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'My sister and I were born in Morocco' - Letter of special circumstances for college

soufianelaouad 3 / 29  
Dec 22, 2011   #1

My twin sister and I were born in Morocco. When we were three years old, our father left us to come to the United States for a better future. Shortly thereafter, he severed all connection with us, took on another wife, and abandoned us for a different life. We had no relationship with him growing up and were raised by our mother. Despite the distance, my mother tried hard to build a relationship between us and our father. Since she contributed substantially to his move, he decided to allow us to attend high school in the United States. Two years ago, we moved here to pursue our dream of a better education and life. We were 15. We were not sure what to expect, especially since we were moving in with a stranger.

Not long after we arrived, we started experiencing problems with our father. He had no warmth or compassion for us. After a year, he decided to abandon us. We still lived with him due to legal constraints, but he relinquished all parental duties: he stopped buying food for us and told us we needed to fend for ourselves. He removed us from his health insurance and made it clear we needed to move out when we turned 18. We were unemployed and also attending school full-time. Since we couldn't afford our own groceries, the free meals at school became our main source of food. At night we often went hungry. Out of spite, my father withdrew our computer access at home. Doing my Advanced Placement class homework became nearly impossible. My father cut us out of his life and mind. He did not care if we were hungry. He did not care how we performed at school.

Stranded, desperate, and unable to take care of ourselves, my sister and I both applied for jobs. She now works at DSW Shoe Warehouse and I work minimum wage at Papa John's Pizza in St. Louis Park. I work 25 to 30 hours a week in order to survive while also attending school full-time.

In addition to child neglect, my father engages in child abuse: he is often verbally and emotionally abusive towards us. Along with his frequent threats of abandonment, he refused my sister a key to the apartment and there were several times he kept her locked out. She would then leave and stay with friends. When I tried to defend my sister from him, he physically attacked me. We come from a culture where it is the duty of the male to protect women. My sister has no one in her life but me, her twin brother, and I feel entirely responsible for her safety. Our situation was noticed by some of our close friends at school and their parents. They reported our father twice to the Hennepin County Child Services as a perpetrator of child neglect and abuse. These cases were forwarded to the St. Louis Park Police Department. Thus far, nothing has been done to improve our living situation.

Despite this environment and my extreme work hours, I maintain a strong GPA at school. I also try to involve myself in extracurricular activities: I am a member of the Boy's Varsity Tennis Team and have been recognized for my leadership skills by being selected the team captain for the next season. The biggest weakness in my educational background is the ACT, which I took in October 2011. I didn't have the time or the means to prepare adequately for it. The English and Reading sections are my weakest areas, which is not surprising since English is my third language after Arabic and French. It pleased me that I did well in the Math and Science sections since I intend to major in Engineering at college I am currently studying hard to retake the ACT on Dec 10, 2011.

There have been times when I have felt so completely helpless and downhearted these past two years. My goal of succeeding in this country started to look unachievable. I could leave the U.S. and return to Morocco, but my prospects of a good life and career there would be very limited.

The only way out of this life of despair is college. You hold my life, my future, in your hands. I appeal to you to give me a chance and throw me a lifeline. I appeal to you to consider my special circumstances as you evaluate my candidacy for the University of Minnesota.

* * *
jbauer 1 / 5  
Dec 22, 2011   #2
I understand it is a letter of special circumstances and I feel for you. I think it was written well, however you might want to re-think the sentence at the end: "you hold my life, my future, in your hands." I think it might be a little too much. It would end just as well if you removed it.

This is only my opinion. Good luck and God bless.
ZhoeK 5 / 173  
Dec 22, 2011   #3
I agree completely with Joseph, it is too much. But otherwise it was excellently written, your not bad for English being your third language. Good luck!
winnie0603 2 / 8  
Dec 22, 2011   #4
Consider combining your first and second paragraph together because I see alot of overlaps.
Also, you don't have to deliberately point out your weakness but say something like "due to my involvement in extracracular activities, jobs, and keeping up in school, I didn't have as much preparation for the ACT" ---just my own opinion though.

Could you take a look at mine too? Thanks.
m7md 4 / 16  
Jan 3, 2012   #5
change "his move" at the begining to our move
otherwise great job but what prompt are you writing this for? but anyway its nice just read a few more times to make sure everything is in place

please read my essay and comment
thank you
sonya15 4 / 29  
Jan 3, 2012   #6
This is beyond well-written. Any low scores you had on the Reading/Writing ACT are not consistent with your writing. The only thing is, you took the ACT already, right? December 10th has passed. Say that you already took it and are sending the scores to Stanford.

