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Addressing a learning disability in a writing prompt

MomofmanytooMomofmanytoo 230 replies13 threads Junior Member
My child was diagnosed with a learning disability when she was very young. She has battled long and hard to excel in school to keep up with her peers and has done quite well. She takes challenging classes and will graduate with a 3.5 gpa. One of her writing prompts asks her to discuss her academic plans and any challenges she has encountered along the way. She's applying to a few schools that are fairly selective state flagships. She should get in. But I would consider most kids with her profile to be on the bubble. Would it not be wise to address her learning disability in her writing prompt? I guess I worry that they might use it as a reason to exclude her, since they are somewhat selective. I think she has a great story to tell. Her disability is most of the reason she is as driven as she is. Would college admissions reps see it the same way?
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Replies to: Addressing a learning disability in a writing prompt

  • Erin's DadErin's Dad 34151 replies4942 threads Super Moderator
    From what you write I would say it will be fine. Of course most of it will come down to how well she writes it.
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  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 8043 replies85 threads Senior Member
    They won't exclude her b/c of her L/D but the best place for that to be addressed in the larger sense is by her GC and/or teacher recs (esp if any have known her for a while).

    I know that you see the great story she has to tell- but remember that sometimes your own story is hard to tell well, especially when you are still in the middle of it. And, the best story for her to tell is the one she wants to tell, even if this is the one that you see as the best.
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  • CaMom13CaMom13 2392 replies15 threads Senior Member
    edited August 2019
    My D had a very similar story and she put her struggles with her LD into her common app essay. It was a huge part of her early life and an enormous accomplishment when she was able to perform at her "real" level after years of effort. I can't imagine her writing an essay about herself and leaving it out!

    Massive congratulations to your D, only parents who have watched that educational progression understand how much pain, persistence and work are required in overcoming an LD and getting to grade level and above. You must be very proud!

    My D's admission results were pretty good - she was admitted to her "likelies" and "matches" and denied at two reaches. I don't think the essay made a difference and we wouldn't have had her change it even if we knew it would have. My kid is a stellar citizen, smart, self-motivated and endlessly kind. Their loss! :)
    edited August 2019
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  • bjkmombjkmom 7948 replies160 threads Senior Member
    I would suggest that her guidance counselor mention it in her letter. That frees up your daughter's essay to include yet another aspect of her personality that perhaps her guidance counselor can't cover.
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  • citykidcitykid 65 replies0 threads Junior Member
    My daughter wove it into her Common App essay in a creative and humorous way. It helped explain her sharp upward grade trend, which went from Cs and Ds, to Bs, to As over the course of high school. She applied to a reach school ED and got accepted (and is doing nicely, I might add, despite our concerns that it would be academically very difficult for her). If done right, it can be a great subject for an essay.
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  • austinmshauriaustinmshauri 10040 replies389 threads Senior Member
    My daughter avoided mentioning her LD because she feels it doesn't define her. She wants to be Austin Jr, not Austin Jr with the learning disorder.

    We approached the essays by thinking of a list of traits we thought the schools wanted and she picked stories to reflect them. I think she wrote about balancing an EC with academics. The EC has become a lifelong sport and finding the correct balance led to leadership opportunities (coaching younger kids) and summer jobs related to the sport. She was able to make a connection between the sport and a couple academic subjects (physics and math), so it really told a lot more about her than discussing her LD would have.
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 30511 replies59 threads Senior Member
    You know, I know what’s legal, I know what’s right, but it all comes down to presentation in that essay and how each admissions officer perceives that essay.

    I would have her send off her applications to several schools with an essay mentioning the disability and to several schools with an essay not mentioning it. Or any variation of the same. That way you can compare. The common application allows you to change the essay for schools. A lot of kids do that when they are applying to very different types of schools.

    It’s not an all or nothing thing. She can focus on the disability, making it the focus or make it an ancillary or just touch on it, or obliquely mention it. But I’d have two divergent essays so that if that essay does not present herself well, she has that other chance with the alternate essay
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  • MomofmanytooMomofmanytoo 230 replies13 threads Junior Member
    Thank you for all of your responses. Although they are all very different, there's not one response that I don't agree with. I appreciate the different perspectives!
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