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Mental Illness and Uni Applications

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    I am going to apply for five unis (entry: fall 2017) and my top wishes are Oxford and Durham. I have been struggeling with my mental health since the beginning of my second year of the IB, and was diagnosed with moderate depression last November. As a result of this depressive episode I was a lot away from school and unable to do homework because of the concentration difficulties, and it severely affected my grades (especially in HL Physics and Mathematics). I am so certain that I am going to need a retake in Physics that I've already decided that I am going to start studying for the retake once I'm done with my current exams. My GP prescribed antidepressants, and I got much better. However, now with the exam stress I have had several panic attacks and have serious issues with sleeping during the night. I am going to see my GP soon, but I believe that this insomnia also severely affects my ability to write good exams, and it is annoying, because I feel like my mind is working at half capacity. Before my depression kicked in I mostly got predicted 7s in all subjects, so this situation is incredibly frustrating.

    Now that I have disclosed the background information, I have a couple of questions:

    1. Does anyone know how Durham views retakes? I know that when applying to Oxford, extenuating circumstances need to be disclosed in order for you to be able to not have a much weaker application than the other people applying, is it like that at Durham too?

    2. How do I disclose extenuating circumstances to Oxford? I chose my Norwegian HL teacher to write my reference, since it has some relevance to Law. The problem is that she has no idea about this situation, and therefore she will not write it in the letter of recommendation. Is it possible to have two references, or a doctor's note somehow attached to the application?

    3. Is depression considered an extenuating circumstance?

    Have you tried contacting the universities you want to apply for. I know when I emailed Cambridge about mental health and application process when considering extenuating circumstances, they took it very well and helped out a great deal.

    Try emailing or phoning them up.

    Depression can be considered an extenuating circumstance but only if it impacted your ability to do well/reach your full potential. In your extenuating circumstances disclosure you will need to have your doctor explain/back you up on how your depression affected your work. You can also explain how it affected you in your own words but you will need a doctor to clarify this in order for it to not hinder your application.

    You will also need to prove that you are fit enough to do well at Oxford/Durham. Obviously they won't expect you to be perfect and they would supply you with support at university but you need to prove you are fit to study and get good grades. If you can resit your exams and what not, and have other extracurriculars as well has have your doctor explain you are on track to managing your depression, you should be fine.
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