Advice on Writing an Addendum

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ugatvandy
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Advice on Writing an Addendum

Postby ugatvandy » Tue Jul 11, 2017 8:02 am

Hello, everyone. I was wondering if you could provide me with some advice on the addendum that I am planning to write.

My LSDAS GPA is 3.69 from Vandy. By the end of my junior year, though, it was a 3.84. Between October and February of my senior year, I went through a lot emotionally upsetting experiences: a relationship of 4 years ended, my grandparents divorced, my parents separated for a brief period of time, and I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and advised to seek immediate treatment with extensive therapy. On top of this, I was working 15-20 hours a week between two jobs at my university to support myself/save money for law school apps (I was planning on applying last cycle). For around 13 weeks, I was majorly depressed and my grades suffered. I had to take incompletes in two of my classes first semester and finish them second semester. I was able to average a ~3.2 for the year, but that dropped my GPA below HYS middle 50%. I probably should have taken a leave for a semester, but I'm the first in my family to go to college and my mom was so excited to see me graduate and I just felt with everything else going on, I didn't also want to crush her spirit. I decided to finish and take a year off from law school instead.

I want to explain this to the schools I apply to, but I don't know how detailed I should be. I also want to convey that I have a treatment plan in place that helps keep my moods stable, and that I went to around 3 hours of therapy each week during the school year and have continued in with therapy since graduating (meaning, a situation like this is extremely unlikely, though not impossible, to happen again).

I don't want the addendum to sound like me complaining or like a therapy session. How detailed should I be? What should I include/exclude?

I haven't been able to find any other situations like this online, so any advice y'all have would be appreciated!

cavalier1138
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Re: Advice on Writing an Addendum

Postby cavalier1138 » Tue Jul 11, 2017 8:07 am

Of everything you listed, I'd really only focus on the diagnosis of bipolar disorder (with brief mentions of everything else). The other stuff reads like fairly standard emotional stress for a college student. I don't mean to say that it wasn't serious, but it's not likely to have as much weight in an addendum as a diagnosed condition.

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UVA2B
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Re: Advice on Writing an Addendum

Postby UVA2B » Tue Jul 11, 2017 8:33 am

cavalier1138 wrote:Of everything you listed, I'd really only focus on the diagnosis of bipolar disorder (with brief mentions of everything else). The other stuff reads like fairly standard emotional stress for a college student. I don't mean to say that it wasn't serious, but it's not likely to have as much weight in an addendum as a diagnosed condition.


Cav is on point again. Mention the diagnosis of the bipolar disorder, maybe include one or two of the stressors that exacerbated your condition, and leave it at that. Normally most of the stuff you mentioned would come off as whining, but if understood in the context of your recently diagnosed condition, they will help at least minimally.

ugatvandy
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Re: Advice on Writing an Addendum

Postby ugatvandy » Tue Jul 11, 2017 8:36 am

UVA2B wrote:
cavalier1138 wrote:Of everything you listed, I'd really only focus on the diagnosis of bipolar disorder (with brief mentions of everything else). The other stuff reads like fairly standard emotional stress for a college student. I don't mean to say that it wasn't serious, but it's not likely to have as much weight in an addendum as a diagnosed condition.


Cav is on point again. Mention the diagnosis of the bipolar disorder, maybe include one or two of the stressors that exacerbated your condition, and leave it at that. Normally most of the stuff you mentioned would come off as whining, but if understood in the context of your recently diagnosed condition, they will help at least minimally.


I've heard that providing "evidence" is a good idea. For instance, pointing out what my GPA was beforehand and showing that I am capable of performing well in a rigorous environment. Do you agree with that?

ugatvandy
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Re: Advice on Writing an Addendum

Postby ugatvandy » Tue Jul 11, 2017 8:36 am

UVA2B wrote:
cavalier1138 wrote:Of everything you listed, I'd really only focus on the diagnosis of bipolar disorder (with brief mentions of everything else). The other stuff reads like fairly standard emotional stress for a college student. I don't mean to say that it wasn't serious, but it's not likely to have as much weight in an addendum as a diagnosed condition.


Cav is on point again. Mention the diagnosis of the bipolar disorder, maybe include one or two of the stressors that exacerbated your condition, and leave it at that. Normally most of the stuff you mentioned would come off as whining, but if understood in the context of your recently diagnosed condition, they will help at least minimally.


Also, thank you both for the feedback! It's very appreciated!

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UVA2B
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Re: Advice on Writing an Addendum

Postby UVA2B » Tue Jul 11, 2017 8:40 am

ugatvandy wrote:
UVA2B wrote:
cavalier1138 wrote:Of everything you listed, I'd really only focus on the diagnosis of bipolar disorder (with brief mentions of everything else). The other stuff reads like fairly standard emotional stress for a college student. I don't mean to say that it wasn't serious, but it's not likely to have as much weight in an addendum as a diagnosed condition.


Cav is on point again. Mention the diagnosis of the bipolar disorder, maybe include one or two of the stressors that exacerbated your condition, and leave it at that. Normally most of the stuff you mentioned would come off as whining, but if understood in the context of your recently diagnosed condition, they will help at least minimally.


I've heard that providing "evidence" is a good idea. For instance, pointing out what my GPA was beforehand and showing that I am capable of performing well in a rigorous environment. Do you agree with that?


Yes, you should point out your GPA prior to the diagnosis to demonstrate your ability to succeed.

I want to caveat all of this that this addendum will at best work at the margins. But if you feel it will fully round out your application, just keep it brief to explain the condition and why the last year is not indicative of your performance academically and move on with your day. I wouldn't invest too much time/effort/worry in this addendum (this is in no way meant to belittle your condition or the impact it has had on your life, but just that at the end of the day, they're taking you for your LSDAS GPA, and even if it has an asterisk due to your condition, they can't exactly report that).

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Pneumonia
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Re: Advice on Writing an Addendum

Postby Pneumonia » Tue Jul 11, 2017 9:48 am

I think a 3.8 --> 3.2 drop is worth an addendum, especially since it's in your senior year. All addenda should be short, but yours should be particularly short. Here is the structure I used: "During [time], my grades suffered due to [specific reason]. I have since [fixed the problem/overcome the obstacle]. My [time] GPA of [x] better reflects the effort/care/priority/attention that I will put towards law school."

I agree with the other posters that you shouldn't mention any of the family stuff, even if it was (or felt like) the primary cause of your struggles. One reason is that a single-factor explanation will be shorter. Another is that, even with good reasons, it's hard to make a multi-factor explanation read like anything other than an excuse soup. In other words, even if your family issues were the only thing you dealt with, the best course in an addendum would be to refer to them as "family issues" or something similar rather than listing them all out.

It sounds like you had an absolutely awful senior year--the kind that would make anyone's grades suffer--but it's very difficult to compellingly convey that in an addendum. So keep it short, and good luck!




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