Application addendum for GPA/Medical Issues Forum

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gasplitnt

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Application addendum for GPA/Medical Issues

Post by gasplitnt » Thu Apr 28, 2022 7:07 pm

Seeking opinions on how specific to be in my addendum explaining my low GPA. For reference, I am only applying to a couple of law schools in Georgia (UGA and GSU, considering Emory). I am obviously emphasizing my LSAT (171) but my LSAC GPA came out to a 2.65, unfortunately some withdrawals have been considered punitive, but not all of them. Confusing since they were all for the same reason, but I can't change it (I've tried).

If you're willing to read, I'll give you the long version and maybe someone can help me determine the most important parts to include/exclude for the addendum:

I was diagnosed with PCOS as a teenager and managed it with medication, but changed it during college when I started having severe issues. I was subsequently diagnosed with not PCOS, but endometriosis as well as severe hormonal migraines. I was granted medical withdrawal for all of two semesters and a retroactive partial withdrawal one semester that changed my grades to pass fail. I was hospitalized multiple times from my junior-senior year and ultimately took 1.5 years off school. I should have just taken the time to begin with to work things out but I was really determined to graduate on time and a whole year basically turned into a mess of grades. I also worked full time or nearly full time from my junior year onward.

I got married during my time off and ended up deciding to go back and finish my last semester of school while pregnant and raising my two stepchildren full time. I managed a 3.6 GPA for that semester because all of those things combined weren't as debilitating as trying to work, school, and survive intense pain for half the month every month. After I had my baby, I was able to to take more permanent medical measures to treat my endometriosis since I wasn't as concerned about being able to get pregnant again in the future, and in fact I don't plan to. I've been completely fine since, no hospitalizations etc. I've also started a successful small business in that time (started it in the first month of the pandemic while raising 3 chidlren no less).

My primary concern is really that gynecological issues are not the most fun thing to describe in detail on an application, which sucks because nothing else would feel this awkward to discuss and I wouldn't care in a general setting. I have plenty of documentation, although I'm not sure if I should include that. My university granted a medical withdrawal and the various exemptions for the reasons I listed and I could pretty easily dig up my medical and hospital records from that time. I don't see any of those doctors anymore really and I had to see like 3 or 4 specialists before someone figured it out, so a concise letter from a doctor could be hard to get but I could give them a small book of records from that time if I had to. I personally feel it's a bit ridiculous to worry about, but you never know who is reading your application so better safe than sorry.

I genuinely feel I'm ready for law school, my LSAT is good, and I know for the most part I'm applying to state schools that would ordinarily not be hyper competitive. But like everywhere apparently, even these schools' admissions numbers from last year are bananas. Even a couple years ago a 165+ was a free ride to GSU regardless of GPA, you could probably have kicked your undergraduate dean in the face and still gotten in. This last batch or two of admissions, not so much. So I feel like I still need a strong application all around. I also went to a good undergraduate school (Top 25) but I'm well below their median and mean GPAs anyway, I can't really claim they were particularly resistant to grade inflation or the like.

Access

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Re: Application addendum for GPA/Medical Issues

Post by Access » Thu Apr 28, 2022 10:14 pm

Maybe get admissions consultant to help navigate the process but imo this is way tmi. You're a splitter. Schools will admit you if they want their LSAT 75% to be above 170, and they have enough space in the below 25% GPA to fit you. That's it. They aren't going to read a good statement and say yes this statement fixes the problem. Also you really want to avoid dwelling on the issue to the point where the school gets worried it'll happen again.

Maybe something like this?

"Due to family and medical situations, I did poorly in [time period] and withdrew from undergraduate, which resulted in low grades for that period. As soon as these situations resolved, I returned to school and on my return averaged 3.6 for my graduating semester. I have also successfully managed a business. I am confident that my grades since returning to school, as well as my LSAT scores and professional success, accurately reflect my abilities and drive to succeed."

nixy

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Re: Application addendum for GPA/Medical Issues

Post by nixy » Thu Apr 28, 2022 11:00 pm

I don't think you need to go into as extensive detail as in your OP, but I think it would be fine to specify endometriosis, related migraines, and multiple hospitalizations. (I didn't see anything about family issues causing you problems, so wouldn't say that.) I don't think you need to go into the gory details of the precise timeline, but I think specifying the cause is helpful because "medical issues" is 1) looks like you could be trying to hide something that would raise more red flags, like addiction or mental health [not saying those should be red flags, just that I think they currently are], and 2) is too vague/generic to be of much help. "Medical issues" could be anything from a hangnail to a heart transplant, so if you can at least name a diagnosis, I think it helps adcomms remember who you are and gives more context. (To be clear, if someone did have addiction/mental health issues and wanted to describe those in an addendum as "medical issues" without getting more specific, that's totally cool too, I just think don't think endometriosis is in the same category.)

