How to Discuss Family Values in Your Personal Statement

October 20, 2016

Are you talking about your family background and values in your personal statement? Are you having trouble demonstrating how that’s related to your own personal growth and and aspirations? Here are 5 personal statement examples from UPenn, Harvard, Stanford and USC to help you:


Harvard University ‘17

“So are you white or are you black?” I’ve been asked this question a lot, and many others like it. People always seem to be curious about my background, either when they see my voluminous, golden-brown curls or notice that I took my mother’s last name. Over time, as I’ve tried to make sense of my unconventional upbringing and the impact it has had on me, I’ve realized that my identity doesn’t fit into a specific category or label, but requires a much lengthier explanation. Keep reading. 


University of Pennsylvania ‘17

I may not be an inventor, but I must have some innovative blood and a genetic drive to make life better. As a young boy, my great great uncle, Chester Greenwood was known for his ears; Maine winters turned them deep purple, sickly white, and even blue on the coldest days of the year. One frigid day, Chester sewed balls of fur onto a wire loop and went out to ice skate wearing his homemade earmuffs. His friends marveled at the invention. Four years later, the Greenwood’s Ear Protectors factory was operating 24 hours per day and warming every ear in New England. Read more. 


University of Southern California ‘16

Growing up in a predominately Hispanic neighborhood in Los Angeles, I have struggled to balance three different cultures in a multi-ethnic city.  Bullying by my classmates led me to view my own Chinese culture as something alien, something to be ashamed of. I abandoned the native Cantonese dialect I was born speaking, and strove to learn English and even Spanish as much as I could. I always resisted going to Chinese school every weekend when I was a child, feeling that learning Chinese was an unnecessary burden that took me away from my Saturday morning cartoons, which every one of my classmates watched. It is, however, through these weekend classes that I have been able to maintain my own culture, my identity. Continue reading. 


Stanford University ‘17

Standing on the stage in front of the hushed crowd, stage fright consumes my body and fear pumps through my veins, but suddenly an angelic voice, singing in an unrecognizable language, captivates my soul. At the same time I gaze down at myself, dressed in a soft blue dress, a white apron drapes from my waist and a matching handkerchief wraps my neck. Traditional beaded earrings dangle from my ears and a blue and white beaded medallion adorns my neck. I see the white moccasins on my feet and I understand. In this moment I realize how truly unique the culture and heritage of the Choctaw people, my people, is. Read more. 


Harvard University ‘17

On Being a Hybrid

I have given a lot of thought to writing about being a hybrid. Not a car, mind you, like a Prius, but a hybrid of race. Sure, I am technically one hundred percent Hispanic, as my last name indicates, but sometimes I feel like I am in between cultures. View full profile. 

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Liked these essay intros? Unlock them all in one go in this family values package. Brainstorm and think carefully about what you want to write in your personal statement and how you want to share your own, unique story. For more inspiration, AdmitSee has a database of 60,000+ successful college applications files waiting for you! 

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

UPenn ‘22

Accepted to UPenn, Cornell, Northwestern, WashU, NYU, Northeastern, Rutgers

Attending the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Plan on perusing Finance, Social Impact, and Operations Information & Decisions. If I can do it, you sure can too :)
Harvard ‘21

Accepted to Harvard, Dartmouth, UPenn, UToronto, McGill, McMaster

Hey Y'all! I'm a prospective Neuroscience major at Harvard. In my free time, I build computers and recreate Gordon Ramsay's signature recipes (or at least I try to).
Stanford ‘20

Accepted to Stanford, UC Berkeley, UCLA, Washington, UCSD, UC Davis, Cal Poly, UC Irvine

Bay Area Teen with Exclusive Advice about Applying to Stanford
Harvard ‘21

Accepted to Harvard, Dartmouth, UC Berkeley, Emory, USC

Hi! I'm a Harvard PreFrosh interested in service, economics, math, and philosophy excited to help you.

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