OK, so this post ended up getting too long (i.e. I talk too much and can't get straight to the point), but for those interested in continuing reading, I'd like to thank you all in advance for persevering and reading all the way through!
OK, so my situation is a bit unique or at least it's not very common which is why I decided to create my own post on this.
I'm currently a community college student majoring in General Studies. I plan on obtaining my associates in May 2017, with intentions of transferring in Fall 2017. I'm already looking at colleges and am trying to get a head-start on my personal statement for the Common App (the generic "why transfer" that will be sent to all colleges), but I'm at a halt because I cannot think of the right direction to go with this essay because of some academic complications I experienced in the past.
But first my background: born and raised in the US to immigrant parents (first parent didn't complete secondary school, second parent didn't complete primary school) which makes me first-gen college student.
My education history, in chronological order:
I went to the same private school my entire life (it was not prestigious or elite by any means--seriously. Total school enrollment was around 200 students and my classes were held in old trailers). Classes went up to 8th grade, but the year I graduated from 8th grade, finally ready to leave this school, they decided to add a high school. Naturally, my parents insisted that I had to go there (2009 - 2010). Total high school enrollment: 6 students. Only electives offered were religious studies, one language, and art (since these were our only options, we had no choice but to take them). I had the same teacher teach 3 of my classes. Dissatisfied with my first year experience, I applied to a public, college prep high school in the city and got accepted for my sophomore year but my parents didn't want me to leave this school because they felt this school was safer and better. Going to my local high school wasn't an option for me because it had an even worse reputation and was considered "unsafe" because of past incidents that had occurred at the school, so I reluctantly finished my sophomore year at my old school (2010 - 2011).
At this point I was completely fed up with my school because of their limited resources and budget. The teachers were awful, and while I was on the honor roll for both years, I didn't feel intellectually challenged or inspired, and I had no academic freedom. The only option I could convince my parents with was online school for my junior year of high school (2011 - 2012). Even though it would cost less, my parents didn't want me to take this route and thought I was doing this out of rebellion. Anyway, I took honors classes and 2 APs. I completely misunderstood what "online school" was going to be like. They just threw a long list of a year's worth assignments at me to be done for 7 classes. Nothing was given in increments. There weren't any interactive ways (I was thinking there was going to be "live classes" or something like teaching via Skype) to contact my teachers besides email; teachers only existed for entering numbers (i.e. grades). Basically, I was on my own. By far, one of the worst decisions of my life. It was extremely difficult to transition to. In retrospect, I clearly lacked the discipline and time-management skills for committing to online school. But I still managed to do well in my classes, only problem was that as the school year came to an end, I was NO WHERE NEAR finished with any of my courses, so I couldn't get a grade for any of the work that I had done. They said they could give me a one-month extension but it was impossible to finish everything within one month.
What followed was a year of debilitating depression in what would have been my senior year (2013). I couldn't bring up school in any conversation because every time I did, my parents would immediately slap me with the "I told you so" lecture. I was too embarrassed to go back to my old school (ah karma) to repeat the 11th grade because I felt like everyone would judge and laugh at me. My self-esteem was at an all-time low and I kept myself cooped up in my room all the time that year, too embarrassed to leave the house, and too depressed and pessimistic to work on completing high school. Hearing about all my friends graduating high school and getting accepted into colleges made me realize how much of a failure and complete idiot I was. At 17, I thought my life was over.
Then, in the year that would have been my first year at college (Fall 2013, if I had graduated on time), I had to travel with my parents to a different country (Even though I was 17, they wouldn't let me stay by myself at home for 2 months). When I came back, nothing really changed. In retrospect I was being a bit overdramatic, but at the time I was totally convinced that my life was over and I had no chance of redeeming myself. My parents were begging me to just get a GED at this point, but I didn't want to even consider getting a GED because of the stigma it carried, especially because I was an honors student in high school and didn't want to become reduced to "some loser who had to get a GED."
I was a moron. I wish someone would have smacked some sense into me to make me realize just how wrong I was about making generalizations like that about the GED, and people who get GEDs.
I enrolled myself in college in Fall 2014 with no high-school diploma or GED, thinking I could redo online school to finish high-school and earn my diploma while simultaneously going to college in an effort to save time--I had already wasted too much. Eventually realizing that earning my high-school diploma was impossible like this, I finally decided to get my GED, which I earned in 2015.
I realize that I screwed up a lot. Continuously. Going to college helped me realize what an idiot I was for making a big deal out of the most absurd, trivial things like being reluctant to get a GED. Seriously, I was a joke. But I have grown so much as a person and honestly, I feel like the biggest mistake of my life was perhaps a blessing in disguise. I worked so hard during these past couple of years in college, earning a 3.8 overall GPA (4.0 if you only count college level courses). I think things ended up the way they did because I felt this immense pressure of having to prove to myself, to my parents, and to society and the world that despite being a minority and being one of the first in my family to complete high school, that I could achieve more than what would be expected of me. But my parents were the ones that encouraged me and gave me that push to pick myself back up and continue from where I left off. Otherwise, I pretty much lost all hope in myself.
So now, with ALL of that being said lol, how should I go about writing my personal statement? I'm definitely in no way going to talk about this entire story, but I was thinking of just incorporating how I earned my GED while in college without going into too much detail about why I didn't complete high school (I think talking about that will hurt me instead of helping me), and then from there I'll go on to talk about about my academic interests, etc etc. But should I even talk about my education interruptions at all in the personal statement, or just leave that to the section where we have to explain our education interruptions on the common app? Even on that section, how "detailed" should I be? Should I omit talking about certain things or delve more into my situation? I'm so confused and lost on how to approach this!
Oh and sorry if I posted this on the wrong discussion board; please let me know if there's a more appropriate discussion board where I can post this (I literally just joined a few hours ago lol).