Understanding the Phrase Non-Traditional Background

Oftentimes, when you read about personal statements and admission essays, you will come across the phrase “non-traditional background”. With such a broad and subjective phrase, it can be hard to figure out exactly what people mean by “non-traditional background”. If you plan on writing an exceptional admission essay, however, it helps to know what such terms mean. Read on to learn about what a non-traditional background is and what it has to do with your essay.

The basic meaning of the phrase

Typically, coming from a non-traditional background means that there is something about your upbringing or your overall life experience that is not “normal” (for lack of a better word). Some typical examples of a non-traditional background include being part of an ethnic minority, having to deal with a debilitating disability, or coming from impoverished backgrounds. Aside from these examples, a non-traditional background can also be one wherein you were raised by a single parent, you had to overcome a serious addiction, or you have been a working student since your younger years.

What does this have to do with my admission essay?

One of the things that many colleges and universities are trying to do these days is to diversify their student body. Those who come from a non-traditional background contribute greatly to having a diverse student body, because these are people who have unique life experiences that have helped to shape their character and personality. You may also notice that many admission essay questions ask about difficult times in your life or times when you have succeeded despite adversity. These types of questions seek to coax out of you those experiences in your life that may be interpreted as having come from a non-traditional background. Remember that when writing about coming from a non-traditional background, you should always focus on positive aspects instead of dwelling on the negative. This shows your resilience, character, and optimism.

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