How to Turn a Negative Into a Positive?

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the lantern
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How to Turn a Negative Into a Positive?

Postby the lantern » Wed Jul 29, 2009 7:56 pm

To make a long story very short, I failed out of a school that I had a full room/board/tuition + living stipend scholarship at, I worked a few years, then I went back to another school and will graduate magna cum laude with research distinction. I need to know how to handle this in my application. Obviously, I will want to write an addendum. My poor performance at my first school can be partially explained because I was suffering from clinical depression. It was very bad and my last semester there I even got medically dropped because I was too distraught to even attend class. The problem is, this only really explains my last semester there and the semester directly before it (which I could not get medically dropped because I "didn't seek treatment"). I do have a legitimate reason for my poor performance the first two years, but I'm not sure if its one I should even bother to try and explain. Simply put, I never wanted to go to college in the first place. I had applied for this scholarship while in the military (a ROTC scholarship) and got it. Seeing what kind of an opportunity this was (I think 23 active duty Marines got it that year), I took it even though I wasn't exactly thrilled. When I got there, I didn't know what to study so I started out premed. I changed it three times in three years and my grades were poor. I didn't know what to do and had no motivation to do anything more than what was required to maintain my ROTC scholarship (because I was going to be an officer anyways). After failing out of school because of my depression worsening, I left the ROTC program and worked full time as a truck driver. While doing that, I realized I wanted to study history. I ended up really liking it and am now applying to law school.

How do I broach this topic? How far in depth do I go (should I be vague or brutally honest)? Do these people want to hear the gods' honest truth that I didn't really care about school at my first UG, or should I stick to the documented medical problem only and hope the numbers speak for themselves? Should I list "Awarded full scholarship" on my resume even though I failed out and lost it?

I'm really concerned with how to handle this issue since I have a high LSAT but an abysmal GPA (LSDAS 2.99). If I ignore this situation, it could foster really bad ideas in someone's head. If you look just at my resume, you could see one year in the military and then think I got kicked out or something. I need to give them a full picture but am not sure how to.

Should I turn this into a personal statement? I thought about possibly making a PS about this and showing how I've failed before and I've had everything and lost it. Then maybe showing how this experience taught me a lot about myself and how I am much more prepared to handle anything that comes at me, unlike many of my classmates who have probably had nothing but success their whole lives. There are a whole bunch of ways I could go with a PS on this subject.

What do you all think?

Sorry if this confusing or wordy... I am not even sure how to best explain the situation.

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philip.platt
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Re: How to Turn a Negative Into a Positive?

Postby philip.platt » Wed Jul 29, 2009 7:57 pm

just put a vertical line through the horizontal one

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leobowski
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Re: How to Turn a Negative Into a Positive?

Postby leobowski » Wed Jul 29, 2009 8:20 pm

1st of all, "simply not wanting to attend college" is NOT a legitimate reason for poor academic performance. I don't know where you would get that idea. Things like the death of immediate family members, cancer or other serious illnesses, etc are legitimate excuses. There was a girl on LSN who got into several T14s last year with an abormally low GPA, whose parents had both died her freshman year. Something like that is a legitimate reason. Lack of motivation is not.

You could probably mention clinical depression in a grade addendum. But don't try to attribute your poor performance to external factors. Acknowledge that you were immature/short-sighted, did not realize the consequences of your poor performance, and have since moved on. There may be some forgiveness for your sub 3.0 GPA since you are a Marine and have a strong upward grade trend.

Including all of this in your PS is your call. The whole fall-from-grace and rise-to-glory is a classical story. You may be able to work that to your advantage. I wrote my PS along similar lines. I wouldn't try to mirror your addendum with your personal statement though. Good luck and thanks for your service to our country.

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MrOrange
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Re: How to Turn a Negative Into a Positive?

Postby MrOrange » Wed Jul 29, 2009 8:22 pm

philip.platt wrote:just put a vertical line through the horizontal one

Dude, save that shit for off-topic.

Fucking bros...

the lantern
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Re: How to Turn a Negative Into a Positive?

