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Admissions Graduate school admissions and extenuating circumstances

  1. Jun 9, 2012 #1
    I was diagnosed with moderate/severe ADD when I was a child but due to health concerns my parents chose not to put me on medication. They also erroneously believed that ADD was something that could be overcome with willpower, something I learned is not true.

    I attended the University of Michigan out of high school and I did fairly poorly the first few years, where I majored in nuclear engineering. My major gpa was a 2.6 with a downward trend during this time and I grew extremely frustrated with myself - I put so much time into my study yet I was not seeing the results I knew I was capable of academically. Every day during my study sessions I would spent 80% of my time spaced out, playing with my hair, scratching my hands, or just blankly staring at the pages of my textbooks. The condition took its toll on other areas of life as well but academics was central. High school was easy due to the lack of rigor but university was anything but. As my responsibilities, expectations, and workload became more demanding my issues became obvious.

    I decided to finally go on medication the summer after my third year. It helped tremendously and the aforementioned problems were significantly relieved. I knew I would never be able to make a positive impression on admissions committees in such a short time (one year to graduation at the time) so I switched my major to applied physics and computer science and racked up a gpa of 3.91 over the next few years and did a couple summer REUs. I scored very well on the GRE and I am planning on applying to different PhD programs in nuclear engineering/engineering physics next year. Having gotten a taste for research I would love the chance to make it a career.

    My question is - how will admissions committees view my case? I know I am capable of doing graduate level work and I really, really want to be able to go to a strong program. Would it be prudent to disclose my condition?
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2012
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 9, 2012 #2
    Any time that there is a dramatic change in your academic record you should offer explanation. Just be aware that some admission committees won't care, some will consider you a liability, but it is always better to be honest. Without explanation, most quality programs will toss you on the first round so you have nothing to lose.
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