AA female 3.7(3.89) PTing 170 and Mental Illness

(BLS, URM status, non-traditional, GLBT)
hiddenlobster
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AA female 3.7(3.89) PTing 170 and Mental Illness

Postby hiddenlobster » Thu Jul 28, 2011 4:17 am

This is my first post so I apologize now if this isn't the appropriate forum or if this post isn't the correct format.

As you can tell there's a pretty significant discrepancy between my LSAC GPA and my undergraduate GPA (I think my major GPA is around 3.94 or something). The discrepancy between LSAC and UG GPAs is due to dual enrollment classes that I took in order to fulfill some requirements for my really competitive high school and so I took these classes between the ages of 15 and 16. I think most people would write an addendum explaining how these grades were the result of high school immaturity or something along those lines. I think I'm in a unique situation however because my bad performance in high school was actually due to my diagnosis with a serious (but highly treatable and now well-controlled) mental illness (SMI) which wrought havoc on pretty much every aspect of my life until it was stabilized in my senior year of high school.

My experiences in the mental health system profoundly influenced my career and academic interests; they are what led me to want to practice law and I have had several internships focused on the intersection of mental healthcare consumers and the criminal justice system. I'm currently interning at a District Attorney's office and I'm planning to do my senior thesis about treatment models for anxiety disorders derived from literary research. I'm also seeking a grant for to study the intersection of mental health and the criminal justice system. Basically, pretty much all of my academic and professional experiences center around criminal justice and mental illness.

Alright, this is getting long-winded so I will skip to my questions:

Questions

1. I want to coordinate my DS and an addendum but I was wondering if it would be wise to do so. I think simultaneously excelling at my top-30 school, taking the max credit limit each semester, working and holding internships with a disability due to my mental illness would be a great topic for a DS and also an example of a significant hardship that I've overcome. All that being said, when I was applying to undergraduate I was advised not to disclose my mental illness due to the stigma and I'm worried that Admins may not be as forward thinking as I would hope. I would of course offer medical documentation as well as assurances from my doctor that I'm totally fine now and responsible in managing my own care.

2. With my stats (AA female, 3.7, PTing ~170, pretty good softs and a cohesive application demonstrating my desire to practice the law based on work/life experience) any suggestions on which schools I should be considering?

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Teoeo
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Re: AA female 3.7(3.89) PTing 170 and Mental Illness

Postby Teoeo » Thu Jul 28, 2011 5:09 am

Assuming you actually score at 170, I hope you enjoy New Haven.

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20121109
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Re: AA female 3.7(3.89) PTing 170 and Mental Illness

Postby 20121109 » Thu Jul 28, 2011 11:05 am

Written in a non-defeatist tone, your illness may be make for a very compelling DS, especially when it drives your pursuit of a law career. Make sure people you trust give you honest and constructive feedback and it could potentially enhance your application.

Be careful to assume that you will score in your PT range; most people fall substantially below, a lot of people stay within 1-2 points of their range, and a lucky few score above. But even if you wind up with say, a 165 or something...you would still be T6 secure with a great shot at HYS.

But if you actually get a 170, the DS would become a non-factor. You would be HYS secure. Only apply to the T14. Settle for nothing less than a full ride from T7-T14, $$ at T4-T6, or HYS.

Good luck :)

hiddenlobster
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Re: AA female 3.7(3.89) PTing 170 and Mental Illness

Postby hiddenlobster » Thu Jul 28, 2011 12:26 pm

Wow! Thanks for the advice and overwhelming votes of confidence! I'm still pretty far out from my projected test date so I definitely have a lot of time to bring up and solidify my LSAT score. I just started taking PT this summer but I'm going abroad this fall to a country where I can't work so I was going to spend that free time studying like crazy and take the test in February (I would prefer December, but I'll still be abroad.

What do you guys think about disclosing the fact that I did, and still do have a serious mental illness? I told a few schools during the undergraduate admissions process (schools where, based on my numbers and my high school's track record I should have gotten) in but I was rejected at every school to which I disclosed. Do you think a track record of consistent performance and assurances from my doctor would be enough to convenience law schools that my illness has no negative bearing on my performance now that I've been well for a few years?

dkt4
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Re: AA female 3.7(3.89) PTing 170 and Mental Illness

Postby dkt4 » Thu Jul 28, 2011 3:06 pm

to be honest, depending on your LSAT, you could completely omit any mention of your mental illness and still secure admission to one of the top schools. as gaia said, even if you underperform your PTs, anything above a 165 will give you a good shot at HYS.

that said, it does not seem like you would want to. as you say, your mental illness has focused your career interests and has been an important aspect of your life - the schools/scholly's you should be applying for will not dock you for it, and if they do, i would imagine that is exactly the sort of injustice you're looking to combat.

ultimately, it's up to you whether to include it and to what extent. i would think you'd want to, but that's a very personal decision and not one that i, having never dealt with mental illness, can readily advise you on.

best of luck though - with a good LSAT i think you will have your pick of schools :)

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sunynp
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Re: AA female 3.7(3.89) PTing 170 and Mental Illness

Postby sunynp » Thu Jul 28, 2011 4:18 pm

hiddenlobster wrote:Wow! Thanks for the advice and overwhelming votes of confidence! I'm still pretty far out from my projected test date so I definitely have a lot of time to bring up and solidify my LSAT score. I just started taking PT this summer but I'm going abroad this fall to a country where I can't work so I was going to spend that free time studying like crazy and take the test in February (I would prefer December, but I'll still be abroad.

