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Does having epilepsy benefit a first-year college applicant in the admission process?

Hello all,

I am currently a Junior in high school. I make good grades, have a rigorous secondary school record, and have what I believe to be great extracurricular activities, qualities, and hobbies. I have a passion for learning, and love science. As an aspiring engineer, I would like to attend a university that has an excellent School of Engineering.

I have been looking at schools such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Certainly a school such as MIT is very competitive in the admission process, and every hopeful student wants to use what they can to increase their chances of acceptance.

So, I would like to know...Does having epilepsy (a medical disability) benefit/increase your chances of being admitted to a college in any way? (The 504 Plan I have at my high school will show up on my application/transcript information to give evidence of the condition.)


Thank you.


YES. DEFINITELY. I got my BA for free because of my epilepsy. I don't know where you're located, but the program who sponsored me was called Department of Rehabilitation Services (DORS), but they later changed it to Office of Rehabilitation Services (ORS). They were a program that helps people with disabilities get the job they want, and if a degree is required for that job, they will fund it--tuition, books, room and board, everything.

Every college will have a department specifically for students with disabilities, so you can easily contact someone who can give you info on what services they have and what options you have; I would ask them who to people with disabilities go to for financial assistance. They'll even have note-takers. My epilepsy causes short-term memory problems, so I wished I would've gotten a note-taker, but I was too stubborn. Oh well.

Good luck!!

Hi BrcBurner,

It's important to also consider the "cost" of "scholarships" and other things that are "free", with the concept of "expected value".

A simple definition of "Expected Value" is equal to the "Value" multiplied by the chance of receiving the value, minus the "cost" of attempting to obtain the value. (i.e., a Lottery Ticket costs $1.00, with the overall value of $0.60, therefore, the Lottery Ticket has an expected value of MINUS $0.40 (it's best not to buy Lottery Tickets)).

A Federal Appeals lawyer offered corrections to my point of view of the Federal Rehabilitation Act, as he viewed the Act as having an Expected Value of MINUS $0.97, even with "perfect evidence" in a "perfect case", at a value of $200,000 (he said he wouldn't "break-even" to cover the "cost" until a value of $330,000).

Another "great" federal program I became involved in, was inexpensive, to "Free" dental care. Later, when the program's details were covered in a lawsuit involving the businesses promoting sales of materials on how to get everything free from the Federal Government, the price of the postage stamp to mail the dental care application had an expected return value of near total loss (i.e., everyone would have had much better luck, and much lower cost, by buying Lottery Tickets to "win" the money for the anything but "free" dental care).

With Epilepsy, the State Rehabilitation Department, and a person being a recent magna cum laude university graduate, the Department held that the university degree was a drawback in job placement, and a strong element of disqualifications for most services with epilepsy. The Department also gave me a test much like the "Wonderlic Personnel Test and Scholastic Level Exam" (WPT), and I obtained a perfect score, which was held to disqualify me and my epilepsy from all of the Department's services (like the paradox often referred to as "Too Smart To Be A Cop" in the news media: and ).

The ADA apparently still holds that being denied benefits based on being too far above average (directly from the effects of epilepsy raising a person's IQ score), versus the "proven" drawbacks of being too far below average from the regarded effects of epilepsy, is not a violation of being protected from prejudicial discrimination. The "volatile" issue of IQ, sex, and epilepsy is brushed by Taylor and Lochery:

In Santa Cruz, Santa Jose, and the San Francisco Bay Area, along with all of the federal and State government, "great success with academics while having epilepsy" is regarded a necessary non-sequitur, not to be open to being disproved. The prejudice with employment and epilepsy is the same.


Um....I'm honestly suprised to hear such pessimism; unless I'm interpreting your response apologies if I am.

My response is not based on "hear say"....IT'S WHAT I EXPERIENCED. I had a part time job during college, and the only way that it affected my funding was that they deducted some of the money that they would give me for rent and bills. I was my mother's dependant throughout this time period and my eligibility was not affected by that either.

There's nothing wrong with him at least calling the organization (DORS/ORS)to see if this is still a procedure that they follow (who knows with the economy), or see if they can refer him to a program that can benefit him as well. It's better to try and not succeed than to not try and wonder if you ever would've. The worst that could happen is he ends up in the same circumstance as he's in right now.

And as far as the ADA, you might want to do some research to see the updated version (ADAAA). Peace

Hi BrcBurner,

MANY PEOPLE WIN THE LOTTERY!!!! But, MANY MANY MANY MORE PEOPLE LOSE THE LOTTERY! Viewing the flawed "Punch-Board Utility" argument that a person down to their last dollar should buy a Lottery Ticket, because nothing of real value can be bought with just one dollar, but if they win a $$$MILLION$$$, there is no arguing with such success, didn't side-track Eliot Ness, the Untouchable, at least until he shaded J. Edgar Hoover. There's a major difference between being pessimistic and being somewhat slightly cynical of "the happiness circle" cure all.

