The Common Application, and some other applications, offer a place for "additional information." For students whose parents suffer from a major disability that has influenced the student's life significantly or have dealt with circumstances such as unemployment, it can be helpful to mention this. But it's important to focus on the effect these circumstances have had on the student's life, and to be factual and concise.
Here are some examples, shared by Tara Anne Dowling, Director of College Counseling at Rocky Hill School (quoted with permission).
I would like the admission committee to know that my younger brother has spina bifida and my family and I devote a considerable amount of our free time to his care and trips to the doctor. It also means that my mother has not been able to work outside of our home since he was born.
In 2018 my father suffered a series of strokes which left him partially paralyzed and with severe cognitive impairment. He was obviously unable to continue his career as a professor at the local university. With the help of many therapists and medical professionals my father has slowly gained back some of his faculties, but it is rare that he is left at home alone. My mother and my brother and I are typically by his side making sure he has what he needs and that he is safe. For the first half of 2018 while my father’s condition was critical my mother was unable to work at all.
My mother is a beautiful, warm, and passionate person. Sadly, she also suffers from schizophrenia which she allows to be treated only periodically with medication. She is rarely able to hold a job for more than a few months at a time, and our family depends on my father’s job driving heavy equipment for the city for income as well as insurance. Dad isn’t able to take time off on those days or long periods of time when mom needs extra attention. My sister and I have taken over household chores and bill paying to fill in some of the gaps.
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