What do you guys think about disclosing the fact that I did, and still do have a serious mental illness? I told a few schools during the undergraduate admissions process (schools where, based on my numbers and my high school's track record I should have gotten) in but I was rejected at every school to which I disclosed. Do you think a track record of consistent performance and assurances from my doctor would be enough to convenience law schools that my illness has no negative bearing on my performance now that I've been well for a few years?


You know, I don't know about this. As a person, I think what you have accomplished is amazing and I admire you. I would admit you without hesitation. What an adcomm would think? I don't know. I wish I could give you solid advice based on experience, but my honest answer is that I don't know.

What I do know is that once something is disclosed it is impossible to take it back. I think your caution in trying to find out how this might affect before you apply is warranted. Is there a way to find out how this has been handled by various schools in the past? Could your pre-law advisor make some calls without mentioning your name to see what admission officers think about this? Maybe there is another way to get good data on this before you submit. I don't think you should give people a reason to wonder whether admitting you is a good idea. On the other hand, you do have a great personal story.

Based on your undergrad experience, I would say not to disclose. But, like you, that is the only data I have to work with. You don't have to disclose any disability as long as you can do the work. I just don't know how law school adcomms (as opposed to the undergrad) view admitting a student with a serious mental illness, even if that illness is well-controlled.

rgndvo
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Re: AA female 3.7(3.89) PTing 170 and Mental Illness

Postby rgndvo » Thu Jul 28, 2011 10:00 pm

OP you are such a competitive applicant with AA status on top of a solid GPA and a soon-to-be-solid LSAT. There is no need to be taking any sort of risks here by disclosing it. Prepare for the test like it's judgment day, hit the 170's, and enjoy a T-4.

Most likely, they'd be compassionate about your past and admire the experience and perspective you've taken from it. But it's possible they'd view it as a red flag. No need to disclose.
Last edited by rgndvo on Mon Sep 19, 2011 5:38 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Alltheirsplendor
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Re: AA female 3.7(3.89) PTing 170 and Mental Illness

Postby Alltheirsplendor » Thu Jul 28, 2011 10:02 pm

I wouldn't do it. I admire you tremendously--but adcomms use a scary methodology to arrive to certain conclusions. They might question to handle the intense workload. 'She says she's fine, but we've seen x number of students who've broken down under the pressure,' might run through their minds.

I wish it wasn't like that but I strongly feel that adcomms will question your abilities as a result of learning this information. Remember, they're concerned about numbers, they don't want to take on a risky asset unless there isn't any doubt in their mind that the risk won't turn sour.

flexityflex86
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Re: AA female 3.7(3.89) PTing 170 and Mental Illness

Postby flexityflex86 » Fri Jul 29, 2011 2:10 pm

OP - I am not sure being an employee of American Airlines will help you. Law schools normally prefer Delta and Jet Blue employees. I am sorry.

hiddenlobster
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Re: AA female 3.7(3.89) PTing 170 and Mental Illness

Postby hiddenlobster » Fri Jul 29, 2011 2:22 pm

Thanks so much for the advice; I agree it seems too risky. I think I can find a way to spin the situation (i.e., bad high school/CC grades, career goals) without being explicit about what actually caused it. I'm tending to agree with most of the responses I'm receiving. I'll anonymously call a few admissions offices, get their advice and report back

@FlexityFlex: I originally started working for AA because I felt really patriotic at the time but then they lost all my luggage. Do you think transferring to Delta or Continental will give me a big boost in admissions?

TheZoid
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Re: AA female 3.7(3.89) PTing 170 and Mental Illness

Postby TheZoid » Fri Jul 29, 2011 2:45 pm

OP- first off congrats on everything you've accomplished in spite of your mental illness, and best of luck to you on the LSAT. I think you're in a great position to go to a top school. I'm glad you have everything under control with meds, and I'm certainly not suggesting you stop, but I'd like to recommend meditation to you. You can meditate on your own with a mantra or by focusing on your breathing, as these are great ways to meditate. I personally use the Holosync audio CDs (no I am not a spokesperson). They are expensive, but IMHO totally worth it. You may have some unpleasant experiences with it at first, as you bring to the surface the suppressed emotional material that is likely causing/contributing to your mental illness, but once you work through that, and it does suck, you will be in a totally different place down the road. It's worth struggling through it to reach a better place. A half hour a day can really make a big difference. The folks at Holosync also send out some pretty intersting reading about the mind, with a more new-age/unconventional approach to it, and personally, I find it really interesting. Given your circumstances, I would think you would to. Best of luck to you again, with school and life.




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