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Disclosure of ADHD in SOP


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I will be applying to comp neuro PhD programs this fall. My academic performance in undergrad was strongly affected by untreated and undiagnosed ADHD and resulting anxiety. It was so bad that I earned a 2.96 gpa in my first two years, and after seeking treatment I earned a 3.64 gpa in my last two years of undergrad. I have gone on to do the equivalent of a postbacc, with much more rigorous courses than I took in undergrad, and I've earned 3.9+ gpa. 

Unfortunately I took the entire calculus sequence and ochem during those first two years (C's and B's), and was told by a professor at a program I plan on applying to that I will need to explain the circumstances leading to my poor early grades. I am worried that the stigma around ADHD may do more harm than good if I am honest in my SOP. Should I actually mention ADHD at all? Should I say I had anxiety due to life circumstances or something instead? Would ADHD actually be a diversity bonus, and help my profile?? 

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  • 1 month later...

I dunno.  Yes, there is still a stigma around ADHD, but it seems to be lessening year by year.  Still, I wouldn't mention it.  What one professor says you need to do, another professor (or ten more), might not care that much about it.  Your progression from a 2.96 to a 3.9+ would be evident, so you shouldn't focus too much on it.  If you do want to offer an explanation, Something along the lines of, "I found adjusting to college life difficult, it took two years for me to find my rhythm".  Or, something like that. 

Your best bet may be to have those writing your LORs, who are familiar with your story, handle it in their letters. 

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