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Whether/How to address ADD on application for bright under-performer

BktoNJBktoNJ 42 replies5 threads Junior Member
Looking for experienced people's thoughts on whether and if so, how, to disclose ADD/504 plan on application or save it for after acceptences. Does the condition add helpful context to the transcript, or do damage to the student's chances?

Junior son was diagnosed with ADD in 2nd grade and has a 504 plan as well as daily medication. Without it, traditional school would have likely been impossible, particularly through elementary and middle. With it he does well but his grades do reflect his struggles particularly with executive function. We joke that "he gets all the grades," over the course of a semester he can have A's, F's and everything inbetween in a given class. Work also takes him a lot longer than his peer group, he can't stay up late cramming, or bang out an essay last minute. He's had to be judicious about extra-curriculars to have time to keep his grades up and couldn't be as busy as many of his peers. (His focus has been on music, plays strings in 2 orchestras, has some leadership position in one of them but is not a star).

He goes to a very large, competitve public high school, takes mostly Honors and AP classes, has a 3.7 (w) 3.3 (uw)--his school doesn't report unwieghted fwiw. Those stats put him at the 60th percentile in his class of about 450 kids.

He's taking the ACT in a couple of weeks and the SAT's in March. His scores seem fairly comprable on practice tests though he's focussing on SAT's. Likley about a 29 or mid 1300's.

Guidance counselor at school was non-commital on this question, just saying she would not disclose it, but he could write about it if he wanted to.

If it's helpful to know, his likely major will be in Humanities or Social Sciences (Poly-sci, global studies, etc.)

Thoughts? Thank you in advance.
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Replies to: Whether/How to address ADD on application for bright under-performer

  • LindagafLindagaf 9857 replies533 threads Senior Member
    If the GC isn’t disclosing it, I think that’s a good indicator that neither should the student. Colleges want reasons to say yes. I don’t think the information is going to help in this case. It draws attention to something that might be seen as a negative.
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  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 7183 replies69 threads Senior Member
    edited January 18
    Save it for acceptances. Let the colleges judge him on his record- and don't give yourselves any room to wonder 'was it b/c we flagged a possible issue?'. Imo his app won't get a 'benefit of the doubt' bump up in assessment.

    Is he looking at Ithaca College? They have a pre-college summer music program that is worth checking out. A current applicant we know made some great relationships with the music dept doing that program, and one of the program profs ended up writing one of her LoRs.
    edited January 18
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  • cinnamon1212cinnamon1212 735 replies8 threads Member
    I've had 2 sons with ADHD, one didn't disclose it, and didn't do all that well with admissions (correlation is not causation though), the other made it the central part of his essay (about how working on a farm taught him about himself, and that he was actually a really hard worker, and what it was like living with ADHD. He got in almost everywhere. But -- correlation is not causation!
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  • BktoNJBktoNJ 42 replies5 threads Junior Member
    @collegemom3717 We had kept Ithaca off the list so far because their endowment numbers seems worrisome (less than 1 year's tuition per student currently) and because he's not likely to be really focussing on performance in college which is what they are all about as far as I can tell. We have friends with a kid there in musical theater and I have another, a prof. in the English dept. BUT the summer music looks really good, and he may well do it if we scrape the pennies together.
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  • BktoNJBktoNJ 42 replies5 threads Junior Member
    @cinnamon1212 thank you for this. Can you easily recognize other reasons your two kids would have such different acceptence outcomes? (transcripts, essays, un/realistic list to apply to et?) or does your gut say that the discloser was the issue?
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  • CaMom13CaMom13 2039 replies13 threads Senior Member
    @BktoNJ - I have a kid with ADD and a diagnosed LD and she wrote in her essay about battling with her LD as part of growing up. I don't think it helped or hindered her.

    One thing I wanted to mention in general, though - I have seen many applicants ask if bringing up learning or mental health issues in their apps will get them special consideration from admissions offices and I don't think it will, especially with ADD and anxiety because those two are so common.

    On the other hand, if the treatment / meds your S takes for ADD have really helped him and his progression through HS has been upward, using that as a story to address the "F" and "D" s on your kid's record might be super helpful. If the low / failing grades persisted even with treatment then trying to explain them as due to ADD might actually hurt him, as the AO will assume he will also fail classes in college.
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  • CaMom13CaMom13 2039 replies13 threads Senior Member
    Okay, re-reading, it looks like your kid didn't actually get Fs in high school so that's great. With B+/A- average and a good ACT I think it's a matter of his own preference. I don't think it will hurt or help him but I would definitely not mention "getting all the grades" or getting failing grades on classwork at all - it's a great family in-joke but you don't want to put anything on his application that would raise flags.
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  • cinnamon1212cinnamon1212 735 replies8 threads Member
    My opinion is just my opinion, no way to know if I'm right. Their profiles were a little different. My opinion is that my son talking about his journey dealing with ADHD was a help but not the reason he was admitted; it just supported what the rest of his application was about. It helped make sense of his application/understand what he is like.
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  • JanwelJanwel 113 replies1 threads Junior Member
    IfHis full application will tell a story. If he decides to talk about it in his essay or supplementary question he should. I know many colleges give the oppty to do that. I would be curious to know why this info is important in the context of his story: does it show his maturity in managing a learning disability? How he perseveres against challenges?
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  • LindagafLindagaf 9857 replies533 threads Senior Member
    @cinnamon1212 , your perspective is useful.

    It may not hurt to disclose the info, but the OP has said that the GC doesn’t plan to mention it. This is a problem, imo. Without the GC also bringing it up, it might sound like an excuse for uneven grades. If your son wants to disclose, then I feel strongly that he should ask the GC to mention it and also the 504.
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  • BktoNJBktoNJ 42 replies5 threads Junior Member
    Clarifying that GC said she would not mention it UNLESS WE ASKED HER TO. After discussing with my son and reviewing theses responses, I think he will probably leave it off. It's really not his style to dwell on the things that make him feel vulnerable or use his condition as an excuse, even legitimately. He'll find plenty to write about that will feel more comfortable for him and make him feel proud.
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