Is my essay a sob story or an inspiration piece?

For my coalition essay I’m planning to write a story about maturing through the tragedies over the course of my life. The story will start off with my mother being diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer, while I was in elementary school. At such a young age, I was unable take the new responsibilties, so my father had violently forced them upon me. Then, in middle school my mother passed away leading me to realize that I had to take on the new responsibilities. In high school, my family went homeless due to financial issues. The lost of a home and business breaks my dad leading to a declining morals for the family. The story basically cycles itself as I realized that I had to take the role as the face of the household, which reversed the role between me and my father. Now that I was in my father’s role. I attempted to convince my sister to grow up. She believed that the situation was unjust for her as I had in elementary school. Instead of using violence, I used a monologue to explain that we had to be better than our peers. She finally understood and our family ended up pulling our selves out of homeless situation. I conclude by explaining how I originally wanted to become an oncologist to help families will go through the same ordeal I’ve gone through. However after going homeless, I work up the courage to quit swimming in order to pursue my true passion in engineering. As I believe that I can create medical devices that will assist doctors around the world allowing me to impact the lives of millions of people.

I believe that the tradegies within my didn’t negatively impact me now as I didn’t adopt a defeatist mentality. It’s quite the opposite, an individual as I was still able to maintain A’s in all my 15 AP classes. I’ve also taken higher level mathmatics courses at a local community college that wasn’t offered by my school. COVID-19 pandemic caused many offline school events to close down. However, I’ve adapted, and worked on some impressive online projects like building a rocket simulation from scratch[No framework or libraries] as an academic project. I also worked at a local start-up as an engineer/technician.

I don’t want the essay come off a sob story. Instead I want it to be an inspirational story that fits well with my other essays. The story should start the admission officers with a good impression of me. Feel free to critique my essay plan, so that it can be at it’s best form.

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The tone you’re gonna want to go for is perseverance and confidence. Don’t talk too much about how painful it was to experience these things, but speak about how hard you worked to overcome them and how it’s shaped your character to who you are today.

Best of luck to you and hopefully everything goes well! I’m so sorry to hear about what you’ve gone through, but from what I’ve read you seem like an extremely strong person. You’d be a great addition to any college you apply/applied to.

I don’t like it and in fact stopped reading after the first 8 sentences or so. You have had a tough life but talking about your violent dad and his declining morals in your essay is not a good idea.

edited to add that I hope you are able to discuss these issues with adults in your life.


Of course, it depends how you write it, but I think it is an amazing topic and has the potential to differentiate you from all others. Good luck with it.

I think mother passing, family issues, homelessness and overcoming it all (the main part) might be exceptional. Not sure I would focus much on cancer and your father issues.

There are some amazing pieces in there, pick a few to focus on in a positive manner and you have a winner. You can maybe highlight some of the other things in other parts of the application. It almost comes off as fabricated, so be careful on that level.

It really does depend on how you write it. Parts of what you wrote are not clear, or, sorry articulate. What do you mean when you write that your father forced responsibilities “violently”? Did he beat you if you didn’t cook dinner?

The other thing is- and believe me this is not uncommon- be careful about writing about curing cancer or creating miraculous medical devices that will “assist doctors around the world and impact the lives of millions of people.” You want to avoid sounding grandiose (or immature).

The accomplishments you have listed are truly remarkable given your background. AP’s, math at CC and especially the self-motivated rocket simulation and work at local start-up. Are these listed in other parts of your application?

Don’t forget the supplementary essay that lets you tell schools something they don’t know about you. You could always write about your mother’s cancer and death, your homelessness and early responsibilities in a separate supplementary essay too. Up to you.

I shrunk the adversity portion down to 20% and spent the last 80%

  • explaining how I overcome my adversity
  • what I’ve done in relationship to my adversity
  • the need to be humbled once in a while in order to reinvigorate the drive to do better
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I don’t like essays with death, disease, depression, divorcee, or debt as topics. You have multiple of them