Mentioning Learning Disability and/or depression in PS/DS?

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Mentioning Learning Disability and/or depression in PS/DS?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Dec 12, 2012 3:53 pm

Hi TLS, I'm running through ideas for a personal statement at the moment, and I wanted to know if the topics of depression or learning disabilities would draw any red flags on my application. I will be applying to Cornell, Boalt, and Penn, among others. I guess some background information would be helpful for answering my questions.

I was diagnosed with ADD in middle school and have shown symptoms of a nonverbal learning disorder, although the NLD was never confirmed. I also suffered from depression, and I went to an alternative high school. In college, I had the option of asking for extended time, but I only used this in 2-3 classes in the first two years of college. For the final two years, I did use any additional resources. I did not need any extended time for my LSAT, and I do not plan on asking for any assistance in law school. While my depression was not "cured," I have learned how to handle it and I have a great deal of control over it.

1. Would mentioning depression or learning disabilities be likely to reduce my chances of being accepted into law school?

2. If it is okay to mention these, would either of these topics be appropriate for discussing in a diversity statement as obstacles I have overcome? I am a white male, and I'm not sure if writing a diversity statement would be appropriate.

3. Would these topics be more appropriate in a personal statement? They did play a major part in shaping my life, but most of what I mentioned was before college. When I was in college, I became much more independent, social, and self-confident. Other than that though, the rest of the information I would use in my PS about this would be before I was in college, which is not what law schools typically want to see in a PS.

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jkpolk
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Re: Mentioning Learning Disability and/or depression in PS/DS?

Postby jkpolk » Wed Dec 12, 2012 3:55 pm

Write it and see if it sucks. I don't think it's an objectively TERRIBLE idea and it's not like the PS will matter much for you

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Ohiobumpkin
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Re: Mentioning Learning Disability and/or depression in PS/DS?

Postby Ohiobumpkin » Wed Dec 12, 2012 4:15 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Hi TLS, I'm running through ideas for a personal statement at the moment, and I wanted to know if the topics of depression or learning disabilities would draw any red flags on my application. I will be applying to Cornell, Boalt, and Penn, among others. I guess some background information would be helpful for answering my questions.

I was diagnosed with ADD in middle school and have shown symptoms of a nonverbal learning disorder, although the NLD was never confirmed. I also suffered from depression, and I went to an alternative high school. In college, I had the option of asking for extended time, but I only used this in 2-3 classes in the first two years of college. For the final two years, I did use any additional resources. I did not need any extended time for my LSAT, and I do not plan on asking for any assistance in law school. While my depression was not "cured," I have learned how to handle it and I have a great deal of control over it.

1. Would mentioning depression or learning disabilities be likely to reduce my chances of being accepted into law school?

2. If it is okay to mention these, would either of these topics be appropriate for discussing in a diversity statement as obstacles I have overcome? I am a white male, and I'm not sure if writing a diversity statement would be appropriate.

3. Would these topics be more appropriate in a personal statement? They did play a major part in shaping my life, but most of what I mentioned was before college. When I was in college, I became much more independent, social, and self-confident. Other than that though, the rest of the information I would use in my PS about this would be before I was in college, which is not what law schools typically want to see in a PS.


Mentioning LDs and depression in PS/DS is not a bad idea at all. I did, and I got into a school that I had no chance of getting into based on my numbers. The risks are that you don't want to come off like you're being cocky, or depressing, or any number of less than positive take aways an ad com might have from reading your PS/DS.

I don't know if your story is really a "wow" kind of story. If you didn't need extended time on your LSAT, and you only used your extended time accommodation 2-3 times on college exams, they might question how disabled you really are, which would undermine the power of your story. Also, it won't sound that great to say something along the lines of "I had accommodations, but never used them because I'm just that awesome." I am being hyperbolic, but you get the picture. So basically, be careful what and how you mention or not mention with regards to your learning disability. Schools will not deny you admissions because you're learning disabled, because that would be breaking the law. They could come away from your PS thinking your undeservedly arrogant though.

As with regards to depression, again the issue is how your experience with a relatively common mental illness makes you stand out. If it was a typical bout of clinical depression in your adolescence years, it might not be worth mentioning.

I think a more appealing PS/DS is you briefly mentioning these growing pains of your LD and CD, and then going into how you matured and overcame these parts of your life in college. Your instinct is right that LSs want to know who you are now, not who you were back in the day in high school or junior high. Try to end on a positive note. Going on about how much your life sucked is not going to win you any points. If that was what it took to get a great PS, everybody would write about middle school, and that wouldn't be cool.