I didn't get any scholarships for university in California, and the one I got for university in New Mexico was weighted down with so many requirements and restrictions, that it may have saved money, but it was too expensive in terms of everything else. Special programs in public schools tend to create unexpected problems too, as when they lost my special ed records, and the special "help" stopped, my GPA went up to "Dean's Scholar" levels.

It seems Justice Clarence Thomas makes observations about the untoward effects of discrimination laws, but I'm more concerned (and experienced) with the laws not being enforced, nor followed, as to me, it appears the untoward effects would otherwise thus be corrected also. While I verified many instances of the word "epilepsy" directly resulting in prejudice in private practices, the EEOC, federal administrative law judges, federal courts, and various State and County agencies gave me many more examples, and nearly a ton of paper evidence. The EEOC itself will assume that anybody claiming epilepsy cannot have a passing, and definitely not an outstanding, job or academic score. The Federal District Courts will assume that anybody listed as disabled with epilepsy is necessarily not otherwise qualified, and the court of appeals will back them up till the U.S. Supreme Court finally considers such a scenario a slight possibility, using such prejudicial language about disabilities as to make the court sound like the entire bench is filled with intellectual refugees from a William Faulkner novel. Then, of course, until the new ADAAA, epilepsy could always be held not to be any handicap or disability at all, except then, otherwise, a total disability.

Following the nonsense logic of SC "Project Hope", people without epilepsy "are jealous of people with epilepsy", and acts based on jealously are not acts in violation of the new, and improved, ADAAA. So if epilepsy offers any benefit whatsoever, that benefit can be used to deny any access to any major life activity. The world olympics has already ignited similar disputes with many other vast arrays of impairments limiting overly gifted athletes to the special olympics. It seems the PR will be "just keep it quite" and "seperate, but equal", and it might just go away. But, a student better be ready to get a court order to get in the university shower/pool, once labeled with epilepsy.

Despite their intense insults, the U.S. Supreme Court finally did clarify that being disabled to the level of being disabled as defined, and used, by the SSI and SSDI definitions, did not necessarily preclude being "otherwise qualified" under the Rehab Act and the ADA, but it still placed all the legal burdens on the "protected" disabled person in answering to the court's own level of intense prejudice.

Then, many special programs (that are in fact, parts of the Social-Contract), even limit the amount of "Intellectual Wealth" a disabled person is allowed to possess before rendering themselves "not special enough to meet the expected low value" of a protected disabled person. It's almost like a disabled person with a right to benefits under the Social-Contract, will be punished for publishing a book about anything that might have enough value to have market value in the great land of intellectual (and even great ideas just maybe stupid too, for that matter(just ask about "if" protected book rights for O.J.)) freedom, even for people with epilepsy. Working hard enough, a person will even alienate their rights to their parents' Social Security Insurance protection for disabled children and related education funds.


Look. Whether it be pessimism or cynacism, I'm here to SUPPORT, not have a fuckin debate. Got it? If you're here to inform this person about the question on the board, then stop addressing shit to me. If you're here to go on a soapbox, then either I misconstrued the whole objective of this website, or you should take it to the appropriate place. I don't have time for this shit...I have better things to do.

To those of you who are pursuing college, I wish you the best of luck and encourage you to make loads of phone calls to the schools that you're interested in. The worst thing that can happen is you end up in the same position you're in right now; you won't be losing anything. And don't worry---college is not nearly as difficult as it sounds. You'll do great, disability or no disability.

"...they can call me crazy if I fail
all the chance that I need
is one-in-a-million
and they can call me brilliant
if I succeed..."
--A. DiFranco

Greetings BrcBurner,

As many posts involving such rich aroma quickly dissappear, I'll note your ***blank*** it, and ***bleep*** it, advice, here.

I'll also note that my "Funk & Wagnalls Standard Handbook of Synonyms, Antonyms & Prepositions" edited by James C. Fernald (1947) was indeed psychic about the word "cynical" being grouped with the word "captious" on page 109 (all this is TLE academic relevant stuff for brownie points in the Ivy Leagues):

Most of my "support" maybe could be briefly summarized under "beware of epileptic scholarships hauntings from the past", and here at epilepsy-dot-com, search the blogs for "graduate student scholarships" and "graduate scholarships", as many of them seem to illustrate the Geschwind "Syndrome" and the often trap of "easy-out" disability scholarships leading to a blunt "successful frustration" with graduate school prejudice involving epilepsy (and many other impairments, such as autism and Asperger's, and the "idiot-savant" loophole). Being an outstanding scholar with epilepsy will result in a plethora of prejudicial roadblocks under the guise of accommodations that are best approached very cautiously, and if utilized, utilized with great weighted care.