Mind reading mine? Thanks!
saurabh93 11 / 94  
Jan 3, 2012   #7
It's always a good idea to talk about your special circumstances when given the chance, and you've done so very nicely. You also did well with your appeals in the end
janeth 3 / 16  
Jan 5, 2012   #8
HONESTLY, I think for what has impacted you...you can write a better essay.The essay is dry in a way, you don't really say anything outside your mother and common purdue endowments...this is what i think

so basically,
wanting security is Good, but it's not enough to make an excellent student..What specifically spurred you to engineering ,which event or role model or profitable project that is both interesting, educational and profitable...I think you should merge these. First tell us how your interest developed

secondly,Purdue knows it's qualities.They want to know now what you want out of their program!! it's a top engineering school..so maybe explian that since you came to US you hav e strived for the best education.You have studied in schools which are exceptional and you understand value of good education hence purdue's top engineering program.

So...you are a diverse student,is one of purdue's emphasis in diversity..If it is develop this from your point first..maybe you want to be an international engineer..say if you want to be a civil engineer,you hope to advance Morocco in building technology.Say,if Morroco is the doors Africa,you could be an international entrepreneur who is a door to africa's buildings development or whatever you can say in engineering language.

Tru a version in this format then I can edit it again.
phhai 7 / 25  
Jan 5, 2012   #9
I am kinda agree with janeth. This essay sounds a bit lighthearted . However, since you have a cultural background, you should elaborate more on that one
OP soufianelaouad 3 / 29  
Jan 5, 2012   #10
Thank you janeth i will have a better version by the en of the day for you thanks a lot guys
ArizonaT 3 / 8  
Jan 5, 2012   #11
I like your introduction because it gives me a visual of your past. I would add a comma after years in the 2nd sentece. I would break down your 3rd sentence into two separate sentences, and I would say something about how she sacrificed her whole life instead of the expense she had to pay.

I feel like your 2nd paragraph can be omitted because it kind of goes off topic. I had a feeling as if I was reading like a wikipedia on USA's education when I read it.

"I aim to become somewhat an international engineer in the future" I wouldn't use "somewhat" and what do you mean an international engineer? Someone that works overseas or someone that is famous? I would say something like "I asipre to be an engineer in the near future..."

It would be nice to add a better trasitional word between these two sentences:"As a minority applying to the College of Engineering, I aspire to join the Minority Engineering Program. Morocco is a country where various cultures meet. " When I came across these two I was like "wait? what happened to the part I was reading?" and I was a bit confused till the end when you put "I want to bring my culture, my knowledge and skills to this program."

Get rid of "Another aspect of Purdue that immediately drew me to the university is that it has been known to produce some of the most influential alumni in the field of technology. One of these alumni is Neil Armstrong. His accomplishments not only advanced the field of aerospace science and technology, but also moved the world." in the end, because you go off topic. You are asked to write how Purdue will help you achieve your goals, not brag about someone.

Other than that I would say your essay is pretty good!
Also, you don't have to change what I had to say! I'm just giving you my opinions!
anyways, goodluck!
OP soufianelaouad 3 / 29  
Jan 7, 2012   #12
Describe how a Purdue education will help you achieve your personal and/or profession

I still remember that fateful day back in 2009 when my twin sister and I boarded a plane from Morocco to the United States. We were 15. It was our first time on a plane. Burned in my brain was the expression on my mother's face: anxiety, hope, happiness, sadness, love, a confluence of emotion amidst a sea of tears. She had committed the ultimate selfless act: a mother giving up her children for a better future not knowing when/if she would ever see us again while we were still children. It was an act of heart-rending pain for us too. For all practical purposes, we were giving up our mother, the only parent we had known.

My first priority in life today is to get a college education. So much have we sacrificed in our quest for a better education. My background is one of such hardship and deprivation. College is my only way out.

The past few years I have spent in high school opened me to new opportunities, such as being captain of the tennis team and working part-time at a pizza shop. I acquired a balance between academic and social activities. In college I will be able to continue this at an even larger scale. The combination of knowledge acquisition and the social experience really entices me.

