University admission and mental illness

In summary, the conversation revolves around the topic of whether universities discriminate against individuals with mental illnesses, specifically Bipolar Disorder. The individual is worried about how their illness may affect their chances of being accepted into universities such as MIT, Berkeley, Stanford, Princeton, and Caltech. They question whether it is legal for universities to ask about mental health issues and if it is appropriate to mention their illness in their application essay. Some individuals in the conversation argue that discussing their mental illness may have a negative impact on their application, while others believe that it could provide a unique perspective and showcase their personal and academic growth. Ultimately, the conversation concludes that it is best to focus on academic achievements and extracurricular activities in the application, rather than highlighting mental
  • #1
inception7
41
2
I was wondering if Universities discriminate against people who suffer from one or several mental illnesses? What about MIT, Berkeley, Stanford, Princeton, Caltech, etc etc ?

I ask this because I will be soon applying to University in about 1.5 year and sometimes they ask for any health issue (or maybe they don't ask?). I have Bipolar Disorder, and what I'm afraid of is that they will base their decision on statistics such as high suicide rates amongst those with Bipolar Disorder.

For instance: "At least 25% to 50% of patients with bipolar disorder also attempt suicide at least once..." (Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10826661)
 
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  • #2
First off, that would be discrimination and if caught doing that, the college would soon be closed down and a bunch of lawyers would be extremely wealthy.

Second off, just no.
 
  • #3
I assume that it is not legal for them to discriminate unless there is some reason to believe that they will not be capable of functioning as a student. Even then they could get in some trouble.

You might like to know that there have been a number of Uni students posting here that have aspergers and rather obvious issues with socialization. I don't think being bipolar is likely to effect your chances.
 
  • #4
I think you could find out from National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) what a college is allowed to ask.
 
  • #5
It took me about 3 minutes to download the application from MIT and the Common College Application (Princeton, Caltech and many others). None of them ask "do you have a mental illness". If they don't know, how can it influence any decision?
 
  • #6
When applying to universities here in the UK I've been asked questions along the lines of "do you have any illnesses that you wish to make known to us (please note you are not obliged to answer this question)". If they don't ask then telling them is entirely down to your discretion
 
  • #7
Well the thing is, even if they don't explicitly ask, I'm counting writing an essay (part of the application) which probably will refer to it. I intend to showcase my struggle with Bipolar Disorder, mentioning how it affected me on an academic scale and personal. The point is to display the positive outcomes and what I've achieved, the perspectives I've gained and etc etc.

Or is that a bad idea for an essay topic ? This has been a huge part of my life, so I can't imagine skipping it...
 
  • #8
Vanadium 50 said:
It took me about 3 minutes to download the application from MIT and the Common College Application (Princeton, Caltech and many others). None of them ask "do you have a mental illness". If they don't know, how can it influence any decision?

What if you specifically reference your illness in your essay, and demonstrate your academic/personal growth.

I'm thinking of discussing about it, because I believe this will show a bigger picture to the admission committee. Like add a different or extra perspective.
 
  • #9
Honestly, as someone who has studied psychology a bit, I have a hard time seeing any positive that comes from having a mental illness.

Usually it just harms, never helps. I say this because I don't know how strong your essay will be. I don't know how much you can turn being bipolar into a positive thing.

I hate those types of essays though. I hate trying to make something bad into something good. It's so convoluted, but it DOES get you places if you can do it well...
 
  • #10
inception7 said:
Or is that a bad idea for an essay topic ? This has been a huge part of my life, so I can't imagine skipping it...

inception7 said:
I'm thinking of discussing about it, because I believe this will show a bigger picture to the admission committee. Like add a different or extra perspective.

That is exactly the reason why it is a dumb idea for a topic. Do you really want to tell the admissions people that the most important thing in your past life was mental illness?

The message you should to be giving them is why the most important thing in your future life is getting a degree, not giving them reasons to doubt whether you can handle being a successful student.

Save the contents of the essay till you become famous enough to write your autobiography. Then you can tell the story in as much detail as you like.
 
  • #11
AlephZero said:
That is exactly the reason why it is a dumb idea for a topic. Do you really want to tell the admissions people that the most important thing in your past life was mental illness?

The message you should to be giving them is why the most important thing in your future life is getting a degree, not giving them reasons to doubt whether you can handle being a successful student.

Save the contents of the essay till you become famous enough to write your autobiography. Then you can tell the story in as much detail as you like.

No.

An essay can justify an abnormal grades curve. For instance, if you are strong in grade 9, but fell apart in grade 10 and 11, you can then reason with the admission committee. This is assuming a positive prognosis, ie: the individual expected to achieve excellent grades post grade 11.

And it's not just about the grades, it's also about other worthwhile extracurriular activities. For example: summer internships at the local university, research (not just a juvenile research work but Intel ISEF level), etc.

If your essays strongly outline what you've achieved and done so far despite the issues faced, then will it not work in your advantage?
 

Related to University admission and mental illness

1. What is the impact of mental illness on university admission?

Mental illness can have a significant impact on university admission. It can affect a student's academic performance, extracurricular involvement, and overall readiness for college. Additionally, some universities may require disclosure of mental health history, which can potentially impact the admission decision.

2. Do universities discriminate against students with mental illness during the admission process?

No, universities are not allowed to discriminate against students with mental illness during the admission process. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination based on mental health conditions, and universities are required to provide reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities, including mental health conditions.

3. Should students disclose their mental illness during the university admission process?

Disclosure of mental illness is a personal decision and should be carefully considered. While some universities may require disclosure for accommodations, it is not required to disclose mental health history during the admission process. Students should weigh the potential impact on their admission decision and access to support services before making a decision.

4. Can a history of mental illness prevent a student from being admitted to a university?

No, a history of mental illness alone cannot prevent a student from being admitted to a university. As mentioned before, universities are not allowed to discriminate based on mental health conditions. However, if a student's academic performance or other factors are significantly impacted by their mental illness, it may affect their admission decision.

5. What resources are available for students with mental illness during the university admission process?

There are many resources available for students with mental illness during the university admission process. These may include mental health support services provided by the university, accommodations for disabilities, and resources offered by organizations such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). It is important for students to research and utilize these resources to ensure a smooth transition to university life.

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