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Learning Disability On College Essay?

CosmicStormCosmicStorm Registered User Posts: 37 Junior Member
Hello everyone, recently I’ve been considering writing about my learning disabilities (ADHD and Anxiety) on my application essays. Let me make it very clear that I would not use the LD as a crutch to explain weakspots on my application. Instead, I would explain how my LD was an inherent obstacle that I had to overcome, and through developing coping skills/strategies, I was able to achieve much success as indicated by my high gpa and 1550/1600 on the sat. Thoughts on this idea?


Replies to: Learning Disability On College Essay?

  • zannahzannah Registered User Posts: 1,088 Senior Member
    Explaining how you developed academic skills and knowledge in the context of a learning disability is a worthy topic, but NOT for college admission essays. You have legal rights as a person with a disability that offer protections such as not factoring disability into the admissions decision. You have experience learning in high school and have no reason to think you will have problems in college. Admits are expected to do well in college, but some might worry about you academically or be concerned about the cost of accommodations. These concerns would not be voiced because of contaminating the application decision, but some may worry about how well you will do. You may get denial votes and will never know. Don't put yourself into an awkward position by disclosing disability when it is irrelevant to admissions! You will be admitted or denied on the basis of the credentials you submit. Let your profile speak for you without potentially complicating admissions by disclosure of disability!

    Your topic itself is very good and will improve when you are in experience about learning in college and how that differs from high school. Never disclose disability until you are admitted! After you accept, contact the disability office about how to receive accommodations, if necessary. Stay quiet about disability until you have formal notification of admission.
  • EmpireappleEmpireapple Registered User Posts: 1,177 Senior Member
    Don't do it. Essays are to make you look unique and interesting. Honestly, dealing with anxiety and ADHD are a dime a dozen.
  • scoutmom2002scoutmom2002 Registered User Posts: 102 Junior Member
    I agree....my daughter has anxiety and ADHD...plus not so great grades...while we are not quite at the application stage we are discussing options and there is a key learning disability that she also has...poor working memory/working memory deficiency. If all she had were anxiety/ADHD but she still had a high GPA and SAT scores (as CosmicStorm appears to have) I would NOT disclose the anxiety/ADHD. However, since my daughter who has had private tutoring nearly all her life for math but still had to withdraw fail from Algebra 2....and struggles still with all classes so that she will likely end up with a 3.0-3.4 GPA (her PSAT score was 960/1600)...we feel that disclosing her working memory deficiency LD will provide clarity as to why her stats are so low. That being said, we plan to disclose it in the app but not have it be the topic of her essay necessarily. I'm assuming there is somewhere on the app (other than essay) where she could disclose it.
  • intparentintparent Registered User Posts: 35,793 Senior Member
    I would not do it. Don’t take the prompt so literally. Focus on a topic that makes you someone they would like to have on campus.
  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 Registered User Posts: 5,760 Senior Member
    Agreeing with @intparent: overcoming x obstacle essays are exceptionally hard to do well when you are still so close to it- and many, many students try.
  • zannahzannah Registered User Posts: 1,088 Senior Member
    Agree with above. Do not disclose that your daughter has a deficit in working memory! Do her stats meet the requirements of schools to which she is applying? If not, expect her applications to be denied. Major tutoring to help her maintain her high school gpa does not make it more acceptable to ACs. Who will provide her with at least the same level of tutoring she receives now to maintain grades. Colleges offer short term tutoring, but nothing as extensive as your child receives. Disability services do not provide tutoring legally or practically because admits are expected to be fully qualified for admissions and require accommodations only be for functional limitations. Accommodations do not prop up students who are academically deficient. Sliding information into the application does not make it acceptable. A deficit in working memory in not something she can evade. Your daughter needs focused remediation on her working memory deficit before she can securely enter college.
  • LindagafLindagaf Registered User Posts: 8,454 Senior Member
    If a earning disability is to be mentioned at all it should be mentioned by the guidance counselors no his/her letter of rec.
  • compmomcompmom Registered User Posts: 10,054 Senior Member
    You can write about this briefly in the supplementary essay that helps adcoms know about you beyond what is already in the application. Your transcript will show your successes. That might be a better way- and then use the main essay for another topic.

