Good Personal College Essays

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Below are some of my favorite student personal statements from the past few years. I tensed with apprehension while hurriedly reviewing possible answer choices in my head—atheist, agnostic? Although my family is Ismaili, part of a small sect in the Shia branch of Islam, I couldn’t identify myself as such.

Not only did I fear that doing so would alienate me from my friends, but I also struggled to truly buy into the faith.

I pick it up, not sure what I’m going to do, but then hear myself asking my classmates to each draw a vertical line on my shirt. But each time the marker touches the fabric it tells a story.

It is a story of occupied countries, a story in which resisting apartheid becomes synonymous with criminality, a story we refuse to address because we have grown too apathetic to value life beyond our borders.

As the speaker discussed potential consequences of artificial intelligence and machine learning, I was struck by his belief that A. might be the last truly human invention as the technology itself diminishes the contributions of our species.

The troubling assertion that humans have little intrinsic value made me wonder—What does it mean to be human? These were questions to which science did not have the answer.

Left with scant parental guidance, I wondered if they were right.

I wondered if extremist groups really did represent the religion of my parents and grandparents, if their religion really was one of intolerance.

As my classmates draw the tally, together we tell the story of the hunger strike and mourn the distance human beings have created between each other.

Day 20: My uniform has become a subject of question.


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