You may have served as a caretaker for younger siblings, nieces, and nephews

Childcare responsibilities

Caring for kids can take a toll on your ability to participate in extracurricular activities, study for tests, and finish homework on time.

My single mother works two jobs. I have spent 6 hours every day caring for my two siblings after school since I was 14. Unfortunately, I am not able to participate in extracurricular activities because I need to leave school early enough to pick up my siblings from the bus stop. Nevertheless, caring for my siblings has helped me become a leader, as I need to make ent and well-being.

English as a second language (ESL)

If you have grown up in a household where English is not the primary language, you might want to explain briefly how this impacted your education.

I was born in Mexico, where I grew up speaking Spanish with my parents. In fifth grade, we moved to the United States. Because I did not know much English, I struggled throughout middle school to learn vocabulary and grammar, as well as math, science, and social studies. While I continued to struggle and received a C in English during freshman year, I worked hard to improve my writing, grammar, and vocabulary to earn A’s my sophomore and at the end of my junior year.


Commuting long distances to and from school may have been stressful for you, whether it’s an hour on the subway from Brooklyn to the Bronx or an hour by car in rural Montana. Therefore, you should include a description of a long commute in the Additional Information section to provide adcoms context around why you may have pursued fewer extracurricular activities.

Commuting to school by bus from central New Jersey to Philadelphia 90 minutes each way, 5 days each week made it difficult to participate in more than 2–3 demanding extracurricular activities.

Moving or changing schools

Moving to a new city or state or changing schools in the middle of high school can academically and socially impact your educational experience. Therefore, you should note whether a significant move impacted your grades or the classes you could take.

My stepdad’s work required our family to relocate from Illinois to Indiana in semester as I adjusted to my new school. Moreover, Japanese was not offered at my new school, so I started taking Spanish instead.

Physical health problems

From a diagnosed chronic illness to a month-long bout of mono, health problems can impact your life socially, psychologically, financially, and academically. If you were in the hospital or at home for a long time, make sure to explain for how long and when.

In , I was diagnosed with epilepsy. Though I continue to receive treatment, I am often sleep deprived, which makes it difficult to focus in class. I especially struggled with my morning classes during freshman and sophomore year, when I often overslept and arrived late to first period. As a result, my first-period grades those years (biology and chemistry) were noticeably lower than the rest of my grades.

I contracted a rare form of cellulitis during my junior year and stayed home sick for three weeks in October. I had to give up varsity soccer as a result. This was especially difficult for me as I have been playing soccer since I was five years old and was on track to becoming the team captain during senior year.

Mental health conditions

While many students experience a single depressive episode or periodic difficulties with anxiety during high school, others struggle with more chronic, recurrent, or severe forms of these conditions and others. If you have been diagnosed with clinical depression, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, or any other mental health condition, you might want to take a moment to describe how this impacted your academics and life.

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