So I am a girl applying to many boarding schools that aren’t meant for kids with mental/emotional challenges. I have clinical anxiety/MDD but I am on the correct dosage of medication. I can confidently say I am happy and in sound state. Is my health conditions something I should bring up to AOs? Any advice?
So here is the thing, we are not doctors and I am not familiar with how sucessful meds are for your particular challenges so we really can’t know. I will say that the schools you are applying to are not set up for kids who are clinically anxious/depressed, etc. My guess is that if you bring it up it may be a red flag. At the same time, you probably need to know that your needs can be met at the school. I am just not sure - maybe someone with more direct experience can help.
The schools you listed are pressure cookers. Have you looked up past threads about them and their “soul crushing” amount of homework and the pressure to do well (mostly self-imposed because every kid is crazy smart)?
This is a complicated question that total strangers can’t possibly answer for you.
You and your parents should be doing a deep dive into researching mental health support at the various schools. Anxiety and depression is very common right now, and schools vary on how well they handle it. I would come at this issue from the standpoint of “can they give me what I need” rather than “Can I give them what they want”.
I agree you have listed pressure cooker schools, and if you are going in knowing anxiety is an issue, please please please add some additional schools to your list. It isn’t too late. There are a lot of threads here on alternative schools that aren’t so stressful as the ones you list. You don’t give up quality of education, potential Ivy League admission, or anything else by finding schools that fit your needs.
Ask more questions here - lots of students are struggling with this issue, and I am glad you are brave enough to post about it.
The school I know best places a real value on resiliency, because so many kids struggle with anxiety/depression/other mental health issues. So they are actively looking for kids who do not have these issues.
If you don’t mention your issues (even tho well controlled) you may increase your chances of being admitted. However, that might not be the best thing for you. Kids do crash and burn at pressure cooker schools, so it will be important for you to figure out schools where you will be supported and understood, and can flourish.
Oh, @lilyesh , this is a "between a rock and a hard place question. "
In the most perfect of worlds, you could candidly explain your situation and your diagnosis would make as much difference as your hair color. But the reality is that it MAY concern the AO about your ability to handle not just the workload, but the social pressures, independent living, etc.
There is a case to be made for not mentioning it before being admitted. With offers in hand, you could then explore how you would be supported at the schools you are considering. This would mean everything from local medical resources, on campus housing, medication protocols, and understanding whether the structure of the school is going to feed your anxiety or not. In this, you wouldn’t be alone – I have heard that at some schools in this group – and I assume they are similar – about 25% of students are experience anxiety and/or depression at a level that requires professional help. But I will also tell you that two of the most spectacular students I know both left BS (with excellent academic records) after having truly devastating mental health issues, showing that these schools don’t handle everything well. And success in the classroom is only one piece of the puzzle.
There is also a case to be made for being upfront. It’s possible that your recommendation letters will include something that could spook an AO that might be less worrisome if they know you are being treated. You could openly talk about the kinds of situations that are hardest for you and whether you’d be likely to encounter them at a school. You could ask about general stress levels, resources, etc. A friend who is a counselor at a school actually reads applications at the school where she works to weigh in on whether a student is likely to thrive at her school. Remember that every school- even the ones with sink or swim cultures - want their students to succeed.
The decision really is not one that any of us can help with because we don’t know you well enough. I suspect there are schools where you would be successful, and my personal hunch is that you have the best shot at finding them by disclosing your concerns and needs. You might also be really well served by a BS consultant who has experience with students who has worked with students in your situation-- they are likely to have an inside track on where you are most likely to have a great experience.
Thanks for the advice. My problems don’t affect my ability to do school work, in fact, it takes me 20 minutes to do all my work…the reason i want to go to BS is because of the work. Thanks guys.
I went to something at my oldest kids school. The student talked about a project they had done and it was related to a mental health isssue( based on their experience).
According to my oldest, there are several kids who speak openly about various issues. I think there must be others who are quiet/private about it. I picked up my kid once in the health office and saw kids coming in for mental health issues. So there’s definitely services.