Postby the lantern » Wed Jul 29, 2009 8:28 pm

leobowski wrote:1st of all, "simply not wanting to attend college" is NOT a legitimate reason for poor academic performance. I don't know where you would get that idea. Things like the death of immediate family members, cancer or other serious illnesses, etc are legitimate excuses. There was a girl on LSN who got into several T14s last year with an abormally low GPA, whose parents had both died her freshman year. Something like that is a legitimate reason. Lack of motivation is not.

You could probably mention clinical depression in a grade addendum. But don't try to attribute your poor performance to external factors. Acknowledge that you were immature/short-sighted, did not realize the consequences of your poor performance, and have since moved on. There may be some forgiveness for your sub 3.0 GPA since you are a Marine and have a strong upward grade trend.

Including all of this in your PS is your call. The whole fall-from-grace and rise-to-glory is a classical story. You may be able to work that to your advantage. I wrote my PS along similar lines. I wouldn't try to mirror your addendum with your personal statement though. Good luck and thanks for your service to our country.


This is pretty much what I was going to do. I just feel like I have to fill in a bunch of holes (i.e. why did he do so bad the first two years? why was he only in the military active duty for one year? etc.). I guess I am probably just freaking out because I have nothing better to do. I guess I should keep it to the verifiable facts and have faith that people will realize that I grew up a lot over the last ten years.

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MildlyAmused
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Re: How to Turn a Negative Into a Positive?

Postby MildlyAmused » Wed Jul 29, 2009 8:50 pm

You and I should keep in touch; we have a very similar story and I'd love to follow how your cycle turns out.

From depression, to lack of motivation, my grades in my undergrad are pretty shoddy. It's funny, the only thing I've ever wanted to do is be an attorney but my grades sure as hell don't reflect that (there is an intensely painful and personal reason for that depression, but I'll address the...erm, addressing of that in a different post).

I'm currently still in my undergrad. I'm hoping that transferring to a new university, a strong uptrend in grades, solid LSAT, amazing PS, good "softs," and some no-less-than-pants-crappingly-amazing LORs come through for me-- through enough for me to get into a T14. I've got a year-ish to turn it around (also planning to take some classes at CC to pad the LSDAS GPA), and have a lot of hope of getting into good schools.

I'm also a URM and female. Hopefully that'll help.

Anyhow, what are some of the schools you're applying to? How're you testing on practice LSATs?

the lantern
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Re: How to Turn a Negative Into a Positive?

Postby the lantern » Wed Jul 29, 2009 8:57 pm

I had a 162 in June, which was lower than every PT I took including my diagnostic. I am testing between 166-170 and retaking in Sept. I'm not even going to bother with the T14 unless I get 170+ in Sept (and then I don't even know). I just want to go to a good school and keep my debt low. Where I apply will depend on what I get in Sept. I'd like to go to USC, UCLA, or Berkeley, but all of those are probably rejects barring some sort of LSAT miracle. I'd also like to go to Illinois, Ohio State, Fordham, but I really just want to go to Ohio State because I probably won't get enough scholarship money at U of I or Fordham. My parents don't support me at all and I already have a pretty big debt from UG, so I really need to keep my debt very low.

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bumblebeetoona
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Re: How to Turn a Negative Into a Positive?

Postby bumblebeetoona » Wed Jul 29, 2009 9:00 pm

I think you should pick one thing and stick with it, otherwise you'll sound like you are full of excuses.

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ToadGoDead
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Re: How to Turn a Negative Into a Positive?

Postby ToadGoDead » Wed Jul 29, 2009 9:35 pm

take a deep breath....i wouldn't worry about what happened....think how these life events changed you for the better and write about that, regardless of what the life events are/were

the lantern
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Re: How to Turn a Negative Into a Positive?

Postby the lantern » Wed Jul 29, 2009 9:42 pm

The more I think about this the more I think it should be in a personal statement. Not about the situation really, but how it changed me and focused me towards a goal. I'll work on writing something up over the next couple days. If they're awful, I can always scrap the idea anyways ;)

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BigA
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Re: How to Turn a Negative Into a Positive?

Postby BigA » Tue Dec 08, 2009 5:44 am

I'd be interested in an update, OP.

I am also going to cite depression as an explanation for some major transgressions in my past. It has caused, or contributed to, a low GPA, alcohol abuse (2 DUIs in 2003), and a bankruptcy in '05 or '06 to some extent. I'm wondering if I should submit a letter from my psychiatrist to schools I'm applying to, or will they just take my word for it. He could account for treating me from about '01-'07 off and on. Would this be necessary or helpful?

