Contrasting Lives | University of Michigan – Ann Arbor Undergraduate Application Essay

$10 million villas in gated compounds rest side-by-side with $10,000 brick village houses. On the streets leading to these communities are BMWs and Porsches, and also rusty bicycles and decades-old Chinese cars. Farther down the street is the International School, its state of the art facilities taking up about the same area as the entire village, which contains three schools crammed with students.

I was fortunate enough to be born into a privileged family, living in one of the gated communities, commuting in one of the BMWs, and attending the International School of Beijing. But the village houses and rusty bicycles are a spitting image of my parents’ childhoods. They lived through tough times, but worked hard and created the life they desired. Through perseverance, they earned the means to lift themselves ever higher. I always bear in mind that I could have easily been living in that run-down village across the street if not for the vision of my parents. As a result, I steer my actions towards where I see my future: not sitting idly by and taking the easy way out, but constantly pushing to improve myself; not looking down on the life that could have been mine, but meaningfully contributing to the ascent of the less fortunate…

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