View Full Version : Reporting ADHD diagnosis on Grad School Apps?


Eaaqas
08-05-14, 12:55 PM
Hi All!

I have finally narrowed down the schools that I am going to apply to! Now comes the application process that I will inevitably put off until the end!

Here's the background: (I know you all hate me because it is impossible to skip over bold font :p)

I have had ADHD my whole life blah blah. College was going fine until a year ago when I started dying in my mathematics / economics classes. I couldn't complete homework, had a hard time remembering, blah blah

Fast Forward:

A year later I get diagnosed RIGHT BEFORE FINALS. I take my meds and do EXCELLENT on my finals. I have a feeling that my last semester will be amazing and I will get good grades

The question: (for those that want to skip ahead I put this one in bold :p)

How do I report my ADHD without either 1) writing an entire personal statement about "overcoming adversity and doing well" or 2) reporting that I have a disability on my application?

I know that Ad Coms will definitely discount someone who reports that they have ADHD, as it is over diagnosed. Plus, most old professors don't think that it is a thing.

I am worried that if I report such things then I will be thrown into the reject pile, but it is SO important for me to show that my scores were due to a medical condition that I was not being treated for at the time.

ANY advice would be amazing!

Thank you. (Spinny guy is distracting so I'll just say thanks :P)

namazu
08-05-14, 09:01 PM
Don't report it on your applications, for the reasons you mentioned and then some.

Do contact the office at the school you're applying to that deals with student disability issues to ask for advice, and check out what support they have. (You can do this without making any connection to your application.)

It sounds like you've done mostly OK in college despite the late diagnosis, so don't worry too much about it. Everyone has "off" semesters.

Is your field one that requires the GRE or MCAT (or similar)? If so, how did you do? If you did poorly prior to meds in a way that doesn't reflect your intelligence, would it be possible to retake the exam (expensive and time-consuming though it is)?

The one thing you might do, if there are any faculty members who know you well and have seen your transformation post-diagnosis and meds, would be to ask that professor to comment (without mentioning your ADHD) on how you've really begun to shine (or whatever) in your last year and work on [topic of interest related to grad school] and how they think you have potential...

Alternatively, if you can re-take some of the courses in which you did poorly, that might help both show admissions committees that you can handle the work, and also help ensure that you do have the background you need to be successful.

Depending on the field, taking time off from school and working (in a related field) for a while could give you experience and possibly personal recommendations that could make up for some undergrad difficulties. (As well as income!)

Good luck!

vpilar
08-05-14, 09:16 PM
Don't report it on your applications, for the reasons you mentioned and then some.

Do contact the office at the school you're applying to that deals with student disability issues to ask for advice, and check out what support they have. (You can do this without making any connection to your application.)

It sounds like you've done mostly OK in college despite the late diagnosis, so don't worry too much about it. Everyone has "off" semesters.

Is your field one that requires the GRE or MCAT (or similar)? If so, how did you do? If you did poorly prior to meds in a way that doesn't reflect your intelligence, would it be possible to retake the exam (expensive and time-consuming though it is)?

The one thing you might do, if there are any faculty members who know you well and have seen your transformation post-diagnosis and meds, would be to ask that professor to comment (without mentioning your ADHD) on how you've really begun to shine (or whatever) in your last year and work on [topic of interest related to grad school] and how they think you have potential...

Alternatively, if you can re-take some of the courses in which you did poorly, that might help both show admissions committees that you can handle the work, and also help ensure that you do have the background you need to be successful.

Depending on the field, taking time off from school and working (in a related field) for a while could give you experience and possibly personal recommendations that could make up for some undergrad difficulties. (As well as income!)