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Re: Mentioning Learning Disability and/or depression in PS/DS?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Dec 12, 2012 6:12 pm

Ohiobumpkin wrote:Mentioning LDs and depression in PS/DS is not a bad idea at all. I did, and I got into a school that I had no chance of getting into based on my numbers. The risks are that you don't want to come off like you're being cocky, or depressing, or any number of less than positive take aways an ad com might have from reading your PS/DS.

I don't know if your story is really a "wow" kind of story. If you didn't need extended time on your LSAT, and you only used your extended time accommodation 2-3 times on college exams, they might question how disabled you really are, which would undermine the power of your story. Also, it won't sound that great to say something along the lines of "I had accommodations, but never used them because I'm just that awesome." I am being hyperbolic, but you get the picture. So basically, be careful what and how you mention or not mention with regards to your learning disability. Schools will not deny you admissions because you're learning disabled, because that would be breaking the law. They could come away from your PS thinking your undeservedly arrogant though.

As with regards to depression, again the issue is how your experience with a relatively common mental illness makes you stand out. If it was a typical bout of clinical depression in your adolescence years, it might not be worth mentioning.

I think a more appealing PS/DS is you briefly mentioning these growing pains of your LD and CD, and then going into how you matured and overcame these parts of your life in college. Your instinct is right that LSs want to know who you are now, not who you were back in the day in high school or junior high. Try to end on a positive note. Going on about how much your life sucked is not going to win you any points. If that was what it took to get a great PS, everybody would write about middle school, and that wouldn't be cool.


Thanks a lot, you've given me some perspective, and I see how careful I'll have to be with the way I phrase things.
Is it better to skip a diversity statement in my case? Through the past few weeks that I've checked on here, it seems that a lot of people try to find something to write a diversity statement about. Are they overdone? Should I just ignore it?

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Ohiobumpkin
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Re: Mentioning Learning Disability and/or depression in PS/DS?

Postby Ohiobumpkin » Thu Dec 13, 2012 12:24 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Ohiobumpkin wrote:Mentioning LDs and depression in PS/DS is not a bad idea at all. I did, and I got into a school that I had no chance of getting into based on my numbers. The risks are that you don't want to come off like you're being cocky, or depressing, or any number of less than positive take aways an ad com might have from reading your PS/DS.

I don't know if your story is really a "wow" kind of story. If you didn't need extended time on your LSAT, and you only used your extended time accommodation 2-3 times on college exams, they might question how disabled you really are, which would undermine the power of your story. Also, it won't sound that great to say something along the lines of "I had accommodations, but never used them because I'm just that awesome." I am being hyperbolic, but you get the picture. So basically, be careful what and how you mention or not mention with regards to your learning disability. Schools will not deny you admissions because you're learning disabled, because that would be breaking the law. They could come away from your PS thinking your undeservedly arrogant though.

As with regards to depression, again the issue is how your experience with a relatively common mental illness makes you stand out. If it was a typical bout of clinical depression in your adolescence years, it might not be worth mentioning.

I think a more appealing PS/DS is you briefly mentioning these growing pains of your LD and CD, and then going into how you matured and overcame these parts of your life in college. Your instinct is right that LSs want to know who you are now, not who you were back in the day in high school or junior high. Try to end on a positive note. Going on about how much your life sucked is not going to win you any points. If that was what it took to get a great PS, everybody would write about middle school, and that wouldn't be cool.


Thanks a lot, you've given me some perspective, and I see how careful I'll have to be with the way I phrase things.
Is it better to skip a diversity statement in my case? Through the past few weeks that I've checked on here, it seems that a lot of people try to find something to write a diversity statement about. Are they overdone? Should I just ignore it?


I don't know enough information about you're situation to answer fully whether or not you should write a DS. I honestly wrote mine regarding an exchange I had with a friend's mother arguing for cutting special education funding. I don't mean to come off as saying that you need to be REALLY unique. There are white females who write a DS about being a female wanting to go into a field (legal field) that is traditionally seen as dominated by men. It is all in the presentation of your unique facts. Without a truly amazing life story, how you present yourself in an intelligent and cogent piece of writing is more important than the substance. By truly amazing I mean lifetime movie script type stuff. Also, writing a DS is another way of showing how great a writer you are and how much work you put into applying to law schools. Finally, if your numbers are not great, a DS could put you over the edge in getting admitted. Hope this helps.




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