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Personal Statement Topics?

confused13confused13 Registered User Posts: 84 Junior Member
edited October 2008 in College Essays
Prompt: "Describe the world you come from — for example, your family, community or school — and tell us how your world has shaped your dreams and aspirations."

I don't have a remarkable socioeconomic background, no story of my parents coming from the third world so I could succeed, etc.

Someone recommended I talk about my religion/culture as it's relatively unique and it's a big part of my life. (I am a Muslim)

However I'm not sure how to go about that.
One angle is that my religion and/or culture (they're sort of intertwined, so I don't know which one to use) don't encourage women to go to elite colleges and get fancy jobs because it's better for them to stay home and be wives and mothers. The only way I can use that to say how it shaped my aspirations is to say that my religious/cultural community, family, etc. isn't pushing me to succeed. I really want to get the best education possible for myself, and not because anyone's telling me to. I could probably quit school and get married and do just fine, but I want to do better, so I think it takes a lot of motivation and desire to want something that your religion/culture/background says you don't really need. However I want to do this without sounding like I'm rejecting my religion/culture and whatnot, because like I said it's important to me, and it's a big part of my life.

Is religion too taboo?
Any suggestions?
Post edited by confused13 on

Replies to: Personal Statement Topics?

  • ADadADad Registered User Posts: 4,920 Senior Member
    Your suggested plan sounds reasonable to me.

    What imo is "taboo" about religion in a college essay is being argumentative, self-righteous, intolerant of others. Imo there's nothing wrong with showing a connection between your religion and your life-forming decisions.
  • confused13confused13 Registered User Posts: 84 Junior Member
    any other opinions?
    and do you think it's a good topic? I'm really not sure what else to do because my "the world I come from" isn't remarkable or anything.
  • ADadADad Registered User Posts: 4,920 Senior Member
    You don't have to have done anything remarkable to write a personal, detailed, honest and revealing essay. The AdCom just wants to know you better, to get a sense of what sort of presence you would bring to the classroom, to the dorm, to the campus. See

    U.Va. Office of Admission Essays

    I do think that it is a good topic. However, the best topic for you is the one that allows you to be, as I said, the most personal, detailed, honest and revealing. Only you would know what that best topic might be; perhaps this is it.

    If this topic feels that way to you, then imo try it out. Prepare a draft or part thereof and see how that draft feels to you in a day or two.
  • MimanchiMimanchi Registered User Posts: 112 Junior Member
    I say go ahead with it. Write a draft like others has said. What u r going to write about, in my opinion, shows how you differentiate yourself in society, prove your stance, challenge but not disparage. America is a free country, I would not think that topic would be a taboo. All the best! ;)
  • confused13confused13 Registered User Posts: 84 Junior Member
    I recently came up with a different topic that might work, but I'm not sure. How does it sound?

    I'm applying as a bio major and I want to go into medicine.
    In this case I would go for the "family" aspect of my background, because my father is a doctor and so it's the first real career I've been exposed to. So I've kind of grown up spending time in hospitals and such, and I've observed a few surgeries that I found fascinating. I suppose the major trait this demonstrates is my curiosity, which is a big driving force behind my aspirations.

    It may seem like I blindly decided to do medicine just because of that, but really I went through a few years where I very seriously wanted to go into law (I'm president of my mock trial team and I love it). But after a lot of thought and many experiences I picked medicine.
  • ADadADad Registered User Posts: 4,920 Senior Member
    The more specific, credible details you give about your medical experiences, the more persuasive the essay can be imo.
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