I’d ask the health center specific questions rather than the AO. (The health center counselor or psychologist could have insight into what type of student they can accomodate) And I would wait until an acceptance arrives. I think it could be a red flag ( depending on details of course). Honestly, I think most boarding schools are pretty similar. There isn’t a real connection between difficulty of the school and mental health issues unless they are related to school anxiety ( which they certainly could be). Some kids could have issues related to social anxiety and be excellent in the classroom. While others could have issues around having lots of work. There are a whole group of students who stay up until 3Am to get top grades. Some of them get really worked up about it according to my kid. My kid felt guilty that his/her bedtime was never later than 11.
I think these issues are VERY common. I was a Scout leader for years and could tell you that there are many kids with all types of medical as well as mental health issues. They figure it out.
It sounds, btw, that you could apply without disclosing and are leaning towards that. That’s fine. But do your homework before enrolling.
I think it’s totally fine to bring it up mental health issues as long as you leave some time to discuss your achievement etc
Not sure exactly what you mean by “bring up to AOs”, but I’d suggest not bringing it up, no matter the context.
If you have questions or concerns about the clinical and emotional support of a particular school, you can search threads here, look through the Learning Differences and Challenges section under Pre-College Issues, and most importantly, contact the health centers at schools you are interested in. You can have an anonymous or frankly confidential discussion with them and get the answers right from the source.
If you’re bringing it up to cast your accomplishments in a brighter light, you are taking an unnecessary risk IMHO. Your accomplishments can and should stand on their own merit. Like it or not, our society does not place the same value on accomplishments in the setting of mental health diagnoses that it does on physical diagnoses. Furthermore, all mental health diagnoses are not regarded equally as well. Not everyone will see the same value in an accomplishment in the setting of Chrohn’s disease, a spinal cord injury, schizophrenia or an anxiety disorder. AOs are people and people filter information through their conscious and unconscious biases. Don’t take an unnecessary risk and let such filters end up filtering you out of a school.
Please note…I am not supporting that reality or making any judgement on your diagnoses or anyone else’s. I’m just offering advice based on the reality that at least I live in. And my anecdotal experience includes a comment from the spouse of a work colleague, who is a college AO, and speaking about personal statements said “the surest way to not get admitted is for a student to write a statement about how they’ve overcome their ADHD.” Harsh for sure, but still reality.
Honestly, this response makes me wonder if you know what you are getting yourself into. The workload at these schools is stressful for everyone, with or without anxiety. Being able to do your work now in 20 minutes means nothing as to how you will handle the work at bs. Most kids applying fit into that category If you are going into this thinking the work is going to be easier or less stressful for you, you are wrong.
I don’t know you or your particular mental health issues, but I want you to succeed. Don’t assume that the academics are going to soothe your anxiety. Social and academic anxiety are not mutually exclusive when you live in a dorm with fellow students. I wouldn’t mention anxiety meds in an interview. I don’t know how it would help if you did. I would save that discussion until after I got in. But if you were my kid I would research the heck out of each school’s support offerings before deciding where to apply.
If a boarding school can’t handle neuroatypical teenagers who are in the right meds and treatment, it’s just not the right place for you.
I would not disclose it in the interview. Once you have your acceptances you can ask more specific questions about how the schools handle mental health issue. My daughter disclosed her anxiety during several interviews (in a look how far I’ve come) and I do believe it backfired on her.
My daughter has been dealing with anxiety and depression for about two years. She’s been on the right meds for quite a while now and had previously been thriving. But she is a freshman at a BS now and she’s drowning. There is so much more stress at a BS than just the workload. And yes, you’ll work through it , but you want to have the right community to help you. Best of luck to you.
@cityran Just wanted to say hope your daughter starts to feel better at school. This year has been harder than last for my kids (I am not even sure covid is the reason). There just seems to be stress in the air and I imagine that if this is your first year in BS it is much harder than normal.
I think that if your mental health affects your productivity in school, you should disclose your conditions and see whether the school is the right environment for you. I know a lot of competitive boarding schools are full of academic pressure. However, if homework and schoolwork don’t seem to stress you out much (remember that BS is probably going to be a LOT harder than your current school), then you should go for it! I’m an 8th grader myself though, so you shouldn’t take my words too seriously. Wishing you luck.