Do colleges care about personal events that effect GPA?

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Discus: College Admissions: 2002 - 2003 Archive: October 2003 Archive: Do colleges care about personal events that effect GPA?
By Eponine_Undone (Eponine_Undone) on Friday, October 17, 2003 - 03:34 pm: Edit

At the beginning of the last school year, I had emergency surgery on a tumor that almost caused one of my ovaries to rupture. After the surgery, I experienced serious depression and health issues (I was continually sick) and almost did not make attendance requirements for my Junior year. My grades suffered tremendously, as well as many other parts of my life. I didn't have time to recover until this summer (the summer before my senior year) and am now making A's in all my subjects, most of which are AP. But my GPA has suffered a great deal because of last year's events. Do colleges care about how these events effect GPA or do they merely look at the numbers? And if they do care, what is the best way of relaying these events to them? Interview, essay, by phone? I feel as if I have the potential to be a great student at a prestigious school, but I'm afraid that last year's events blew my chances. Can anyone help?

By Marite (Marite) on Friday, October 17, 2003 - 03:39 pm: Edit

Yes, colleges care. They understand that surgery is a major event in anyone's life and that it takes time to recover from it. Make sure that this issue is addressed by your GC, teachers, etc..., mention it in either your cover letter or, if there is one, in the section on special circumstances. If you wish, you can write your essay on the topic of your surgery, and your eventual recovery. It should give you scope for reflection and analysis.

By Chrisg (Chrisg) on Friday, October 17, 2003 - 04:18 pm: Edit

Might even work in your favor. You will be more memorable than 90% of applicants, and most people like a good story of overcoming adversity. :)

By Eponine_Undone (Eponine_Undone) on Friday, October 17, 2003 - 04:43 pm: Edit

Wow. Y'all have just made my day. Your advice has been great. I already feel a bit better. I've been stressing so much over the last week or so of getting college applications together that I've hardly been able to focus on anything else.
Thanks so much!

By Studiousvegetar (Studiousvegetar) on Friday, October 17, 2003 - 07:31 pm: Edit

On some apps, they give you a spot to explain a lapse in academics. You could even write an essay about this experience and how much you learned from it. Contact the school and they'll be able to advise you better. Good luck! :)

By Xiggi (Xiggi) on Friday, October 17, 2003 - 08:19 pm: Edit

Regarding writing an essay about this ... It is OK to write about overcoming a traumatic experience but it is NOT a good idea to write about the negative impact on your grades IN the essay -at least, according to the vast majority of adcoms and sources.

I agree that you should find a place to explain the situation and the impact on your grades, but it has to be in an addendum and not in your essays.

By Ariesathena (Ariesathena) on Saturday, October 18, 2003 - 12:02 am: Edit

Ditto to Xiggi about putting it in an addendum.

Think about it. These people are trained to look for trends in grades. If they see one discrepant semester, with an explanation of your experience, they aren't going to dismiss you for it. Offer to set up an interview (outside of the normal alumni interviews) to talk about it.

I had a similar experience in college, and my dad is encouraging me to interview with the law school admissions officers to discuss the problem. His take? "You've got a story! Go in there and tell them your story!"

Good luck. Congratulations on making it through that. :)

By Neo (Neo) on Saturday, October 18, 2003 - 12:11 am: Edit

Definately Congratulations.

I'm thankful for strong folks like you in this world.

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