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Institutional Action- poor GPA due to family issues- How much is TMI?

Shawni19

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Jun 29, 2019
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I need to know if the following has too much information for my app to explain my poor GPA for one semester. I want to emphasize that this was beyond the typical family issues and really is not something that (I hope) happens again. Please let me know if I should reword anything, leave anything out, or phrase things differently. I appreciate your input!

"I was placed on Academic Probation at {School} in 2001 Fall semester. I was not able to devote the time necessary to my academics due to serious issues involving my immediate family. My parents had recently divorced, and my sister was divorcing her husband. He had been molesting their three children with the oldest child (age 11) ending up in placement at a mental health facility for over a year. Her husband was convicted and sent to prison. My sister was low income already and now was a single mother.

During this time I provided childcare while she met with case workers, attorneys, and therapists. I visited the child in placement every other weekend which was a four hour drive round trip (we lived in rural Maine). I provided her and the kids with material support in the form of food, clothing, gas, etc. as I worked a part time job to support myself while in school. My father was limited in the help he could provide. He and my mother had recently divorced and he was paying to maintain two separate households on his limited income because my mother was not able to hold down a job due to her bipolar disorder. Eventually my sister's situation more or less stabilized as we got her connected with therapy, in home support, and welfare.

My mother required support in moving out of the family home and setting up in an apartment. She was having difficulty managing her mental illness during this transition, and needed emotional and material support from me (housecleaning, transportation, food, household items, etc). My mother has been in crisis frequently throughout her life, requiring an inpatient admission at one point. I was better able to manage this issue as I got older and other family members stepped in to help.

After the Fall semester I was able to focus on my studies and subsequently made Dean's List in Spring 2002."
 

gonnif

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I would put the reason up front first rather than just the fact of probation, Lastly, you need a sentence of what you did for your low-income, single mother sister rather than just state the condition. I would assume it would be something like: I was both providing very needed emotional support to my sister while also acting as facilitator with highly stressed family relationships. All this may be in fact TMI though if the rest of your academic GPAs were good, this is would negate almost any impact of the bad term. Just remember if you put this on your application it would be open to discussion at interview. Normally I would say be "comfortable" with discussing it but that certainly the wrong word to describe it. It certainly could be part of a challenge essay as resiliency on your part, even though that is secondary you your sister.


"due to extremely serious issues involving my immediate family, I was not able to devote the time necessary to my academics and I was placed on Academic Probation at {School} for a single semester in Fall 2011. My parents had recently divorced, and my sister was divorcing her husband, who was arrested then convicted of molestation of their own three children, the oldest of which (11) was at a mental health facility for over a year. (NEEDED ADDED LINE HERE"
 
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Shawni19

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Jun 29, 2019
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Thank you for your response! I will adjust accordingly, it is a difficult thing to write about but I've had almost two decades to come to terms with it. I did specify what I did for her and my mother in the following paragraphs (childcare, emotional support, etc). Should I modify these? I also forgot it was Sept 11th at the beginning of Fall semester that year too. I'm not going to mention that, but it's amazing what we remember.
 
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LizzyM

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You might want to check on the space available for your explanation. I think it is only 1325 characters...

I think that the story could be told more succinctly and still get the point across that you were dealing with a lot of stuff 18 years ago that led to being on academic probation.

"I was placed on Academic Probation at {School} in Fall 2001 because my grades suffered when I devoted myself to helping my mother who was dealing with a serious chronic illness and coping with her recent divorce from my father. Given her health and disability, my mother had an acute need for help with housekeeping. tramsportation and other tasks until other arrangements could be made. In addition, I helped my sister who was dealing with her own divorce, her husband’s abuse of their children and one child’s placement in a mental health facility. I was working part-time to support myself and helping my sister with childcare and other needs. Eventually, my sister was connected with social services to help her manage as a single mom. After the Fall semester I was able to focus on my studies and subsequently made Dean's List in Spring 2002."
 
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KnightDoc

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Maybe this is a very stupid question, and, if it is, I apologize in advance. I have been operating on the assumption that schools are interested in demonstrations of recent scholastic aptitude, which is why MCAT scores expire and we are expected to show some post-bacc proficiency after such a large gap in time, even if we did really well in school 10 or 20 years ago.

If this is, in fact, the case, why would OP have to say anything at all about a poor GPA in a single semester 20 years ago?????? How much credit would he get in 2020 for a 4.0 in Fall 2001? Why would even a 0.0 be held against him 20 years later, assuming the necessary remediation in the intervening decades? One would assume he has more recent grades and test scores to support an application. What am I missing???

It seems as though OP can and should go into as much or as little detail as he feels comfortable with to demonstrate dealing with adversity, but why should he have to explain academic probation from 2001 in 2020??? Would an adcom waive a more recent MCAT and prereqs if he had a 4.0 sGPA and 99%-ile MCAT from 2001?
 

DrStephennmnm

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Oct 17, 2019
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Maybe this is a very stupid question, and, if it is, I apologize in advance. I have been operating on the assumption that schools are interested in demonstrations of recent scholastic aptitude, which is why MCAT scores expire and we are expected to show some post-bacc proficiency after such a large gap in time, even if we did really well in school 10 or 20 years ago.

If this is, in fact, the case, why would OP have to say anything at all about a poor GPA in a single semester 20 years ago?????? How much credit would he get in 2020 for a 4.0 in Fall 2001? Why would even a 0.0 be held against him 20 years later, assuming the necessary remediation in the intervening decades? One would assume he has more recent grades and test scores to support an application. What am I missing???

It seems as though OP can and should go into as much or as little detail as he feels comfortable with to demonstrate dealing with adversity, but why should he have to explain academic probation from 2001 in 2020??? Would an adcom waive a more recent MCAT and prereqs if he had a 4.0 sGPA and 99%-ile MCAT from 2001?
Because it's an IA and he has to explain that. Read the post first before you type up an essay
 

hmockingbird

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I think it’s TMI. I would go with something like what Lizzy posted. You don’t need to go into extreme detail. It should be more about the effect on you (in this case, brief explanation of what was taking up time) and what changed that allowed you to recover your grades after. The detailed descriptions of your relatives’ lives isn’t really relevant to the adcom.
Also, just a wording thing but I have a feeling that calling your sister “low income” may come off poorly to some readers. I would try something like “already made a low income”.
 
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