Preparing for College

How do I Explain My "Extenuating Circumstances" without Sounding like Debbie Downer?

Question: I'm a high school senior who has applied to a wide array of colleges--from Tennessee Tech to Emory--and many of the essays that colleges have asked me to write have involved my "extenuating circumstances." I have plenty. I live in a warehouse, my mother works four jobs and has no health insurance to pay for her diabetes medication, and I have no money for college. However, writing about these things makes me worry that I'm either depressing or boring the admissions counselors. I don't want to sound like a Debbie Downer. I'm thankful for many things and I'm full of hope. However, I can't lie to the counselors. What do I do?

Sorry to hear about your "extenuating circumstances." High school is tough enough without them. You should definitely explain your situation to admission committees, whether it's in a primary essay, in an unsolicited extra essay or letter, or via the "Additional Information" section of your applications.

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