How do I address extenuating circumstances without sounding like I'm making excuses?

kubyx

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Oct 2, 2016
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I'm trying to figure out how to approach the 'describe any extenuating circumstances as they relate to poor grades, withdrawals, etc.' secondary question that keeps coming up.

I don't think my scenario is anything terribly unique - I went to college full-time and worked between 25-40 hours a week on top of it. My job was also 45 mins away, so the few days during the week that I did work also had an additional hour and a half commute. On top of those things, I also wound up becoming a caretaker for a relative that was yet another competing obligation during my senior year.

The truth is, though, that those are not the reasons for some of my bad grades in college. It absolutely did suck going to class, then going to work and not getting home until 9 pm.. but I could have studied instead of watching tv once I got back home. Yeah, I was tired and wanted to relax, but I have no real reason for not getting an A other than being poorly prioritized with my free time.

Whenever I try and discuss my competing obligations, it just sounds like I'm making excuses. How do I own my mistakes, give a nod to an admittedly busy schedule, but still sound like I'm taking responsibility for my actions?
 

Goro

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You tell the truth
 
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kubyx

2+ Year Member
Oct 2, 2016
244
218
You tell the truth
Would this be an okay approach to answering it?

1) Mention the multiple obligations I had through work, caring for family, etc.

2) Acknowledge that this wasn't the reason for some bad grades, but rather my inability to prioritize

3) Show what I did to address this?

I'm just unsure of this because it always seems like people say to *never* specifically mention your own shortcomings in an essay, like pointing out bad grades/MCAT scores/etc.
 
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Goro

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7+ Year Member
Jun 10, 2010
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Somewhere west of St. Louis
Status
Non-Student
Would this be an okay approach to answering it?

1) Mention the multiple obligations I had through work, caring for family, etc.

2) Acknowledge that this wasn't the reason for some bad grades, but rather my inability to prioritize

3) Show what I did to address this?

I'm just unsure of this because it always seems like people say to *never* specifically mention your own shortcomings in an essay, like pointing out bad grades/MCAT scores/etc.
Perfect.
 
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Lawper

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Would this be an okay approach to answering it?

1) Mention the multiple obligations I had through work, caring for family, etc.

2) Acknowledge that this wasn't the reason for some bad grades, but rather my inability to prioritize

3) Show what I did to address this?

I'm just unsure of this because it always seems like people say to *never* specifically mention your own shortcomings in an essay, like pointing out bad grades/MCAT scores/etc.
You only mention shortcomings when you are specifically asked to in secondary prompts and interviews. And you do so by telling the truth, accepting responsibility and showing what you have done to improve.
 
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