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Personal History statement (UC schools)


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I'm not exactly sure what to write. Last year, I wrote how my parents influenced me, being the first-generation of my family to receive a Bachelor's and how I will be the first-generation (even among my relatives) to pursue a graduate degree, and how my dad's misfortune has given me an opportunity to pursue graduate school in California for an affordable price (tuition waiver for California public schools).

All this only made up 2 paragraphs and I think it may be too short for the personal history statement. What else should I try to write about? The high school I came from was a bit dangerous: gang fights just about every week, students burning down buildings, there were also shootings, and stabbings. My area was the "bad" part of the city. Everyone also assumes that if you're attending a good University that you came from the rich / good part of my city.

And here is the question given on all applications for UC schools:

In an essay, discuss how your personal background informs your decision to pursue a graduate degree. Please include any educational, familial, cultural, economic, or social experiences, challenges, or opportunities relevant to your academic journey; how you might contribute to social or cultural diversity within your chosen field; and/or how you might serve educationally underrepresented segments of society with your degree.

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I'm struggling with the exact same thing, but I don't have the two paragraphs you already have! I worked full time as the sole breadwinner of my family while I went to grad school for my masters, but that isn't really anything significant. I may just concentrate on how my social experiences shaped what I want to study. I'm finding this much more difficult to write than my personal statement.

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it sounds like you actually have a lot to work with for your essay. you'll have a great essay if you start with growing up in a poor neighborhood, being the first in your family to pursue college education, and having to almost literally fight your way through high school to achieve good grades. then maybe roll that into how well you did once you were at school and how proud your family is, how much you want to continue your education, how your early life experiences coupled with your undergrad work has prepared you for the rigors of life as a grad student... start with a bit of darkness but then make the rest of your essay really positive.

I know a lot of other people have already posted about this, but have you looked at Donald Asher's book Graduate Admissions Essays? I checked it out of the library and it's been really helpful. I bet it'd be even more helpful for you since you already have a great "overcoming the odds" story. Good luck!

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