Miss Manners

Student's Undergraduate Record Need Not Be Belabored When Applying for Higher Degree

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am in my late 20s, finishing a master's program at the same institution where I earned my bachelor's degree, and am in the process of applying for doctoral programs.

A little more than a year ago, I sought counseling for problems I have had since my late teens, and was diagnosed with a moderate learning disability, along with severe depression and anxiety.

Since receiving treatment, I have found the quality of my life and my academic work has greatly improved. My academic transcript will be a part of my school applications, including my lackluster performance as an undergraduate, which I believe can be partially attributed to my undiagnosed issues.

Is there a polite and professional way to convey this to potential schools, without disclosing too much personal information, or sounding as if I am making excuses for my past failures? Or should I remain silent on the subject and just hope that my recent work will indicate to reviewers what my abilities and potential as a student and academic are?

GENTLE READER: Your current record, and commendable instinct to be discreet and not make excuses, seem to Miss Manners to count far more than a blip on your transcript. Professional institutions would benefit greatly from recognizing -- and rewarding -- the difference.

If you are asked directly, or if there is an essay or place to discuss your achievements and goals on your application, you could briefly allude to the discrepancy there. There is no need for going into unnecessary detail. Just say that you discovered a medical condition for which you had to seek treatment, with gratifying results.

(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, dearmissmanners@gmail.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)

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