I'm not applying until the next cycle. Just starting to think about how I should handle this. I'm thinking that playing the depression card is a good angle because by definition it makes one unmotivated and apathetic. I'm also wondering if this is appropriate for an addendum or the PS itself.

So Op, I'd be interested to hear any progress, or what you've decided to do.

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philip.platt
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Re: How to Turn a Negative Into a Positive?

Postby philip.platt » Fri Jun 11, 2010 9:04 pm

MrOrange wrote:
philip.platt wrote:just put a vertical line through the horizontal one

Dude, save that shit for off-topic.

Fucking bros...


lol wrong attitude!

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BriaTharen
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Re: How to Turn a Negative Into a Positive?

Postby BriaTharen » Fri Jun 11, 2010 9:06 pm

Multiply by -1

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philip.platt
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Re: How to Turn a Negative Into a Positive?

Postby philip.platt » Fri Jun 11, 2010 9:17 pm

JessicaTiger wrote:Multiply by -1


genius ;)

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philip.platt
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Re: How to Turn a Negative Into a Positive?

Postby philip.platt » Fri Jun 11, 2010 9:19 pm

the lantern wrote:To make a long story very short, I failed out of a school that I had a full room/board/tuition + living stipend scholarship at, I worked a few years, then I went back to another school and will graduate magna cum laude with research distinction. I need to know how to handle this in my application. Obviously, I will want to write an addendum. My poor performance at my first school can be partially explained because I was suffering from clinical depression. It was very bad and my last semester there I even got medically dropped because I was too distraught to even attend class. The problem is, this only really explains my last semester there and the semester directly before it (which I could not get medically dropped because I "didn't seek treatment"). I do have a legitimate reason for my poor performance the first two years, but I'm not sure if its one I should even bother to try and explain. Simply put, I never wanted to go to college in the first place. I had applied for this scholarship while in the military (a ROTC scholarship) and got it. Seeing what kind of an opportunity this was (I think 23 active duty Marines got it that year), I took it even though I wasn't exactly thrilled. When I got there, I didn't know what to study so I started out premed. I changed it three times in three years and my grades were poor. I didn't know what to do and had no motivation to do anything more than what was required to maintain my ROTC scholarship (because I was going to be an officer anyways). After failing out of school because of my depression worsening, I left the ROTC program and worked full time as a truck driver. While doing that, I realized I wanted to study history. I ended up really liking it and am now applying to law school.

How do I broach this topic? How far in depth do I go (should I be vague or brutally honest)? Do these people want to hear the gods' honest truth that I didn't really care about school at my first UG, or should I stick to the documented medical problem only and hope the numbers speak for themselves? Should I list "Awarded full scholarship" on my resume even though I failed out and lost it?

I'm really concerned with how to handle this issue since I have a high LSAT but an abysmal GPA (LSDAS 2.99). If I ignore this situation, it could foster really bad ideas in someone's head. If you look just at my resume, you could see one year in the military and then think I got kicked out or something. I need to give them a full picture but am not sure how to.

Should I turn this into a personal statement? I thought about possibly making a PS about this and showing how I've failed before and I've had everything and lost it. Then maybe showing how this experience taught me a lot about myself and how I am much more prepared to handle anything that comes at me, unlike many of my classmates who have probably had nothing but success their whole lives. There are a whole bunch of ways I could go with a PS on this subject.

What do you all think?

Sorry if this confusing or wordy... I am not even sure how to best explain the situation.


basically, to fix this issue - - stop focusing on the negative and focus on the positive

a) what have you learned

b) how has this caused you to change

c) what will you do in the future

d) how will this future change cause you to be an asset to the place you are applying to

e) guarantees of change (proven results since the negative events)

f) final words

g) closing (remember - - always be closing - - ABCs)

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philip.platt
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Re: How to Turn a Negative Into a Positive?