Good luck!
Hi Namazu,
I'm curious why did you mention the GRE? Is there any accommodation in this regard for ADHders or something? I'll be applying for Phd soon. I have to take GRE... Since I'm not a native English speaker, this is a nightmare for me :(

namazu
08-05-14, 09:34 PM
Hi Namazu,
I'm curious why did you mention the GRE? Is there any accommodation in this regard for ADHders or something? I'll be applying for Phd soon. I have to take GRE... Since I'm not a native English speaker, this is a nightmare for me :(

Depending on the nature of your disability (ADHD and/or other conditions), you may be able to get accommodations on the GRE (http://www.ets.org/gre/revised_general/register/disabilities?WT.ac=grehome_gredisabilities_130807) . However, they make it quite difficult to get accommodations, requiring lots of documentation, so start preparing well in advance.

In my case, despite a long and well-documented history of treatment and accommodations throughout college and high school, I was denied accommodations on the exam because my last psychoeducational testing report was old (from high school) and because after college there was a period of interruption in treatment, so I didn't have a current doctor to vouch for me. As it turned out, I did well enough to get into grad school anyway, even if my scores in some areas suffered, so it ended up not breaking my applications.

I have a friend with spastic cerebral palsy who does not have use of his hands to write, and speaks with difficulty. His disability is quite obvious, and the need for accommodations is as well. He applied for accommodations (extra time and a scribe) on the LSAT (law school admissions test), and was initially denied as well. (They later reconsidered, and he is now a practicing lawyer.)

My experience with the SAT back in high school was quite different; there I even missed the deadline to request accommodations (oops :doh:), but they didn't bat an eye at the request and granted the accommodations without fanfare.

So it can be kind of hit or miss, but the bottom line is that you need to have compelling documentation and may need to be persistent if you are requesting accommodations on standardized testing. (The best advice I can give is actually to look over the practice material provided for free on the GRE website itself.)


In this case, the OP mentioned only recently being diagnosed and treated, and was worried about "scores", so I wondered if s/he took any required standardized tests prior to being treated for the ADHD and struggled with them due to ADHD symptoms.

In that case, the OP might do well to retake the exams with prescribed medications.

vpilar
08-06-14, 12:42 AM
Thanks a lot namazu for your information. :thankyou:

Eaaqas
08-06-14, 12:05 PM
I tried getting accommodations for the GRE just recently.

Block off a significant amount of time for testing. You need an "advocate" that will send all of the information to the GRE disabilities center. You need extensive testing to prove that you have ADHD and no other condition and that the ADHD significantly impairs your life.

GRE options are GREAT though -- Extra time, extra breaks, extra long breaks, private room, etc :)

vpilar
08-06-14, 12:19 PM
I tried getting accommodations for the GRE just recently.

Block off a significant amount of time for testing. You need an "advocate" that will send all of the information to the GRE disabilities center. You need extensive testing to prove that you have ADHD and no other condition and that the ADHD significantly impairs your life.

GRE options are GREAT though -- Extra time, extra breaks, extra long breaks, private room, etc :)

Thanks Eaaqas, I have got a question: would the school..like the admission committee know that you have used this option? does it show on our result sheet? or somewhere?
... If I can use accommodation for GRE without publicizing it, that would be a dream for me! Because, when there is an analytic question or something, I can write a good answer! I always have something to say about anything! But the problem is that I REALLY can't help, spending time structuring what I want to say and considering all options! I just can't write without doing it! For each small question, it's like I want to write a journal paper :doh: (I actually have the same problem responding to the threads in this forum. There have been several times, that I have started writing and didn't finish it and finally gave up ...:umm1:)

For my native language, I have kind of overcome this problem (by thinking and writing fast for example!) but in English.. no success yet..
Anyways, if I can get extra time! that would be a huge asset for me!

I would appreciate if you could tell me your opinion about something else too, given that you have taken GRE before: the most frightening thing for me in GRE is the vocabulary part! none of the words seem common!I know none of them! If you are a native English speaker, then i guess you don't have this problem..... But my question is that do you think if I practice all the other parts, without practicing vocabulary, would still be a hope to get a decent score?

