Should I mention a disability in my SOP? - Biology - The GradCafe Forums
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Should I mention a disability in my SOP?


sweetbirdy

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Hello everyone,

I am hoping to apply for fall 2018 PhD molecular biology and/or genetics programs. Here's my situation:

I was at one university for 2 years of my undergrad. First year, I was a normal A and B student. Second year however, was a huge disaster. I failed organic chemistry 1, retook and got a B-, and did generally poorly than normal in my other classes. My  final GPA was a dismal 3.13. For personal reason, I had decided to transfer to a different institute.

I had been suffering from health problems throughout my 2nd year, and finally in the summer directly following, I found out why; I was officially diagnosed as a type 2 diabetic, with a high enough blood sugar to been causing a major disruption to my life. I immediately took it seriously, and now am a functionally normal person.

So at my 2nd university, I am almost a straight A student. My GPA is 3.82, and improving every semester. However, my GPA between my two institutes averages out to about ~3.5 with credit hours.  Should I mention in SOP my diabetes as negatively influencing my early GPA? I am worried about it looking I'm just making an excuse for why grades were so bad that year, especially in my science courses.

I also don't know if mentioning a "disability" would negatively impact consideration of my application in general. Like I said, I am functionally normal, well controlled, with no current complications from my diabetes, but I don't want to be seen as "risky".  Type 2s are also not treated as well as Type 1s, so we don't really have special support for us(in terms of funding).

Thank you for any advice.

 

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I wouldn't mention it the way you worded it here. I would turn it around to your favor. There are two different things here that you should mention in two different moments.

It seems clear you have to talk about your diabetes because there was a major change in your life. But in the SOP narrate your story not as an excuse, but as a victory. It talks about your resilience, your commitment, and your ability to do A work. Focus on the second two years that reflect how you manage it. 

Once you are accepted to a program, you can talk with your department and student health about support available for you. 

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