Postby philip.platt » Fri Jun 11, 2010 9:21 pm

philip.platt wrote:
the lantern wrote:To make a long story very short, I failed out of a school that I had a full room/board/tuition + living stipend scholarship at, I worked a few years, then I went back to another school and will graduate magna cum laude with research distinction. I need to know how to handle this in my application. Obviously, I will want to write an addendum. My poor performance at my first school can be partially explained because I was suffering from clinical depression. It was very bad and my last semester there I even got medically dropped because I was too distraught to even attend class. The problem is, this only really explains my last semester there and the semester directly before it (which I could not get medically dropped because I "didn't seek treatment"). I do have a legitimate reason for my poor performance the first two years, but I'm not sure if its one I should even bother to try and explain. Simply put, I never wanted to go to college in the first place. I had applied for this scholarship while in the military (a ROTC scholarship) and got it. Seeing what kind of an opportunity this was (I think 23 active duty Marines got it that year), I took it even though I wasn't exactly thrilled. When I got there, I didn't know what to study so I started out premed. I changed it three times in three years and my grades were poor. I didn't know what to do and had no motivation to do anything more than what was required to maintain my ROTC scholarship (because I was going to be an officer anyways). After failing out of school because of my depression worsening, I left the ROTC program and worked full time as a truck driver. While doing that, I realized I wanted to study history. I ended up really liking it and am now applying to law school.

How do I broach this topic? How far in depth do I go (should I be vague or brutally honest)? Do these people want to hear the gods' honest truth that I didn't really care about school at my first UG, or should I stick to the documented medical problem only and hope the numbers speak for themselves? Should I list "Awarded full scholarship" on my resume even though I failed out and lost it?

I'm really concerned with how to handle this issue since I have a high LSAT but an abysmal GPA (LSDAS 2.99). If I ignore this situation, it could foster really bad ideas in someone's head. If you look just at my resume, you could see one year in the military and then think I got kicked out or something. I need to give them a full picture but am not sure how to.

Should I turn this into a personal statement? I thought about possibly making a PS about this and showing how I've failed before and I've had everything and lost it. Then maybe showing how this experience taught me a lot about myself and how I am much more prepared to handle anything that comes at me, unlike many of my classmates who have probably had nothing but success their whole lives. There are a whole bunch of ways I could go with a PS on this subject.

What do you all think?

Sorry if this confusing or wordy... I am not even sure how to best explain the situation.


basically, to fix this issue - - stop focusing on the negative and focus on the positive

a) what have you learned

b) how has this caused you to change

c) what will you do in the future

d) how will this future change cause you to be an asset to the place you are applying to

e) guarantees of change (proven results since the negative events)

f) final words

g) closing (remember - - always be closing - - ABCs)


if admins see "whiny" or "constant excuses" - - they will quickly 'file' your application in a paper ball in their circular basket by the door

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Other25BeforeYou
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Re: How to Turn a Negative Into a Positive?

Postby Other25BeforeYou » Sat Jun 12, 2010 12:34 am

Philip Platt, thank god you are here to give advice to people who needed it 10+ months ago.

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Llewellyn
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Re: How to Turn a Negative Into a Positive?

Postby Llewellyn » Sat Jun 12, 2010 12:36 am

Other25BeforeYou wrote:Philip Platt, thank god you are here to give advice to people who needed it 10+ months ago.

What a fucking retard

Tautology
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Re: How to Turn a Negative Into a Positive?

Postby Tautology » Sat Jun 12, 2010 12:39 am

the lantern wrote:To make a long story very short


Why does this phrase inevitably precede a long story?

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Other25BeforeYou
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Re: How to Turn a Negative Into a Positive?

Postby Other25BeforeYou » Sat Jun 12, 2010 12:45 am

Llewellyn wrote:
Other25BeforeYou wrote:Philip Platt, thank god you are here to give advice to people who needed it 10+ months ago.

What a fucking retard

Was intending to be jokey, not bitchy. Sorry if I failed, it's been a long day.

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Llewellyn
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Re: How to Turn a Negative Into a Positive?

Postby Llewellyn » Sat Jun 12, 2010 1:05 am

Other25BeforeYou wrote:
Llewellyn wrote:
Other25BeforeYou wrote:Philip Platt, thank god you are here to give advice to people who needed it 10+ months ago.

What a fucking retard

Was intending to be jokey, not bitchy. Sorry if I failed, it's been a long day.

Not you, Philip




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