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Math Graduate School

FearOfZeroFearOfZero Registered User Posts: 16 New Member
edited November 2012 in Graduate School
Is it looked down upon by graduate school admission committees (specifically for mathematics) if you have anxiety disorders? I know they are not supposed to discriminate and I normally would not mention it, but it has affected my grades so I feel that I should.

I do very well on homework and have done a lot of out of classroom reading on material that interests me, but my anxiety causes me to have low test grades (I panic, become overly nervous, and cannot concentrate fully) and this has caused massive destruction to my GPA and GRE scores. I am not applying to ivy league schools, MIT, or anything like that, but I would like to go to a school in the same tier as Penn State since I am going there now as an undergraduate.

Are there any suggestions for what I should say to explain this? I do not want to sound like I am making excuses or complaining, but I am also embarrassed over my 3.0 GPA and 590 on the GRE Math Exam (I had a sinus infection while taking that exam too so I was pretty much doomed.)

Is there any chance that you think I could be accepted (I am applying to 11 schools) or will this not even pass screening?
Post edited by FearOfZero on

Replies to: Math Graduate School

  • b@r!umb@r!um Registered User Posts: 10,130 Senior Member
    I'd encourage you to discuss your options with your math professors and formulate a strategy with them.

    My best guess is the following: it will affect your admission decisions if the admissions committee has to expect that your anxiety disorder would interfere with your job as a graduate student. Are you comfortable collaborating with students and meeting with your advisers, approaching strangers at conferences or visitors in the department, giving talks? If not, you would miss out on important aspects of a graduate education; it might be in your best interest to take some time off and deal with your anxiety disorder first.

    Also keep in mind that most PhD students have to pass a qualifying exam of some sort. Would you be able to perform on a difficult high-stake exam or would that cause you to fail out of the PhD program?
  • juilletjuillet Super Moderator Posts: 11,398 Super Moderator
    What b@r!um asks is valid. I also have an anxiety/depressive disorder and I've gotten it under control so it doesn't interfere with normal grad stuff, but there is a lot in grad school that is panic-inducing. In fact, the experience (especially in a PhD program) is known for causing mental health problems in students that were heretofore healthy, much less exacerbating already existing ones. Some months have been straight up hell for me, and my illness is mild/moderate at best. I was shaking during my oral examinations, although my examiners couldn't tell. It's not that you can't succeed in grad school, but more so that you need to examine whether you have your illness under control enough that you can proceed forth.

    You do not have to disclose your disorder. Schools are not supposed to discriminate, but the truth is disclosing a mental disorder still nets a stigma. When I wrote my statement, I didn't discuss my illness and just hoped that people would assume my bad semester was due to an illness (I think they did). If you choose to, you can just say that you were battling an illness throughout college that affected your performance. It's really none of their business what it is. If you have an upward trend in your grades, mention that you got it under control and point to your better performance in later years as evidence of that fact. But the problem is, this would be more acceptable if it affected one semester or even just one academic year - but it seems like it affected your entire program AND your GRE scores, so you may encounter problems.
This discussion has been closed.