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Common App - Extenuating Circumstances (Additional Info)

milkmint 1 / -  
Dec 12, 2012   #1
This is towards the "additional" information for my commonapp, would it be best if I just send the letter personally to USC (my top choice dream college) instead of add it in here?

Never the less, here is my essay! Thank you!
"Explanation of Standardized Test Scores and Past Grades

To whom this may concern,

I understand that my transcript and standardized test scores are extremely below standard, and sad enough to say, are extremely below my standard as well as they do not reflect anything of what I am capable of doing.

From the start of freshman year to the end of my junior, I have been coping through the numerous extenuating circumstances that changed my life forever. My freshman year of high school started out with a rigorous course load, no study halls,nor lunches. Grades were kept fairly high until the end of the first quarter, which the most unexpected happened after winter break. The earthquake that had tore through my parents' home country, Haiti, had put our lives at a temporary halt. Sadly, I spent more time trying to find lost family members; alive or deceased, than having the right mind to keep up with schoolwork, nor the midterms coming right after. The year of 2010 has been one of the most life shattering, and going towards my sophomore year coping and dealing with the deaths made it so emotionally stressful.

During my sophomore year (2010-2011), was a slower pace, my school work and grades were somewhat OK, but not to my standard. I was extremely sluggish, mainly blamed it on having no break periods, including lunch. At that time, I did not know I was suffering from the effects of PTSD since I never came into terms with the earthquake, and the deaths (I was not allowed to go to any funerals, let alone go to Haiti).

Alas, my junior year (2011-2012), was personally the worse of all. I became overwhelmed with work and stressed out about my grades, realizing that they do not meet the standards of my dream college, and financial issues within my family were on the rise, causing a heavy burden over my shoulders. I stacked up by jumping another level on mathematics. I was extremely stressed, and having no breaks or food throughout the day made me tired. The spring of junior year became even worse as my father soon was cut from his job as a dock worker, as he was our only source of income.

My mother tried picking up the duty of paying for the roof over our heads and the food on the table with her menial job as a daycare sitter. Each month we were closing in on losing electricity, water and even the house we lived in. It only stressed me so much to desperately look for a job with no luck, bringing me down. I begged for money to try the SATs, to only later score extremely low, below my expectations, bringing me down even more, not only that I scored extremely low, but because I wasted money for nothing.

A lot has changed since then, from freshman year, in order to avoid the chaos of what was happening at home, with my parents emotionally unstable, I turned to a lot of extracurriculars, such as: Key Club, Pi Club, Chess Club, FBLA, Japanese Club, Astronomy, DECA, French Club, French Honors Society, and Chinese Club. After those were over, I would head over to our local parish and volunteer to help clean up, prepare for the next mass, and etc. I learned a higher sense of family through helping out ironically, outside my family. Sadly, I had to stop National Honors Society, and end my commitment with gymnastics and ballet both of ten years freshman year. Though, up after junior year, I have accumulated over 600 hours towards volunteer work, and around an additional 100 hours helping school teachers clean classrooms, and prepare for next lesson after club activities were over.

Alongside with that, I found my own closure by talking to foreign exchange students in other languages, especially with the Japanese foreign exchange student when the 2011 earthquake and tsunami hit Japan and helped her cope.

Even more recently, since health issues and getting help from outside forces was looked down upon within my family, I opposed my parents' opinions and finally got professional help within the school. From there, my issues were treated, and I negotiated with the teachers who were teaching the courses that troubled me the most, and got extra help. Now, I am re-taking the rigorous math course I struggled in junior year, and I am progressively getting the grades up to my standards/ability. It ultimately made me realize that I shouldn't be afraid when I am in dire need of help.

I am glad to address this now, as I have grown significantly from the previous years of struggle. Again, I understand that GPA and standardized test scores are a major factor, even for a holistic approach; though I hope I can prove myself in college my true abilities, and even exceed my limits to study my passion and what I can truly bring out my best in USC."
Proran 4 / 17 5  
Dec 12, 2012   #2
Show, not tell. You make a sweeping statement that your GPA and SAT are inaccurate representations of your skill. I would advise removing it.

The admissions officers will notice that you have had several life impacting events and have preserved through them, reminding them of a failure is not the best way to go.

That said, good luck. You seem to have made the best of a sorry situation!

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