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Informing colleges of extenuating circumstances?

NemesisNyxNemesisNyx Registered User Posts: 201 Junior Member
edited October 2012 in College Admissions
Basically: I have depression. It was particularly bad last year and messed with my GPA. But it's undiagnosed, mainly because my mom keeps putting off taking me to a doctor for it (I have no doubt that it'll be diagnosed once I see someone about it). I've seen other people on here saying that they were able to notify the colleges they applied to about this as an explanation for some possible inconsistencies in their application. How would I go about doing this, and would what I have to say about my depression have any weight if I don't have an official diagnosis?
Post edited by NemesisNyx on

Replies to: Informing colleges of extenuating circumstances?

  • WordworkerWordworker Registered User Posts: 869 Member
    You need to see your doctor. Now. If your mother won't make an appointment, talk to your school nurse about other options. The nurse should know whether you're old enough to get care without a parental signature and would know about community clinics and other sources of free or inexpensive help.

    Colleges won't be receptive to self-diagnosis. They want to know that you're getting the care you need and that it will enable you to succeed.
  • NemesisNyxNemesisNyx Registered User Posts: 201 Junior Member
    Okay... Let's say I am diagnosed; would that affect my college admissions chances?
  • zephyr15zephyr15 Registered User Posts: 2,298 Senior Member
    It could help a lot.

    My advice on CC has always been that if you can get your GC to write about anything like this in his/her letter, it can help.

    Good luck.
  • rmldadrmldad Registered User Posts: 1,301 Senior Member
    Your priorities seem horribly askew. Don't worry about colleges and what they think. Do whatever you need to do in order to get healthy.

    Mental illness is not something to casually inquire about and flippantly dismiss. Please ask for help!
  • SikorskySikorsky Registered User Posts: 5,851 Senior Member
    I second that. If you are think you are depressed, you need to see a doctor. That doctor should refer you to a psychiatrist, who should evaluate you, and if he or she thinks you have depression, he or she should develop a treatment plan, which will probably involve a combination of medicine and talk-therapy.

    But a psychiatrist should make this assessment, because there are a lot of medical conditions that can first present as depression.

    If you have depression, the first priority is to get control of it. Then you can work on a sensible plan for college.

    If you don't have depression, then you will want to get to the root of what did cause you to tank in school last year.

    But, as Wordworker said, diagnosing yourself with depression helps nothing. It won't get you any better, and it won't mitigate the damage of last year's grades when you apply to college.
  • NemesisNyxNemesisNyx Registered User Posts: 201 Junior Member
    I wouldn't say my priorities are askew. My health is my top priority, but that's not what I'm posting about here. The reason I'm posting about it on CC is to get advice specific to the college admissions process. I can get plenty of reasonable advice about my health elsewhere, but CC isn't the first place that comes to mind when thinking of where to get mental health advice. This thread isn't about getting treatment for my issues, it's about how it affects college.

    Anyways, I don't think my GC would really write about anything like this in her letter. She doesn't know about any of these issues, and even if I were diagnosed, she probably still wouldn't know/care enough to include it in her rec. So beyond that, how would colleges be notified if I were diagnosed with depression?
  • soopatricksoopatrick Registered User Posts: 8 New Member
    Well it depends too. Their health is a priority. You would first need a diagnosis from a doctor. Write your essay about how you have struggled with depression also. Depression wise, depends on where you are everyone who suffers from depression does in different ways/levels. So that would be important too. If you are well enough to apply then i'd say call the college and tell them ,and ask them about it. I know many people who suffer from depression who are going to top tier state schools ext. (The irony of my bad grades put me in lower tier colleges ; personally) Your health should be a priority. But if apply i'd just call and tell them. You are going to have to be open with your story if you want to use your struggle as something the college would consider.
  • M's MomM's Mom Registered User Posts: 4,562 Senior Member
    I think wordworker and sikorsky both addressed your "college" question: Self-diagnosing will HURT not help your college application unless you have taken steps with a medical professional to address it. Colleges will be looking to see whether you are the kind of person who knows how and when to ask for help when it's called for. They do not want students who are at risk for depression whose response is to try to 'tough it out.'

    And yes, guidance counselors frequently address issues such as this in their letters of recommendation. It's one of the reasons schools ask for them, rather than just teacher recs. So rather than just guessing what your GC will or won't do, I suggest you go talk to him or her and find out.
  • NemesisNyxNemesisNyx Registered User Posts: 201 Junior Member
    Well, obviously if I don't get a diagnosis it's not going on my application. My question is how would I notify colleges about it if I AM diagnosed, and whether or not that would hurt my application.

    I'm not denying that some guidance counselors address stuff like this in their recs. But considering that my guidance counselor doesn't know I'm depressed, I doubt she's going to say anything about it. And I'm not exactly going to go into her office and just tell her, "Hey, I'm depressed, write about it."

    But most of this is irrelevant because I'm not going to be diagnosed unless I see a doctor about it, which can't be done unless my parents take me, which isn't happening.
  • M's MomM's Mom Registered User Posts: 4,562 Senior Member
    Reread Wordworker. If you don't get help, it's you, not your parents that are responsible.
  • SikorskySikorsky Registered User Posts: 5,851 Senior Member
    M's Mom, did you mean to address that to the OP, NemesisNyx?

    Sent from my DROIDX using CC
  • M's MomM's Mom Registered User Posts: 4,562 Senior Member
    Yes, Sikorsky. I meant to address that to the OP.
  • NemesisNyxNemesisNyx Registered User Posts: 201 Junior Member
    All the school nurse would do is contact my parents (which is what the school counselor did when I saw her about depression-related issues). Also, I can't drive, and there's no reasonable public transportation here. So no, not really helpful.
This discussion has been closed.