The stepping stone to a better and fuller life, one where I could reach for the stars and realize my fullest potential, is college. My academic goal is to study engineering, potentially electrical or mechanical engineering, and later pursue these interests at the graduate level. Purdue has a renowned engineering program at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

I feel naturally drawn to engineering disciplines for a variety of reasons. All of engineering is predicated on mathematics. Engineering is the direct real-world application of mathematical concepts to find solutions to real-world problems. Math is my favorite subject; it helps that I am a straight A student in it. There is a universality to it that I find seductive. It transcends language barriers like no other academic subject can and is not so reliant on the medium of instruction. This is what naturally drew me to math here in the U.S. since English is my 3rd language, after Arabic and French. Pursuing engineering in college keeps mathematics as my central academic core, while I work towards undergraduate and graduate degrees that have great relevance to the real-world and are also highly employable. Other hallmarks that I believe would make me an excellent engineer is that I have a highly analytical and inquiring mind, always curious to know how the world around me works. I feel driven to find solutions when confronted with problems, even seemingly mundane ones like technology problems that confound our lives. The daily work of an engineer is to employ his or her analytical mind to find solutions to complex problems.

The size of a university also matters a lot to me. A larger institution like Purdue, with its graduate program, permits greater opportunities for growth and scholarship. It allows for a greater diversity in the interplay of ideas that makes a university truly unique. Academic scholarship does not occur in a vacuum. It requires close collaboration and a free, diverse exchange of ideas in order to push the limits of knowledge. Faculty plays perhaps the most significant role in a student's academic experience and Purdue's engineering program has gifted, accomplished faculty from around the world. Of course, an exceptional faculty with the greatest minds would be wasted if they taught courses with very large class sizes. It is one of Purdue's goals to deliberately maintain a low student-to-faculty ratio of 14:1 which is one of the best I've seen amongst the larger research institutions in the nation.

It was heart-warming for me to see that Purdue values diversity and makes a very concerted attempt to recruit for it. Your engineering school has established the Minority Engineering Program (MEP), which seeks students from underrepresented minority backgrounds. Being of African descent, it is only natural for me to gravitate to a school where I would feel valued for my ideas, my diversity, and for who I am.

If Purdue were to grant me admission, you would be rewarded with a hard-working, intelligent student who contributes to the university and furthers your academic enterprise. You would be making my dreams come true and throwing me a lifeline, especially considering the hardships I have had to endure in my life (Further details are in my enclosed Letter of Special Circumstance).


( My teacher had an idea: what if my mom (in my imagination) atteded my college graduation. it could also include that will be the first i will be seeing her in probably 5 years , because i wont be able to go back as an undergrad, because i dont have any money and she doesnt either).
Nana12 3 / 12  
Jan 7, 2012   #13
This is a really good essay. A few grammatical errors, but nothing big. The paragraph before the last paragraph needs to be revised. You have to think in terms of advertising yourself, not "hoping" they will accept you. You should say something along the lines of what you would contribute, rather than them being rewarded. Otherwise great essay. I think that conclusion is fine, if you come up with a completed conclusion, I will be happy to look at it for you.
kupatange - / 1  
Jan 7, 2012   #14
Very good essay. You have calm yet assertive tone and make your case well. Your anecdote, though, between the first and second paragraphs need to link together a little more, like how you stepped into a whole new world by leaving your home and mother. Just like a sentence or two on that. Then, everything else transitions well from that. It would sort of be a small bridge between two cliffs, if you get what I'm saying.

Some grammar mistakes, but nothing too significant. Good job, I think this is a very nice essay.
ItsokaytoGaga 15 / 96  
Jan 7, 2012   #15
Your essay is very well written. But it sounds a bit self-important when you talk about your achievements and also the hardships you've been through. Please don't mind me, I don't in any way wish to diminish or devalue the problems you've faced.

Your English is great for a third language! I can understand the difficulties in learning a new language. French is my fourth language, and I really wish to perfect it someday and speak well.

Other than that, it is heart-rendering to know what your mother did to secure a better future for you and your sister. I think if you could incorporate your teacher's idea and the reasons for you wanting to attend Purdue, your essay would truly stand out. There are many people who have faced such adversities that only make ours look smaller. It would really help your essay to show how you wish to overcome it by 'repaying' (if that word exists in a mother's dictionary) your mother by obtaining a worthwhile college education and become a better son.

Good Luck! And good job! :)

I would really appreciate if you looked at both my threads and left a comment. I could really use help reviewing my essays. Thanks a ton!

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