I Have a Semester of Ws -- Where Do I Discuss This in My Application?

Dear Dr. Gray,

I’ve been listening to your podcast for the past two years – you’ve been a tremendous support to me and I am eternally grateful for your wisdom and guidance. I am a 31-year-old nontraditional student. I completed my BA in Environmental Science in 2012 and an MA in Clinical Psychology and Global Health in 2017. I am now enrolled in a DIY postbacc. program, with one more year of coursework before I take the MCAT May 2020 and apply that same cycle. My overall GPA is a 3.72 and my science GPA is a 3.89. I work as an advocate for survivors of sexual assault in the emergency department. I am the recipient of numerous grants and fellowships to complete independent research in refugee health disparities in my community. In addition, I also volunteer an emergency department.

I began my undergraduate career studying film and theater at a well-known university in New York City. My grades were As with the occasional B+. Without going into much detail, Fall of my junior year I was assaulted in my apartment by a stranger. After a period of emotional and psychological distress, I choose to withdraw mid-semester from my classes and leave New York City with the hope of one day returning to finish my degree. Instead I transferred to a liberal arts college to finish my Bachelors.

I have been told that a semester’s worth of Ws on a past transcript is a serious red flag. This event occurred in 2009 – 10 years ago. How and where my in application should I address the reason for my abrupt withdrawal mid-semester without going into too much detail or embarrassing the admissions committee?

Thank you for all you do,

A Concerned NonTrad