University education is good in itself, but in terms of a career, a serious epilepsy blocked by societal prejudice, will result in an Ivy Tower Intellectual limited to Supplemental Security Income from a regarded necessarily severe disability, that is limited to both the bottom 3% of society or to the top 3%, in being under-qualified with mutually exclusive skills & abilities, or over-qualified with the same skills & abilities, but only very rare token careers with truly gainful employment.

I reponded to one blog from a person who made it through graduate school, and in pursuit of her doctorate, and while she appeared more wordy than I am, she mentioned the amazingly large number of paradoxical misleading dead-ends of "accommodations" to handicaps within the universities. If I can find her blog again, I'll try to list it, and everyone who wants, can try to torch their Funk & Wagnalls there.


You just don't get it do you? When I say I don't have time for this, it means I'm not going to respond to this anymore; I'm not even taking the time you read your last entry; I think it's really rude to use someone else's blog to have some stupid competition, and I think it's pretty sad that you have enough time to write such a repetitious 'novel' on this thing. Again, if you want to inform, address it to the person that asking for information. With the apparent 'competitious' mindset, I'd be suprised if you didn't make sure 'You had the last word". Do what you want and say what you won't hear from me anymore. Maybe you should take a look at the side effects of your Keppra and see how much depression its causing you, b/c you sure as hell don't sound like a happy person. I feel sorry for you.

If I may be allowed to ask a question...

Okay Tadzio, are you saying that you are not discouraging a person with epilepsy from going to college and seeking epilepsy-related scholarships, grants, and help?  That you are just saying they should be careful, read the fine print, and that everything that seems to be free isn't?


Hi SmallSock,

While I believe I disagree with Justice Clarence Thomas involving the absence of the need for, versus the need for, and enforcement of, anti-discrimination laws and universal rights, many of his writings on Affirmative Action Programs, entertain similar issues I'm concerned with, involving Reasonable Accommodation regarding epilepsy. With maybe too blunt hypotheticals, I would be tempted to rewrite the sentence "Now I knew what a law degree from Yale was worth when it bore the taint of racial preference. I was humiliated—and desperate," to the issue "Now I knew what a law degree from Yale was worth when it bore the taint of accommodation with epilepsy. My career was blocked, and I sought to protect my rights under the Rehabilitation Act." Source of cited sentence at:

As fate would have it, I believe Justice Clarence Thomas was the eighth Chairman of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, named by President Ronald Reagan, until March 08, 1990, when he was appointed as a U.S. Court Appeals Judge. Some of my earliest discrimination complaints with federal employers reached points of review with the EEOC in the late 80's, after lengthy "administrative reviews" within the agencies of the employers. My claims were simple, I had perfect (the highest) employment test scores, and the impairments from my epilepsy were contorted by the employers to invalidate and discard effective usage of the test scores, to illegally deny me employment. The EEOC's response in simple English was "You think your test scores should be further bumped up, just because your attempts to hide your poor performance behind your epilepsy didn't work out, and you're disgruntled by it?? That wouldn't be fair to applicants who obtained their test scores with honest effort!!! You should just be more motivated to become qualified for employment."

I took the EEOC's summarized opinion, as that they were telling me I would have to do better than 100% perfect (which is impossible for anyone, unless the claim is like political elections, where the winner gets 120 of the 100 possible votes), and that individuals with epilepsy were regarded as necessarily unqualified, because of, at least, epilepsy causing a regarded intense lack of motivation, that over-shadows all contrary factual evidence. Elements of "disgruntled" and "honest" returned as the cases were returned by the EEOC for "Final Agency Action", and notification of the right to file suits in federal district court.

Well, the Final Agency Action with the U.S. Department of Treasury could be best summarized as blackmail by government thugs over my neurological speech impediments in grade school, over being attacked in high school during a seizure, over the basis of a scholarship to UNM awarded with a GED and physical impairments, and over the results of the MMPI and temporal lobe epilepsy in psychology classes at SJSU. As the IRS had agents already telling me that I was dealing with the American Gestapo, and they had interrogated me for my deposition to my EEOC complaint for a few hours while I was locked in a utility closet under the stairs, in the stairwell of the golden enameled IRS building in downtown San Jose, I took their threat that they were going to prosecute me for everything from illegal scholarships to fraudulent claims of being otherwise qualified while claiming disability, or at their whim, vice-versa, seriously, even though I knew that the U.S. Supreme Court had previously ruled that any law enforcement officers may prevaricate about anything with complete impunity, I had thought that that didn't extend to sworn affidavits and testimony in court. (In other Supreme Court cases, the Justices "joke" about the inherent contradictions in the laws with disabled people).