The difficult thing, it seems to me, is that you returned to college and managed a 3.6 the last semester while pregnant, but it sounds like you didn't get final treatment to resolve the endo until after you graduated? Did being pregnant temporarily halt the gynecological issues? If so, I'd suggest something maybe like this:

"During college, I experienced severe medical issues ultimately diagnosed as endometriosis and hormonal migraines. I was granted medical withdrawal for [name the semesters - Fall 2017 and Spring 2018 or whatever] and a retroactive partial withdrawal for [semester] that changed my grades to pass fail. However, I was hospitalized multiple times during my junior and senior years for these conditions and my grades reflect that disruption. I completed my last semester of college in [semester whatever], while pregnant, because the pregnancy temporarily relieved my symptoms, and in the absence of those symptoms, earned a 3.6 GPA. After my baby was born in [year or maybe month/year], I obtained medical treatment that permanently resolved the endometriosis and migraines, and I have not had a recurrence since."

I don't know for certain if pregnancy did temporarily resolve your issues, but you want to avoid a narrative like "I had endo, it made me fail a bunch of classes, I later went back and did my last semester and still had endo but got better grades" - you want to be able to show adcomms, when I had endo I struggled, but when I resolved it I did much better, so they can draw the conclusion that now that it's resolved permanently, you'll be fine.

I don't think it makes sense to go into the raising stepkids part, I think keeping this very matter-of-fact and just about the medical issues is better. I think there are other parts of your application that are better places for addressing your family responsibilities.

That said, I also agree that such an addendum is going to have pretty limited impact, but I think it's worth writing b/c it can help a little bit on the margins.

gasplitnt

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Re: Application addendum for GPA/Medical Issues

Post by gasplitnt » Fri Apr 29, 2022 6:54 pm

Re: Nixy—That’s exactly what I was thinking and great feedback. I definitely want to make it clear that the issues are resolved. I worried as well that being too general might indicate a “red flag” issue (as problematic and ableist as that is). To your question about pregnancy, it actually did temporarily resolve the issues but I am really glad you brought it up because I didn’t think about that raising questions about the timeline. Pregnancy has the convenient side effect of halting your periods, which is generally where endo causes issues. Some people do experience constant pain with endo depending on severity, and I had that off and on, but during pregnancy the whole cycle stops. The side effects of the pregnancy itself were nothing compared to the pain I was dealing with previously. But it may be easier to leave that part out altogether, I mostly mentioned it because it is the reason I wasn’t able to pursue some treatments earlier, as they can affect your ability to become pregnant in the future.

I think the way you wrote it out though was really great, and note definitely taken on removing the extraneous details. I provided those here mostly for context, ie. I can handle juggling a lot of responsibilities etc because some people don’t really understand the extent to which endo can affect you medically, but it sounds more cohesive without it for sure. Those things definitely still affected my GPA, I wish I had a 4.0 finish to point out, but I think the point is sufficiently covered without all that.

Thank you so much for writing all that out, it’s a huge help!

Re: Access—I have considered paying for an admissions consultant. If you or anyone else has recommendations on a good company/individual that would be greatly appreciated. It seems like most advisors are geared towards people aiming for the T14, which totally makes sense, but I am looking at schools that are pretty different. If it would help then it’s worth the money to get it right, but I can’t pay $3k either and I don’t really need to go over every aspect of my app.

I definitely agree that what I posted above is TMI, but that’s helpful feedback in general anyway. My general understanding is that you’re right that it won’t matter much, but as I’ve moved closer to the edge of these schools it’s been more concerning. Thanks for your feedback!

pkeller

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Re: Application addendum for GPA/Medical Issues

Post by pkeller » Sat Apr 30, 2022 5:50 pm

Hi, OP! First of all, I also have endo so I sympathize with you.

Also, how impressive for you to get such good grades while pregnant--can't be easy. And it just goes to show how severe endo is that pregnancy was easier.

I agree with nixy's advice. You don't need to share hundreds of pages of medical records--that's personal info. Maaaaybe submit a letter from your doctor if you feel like it, but that might not even be needed. I think nixy's statement is concise, answers questions about why you took leave/the timeline, etc.

A final question for you, which I acknowledge is a tricky question. Do you feel like you have gotten better since then? I've heard some ob gyns suggest pregnancy/having a baby as a "cure" for endo or suggest that it is less terrible afterwards. If true, that might be worth mentioning to show that the issue is a bit more under control. If you still genuinely feel terrible, then don't say that (and my heart goes out to you). You may want to look into accommodations for during school (and before any men try to say "it's not that bad," it's a terrible disease and not just PMS).

ETA: Whoops, realized you said you got some more permanent treatments after giving birth. I would be wary of suggesting that everything is completely fine and this will never be an issue again, but I think you can say it has gotten more under control and you have sought treatment. IMO, it's fine to say that you didn't want the treatments earlier bc of fertility risks, but you could also just say you didn't qualify or they weren't available/realistic treatment options for you at the time (which is also true) or that they didn't make sense in your situation (because of side effects).

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