GPA Addendum about Panic Attacks, Helpful or Hurtful?

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thedragon5678

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GPA Addendum about Panic Attacks, Helpful or Hurtful?

Post by thedragon5678 » Thu May 07, 2020 1:06 am

My second semester of freshman year I started getting panic attacks on campus that lead to me failing one class and receiving a few B's. I then did a summer study abroad where I got all A's again. But when I went back for fall of my sophomore year, my panic attacks were so crippling that I had to withdraw from all classes and go home to get medical help. I took the spring semester of my sophomore year off as well to work and get better. My junior and senior years I received all A's (I graduated on time because I had so much credit going in, despite taking sophomore year off for my health). Is mental health too much of a taboo for law school still? Should I just let my grades speak for themselves? I am applying to Harvard, NYU, and Columbia. I don't want my previous history with panic attacks to call into question my competency. My overall GPA is 3.75.
Freshman (Fall): 4.0
Freshman (Spring): 2.16
Freshman- Sophomore (Summer- Study Abroad): 4.0
Sophomore (Fall): Withdrawn
Sophomore (Spring): No Classes Taken
Junior (Fall): 4.0
Junior (Spring): 4.0
Senior (Fall): 4.0
Senior (Spring): 4.0

nixy

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Re: GPA Addendum about Panic Attacks, Helpful or Hurtful?

Post by nixy » Thu May 07, 2020 8:22 am

I think most schools ask for an explanation of any gap in your education, and if I have that right, it would probably make sense to be candid about the reasons. The fact that you came back and succeeded for two years says a lot. If you can identify specific steps you took to get help and how they actually addressed the problem, I think a brief unemotional addendum makes sense. (SO MANY people have anxiety/depression related issues now that I don’t think it’s going to call into question your overall competence. Unfortunately I probably wouldn’t say that if your issue was something like bipolar or schizophrenia.) If you didn’t do anything in particular and the attacks just went away, it’s going to be less clear that you’ve really addressed them, so maybe less helpful (but that seems unlikely?).

Reasonable minds can differ about this, and addenda are of only limited value because at the end of the day law schools still report the GPA you actually received. It’s also fairly clear even without the addendum there was some kind of issue that derailed you briefly but you then recovered from given your strong semesters. Panic attacks as a cause has maybe more stigma than, say, cancer, but not as much as, say, substance abuse, so I’d also probably be candid to prevent concerns that it was something worse.

nope.nope.nah.

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Re: GPA Addendum about Panic Attacks, Helpful or Hurtful?

Post by nope.nope.nah. » Wed May 13, 2020 12:14 pm

thedragon5678 wrote:
Thu May 07, 2020 1:06 am
My second semester of freshman year I started getting panic attacks on campus that lead to me failing one class and receiving a few B's. I then did a summer study abroad where I got all A's again. But when I went back for fall of my sophomore year, my panic attacks were so crippling that I had to withdraw from all classes and go home to get medical help. I took the spring semester of my sophomore year off as well to work and get better. My junior and senior years I received all A's (I graduated on time because I had so much credit going in, despite taking sophomore year off for my health). Is mental health too much of a taboo for law school still? Should I just let my grades speak for themselves? I am applying to Harvard, NYU, and Columbia. I don't want my previous history with panic attacks to call into question my competency. My overall GPA is 3.75.
Freshman (Fall): 4.0
Freshman (Spring): 2.16
Freshman- Sophomore (Summer- Study Abroad): 4.0
Sophomore (Fall): Withdrawn
Sophomore (Spring): No Classes Taken
Junior (Fall): 4.0
Junior (Spring): 4.0
Senior (Fall): 4.0
Senior (Spring): 4.0
I would definitely write an addendum explaining that the bad semester and the withdrawn year were related to a pressing need for medical treatment, and that you returned to school (and your normal high performance) once your health was restored.

I would definitely NOT mention the nature of the medical need. It's not the schools' business, and whether it is fair or not, it may read as "I don't cope well with stress" which is not a great look for aspiring lawyers.

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