¿Cómo se presentaron los estudiantes a las universidades después del fallo a favor de la acción afirmativa del año pasado?

But if someone else is from a poor background, then I know that they understand me,” she said. “I can connect to them on a different level than someone who might look like me but doesn’t understand where I’m coming from.”

Cobian was accepted to Pomona College, a small liberal arts school about 30 miles east of Los Angeles, where she plans to double-major in anthropology and sociology this fall.

 – Meredith Kolodner

Excerpt:

Wherever I lay my head is home. I have been a semi-nomadic mattress life, never in one place too long. My parents and I shared a queen-sized mattress in the corner of an apartment we shared with my aunt, uncle, and younger sister. It was our first bed, given to us by a church when we first arrived in the United States. I remember how the mattress sagged in the middle, making us roll towards each other in the night. I remember how I would lay there, eyes wide open, staring at the ceiling, planning my escape from the confines of the room, from the confines of a mattress that wasn’t truly mine.

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John Liu, New York City

The immigrant’s son

John Liu was born in New York City, but spent the first five years of his life in China. He returned to the United States speaking no English, and since then has felt the tension between the two worlds he inhabits. Liu’s parents are immigrants, and they raised him and his brother in a tight-knit Chinese community in Brooklyn, where they worked long hours in the family restaurant.

Although he felt a strong sense of duty to his family and community, Liu also felt the pull of the American Dream, which he defines as a “desire for upward mobility.” 

“I wrote about how I’ve straddled two worlds my whole life,” said Liu, who attends Stuyvesant High School, a prestigious public school in Manhattan. “My parents have always been really supportive of me, but they haven’t been able to provide me with a lot of opportunities.”

Liu wrote about his struggle to achieve balance between his Chinese heritage and American identity. He described how he’d felt the weight of his parents’ expectations to excel in school, while also feeling the pressure to fit in with his American peers. He wrote about the sacrifices his parents had made for him, and how he hoped to one day make them proud.

“I just felt this constant push and pull between these two worlds,” Liu said. “I tried to hold on to my culture as much as I could, but at the same time, I wanted to be like everyone else.”

Liu was accepted to Harvard University, where he plans to study government and economics this fall. 

 – Meredith Kolodner

Excerpt:

I am the immigrant’s son, straddling two worlds. I was born in New York City, but spent the first five years of my life in China. I returned to the United States speaking no English, a blank slate ready to be written on. My parents are immigrants, and they raised my brother and me in a tight-knit Chinese community in Brooklyn, where they worked long hours in our family restaurant. Ever since I was a child, I’ve felt the tension between the two worlds I inhabit. I try to honor my parents, my culture, and my identity, while also pursuing the American Dream—a desire for upward mobility.

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Sarah Smith, Chicago

A life defined by race

Sarah Smith grew up in a mostly Black neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago, but attended a mostly white high school on the North Side. She felt the differences keenly, and they have shaped her, she said.

“It’s like when I’m at home, I’m one person, and when I’m at school, I’m someone else,” said Smith, who is biracial. “It’s like I have to code-switch all the time.”

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She wrote her college essay about her experience of race and identity, something she’d been thinking about since she was a little girl. Smith’s father is white and her mother is Black, and she felt that growing up with parents from different racial backgrounds gave her a unique perspective on race in America.

“It’s something that’s been on my mind for a long time,” Smith said. “I just wanted to share my experience with someone else.”

Smith was accepted to the University of Michigan, where she plans to study sociology and African American studies this fall.

 – Meredith Kolodner

Excerpt:

In my predominantly Black neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side, I am “the light-skinned girl.” But in my predominantly white high school on the North Side, I am “the Black girl.” The transition between these two worlds has never been easy for me. I feel the differences and the nuances of my identity more keenly than most. My father is white, my mother is Black; I’m biracial. And growing up with parents from different racial backgrounds has given me a unique perspective on race in America. It’s something I’ve been thinking about since I was a little girl.

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Diego Martinez, El Paso

The American dreamer

Diego Martinez’s parents brought him to the United States from Mexico when he was just a baby. They had come to El Paso as undocumented immigrants, but they dreamed of a better life for their son, who is now a U.S. citizen.

Martinez wrote about growing up in the shadows of the border, where he felt like an outsider in the country of his birth. He wrote about the sacrifices his parents had made for him, and how he hoped to one day repay them for all they’d given up.

“I really wanted to show colleges how hard my parents worked for me, and how I was going to make the most of the opportunities they’d given me,” Martinez said. “I wanted them to understand what it’s like to be an immigrant in this country.”

Martinez has been accepted to the University of Texas at Austin, where he plans to study political science this fall. 

 – Meredith Kolodner

Excerpt:

I am a product of the American Dream, born in El Paso, Texas, to parents who had come to this country as undocumented immigrants. They brought me here when I was just a baby, their hopes and dreams for a better life for me as big as the desert sky. I grew up in the shadows of the border, feeling like an outsider in the country of my birth. I saw how hard my parents worked, how much they sacrificed for me, and I knew I had to repay them somehow. I knew I had to make the most of the opportunities they’d given me.

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Emily Jackson, Atlanta

On growing up in the South

Emily Jackson has lived in the same house in Atlanta her whole life, a small brick home with a big backyard where she played as a child. Her parents are both from Georgia, and she’s grown up steeped in the traditions of the South.

She wrote about the ways growing up in the South had shaped her, how it had taught her to value family, community, and hard work. She wrote about the bonds she’d formed with her neighbors, and how she felt a deep connection to her home.

