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Disabled students and grad school

  1. Jan 24, 2009 #1
    I'm a math major who goes to a community college in California. I've gotten the highest grades in all my math classes through differential equations. I have a 4.00 and I have enough units to transfer to a university. I also work as a tutor for the school... but I was never exposed to anything above algebra in middle school/high school (I went to a non-traditional school) so I am not a young superstar at math. I didn't know I was good at math until I went to college.

    My problem is I have a genetic disease that has left me in a weak physical condition. I live with my family because I'm not able to fully take care of myself. My only option for my bachelor's degree is to go to the university that is close by, which happens to be a low ranked state school. I could get into Berkeley... a lot of people from my community college transfer there, but because of my health I can't move that far away. I would have to have all my expenses paid, including apartment and extra money for special needs, in order to go to Berkeley. I know someone who goes there and he pays for his own apartment. UCSD and UCLA are closer than Berkeley, but still too far to commute. Geography is the only reason I may end up at state school.

    What I want to know is, how do grad schools view people who have health problems that prevent them from going to the top undergraduate schools and traveling to do summer internships? Does going to a low-ranked school automatically disqualify me from getting into Berkeley or Stanford for grad school? If you were me, what would you do? How would you make the best of your situation? My goal is to get a PhD in pure math from the best school I can get into. Thanks.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 24, 2009 #2

    j93

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    No,nope. There is no top 10 grad school with only grad students from top 10.
    They are trying to get students from all types of colleges therefore to some extent if you can stand out from your peers in college through MGRE and GPA your golden. Just use it to your advantage, if people in your school typically score lower on MGRE and you do well on it, youll stand out more than those in a school with higher average MGRE.
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2009
  4. Jan 24, 2009 #3

    Vid

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    Except there is no reason for him to take the PGRE for math grad school :P
     
  5. Jan 24, 2009 #4

    j93

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    What you talking about Willis?
     
  6. Jan 25, 2009 #5
    Dude with a condition like yours, I wouldn't be surprised if you applied to your dream school, got in, have it fully paid for by the school itself, and have aid with you and your difficulties all provided by the university. Universities love success stories and they love diversity. Not to mention that it would look incredible for them to do all that for you.
     
  7. Jan 25, 2009 #6

    j93

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    Are you female?
     
  8. Jan 25, 2009 #7
    Yes, I'm female. Wow, so it's possible to use my illness to my advantage! I hadn't considered that since I didn't want to come across as a whiner to admissions committees, but my illness is real and it has been a struggle for me to overcome it. I got the highest grade in calculus when I should've been lying in a hospital bed. I also have some outstanding recommendations from my professors. Maybe I will apply to a bunch of good schools in the fall and see what happens. The only drawback would be losing a semester to a year, not taking classes while I wait for acceptance letters, when I could be at state school working towards my degree. Is it easier to get accepted to top colleges with a pure math major? You'd think there would be less people interested, since there are less job prospects me than a computer science or business major.
     
  9. Jan 25, 2009 #8

    j93

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    You might not want to come across as whining. Since youre a female if Math PhD departments are recruiting females as aggressively as Physics PhD programs youll be compared in the context of female applicants which is a smaller set which would work in your favor.
     
  10. Jan 25, 2009 #9

    cristo

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    How come you're not able to study away from home for undergrad, but will be able to for grad?
     
  11. Jan 25, 2009 #10

    Vanadium 50

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    My experience is totally different. I have never been involved in a grad admissions process where we divided applications into two piles, M and F, and accepted a set number from each pile. I'm not sure this would even be legal.

    The university does want to insure that there are members of traditionally underrepresented groups in the applicant pool, and once the students are accepted, they are willing to expend resources to insure that these members come here and not go somewhere else, but they have never tried to interfere with the admissions decisions.

    Remember that graduate admissions are done by departments, though, not the university as a whole.
     
  12. Jan 26, 2009 #11

    j93

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    I really do doubt anyone did anything like in admissions committee that even in the 60's. However there have been articles with people at least in Harvard department about increasing the amount of females in their department which included the idea of viewing female PGRE scores in context. What does in context mean other than they will be a lenient with PGRE scores using the fact that there are statistics that say females score on average 100 scaled less than males. All I was implying is that the admissions committee would look at her application in "context" of her background which would mean they would look at her application favorably. There is a difference between looking at a application looking for a reason to admit you and looking at your application for a reason to reject you, in most cases admissions have to do the latter because they receive more applications than available openings.
     
  13. Jan 26, 2009 #12
    I would encourage you to also look into this... even at the undergrad level. Contact the disabilities office at Berkley, and possible even the social services office near you (Do you currently qualify for any services?). There should (especially in a state like California) be good aid available to disabled people (including aids that can come to your house/apartment and help you with certain needs).

    I live in Tennessee with a disabled stepson (who unfortunately will never meet your academic prowess... hurrah for you!). While my husband and I are capable of meeting his heath needs without visiting (or live-in) help, when he lived with his mother (in NY) she did have aids come to the house to help her do certain tasks. CA should be better than TN.
     
  14. Jan 29, 2009 #13
    Thank you for all your helpful ideas!! I think I am going to apply to UCLA and Berkeley as an undergrad. My professors have told me that UC schools are a better choice for people who dream of grad school because they have better research opportunities and a more theoretical approach to academics. As long as I can somehow pay for an apartment, I think I would be able to live on campus and come home on the weekends. This will mean staying at my junior college until 2010 but I think it will be worth it. If that doesn't work out I still have CSU as a backup plan. My health improves over time. I built my strength up and am able to walk again after being in a bed-ridden state. In another few years I will be "almost" as good as a normal person. With the information you all have given me, I think it's better to aim high and see what kind of offers I get. I really appreciate the responses, thanks!
     
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