing with AP courses , tests, summativs, quizzes, homework, therapists appointments, three medications with their diff side effects , .... and all I can do is hold her up and try and steer her through it all. Feel so helpless. But She's a fighter .. she still smiles through it all.

    I'm going to tell her this way of looking at things right now ! X
  • lookingforwardlookingforward Registered User Posts: 21,551 Senior Member
    One of mine fell apart as a soph, was doing well in school, but not otherwise. In our case, suggesting she lessen the pressure was an issue, as it held her together. She was diagnosed with something I didn't see, am still not convinced of, exactly. But meds and the right counseling helped. I can't over emphasize how much the right counselor is needed. A right match she trusts. Ours was a psychiatrist who specializes with college age and teens, knows both their issues and their challenges in expressing the pain.

    High school, the academic challenges, the changing social pressures, the growing self awareness, even hormones, can all contribute. In our case, being busy with activities she enjoyed was helpful. She could see her own successes, come to trust herself. For her, these were group activities (music groups, a summer camp job, how she volunteered, a sport she was lousy at, but enjoyed the "team" aspects.)

    As ML shows us, this is often one small step at a time. Sometimes, we try something and it works, other times, not. We parents walk this learning journey with them, not knowing.

    Let her feel your love and support. Let her see your trust. And, your own strength, comfort with your own challenges. They need someone to lean on/look to, even when they think not.

    Best wishes. Hugs.
  • yankeeinGAyankeeinGA Registered User Posts: 136 Junior Member
    @Jadette08 Sounds like she's still in active recovery, then, and really just needs to get grade worries off the table entirely. You are doing a great job of supporting her! I know how hard this is and how worried you must be. Keep the faith. <3
  • Jadette08Jadette08 Registered User Posts: 15 New Member
    @lookingforward thankyou for your kind words... I hope your daughter is feeling better now. You have no idea how glad I am to have reached out . Thankyou
  • Jadette08Jadette08 Registered User Posts: 15 New Member
    @yankeeinGA I feel she is ... I hope so..I pray so.... thank you so so much ! God Bless
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