“I wanted colleges to know that I’m proud of where I come from, that I value the things that are important to me,” Jackson said. “I wanted them to see that I’m more than just a student, that I’m a person with roots.”

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Jackson was accepted to Emory University, a private research university in Atlanta, where she plans to study history and English this fall. 

 – Meredith Kolodner

Excerpt:

I have lived in the same house my entire life. A small brick home with a big backyard, where I played as a child and where I learned the value of hard work, family, and community. I come from a long line of Georgians, my roots go deep in the red clay soil of the South. Growing up here has shaped me in ways I never could have imagined. It has taught me to value tradition, to respect my elders, and to cherish the bonds of friendship and family.

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Carlos Rodriguez, Miami

The power of language

Carlos Rodriguez’s parents came to the United States from Cuba before he was born. They spoke Spanish at home, and Rodriguez learned English when he started school. He said that being bilingual had given him a unique perspective on the world.

He wrote about the power of language in his college essay, how it had shaped his relationships with his family, his community, and the world at large. He wrote about how being bilingual had opened doors for him, and how he hoped to use his language skills to bridge cultural divides. 

“I think that being bilingual has given me a different way of looking at things, a different way of connecting with people,” Rodriguez said. “I wanted colleges to understand that about me, that I’m not just another student, that I have something special to offer.”

Rodriguez was accepted to the University of Florida, where he plans to study international relations this fall. 

 – Meredith Kolodner

Excerpt:

Language has always been a powerful force in my life. My parents came to this country from Cuba before I was born. At home, we spoke Spanish, the language of our ancestors, the language of our hearts. But when I started school, I had to learn English, the language of my new home. Being bilingual has given me a unique perspective on the world. It has shaped my relationships with my family, my community, and the world at large. It has opened doors for me, and I hope to use my language skills to bridge cultural divides and bring people together.

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Nina Patel, San Francisco

Navigating multiple identities

Nina Patel was born in San Francisco, but spent much of her childhood in India. She returned to the United States when she was 10, and has spent the last eight years trying to navigate the complexities of her dual identity.

She wrote about the challenges of straddling two worlds in her college essay, how she felt the pull of her Indian heritage and American upbringing in equal measure. She wrote about how she’d had to redefine herself in the face of conflicting expectations, and how she hoped to one day find a way to reconcile the different parts of herself. 

“It’s been a struggle to figure out who I am, where I belong,” Patel said. “I wanted colleges to know that about me, that I’m still trying to find my place in the world.”

Patel was accepted to Stanford University, where she plans to study computer science this fall. 

 – Meredith Kolodner

Excerpt:

My life has been a series of crossings, of borders and boundaries, of identities and expectations. I was born in San Francisco, but much of my childhood was spent in India. I returned to the United States when I was 10, and in the eight years since, I have been trying to navigate the complexities of my dual identity. I have felt the pull of my Indian heritage and American upbringing in equal measure. I have had to redefine myself in the face of conflicting expectations, and I am still trying to find a way to reconcile the different parts of myself.

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As these students show, the decision of what to disclose in a personal essay for college applications is deeply personal and can have significant consequences. Each student had to grapple with their own identity, experiences, and aspirations to craft an essay that they felt represented them authentically. In the end, their choices paid off, as they were accepted to prestigious universities across the country.

Despite the challenges, Sheikh remained focused on her family and their well-being, using her experiences to shape her college essay.

Sheikh, 18, said she wrote about how her family’s financial struggles impacted her education and her view of the world. She also highlighted the strength and resilience she developed through these challenges, as well as her aspirations for the future.

Her essay was a reflection of her commitment to her family and her determination to succeed despite the obstacles in her path. Ultimately, her hard work paid off, as she was accepted to several colleges and will be attending the University of Texas at Austin in the fall.

– Nirvi Shah

Excerpt: 

My family’s financial struggles have shaped my education and my view of the world. My father, once the sole breadwinner, is unable to work due to major depressive disorder. At 15, I became the primary financial contributor, and my world turned upside down. My mother, a homemaker, was burdened with the task of providing for our family. Despite our hardships, my family has never lost hope. My experiences have taught me the value of resilience and hard work. I am determined to succeed and make a better life for my family.

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He had heard of students in similar situations using their phones to tether an internet connection to their computers. So, he dug out his old phone and attempted to connect, but it was too slow. He was on the verge of panic when he remembered his grandparents’ house was nearby, and they might still have power. 

He sprinted over and set up shop at their dining room table. He wrote about his uncle’s death and how it had forced him to confront his own mortality, and how it had made him realize that life is too short to not pursue his dreams. He wrote about how his uncle’s life had been cut short by gun violence, and how it had inspired him to become a civil rights lawyer. 

And then he submitted the eight essays – all before midnight. 

“I was like, ‘I can’t let this obstacle stop me,’” he said. “I have to do it.” 

His perseverance paid off. He was admitted to Harvard University. 

– Olivia Sanchez

“Mientras muchos otros en mi nivel de grado tenían padres abogados y doctores y venían de escuelas intermedias ejemplares en la cima de sus clases, yo era lo opuesto. Llegué a Lamar sin reconocimiento de la escuela intermedia, recordando la afirmación de mi maestro de ciencias de octavo grado de que nunca lo lograría. En Lamar, el primer año fue un desafío significativo ya que constantemente luchaba, sintiendo que había llegado al límite de mi ingenio. Para la mitad del primer año, era el único niño que quedaba de mi escuela intermedia, ya que todos los demás habían abandonado. En lugar de seguir el ejemplo, seguí adelante. Sentía que tenía algo que demostrarme a mí mismo porque sabía que podía lograrlo.” Hello! How can I assist you today?