13
5 months ago
Admissions Advice

Neuroatypical question and essay writing
Answered

I have severe anxiety and high-functioning autism. I have a 3.9 GPA and have been taking AP classes. However, my extracurriculars are limited because of my difficulty with crowds and social interactions. I have grown from being ashamed of my diagnoses and unable to make eye contact to starting a support club for those with chronic physical and mental health issues.

How do I balance my dislike of anything thinking I am playing the "disability card", fear of unconscious bias from AOs, and potentially placing too much of a spotlight on my journey (and not appearing well-rounded or with any other interesting bits) with the fact that this has been a very central part of my life? Do I write my essay on this, or choose something else?

collegeessay
CommonAppEssay
disability
13
5
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4 answers

3
Accepted Answer
5 months ago

Hi! First I would like to say that the support club you started sounds really cool! I think that will be a strong asset to your activities section on the Common App.

Regarding the essay: one option may be to use the supplemental information section to talk about how anxiety and autism have been central to your life and how they provide context to your extracurriculars. Then you could write your Common App essay about some other topic (eg. a memory/experience unique to you) where the focus is not necessarily autism or anxiety. However, since you're telling the story from your perspective, you have the opportunity to include references to how autism and anxiety are a part of your experience.

This strategy shows how these diagnoses are central to many different parts of your life while also giving you room to talk about other parts of who you are in the main essay. Because the AOs will read about your autism and anxiety in different parts of the application (the activities section, supplemental information section, and references in the essay), I think they'll get the sense that these diagnoses are a big part of your life, while also being able to see you as more well-rounded through the other things you talk about.

Hope this helps, good luck!

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3
5 months ago

I suggest maybe you can push forward a discussion of coping through your emotional discomforts while excelling in academics (people understand this can be challenging). This can display your persistence to various schools which would be something good for your profile.

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2
5 months ago

As a general rule, your essays should be about something very specific. You could focus on the day you got diagnosed, ONE struggle you had with overcoming the shame you felt, or maybe you just mention your diagnosis along with something else!

I've been having the same struggle since I have autism, ADHD, and a chronic illness. I didn't want to appear like that's all I am, but it's such an integral part of who I am that I can't ignore it!

Really it comes down to what you are comfortable with. Also, mentioning your disability should never feel like "playing the disability card". It's a part of who you are just as much as your other traits are!

Good luck this year!

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2
5 months ago

I think that you should MENTION you being on the spectrum and having anxiety but don’t write about just that. Maybe mention it then tell a story about you being diagnosed, getting through it or growing. A narrative and showing your feelings would be best. But dont write about what already going to be on you’r resume. If your worried about not having enough Extra curriculars then find some online. There’s this cool website that sets you up with a “buddy” with a disability and you emaile them 2-3 times a week and it counts as community service. I also found one where you can tutor online. I wouldn’t stress about it though!

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