Eaaqas
08-06-14, 12:25 PM
Study Latin Roots for the GRE

No, ETS does not report accommodations.

vpilar
08-06-14, 12:31 PM
Thanks Eaaqas. I just googled "Latin Roots"... is there a specific book that you recommend?
thanks.

Thales
08-06-14, 12:44 PM
GRE: Indeed, study Latin/Greek roots, common prefixes, suffixes, etc. for the verbal section. I downloaded all available prep books to get their appendixes. There exist lists of frequently asked words, pairs of similar words, common made mistakes, etc. Using these lists, I managed to get a verbal score of 162 (89 percentile) as a non-native speaker. Do some old tests so that you know what the real test will look like (both verbal and quantitative). You should probably do some writing too. I didn't, because I really hate the 'prompt writing' stuff.
By not doing any vocabulary, you are basically giving up on the whole verbal score. Even though the reading comprehension part is least impacted by obscure vocabulary, it still is.

Application: Why do you think you want to mention ADHD? If you think extenuating circumstances are going to help you, your referees are more credible people to write about it. You are applying to US schools only, I suppose?

Eaaqas
08-06-14, 12:47 PM
At this point I'm only applying to U.S. schools. The training is generally better, sadly.

Thales
08-06-14, 12:50 PM
At this point I'm only applying to U.S. schools. The training is generally better, sadly.In general, perhaps. Still, it heavily depends on your background, the university and your goals.

vpilar
08-06-14, 01:23 PM
I'm actually very excited about this! That ETS doesn't report accommodation! this is huge for me! Thanks a lot!

... I wanna say something about the op as well:
I personally plan to don't mention ADHD in anywhere in my application, other than the departments to which I'm applying to do research on ADHD itself.

So here is the background: I'm finishing my master's in Cognitive Science, and since I have learned that I have ADHD (self diagnosis followed by official diagnosis), I have been interested in directing my research towards ADHD in phd. But this wasn't my focus, or even relevant to what I have been working on during my masters, so I'll be having non-ADHD-related-Phd-applications as well, without a mention of ADHD in them...
That's my plan...

But regarding the application cases that include the mention of ADHD for some reason, for example in your case because you're not satisfied with your early years' grades and you think can do better, then here is my thought:

"assuming that I'm the one who is reviewing the application package, I don't want to see something that would sound like bunch of excuses or something hypothetical, or a risky case. I don't care if the applicant has AHDD or whatever or he doesn't! the only thing I want to know is that "Would he/she be beneficial for the program and be able to successfully finish?"

This is kind of the principle what I have in mind when including my ADHD in any statements...

For you, given your concern about the grades, if you want to mention ADHD, I think it's important to clearly state what has been changed since your diagnosis, and how you have been improved. And why do you think your improvement will continue

I personally wouldn't only focus on the effect of being medicated! Because a reviewer could think that "how could we know that her medications continue to work? or what if she decided to don't take medications? etc."..

I would say something like this: "Although I was doing Ok keeping up at school before the diagnosis, but it was obvious to myself and the others that I wasn't using my full potentials. I knew there was something wrong, but didn't know what was it! The diagnosis was an eye opening for me! And significantly impacted my performance at school ". Then I might mention medications , might not :)
But that's me... I'm not sure if it applies to you..

Good luck anyways :)

vpilar
08-06-14, 01:28 PM
GRE: Indeed, study Latin/Greek roots, common prefixes, suffixes, etc. for the verbal section. I downloaded all available prep books to get their appendixes. There exist lists of frequently asked words, pairs of similar words, common made mistakes, etc. Using these lists, I managed to get a verbal score of 162 (89 percentile) as a non-native speaker. Do some old tests so that you know what the real test will look like (both verbal and quantitative). You should probably do some writing too. I didn't, because I really hate the 'prompt writing' stuff.
By not doing any vocabulary, you are basically giving up on the whole verbal score. Even though the reading comprehension part is least impacted by obscure vocabulary, it still is.

