Chronic Illness Topic: Yes or No?

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Chronic Illness Topic: Yes or No?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Nov 15, 2016 5:38 pm

While living with a chronic illness, you master the importance of getting your facts straight. You learn how to talk about your condition using the correct terms. Remember the history of your condition, and don’t lose track of your medical information. Do your research and don’t listen to conjecture from friendly faces without medical degrees. Trust your body – it isn’t any happier about your illness than you are.

My body has Crohn’s Disease. Crohn's is an autoimmune disorder - the affected body's immune system attacks the gastrointestinal tract, and can cause inflamed portions, scarring, bloating. This, in turn, can cause weight loss, vitamin deficiencies and anemia, can stunt growth, and often lead to anxiety and depression. My first step towards remission was surgery, an intestinal anastomosis, the resectioning of two parts of my bowel in order to remove scar tissue and inflammation. At that time, the spring of 2008, I was recovering from five years of heavy symptoms, I had begun a chemotherapeutic treatment (which has continued to this day), and I was heavily underweight and fatigued. I was too young to understand the implications of that surgery, but I embraced the possibility that I would soon be healthy. Even then I knew that this disease was something that was rooted in my being, something elemental in the way I would approach life.

One tool you acquire while living with illnesses such as Crohn's is the ability to laugh at yourself – it makes the hard questions easy and the easy questions easier. People ask about my thinness (less common than the statement of fact “You’re too skinny!”), why every rib in my torso shows, why I’ve used all my annual sick days by June. Conditions such as Crohn’s cultivate these questions, and you learn that simple explanations and smiles are easier on everyone’s soul than temper and frustration. This imparted on me, and continues to do so, the importance of paying attention to the needs of others. I habitually remember my mother’s advice, “Everybody has something.” My disorder helped me develop compassion for myself and for challenges, both social and medical, that others face in their own lives.

Finally, while living with a chronic illness, it is important to push yourself to succeed and to expect the same accountability from others. My mother, father, and my goals will not allow illness to hold me back. Living with Crohn’s has, at times, felt like a war between my body and my ambition. I act as though my remission will never end because I’ve never been given any reason to believe that it will. Despite my surgery and recovery, I finished high-school with an International Baccalaureate Certification. Despite my fatigue, I moved across the country from Baltimore to New Orleans to obtain my Bachelor’s Degree, and upon graduation, moved again to for opportunities to work in the field of law in Washington D.C. and New York. I have little anxiety about reentering academia; whatever law school holds, I know I’ve got the guts.

HonestAdvice

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Re: Chronic Illness Topic: Yes or No?

Postby HonestAdvice » Tue Nov 15, 2016 6:07 pm

I think it's a good and brave topic, but I'd rewrite it to focus on one story of how you pushed yourself to succeed and succeeded. You make this point in the last paragraph, but never illustrate how it relates to YOU. You describe the symptoms in detail, but only discuss how these symptoms affect YOU vaguely.

Because of this, it reads more like a WebMD article than a personal statement. Right now your statement is mostly a combination of facts and generic American dream bumper stickers. We want to hear YOUR story.

It seems like your strategy is (1) discuss how Crohn's disease disadvantaged you, (2) discuss how you overcame the odds and (3) how law school is the culmination of your triumphant journey. Right now you're all (1) with some of (3). The majority of your essay should be (2). (2) is the part where your real personality shows - it's the part that makes you, YOU.

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Re: Chronic Illness Topic: Yes or No?

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Nov 15, 2016 7:01 pm

HonestAdvice wrote:I think it's a good and brave topic, but I'd rewrite it to focus on one story of how you pushed yourself to succeed and succeeded. You make this point in the last paragraph, but never illustrate how it relates to YOU. You describe the symptoms in detail, but only discuss how these symptoms affect YOU vaguely.

Because of this, it reads more like a WebMD article than a personal statement. Right now your statement is mostly a combination of facts and generic American dream bumper stickers. We want to hear YOUR story.

