Chances thread again but a very unusual transcript, 3.6/170

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dryhal
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Chances thread again but a very unusual transcript, 3.6/170

Postby dryhal » Sat Mar 05, 2011 1:54 am

I am currently looking to apply to a few lower T-14's (Georgetown in particular), UCLA Law, UC Davis/UC Hastings, and Loyola.

My overall gpa is a 3.6 from UC Berkeley in Political Science with a minor in Philosophy, just got my LSAT scores back, 170...HOWEVER...

My gpa does show an upward trend starting from the second-semester junior year, averaged around a 3.8 the last four semesters and two summers I spent at UC Berkeley. Yet three of my first four semesters were horrible grade-wise, averaging around a 3.0 each semester while having to have 3-4 pass/no pass classes to save my GPA AND withdrawing for an entire second semester sophomore year.

The reason for the initial bad grades was due to my manic depression. I won't go into the gory details, but it was a very devastating time in my life for about the first two years of college, combined with alcohol abuse and constant panic attacks. I finally recovered later in my college years and managed to receive much better grades once I got the right help and medication, and decided to take some time off to work as a paralegal for 2 years in the Sacramento area, as well as joining active minds during my last college years to mentor college students on how to deal with depression, which I still do to this day.

I have two questions related to this: One: will my terrible first few semesters be a huge or only slight detriment to my law school applications? Two: Should I explain in an addendum why I had a few bad semesters and a withdrawal (due to my depression), or should I simply leave it be for fear that they might see it as an "excuse" or fear that the manic depression will hinder my law school experience (which it won't, I've been mostly depression-free for about 4 years now)

Thanks for the help!

aspeer
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Re: Chances thread again but a very unusual transcript, 3.6/170

Postby aspeer » Tue Mar 08, 2011 2:56 pm

I would definitely not mention the depression thing. It will only scare them off. The first few semesters will, if at all, be a slight detriment, but the fact that you improved will reflect well on you. They look at the overall GPA in any regard and 3.6 is not bad at all. If you really feel like explaining, I would be honest about whatever circumstances were possibly affecting your grades without mentioning mental health or depression.

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Magnolia
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Re: Chances thread again but a very unusual transcript, 3.6/170

Postby Magnolia » Tue Mar 08, 2011 5:16 pm

You don't have to submit an addendum about your grade trends, but schools will want to know why you withdrew for a semester. I would submit a very brief addendum stating that you had a medical condition which adversely affected your performance and forced you to withdraw for a time. End it on a positive note about it not being an issue in the future.

I agree that I wouldn't mention the specifics of your depression. Adcomms might view it as a strength that you overcame it, but they could just as easily be scared off by it. As long as you have things under control now there is no need for them to know what specific medical conditions you have.

minuit
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Re: Chances thread again but a very unusual transcript, 3.6/170

Postby minuit » Tue Mar 08, 2011 5:24 pm

I completely disagree with the above statements that you should hide your past depression. There is a way to intelligently and appropriately explain your past issues while conveying that they were just that - in the past. If you have been free of depression for four years, not only is that awesome, but there's a large gap in time between then and now. It may be a touchy subject, but I refuse to believe that adcoms would be scared to admit someone like you. The idea that someone who has conquered depression is a risk is not only false, but it is ignorant.

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Magnolia
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Re: Chances thread again but a very unusual transcript, 3.6/170

Postby Magnolia » Tue Mar 08, 2011 5:49 pm

minuit wrote:The idea that someone who has conquered depression is a risk is not only false, but it is ignorant.

Is the stigma that surrounds mental illness a result of ignorance? Yes, absolutely. Is it ignorant to acknowledge the fact that there is such a stigma? Absolutely not. In fact, I think it's ignorant to pretend like there isn't a stigma. In a perfect world, yes applicants should be able to discuss their battles with mental illness and have that effort be seen in a positive light, as it should be. But that doesn't mean that's how it works. You have no idea what the adcomms may think of it, or what their preconceived notions or prejudices are. Maybe they'll see it as positive, but maybe they won't. Unless you can write the world's most compelling PS about it, I don't think disclosing mental illness is worth the risk. There is a time and a place to challenge people's view w/r/t depression, but I don't think your law school application is it.

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paratactical
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Re: Chances thread again but a very unusual transcript, 3.6/170

Postby paratactical » Tue Mar 08, 2011 5:55 pm

minuit wrote:I completely disagree with the above statements that you should hide your past depression. There is a way to intelligently and appropriately explain your past issues while conveying that they were just that - in the past. If you have been free of depression for four years, not only is that awesome, but there's a large gap in time between then and now. It may be a touchy subject, but I refuse to believe that adcoms would be scared to admit someone like you. The idea that someone who has conquered depression is a risk is not only false, but it is ignorant.

If you admit to maniac depression, bipolar disorder, or other lifelong mental illnesses on your law school applications, there are several states where you could have to go through a more difficult C&F process to sit for the bar. Some states won't pry unless it's previously documented and brought up; others will ask you questions about it and it will be brought out anyway.

I'm not saying don't mention the depression; just be sure to research what difficulties, if any, your history of treatment will have on your C&F process post-law school.

aspeer
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Re: Chances thread again but a very unusual transcript, 3.6/170

Postby aspeer » Tue Mar 08, 2011 6:31 pm

+1

Not worth the risk.

Magnolia wrote:
minuit wrote:The idea that someone who has conquered depression is a risk is not only false, but it is ignorant.

Is the stigma that surrounds mental illness a result of ignorance? Yes, absolutely. Is it ignorant to acknowledge the fact that there is such a stigma? Absolutely not. In fact, I think it's ignorant to pretend like there isn't a stigma. In a perfect world, yes applicants should be able to discuss their battles with mental illness and have that effort be seen in a positive light, as it should be. But that doesn't mean that's how it works. You have no idea what the adcomms may think of it, or what their preconceived notions or prejudices are. Maybe they'll see it as positive, but maybe they won't. Unless you can write the world's most compelling PS about it, I don't think disclosing mental illness is worth the risk. There is a time and a place to challenge people's view w/r/t depression, but I don't think your law school application is it.

framboozer
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Re: Chances thread again but a very unusual transcript, 3.6/170

Postby framboozer » Thu Mar 10, 2011 2:42 pm

I agree with paratactical and Magnolia.

This is my 2 cents, which is by definition not much: If you have suffered from a debilitating illness, it can only be highlighted by demonstrating that it's far in the past, a distant memory. In this case, you can highlight how so far removed you are from those dark days, and how you've grown since then. If you can show a bunch of impressive things you've accomplished since then and basically show that it will never darken your doorstep again because you've conquered it, and if you're eloquent, you could probably turn it into a powerful personal statement.

If this is not the case, an adcomm could think, well, that was only 2 years ago (or whatever period of time), who's to say (s)he won't be crippled by it again once the stress of law school surfaces.

In any case, congrats on overcoming it OP. :)

zomginternets
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Re: Chances thread again but a very unusual transcript, 3.6/170

Postby zomginternets » Tue Mar 15, 2011 1:42 am

C&F apps will ask: "have you ever been diagnosed with a mental disorder?" or something along those lines. So whether you write about it or not, you're going to have to answer that question affirmatively, and showing that you're open and upfront about it is a good way to show that you have recognized and dealt with the problem and aren't hiding from it.

As for the app, I think the story would make a good personal statement, as long as it is clear that you're at least several years past that stage in your life. I think somewhere like Berkeley would be intrigued by it.




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