How 5 First Generation Students Transformed Hardship Into Opportunity

June 30, 2016

Writing a compelling personal statement is hard. These 5 first-generation applicants tapped into deeply personal experiences and allowed their authentic voices to shine. It’s no wonder they were accepted to UPenn, Wesleyan, Harvard, UCLA and UCF


Harvard ‘18

I live in a single-parent home, with my mother and little sister. My father died when was I as two years old, and it has been a struggle. I have never had a true, male role model in my life. It has been hard growing up without truly knowing how to be a man. Despite that, my mother and grandmother have been there to raise me. My mother tells me that she is my mother and father; that is true to some degree. At the end of the day, there is still a hole that has not been filled. I do not let the hole hold me back from pursuing and accomplishing my goals. My grandmother tells me that I may not have an earthly father, but I definitely have a heavenly father. That is reassuring, because I know that there is always someone watching me and I believe that my heavenly father teaches me how to be a man. Read on


UCLA ‘20

“I feel good! Oh, I feel so good!” I shouted out at the top of my lungs as a member that I serve asked about my well-being. I always felt awkward responding in this particular manner, but it is all in good spirit of promoting positivity and altruism within our daily schedule. Occasionally, my neighboring peers would get embarrassed by me and would keep their distance, but I stand my ground, completing the chant to its entirety and finishing it off with a scream. Keep reading


UPenn ‘20

Many of the language challenges my parents face in America on a daily basis are easily solved if I am around to interpret, which was why I never really considered their language barrier as a hardship. Unlike my parents, when I lived in China, I did not always have interpreters by my side to assist me when my Mandarin failed me, which caused many unfortunate misunderstandings. My six weeks in China, although minuscule compared to the time my parents have spent in America, helped me appreciate my family’s cultural background and my parents for all they have done to raise my sister and me in a foreign country. View full profile


UCF ‘19

I was only nine months old when my parents decided to uproot their lives and travel overseas from Nicaragua to Florida, in hopes of anticipating everything the Land of Opportunity had to offer a pair of newlyweds and their infant son. Having been raised in a small home where I watched my parents come home from working their minimum wage jobs, I was taught firsthand the value of perseverance and the significance of dedication. Continue reading


Wesleyan ‘19

The harsh scent of Windex filled my nose while I whipped the damp paper towel across the arched windows. My mom called out, “Camilla, why aren’t you finished with the windows. We still have lots of work before we can leave for the day.” Hesitantly, I picked up more paper towels to cover with gallons of Windex and quickly finished the rest of the windows until they were crystal clear. My mother, beside me, was sweeping up a combination of dust, dirt and a few bugs here and there, weeks worth of grime buildup. When I finally finished the windows I urged my mother to agree that that the house was clean enough to leave; however apparently it wasn’t clean enough to earn my mother’s approval. So we kept wiping, sweeping, mopping, vacuuming and sweating. Once the sun began to set, around 7 o’clock, my mother decided she was done for the day. However, my day would not stop until sometime past midnight; I still had biology homework to finish. Read more

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About The Author

Frances Wong
Frances Wong

Frances was born in Hong Kong and received her bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University. She loves super sad drama television, cooking, and reading. Her favorite person on Earth isn’t actually a member of the AdmitSee team - it’s her dog Cooper.


Browse Successful Application Files

UCF ‘19

Accepted to UCF, Florida, FSU, Alabama, Fordham

UCF Provost Scholar & BS/MD Program Admit, FSU Honors College Admit/Presidential Scholar Alternate, UF Honors College Admit/Lombardi Scholarship Semi-Finalist, Fordham LC Honors Program Admit/Dean's Scholar available to assist with admissions!
Wesleyan ‘20

Accepted to Wesleyan

Not a very bright student who had a bright application
UCF ‘18

Accepted to FSU, UCF,

I am a first generation student as well as an independent student. I understand that the idea of college is scary and the process is even worst. Let me help you as I wished someone was able to do the same with me.
Wesleyan ‘20

Accepted to Fairfield , Rhodes, Wesleyan, Skidmore, Richmond, Syracuse

Find me in the art museum. I'm Olivia, incoming freshman at Wesleyan. Happy to help anyone get through the college whirlwind.

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