Should I disclose case of muscular dystrophy to colleges?

It’s definitely something that’s prominent in my life, but not noticeable at first glance. I don’t want to be someone who says “boo hoo i have a problem let me in to your school”, but I also want colleges to know how I used it to motivate me and justify some of my history. Luckily for me, it’s nothing EXTREME, although it is very unusual and it’s hard to know what things affect me. To be a bit more descriptive about what this “it” is I’ll provide some information: I have been in a 504 plan since early elementary school for an undiagnosed muscular dystrophy issue in my upper body. Many activities that involved sports (which I love), building ( which I also love), and anything that involves me being independent/using my hands in careful ways were limited to me as a child. Even today, many things I am limited in because of this. My handwriting is absolutely atrocious for this reason, but I usually get extra time on tests at school and on the ACT etc. I’m wondering what colleges think about this and how should I approach this. I plan to be a competitive applicant and apply to some competitive schools, so I do want to be able to mention what I truly believe is important in what I’ve done and how I’ve handled it. Thanks for your time to read this and please feel free to ask questions if I left anything out!

Are you asking if your should include your DX as part of your application? Do you mean as an essay topic or as an explanation for problems?

You are never required to disclose a DX on application. You can wait and ask for accommodations after your are accepted.

On the other hand, if you want to disclose as an essay topic, I think it can be very positive if done well. Do you have an interesting story that you can tell about a specific experience you had?

If you want to disclose, not as an essay, but in the part of the app where you can give more info to explain deficiencies, that would work as well. I don’t think it would harm you.

You can also have you GC speak about it on the LoR.

I don’t believe that MD had the type of stigma that other disabilities have so you will not be hurt by disclosure. I had an adcom tell my son, “I cannot try to understand something I do not know,” when we asked about disclosure.

Hope this helps.

Thank you for the response. I have not seen the format of any applications so I’m not sure what the best way to present it would be. I do think it could be a valuable piece as an essay if I can write it well enough. Would it help me in the end if I listed it somewhere other than the place where my essay should be? Would it also not be a bad idea to include it in my personal statement? I wouldn’t say I have any defined stories, mostly ones over the years, but one moment I do remember as a child when I was still very sensitive. I remembered I was telling my parents I wanted to play a sport, but they wouldn’t allow me and the next day I got extremely frustrated because I was trying to tie my shoes again and just couldn’t do it ( I still can’t today). It was at the entrance to my house I remember as a child deciding I would use my brain to be successful rather than my body. Of course, I still exercised and played sports a lot to compensate. That’s just one of the stories I thought of. I want it to be something that’s not a sob story but actually defining. Is that something worth putting in?

That sounds like a good story. When thinking about an essay your need to ask yourself, what do I want the committee to know about me besides by grades, test scores, and ECs. Then think about the best way to express that. Can your story tell them what you want them to know?

Also, be sure to look at the essay requirements for your schools. You can probably fit your story easily into the common app or UCs. I don’t know what the essay requirements of non CA schools are.

Take a look and see what the questions are.

You will be admitted to college on your academic merits and other requirements. MD will not make up for deficiencies or add extra points to an already good profile. So there is no need nor even any spot on the form to disclose MD.

If you meet the admissions’ published criteria and are a good match to whatever gets one qualified applicant chosen over another at an elite school, you can expect admission irrespective of MD. Disclosure may contribute to the decision indirectly by providing the admissions people with too much information. You consider yourself a competent applicant at competitive schools so you have already done what you needed to do. Personally, I’d just apply without mentioning MD to admissions.

I am not a fan of disclosure on an essay because piece so often veers into how I overcame my disability. Yet, if a question strikes you as a good place to ILLUSTRATE the impact of your disability, then maybe you could pursue it.

DISCLOSE MD to the disability services office and supply any needed documentation as soon as you know you will be attending a particular school. There are likely accommodation you will need from the day you get on campus or let you avoid the rush to register with than office.

From your post, you will want extra time on tests and maybe even a scribe or AT, and will want a note-taker. How do you hold and manipulate large and/or multiple textbooks for study? Would texts in an auditory format or read on a computer screen better? How do you produce papers now? How do you plan to generate them in college?

You won’t have someone writing a 504 plan for you who will think about and arrange for accommodations based their understanding of your needs. Hurray, finally! Remember you will need to think about and then request accommodations that allow you to access classes in ways that make sense to you.

Do check out options for AT and decide what programs or devices you need and want. You may find that some things are provided by the school because they directly accommodate the functional limitations of MD. However, there may also be things that makes life easier and are worth buying yourself.

Are there particular kinds of housing that are more or less advantageous? Since current students have already secured housing, individually or through disability services, you probably should hop on what you want right away. Is there anything Health Services needs to know? When you select classes with your adviser, register for a load that does not demand more than you can do physically. For example, don’t enroll multiple classes during one term that require lots and/or long papers.Take care to balance your schedule. You don’t have to sacrifice to get an excellent education, but you certainly aren’t required to make yourself unhappy.

In summary, college is more than admissions. Think about what limitations related to MD you expect you will encounter in school and how they will be accommodated. Take the long view because, irrespective of the institution you choose, you will be responsible for access and accommodations through college. Ultimately, you want \accommodations that provide you with the most independence at school and later at work.