Last week, I had the opportunity to talk with 40-50 people at a college night program for Camp Sunshine, a non-profit organization that offers support and opportunities to children with cancer and their families. I believe this is my eighth time doing this evening program, and I always have a great evening. I have known some of these campers for 10+ years, while others recently diagnosed and are going through treatment right now.
Every year, the one question I am always asked is “Should I tell the colleges I am applying to about my cancer, and if so, what should I say?” My suggestion is always that they should let colleges know about their medical situation (if they feel comfortable sharing this), how it has impacted their lives, but more importantly, how they have both faced this obstacle and overcome it. As the quote from Vince Lombardi states, “It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.” And it is amazing how well these students have done getting back up on their feet and being active after being knocked down so hard by cancer! I have seen former campers who are now Paralympic Cycling medalists, founders of non-profits, and medical professionals now fighting cancer.
Most every applicant has had some personal issue, from divorce to sickness/injuries to family challenges. These range from the rather minor (I was sick for three days) to the more life changing events (see above). The important thing when applying to UGA is first to tell us about it, but more importantly to show us how you have gotten back up off the ground and gotten over your personal hurdle. While I can not say how this information will impact a decision, it helps us to know what has occurred in your life. there are plenty of places to share this, from the “Special Circumstances” section on the application, the admissions essays, or from your recommendation letter(s). UGA can then have a better look at who you are overall as a student and a person, and see the connections between your academics, activities and personal events in your life.