Over the Department of Treasury flak over my records, I became a "non-person" of record at my university, and that was the end of academics for me.

As many people have rudely discovered, their internet presence can be easily checked by employers, admission offices, etc. for just about everything (lawsuits, scholarships, accidents, credit, etc.), and the government and courts still have not diligently pursued much of anything beyond rare cases under the ADAAA, or anything else, while accentuating the position that the results of what Justice Thomas expressed desires of prevention by denial of basis of action, are to be sufferred with mere toleration instead of active enforcement of prevention and correction.

On M.I.T.'s outdated website, the listing of their policy of dealing with accommodations with impairments already appears to violate the ADAAA with prohibited administrative procedures of "instances" versus pre-determined documentations. Most of the newsworthy stories about such with epilepsy, occur with denial of services, to arrest, and forceful removal, over epilepsy assistance dogs:


Don't forget to look for epilepsy scholarships!!!!!

Frankly, I think it depends on the college; it's unusual for big universities to count anything in but grades and test scores, while small liberal arts colleges and really exclusive colleges count nearly everything in their decisions. With a school like MIT it's hard to tell; due to their having a pretty large volume of applicants they may not notice or take into account the whole epilepsy thing, but because of how exclusive the school is they may count that into whether you're accepted or at least notice your application more for it. It certainly can't hurt, due to your being protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

I'll acknowledge that I'm no expert; I'm just a high school senior who's been applying to colleges. Still, I hope that helps!

I would strongly advise you not to reveal that you have epilepsy at any time during your application. I would go so far as to say that it will almost definitely hurt you.

If you have good grades, etc., that is all you need. It may or may not get you into MIT, but it will get you accepted somewhere that you like. The college admissions process is totally opaque, and sometimes apparently random. A solid record, high test scores, and good essay are your best chance. You just have to put your application out there and see what happens. Don't be afraid!

The reality is that "diversity" only applies in certain cases. Epilepsy is not one of them. Seizures aren't politically correct.

Admissions committees will be looking for reasons to reject your application. That's not because they are out to get you, but because they receive gobs and gobs of applications from good students. Consider it from the perspective of the admissions committee. You have two kids with 3.7 GPAs, can only accept one, and one has epilepsy. Who would you accept? They are smart enough to figure out that epilepsy is a neurological disorder. Neurological=Brain. They can see that the person with epilepsy will have some additional challenges. A brainy school will not favor an application which indicates that there is something wrong with the applicants brain! They are working on the assumption that college will be harder than high school, and that previous success is a good predictor of future success, not a guarantee. Epilepsy is a reason for them to question.

If you have a good academic record, that is all that truly matters. You don't need to reveal your epilepsy. You might feel like it is the most honest thing to do, but they know that your academic record is not the whole picture. All they ask for is the academic record.

Technically, it is illegal for the admissions committee to consider your epilepsy. First, by revealing your epilepsy you are putting them in a tight place. Second, if you tell them they are going to consider it anyhow. They may not talk about it amongst themselves, they will certainly not tell you, but unless they are truly extraordinary human beings, they will think about it, and it will sway their judgement, even if they don't want it to. If they discriminate against you how will you know? How would you prove it? Are you going to sue them? The ADA only makes discrimination illegal, it can't prevent it.

I don't know about the 504 plan, because we didn't have such things when I was in school (as far as I know - it wasn't THAT long ago). I have only ever seen schools require an application, transcript, recommendations, and essay. They are not allowed to ask you about a disability. According to the Dept. of Ed. your transcript should not reveal that you have a disability, but might show that you received accommodations.

You can find out exactly what will be on your transcript by asking your guidance counselor (get a copy if you can). You might consider the possibility that one of your recommenders and/or guidance counsellor could reveal this, and discuss it with them beforehand.

P.S. I revealed that I had epilepsy and the whole shebang on some of my graduate school applications. I did so not to gain preference, but because I thought that all things considered it actually made me look better. I had taken a very hard 7 and 1/2 years of college and thought that any deficiency in my GPA could not only be explained by my condition, but that given what I had actually achieved, it spoke very well of me as a potential student in my proposed field. Under the circumstances I thought that it suggested that I would actually do much better in the new situation. I still believe that this would have been the case. I knew it could go either way. I was accepted at one place, and at another I was rejected. I asked why I was rejected. The answer I got was in all fairness a technicality. It left me with the definite impression that they were using it as an excuse, and that my epilepsy was a contributing factor. Maybe they were telling me the truth, and it just wasn't my day. On the other hand, I have experienced on more than one occasion, from professors who were otherwise very well disposed towards me, a certain dismissal when I have revealed my condition. They were personally quite charitable, but did not take me as seriously as a student afterward.

I think you would be much better off letting your accomplishments speak for themselves.

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