    There is nothing wrong with disclosing and it will not affect the decision one way or the other, most likely .....but it is true that this is not an original topic, not at all. However, if done in a heartfelt, likable manner it might work. It is commendable that you do not have to use this to explain bad grades but instead to highlight good grades and hard work in the light of a disability.
  • ilovemydog21ilovemydog21 Registered User Posts: 9 New Member
    I'm a rising senior and I'm surprised by the advice to not disclose LD's in the Common App essay. I have asked both the college counselor at my school, as well as a university admissions counselor (the parent of a friend). Both said that revealing it myself, in my main essay, is not a bad idea so long as I don't use it as an excuse. My college counselor said that it would help explain my slightly lower gpa as compared to my test scores and difficulty of my classes. My mom thinks that if a college wouldn't accept me because of this, then it really wasn't the best fit college. I kind of agree with that. I'm not trying to get into super reach colleges. I really am focused on schools where I would be happy and could get the few necessary supports I need.

    I do agree with @compmom, it is not an original essay. But most are not. But sometimes I don't think those without LD's fully understand the impact on the lives of those that have them. Admissions people have likely read a lot of these essays. But doing well despite these issues shows strength, determination and grit. I really feel like a significant part of me is this challenge. My job has been student for 12 years, and I have given every ounce of myself to be the best one I can be, and in a system that is set up for the success of a different type of learner. Reading this thread is discouraging esp. since I wrote about this topic.
  • RuskointhehouseRuskointhehouse Registered User Posts: 64 Junior Member
    you say you have a high gpa and good test scores so why don't you let your grades speak for themselves? It will be really inspiring later on when people find out what you've been through.
  • ilovemydog21ilovemydog21 Registered User Posts: 9 New Member
    ^Actually, I said I had a slightly lower gpa.
  • compmomcompmom Registered User Posts: 10,054 Senior Member
    Since you feel this is an important part of your story, go ahead and write it. Honestly, any topic works if it is done well. I know someone who got into a dream school writing about blueberry muffins.

    Don't think about the essay in terms of explaining your lower than expected GPA. That contradicts the idea of not using it as an excuse :)

    Again, you have a few options for dealing with this. You can write a supplementary essay, the one where the application asks if there is anything else you want to let them know about you. And your guidance counselor can write about it, with your permission- as can teachers writing recommendations. Or, you can write about it.

    The only reason to be cautious is you want to think about whether or not your LD defines you. It takes a lot of work and grit to deal with, so those qualities do define you. If dealing with your LD is the best way to show who you are, go for it.

    You will not be penalized for mentioning having an LD. Colleges do not discriminate. They go by your performance, your character, your ability to contribute....and admissions knows that many kids with challenges can do well.

    Accommodations will not be at the same level as high school: a different lower standard has to be met. So keep that in mind in choosing schools.. And definitely register with the Office for Disabilities once admitted.
  • happy1happy1 Forum Champion Parents, Forum Champion Admissions Posts: 23,184 Forum Champion
    If you want to share it but not have it part of your essay you can put something in the additional information section. However, you must keep it short (a sentence or two) and sweet. The additional information section is not an opportunity to write a second essay. Admissions officers are swamped and are absolutely not looking for extra essays to read. Alternatively you can ask your guidance counselor or a teacher to note in in a recommendation.
  • EmpireappleEmpireapple Registered User Posts: 1,177 Senior Member
    Ilovemydog21...take this or leave it...

    I think you need to understand that legally college counselors have to say that a LD will not affect an application. It's just like when you go for a job interview and there is already another candidate who has a connection and will get the job. The interviewer is never going to say, "we are required to interview three people but the job is already going to candidate #1." It's illegal to say anything other than, "all candidates have an equal opportunity for the job."

    Your mother's words are beautiful but please remember she is looking at the situation through the eyes of a mom who loves you. The world doesn't work like that. It isn't fair. At times you have to fight and claw your way to what you can do and deserve. Nobody is going to understand or help. That's the way it works sometimes.

    I think the college counselor at your school is seriously misguided. IMO, don't ever disclose anything on a college application that would give reason for an admissions officer to choose another applicant. Once you get there as a student there will be an office of disability and by law they are required to give you all of your accommodations. Some schools are more friendly than others to accepting students with disability. Good luck.
  • bopperbopper Forum Champion CWRU Posts: 12,210 Forum Champion
    Essay does not equal Confession.

    An essay should show what makes you unique. It should show off your accomplishments.
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