Take the 2-minute tour ×
Academia Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for academics and those enrolled in higher education. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Condition

I have been suffering from day time sleepiness (9-10 hrs of sleep and still struggle to stay awake), fatigue, memory loss and lack of concentration. The doctor found that I suffocate in my sleep: I stop breathing several times per hour.

In a few days, I will be undergoing surgery to modify my airway (nose, throat) that, according to the doctor, will completely resolve these problems.

Background

My profile is OK: undergrad valedictorian, scholarships, awards, numerous research experiences and skills. But my condition exacerbated during masters and I graduated "B+" instead of continuing my straight "A" performance during undergrad. Also, I felt that I could have performed better in standardized tests (GREs), do more research etc without my condition.

Questions

  1. Should I make this medical condition known in my research/personal statement? I fear the reader might assume that I am not as "able" as completely healthy candidates. Or perhaps there is no benefits at all to bringing this up?

  2. If so, how should I put it to avoid sounding like I am making excuses or whining?

share|improve this question
2  
Alas, I don't know anything sensible on disclosing; but as someone who through airway surgery went from apnea index of 52 to apnea index of 12, good luck and I hope you'll get a lot better afterwards. –  Mikael Vejdemo-Johansson Nov 6 '12 at 8:24
    
@MikaelVejdemo-Johansson - Thanks! Can't wait to finally get some decent sleep! –  Legendre Nov 6 '12 at 10:53
add comment

2 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Should I make this medical condition known in my research/personal statement? I fear the reader might assume that I am not as "able" as completely healthy candidates. Or perhaps there is no benefits at all to bringing this up? If so, how should I put it to avoid sounding like I am making excuses or whining?

If you can frame this medical condition as a a situation you have learned to work through and around, then yes you can talk about it. It makes you sound like you are able to adapt to difficult circumstances. You are under no requirement to bring it up, and, at least in the US, if you don't bring it up, then you cannot legally be judged based on it.

However, if the condition reasonably or seriously will interfere with the work you are planning to do, then you need to disclose it eventually, although perhaps only after you are accepted and only to your research adviser. Sleepiness is one thing, but what about narcolepsy? A narcoleptic might be a safety hazard in a synthetic chemistry lab for example.

share|improve this answer
    
I guess from the sound of things, it might not be advantageous for me to disclose this. Especially since the surgery should resolve it. I'm doing mathematics, so the only thing I'll be hazardous to is the coffee machine. –  Legendre Nov 8 '12 at 11:20
add comment

Your potential advisor is interested in (mostly) one thing: your potential as a graduate student. To that end, your personal statement/interviews/etc. should serve to convince him that you will be able to do excellent research. Any issues that could be a potential problem should be noted and addressed.

With that background, do you think this condition could be perceived as affecting your output as a graduate student? From the way you posed it, I would suggest that the answer is "yes". As such, I would mention the condition towards the end of the letter/interview, but I would state with confidence that past performance has demonstrated that it will not affect output, and you're confident it would not be a problem in the future. Don't dwell; just mention it as you would a disclosure and move on.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.