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Identity – Harvard Admissions Essay Sample – UNEDITED

Note: This essay appears unedited for instructional purposes. Essays edited by EssayEdge are substantially better than this essay. For samples of EssayEdge editing, please click here.

Like many Saudi Arabians, I consider my family an extremely significant part of my life. Being the sixth child out of seven, I have been fortunate enough to be surrounded by a loyal, encouraging family throughout my life. Consequently, I believe nothing has affected me more than the support of my family.

The strong loyalty within my family has allowed me to overcome several obstacles. Of these hardships, two stand out in particular. First, as a member of a traditional Saudi Arabian family in the United States, I was forced to juggle American and Saudi culture throughout most of my life. However, because of the strong support from my family, I have managed to balance the two contrasting cultures. As a result, this support has allowed me to maintain my Saudi heritage while interacting within American culture. The second, and most important, obstacle I have overcome with the help of my family is my lack of a father. My father, currently living in Saudi Arabia, moved there when I was three years old. To compensate for his absence, my four oldest siblings (currently 33, 31, 30, and 27) filled the vacant paternal role in my upbringing. Through this act, my siblings, whom I now regard as surrogate parents, not only raised me successfully, but also instilled in me a sense of strong familial loyalty.

In addition to helping me overcome several major obstacles, the strong loyalty within my family has also affected many parts of my character. One effect of these familial bonds is the sense of selflessness which they have ingrained in me. By constantly witnessing my siblings putting the needs of the family ahead of their own, I learned to do the same. This sense of selflessness has motivated me to help others outside of the family as well. Along with selflessness, the loyalty within my family has given me self-confidence. This self-confidence, stemming from years of trust and support, has allowed me to experiment with many different ideas throughout my life, gaining knowledge along the way. Moreover, this self-confidence is responsible for my optimistic outlook and general feeling of joy.

In conclusion, I believe nothing has benefited me more than the support and loyalty within my family. Consequently, my feelings of loyalty have spread to include not only my family, but also my friends, my school, and my community. At Harvard, I sincerely hope to provide others with the same type of bond which has meant so much to me.

Comments by Admissions Officers who Assisted in the Creation of this Course

The reason that the admissions officers gave for giving this essay a low ranking is that it is impersonal and “doesn’t reveal much about the writer.” Though the writer asserts that he has a number of qualities that he learned from his family (self-confidence and the ability to straddle two cultures, for example) he never backs up these claims with any evidence. He would have vastly improved his piece had he chosen only one quality to focus on and then demonstrated how his family fostered it. How exactly does he straddle two cultures? Illustrating the differences between the two could have made for a fascinating piece.

This essay doesn’t tell me much about what this student will bring to the campus community. I presume that he wants us to understand that the values he acquired through his family will generalize to his life at college. All that it tells me, however, is that he considers himself a nice person.

I have always been a bit leery of essays that stress so much the loyalty to one’s family. College is a time for loosening ties to family somewhat, and learning to think and act independently. Please understand that I am not, by any means, criticizing love and loyalty to one’s family. But an admission officer will want to feel sure that the applicant will be able to establish a vibrant life in an environment far removed from the immediate family.

This essay is one idea restated over and over again. I understand that it was written by an E.S.L. applicant. But that’s no excuse for this repetitious writing.

The topic of the essay could have been expanded and explored far more deeply.

It’s too bad, if the student had taken more time to create a solid piece, it could have been quite interesting to read. Instead it falls far short of the mark.

Note: This essay appears unedited for instructional purposes. Essays edited by EssayEdge are substantially better than this essay. For samples of EssayEdge editing, please click here.

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