Say if someone had a mild mental disability like ADHD, would they be given preference within graduate school admissions, due to the diversity initiatives that exist? Should someone with this disability mention it?

Is the answer department dependent?

  • Mention it where? If there's a designated box on a form, maybe, but not on a CV or personal statement. Nov 14, 2021 at 9:20

1 Answer 1


No. Universities in countries where this is required by law strive to provide a level playing field, not to introduce "reverse discrimination". In other words, disabilities of all kinds are considered as mitigating factors when considering how that disability would have affected the objective criteria that would otherwise be used to evaluate candidates. For example, most people will wonder what a candidate did to take six years to obtain an undergraduate degree, and wonder why there is a gap of two years in the middle. Knowing that someone had medical issues that prompted them to take two years off addresses these questions.

So knowing about a disability might lead to a more equitable evaluation of application documents, but it generally does not (nor should it) lead to giving preference to people with disability (except, possibly in some countries where required by law).

  • Why would it help someone who graduated in 6 years and not someone who graduated in 4 years? If someone has the disability took 4 years, that means if they didn't have it they would've only needed 2 years to graduate. In which case they should probably be given preference.
    – 123movies
    Apr 24, 2023 at 14:08
  • 1
    @JobHunter69 These things are not linear that way.
    – Bryan Krause
    Apr 24, 2023 at 14:13
  • @BryanKrause The assumption is that someone with disbility who took 6 years to graduate is as smart as a healthy person taking 4 years to graduate. Then it must be that someone with disability taking 4 years to graduate is smarter than a healthy 4 year person. Function does not need to be linear, just needs to be monotic
    – 123movies
    Apr 24, 2023 at 14:29
  • 2
    @JobHunter69 There's nothing especially impressive about finishing a degree early, though. There may be something concerning about finishing a degree slowly, so it's worth explaining why.
    – Bryan Krause
    Apr 24, 2023 at 14:33
  • 2
    @JobHunter69 Because that statement you just made is not supported by any sort of evidence.
    – Bryan Krause
    Apr 24, 2023 at 17:12

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