4 years ago
Admissions Advice

Should I include a Heartbreak as “additional information” if it impacted my performance?

Not only has this pandemic at the end of my Junior year affected my school-environment (as it has everybody else), but I also went through my first heartbreak that was a difficult feeling to adjust to for a while. I don’t wish to go into much detail about the situation, but it was sort of like one of those things that you just can’t overcome. However, prior to the second semester of Junior year, I had taken a great mix of honors, non-honors, and AP courses with only two B’s. But my second semester of Junior year I ended with 4 b’s and 3 A’s (which were oddly in three of my AP courses). This year (senior) I decided to express my resilience by taking all AP and, at my rate, I’m expecting to receive 5 A’s and 2 B’s minimum.

The essence of my question, anyhow, is should I include a “breakup” as a small note on the common app additional section? I feel the need to do so because this is something that actually, truly impacted my emotional performance and mental audacity to focus on schoolwork. It was indeed my first loss like this, but I’ve taken it as a learning lesson.

Thanks for all responses!


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2 answers

Accepted Answer
4 years ago

Since all colleges and universities are institutions of higher learning where you go to challenge yourself and hopefully find something you are passionate about pursuing a career, I recommend you avoid writing anything that presents yourself as someone that is fragile or subject to a complete shutdown over a first love, even though that was true in your past.

Everything is about the big picture and framing. So if you present yourself as someone that has the penchant to fall in love and be devasted emotionally to the point you can't focus on your academic tasks at hand and risk missing classes, testing poorly, possibly seeking psychiatric help or medication, these are situations colleges prefer the "don't ask, don't tell" rule by. If you are admitted and you happen to need help, of course, they will want to help you but you are putting yourself at a disadvantage by sharing something that will potentially add ????? marks to your file rather than ++++++ gold stars you see.

If anything I would use the add'l information space to simply state that the pandemic had adverse effects on your mental health which led your academic record not to be as strong as it usually is when classes were offered in-person on campus, something to that effect. If you dive deeply into your pain and suffering over a "breakup" then you have crossed the line of "TMI" and they may find a lack of maturity in your profile, regardless of the truth at the time.

Now my human advice, love at first sight or first loves rarely works out because if people are complicated and have many layers to their history and personality and what they need to thrive going forward. It's incredibly rare that you are going to find your soulmate in your zip code or in your high school or college for that matter. When you go to college, do your best to self-care and experiment with different types of people, chat with them, date them and see what works best for you. If it were as simple as physical attraction, then we'd all be matched up and stay that way. But we have other needs, eccentricities, quirks, and expectations. Some are realistic, others not so much. If you really know yourself, you will be able to navigate through matters of the heart, without risking your college career or opportunities in your future career. Don't be a Rory Gilmore.

Wish you all the best in your college admissions process.

4 years ago

I don't know how much it will help but I would probably stay pretty general and just mention that you struggled with mental health and the pandemic. If you focus too much you could come off as trying to make excuses but it should be fine to acknowledge that you were having a rough time.

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Duke University
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Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


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