Because of the circumstances of my childhood, and the poverty in which I grew up, I was not afforded the chance to get a good early start on my education. In the 1990s, when civil war began to ravage my home country of Sierra Leone, my family and I fled to neighboring Guinea in order to escape the fighting. We were not given much in the refugee camp in which we stayed; conditions were harsh, and we were much more focused on getting food and water than pursuing my education. My parents lost everything because of our flight from our home, and because of this my parents were not able to send me to school - necessities for living became much more important. My mother and father both took odd jobs, while I did all of the housework starting at age 9. Life was extremely hard for all of us, and we worked hard just to survive. Because of these conditions, education as a priority fell by the wayside.
It was only later than I learned the importance of early childhood education, which impacted by academic skills later on in life. Levels of oral and written language comprehension and composition are extremely low, and current techniques to promote early literacy are failing. Illiteracy rates are increasing more and more among children in America for a variety of reasons, from low income to illiteracy among parents, and especially ineffective teaching methods among education professionals (Allor & McCathren, 2003). Even today, a year's class of children who do not receive a full education (and/or drop out) end up costing more than $200 billion in their lifetime due to lost earnings and tax revenue that is unrealized (Catterall, 1985). Early setbacks in education have a substantial effect on later development and school achievement; proper development of literacy and language allows the transition to school, as well as their reading ability, to be more successful (Wasik, Bond, & Hindman, 2006). These factors are a persistent problem even in the United States; once I had studied that subject, I understood the difficulties I had once my education truly began.
These classes were extremely tough; I found myself frustrated and unable to interpret many of the words I was exposed to at first, but I eventually learned and graduated to real 9th grade classes. Due to the aforementioned lack of early education development I had as a child, I still struggled a great deal; I was competing with students who had known English all their lives for the same grades. At the same time, I was highly motivated to succeed - I was extremely grateful for the opportunities I had, and I never forgot where I came from. Having struggled so hard in my early life, giving up school to help take care of my family and survive, I made sure to not squander the chances that I got. I ended up graduating with a 2.3 GPA; this may not be an ideal GPA, but I consider it to be a point of pride given what I have gone through to get it - I caught up with twelve years of education in four years, with no early childhood education and no study skills to speak of.
Given these humble beginnings, I am very proud of the progress I have experienced in college thus far. My academic skills grew substantially in high school, and carried over to college; currently, I have one of the highest GPAs in my class, and have earned a place on the president's list. While I am proud of these accomplishments, now that I am certain I wish to go into an Economics program, I wish to transfer to a place that offers this major to me - I believe NYU is that place. I have come from virtually nothing, and learned how to acquire an adult education three times as quickly as others have had to learn; now that I am putting my substantial academic skills to good use, I would like to make sure I have the opportunity to use these skills in a program I am passionate about. With the Economics program at NYU, I am certain that passion will enhance my zeal for learning.
Allor, J., & McCathren, R. Developing emergent literacy skills through storybook reading. Intervention in School and Clinic, 39(2), 72-79. 2003.
Catterall, J. S. On the social costs of dropping out of schools. (Report No. 86-SEPT-3). Stanford, CA: Stanford University, Center for Educational Research. 1985.
Wasik, B., Bond, M. A., & Hindman, A. The Effects of a language and literacy intervention on Head Start children and teachers.. Journal of Educational Psychology, 98(1), 63-74. 2006.