Application: Why do you think you want to mention ADHD? If you think extenuating circumstances are going to help you, your referees are more credible people to write about it. You are applying to US schools only, I suppose?

Thanks Thales, for the information regarding GRE. this is really helpful. Then I guess I should move my A*** and start studying Latin roots :umm1: ... given that you're not a native English speaker, may I ask how long it took for you to prepare for GRE? Although I know that it depends on the person and many other factors as well.
Thanks

Thales
08-06-14, 01:56 PM
Thanks Thales, for the information regarding GRE. this is really helpful. Then I guess I should move my A*** and start studying Latin roots :umm1: ... given that you're not a native English speaker, may I ask how long it took for you to prepare for GRE? Although I know that it depends on the person and many other factors as well.
ThanksI did a little over last summer, but in the end I had only two weeks prep time for some reason. You know how it goes: it came down to two days of hard work. Until the last moment I was unsure whether I would take the test because my preparation had been abysmal and I felt not confident at all. I am afraid my answer may not be of much help to you, sorry. I would say that a month would be sufficient, although you might want to spread the workload.

vpilar
08-06-14, 03:24 PM
I did a little over last summer, but in the end I had only two weeks prep time for some reason. You know how it goes: it came down to two days of hard work. Until the last moment I was unsure whether I would take the test because my preparation had been abysmal and I felt not confident at all. I am afraid my answer may not be of much help to you, sorry. I would say that a month would be sufficient, although you might want to spread the workload.

Your answer was super useful! thanks a lot!

sarahsweets
08-07-14, 04:56 AM
I believe adhd should never be disclosed to any institution or employer unless absolutely necessary. No matter how fair and understanding people are supposed to be they still discriminate.

Eaaqas
08-07-14, 11:52 AM
Sarah, I happen to agree with you now that I've thought about it. Implicit discrimination is VERY real. I just completed a study last year where we looked at grad school admissions and gender/race makeup -- It turns out that people implicitly choose people who are like them because they like to be with people who they can relate to.

It is a problem? Maybe, but I understand that bosses like people they can relate to!

Thales
08-19-14, 10:08 AM
What about reporting (impairing) medical issues at the time of enrollment? I have chronic headaches. With meds it is managable most of the time. I am going off to some fancy grad school where I will probably have to work quite hard. I am inclined not to report, because there is nothing they can do to accommodate me. Am I right?

namazu
08-19-14, 10:28 AM
What about reporting (impairing) medical issues at the time of enrollment? I have chronic headaches. With meds it is managable most of the time. I am going off to some fancy grad school where I will probably have to work quite hard. I am inclined not to report, because there is nothing they can do to accommodate me. Am I right?
If your headaches are debilitating, such that you may miss class or have periods of a few days where you cannot work, you may qualify as having a disability under the ADA. Similarly, if your headaches are managed OK with meds, but the meds cause side effects that interfere with important things, you may also qualify as having a disability.

If you register with the school's disability office, you may be eligible for accommodations like not being penalized for missing classes on days when you have a severe headache (though you'd still need to arrange to get notes / make up work), or possibly extensions on assignments. If your meds can do things like make your hands shake, cause you to need the bathroom frequently, etc., and you might need to type things or leave class or whatever, those might also be reasonable accommodations.

If your headaches aren't likely to interfere with your work or your attendance, then you probably wouldn't qualify as disabled (for the headaches, anyway), and you probably wouldn't need accommodations.

Depending on your program and specific faculty, you may be able to deal with one-off events on an informal basis, or mention to your advisor that you have a migraine and can't come in today, or whatever.

My advice would be, if there's any chance that your medical condition (of whatever sort) could flare up and interfere with attendance or work completion, you should register with the disabilities office. Doing so doesn't obligate you to disclose your disability to anyone else or to use accommodations. But it can be good to have the documentation in place if/when it becomes needed.