It seems like your strategy is (1) discuss how Crohn's disease disadvantaged you, (2) discuss how you overcame the odds and (3) how law school is the culmination of your triumphant journey. Right now you're all (1) with some of (3). The majority of your essay should be (2). (2) is the part where your real personality shows - it's the part that makes you, YOU.


Name checks out - thank you!

zeglo

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Re: Chronic Illness Topic: Yes or No?

Postby zeglo » Tue Nov 15, 2016 7:21 pm

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Last edited by zeglo on Sun Jul 16, 2017 12:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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landshoes

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Re: Chronic Illness Topic: Yes or No?

Postby landshoes » Tue Nov 15, 2016 7:40 pm

I think anything that will make admissions offices question your ability to succeed in a stressful environment is too risky. I wouldn't go there.

If so, something that focused almost exclusively on your successes and mentioned this briefly would be much better. In terms of your successes, I would want much more concrete evidence of your success. Deciding to move is not really a success that would impress me, it says nothing about your ability to handle the move once it happened, or your ability to succeed at work after you moved. Similarly, I would want to know how well you did in college (beyond just your transcripts). Did you have a leadership role in a club? Did you finish an honors thesis? Did you hold down a job and full-time school? These are the things that I would be looking for in this kind of a statement. They are necessary to counteract the statements about things like missing a lot of work (you should cut that) and you thinking you'll always be in remission because of blind faith (that's not a good reason to think you'll be in remission).

Frankly, I'd go with a different PS and mention this in an addendum only if it has explanatory power for something odd on your transcript. For example, if you took a semester off, something like: "I had undiagnosed Crohns. Upon diagnosis and treatment my condition was stabilized and has continued to be stable for 4 years. Since I began treatment, I have been able to work, attend school, and participate in extracurricular activities with minimal difficulty."

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A. Nony Mouse

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Re: Chronic Illness Topic: Yes or No?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Tue Nov 15, 2016 10:11 pm

zeglo wrote:Don't use the word, "you".

Nah. This is fine if handled well.

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Re: Chronic Illness Topic: Yes or No?

Postby Anonymous User » Wed Nov 16, 2016 11:24 am

General consensus on this thread (and with my coworkers/family) is that this would not be a good topic - it's hard to really explain how this would be me a good law student candidate, and there are too many risks of showing that this has negatively affected me in the past (low GPA, health issues, etc.)

Thank you all for your advice!

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LibertyKoko

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Re: Chronic Illness Topic: Yes or No?

Postby LibertyKoko » Wed Nov 16, 2016 1:29 pm

I wrote about my experiences with Crohn's Disease but I centered it on how it inspired me to work with members of my community with disabilities. As to the concerns that this would somehow show that you would struggle in law school, I highlighted the fact that while having Crohn's Disease I was able to work a job, internship, and a rigorous stem major. Sure my GPA was a little lower but if I could do that and still be a competitive applicant of course I can handle law school.

I've gotten into one reach school with $ and another Tier 1 with good scholly.

HonestAdvice

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Re: Chronic Illness Topic: Yes or No?

Postby HonestAdvice » Wed Nov 16, 2016 11:15 pm

There could be better topics, but it's not automatically bad and it's not a vacuum. If the alternative would be your experience rescuing baby pandas from poachers while training for the Olympic games then the alternative is better. You have insights others don't, and some of them may inevitably tied to your disease. Disease is easy in the sense there's a clear plot structure: (1) issue, (2) struggle (3) triumph.

Also, people reading your application don't care how you do in law school. Your disease also doesn't necessarily affect how you do. In some instances, it could be beneficial. It's much easier to do boring reading if you're immobile. On admissions, my sense is it's mostly just #'s and that they will try to weed out those who seem assholey, columbiney or rapey. They're not weeding out the physically disabled to purify the master class although this would be very entertaining.

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zot1

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Re: Chronic Illness Topic: Yes or No?

Postby zot1 » Thu Nov 17, 2016 8:33 pm

Please don't use contractions in your personal statement.



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