But holding her hands, looking into her eyes, I could still smell that garlic. The moments of Saturday mornings remain ingrained in my mind. Grandma was an artist who painted the cabbages with strokes of red pepper. Like the sweet taste of kimchi, I hope to capture those memories in my keystrokes as I type away these words.
A piece of writing is more than just a piece of writing. It evokes. It inspires. It captures what time takes away. Mine will be these words. When I was very little, I caught the travel bug. It started after my grandparents first brought me to their home in France and I have now been to twenty-nine different countries. Each has given me a unique learning experience. When I was eight, I stood in the heart of Piazza San Marco feeding hordes of pigeons, then glided down Venetian waterways on sleek gondolas.
At thirteen, I saw the ancient, megalithic structure of Stonehenge and walked along the Great Wall of China, amazed that the thousand-year-old stones were still in place. It was through exploring cultures around the world that I first became interested in language.
It began with French, which taught me the importance of pronunciation. I remember once asking a store owner in Paris where Rue des Pyramides was. In the eighth grade, I became fascinated with Spanish and aware of its similarities with English through cognates. This was incredible to me as it made speech and comprehension more fluid, and even today I find that cognates come to the rescue when I forget how to say something in Spanish.
Then, in high school, I developed an enthusiasm for Chinese. As I studied Chinese at my school, I marveled how if just one stroke was missing from a character, the meaning is lost. I love spending hours at a time practicing the characters and I can feel the beauty and rhythm as I form them. Interestingly, after studying foreign languages, I was further intrigued by my native tongue. Through my love of books and fascination with developing a sesquipedalian lexicon learning big words , I began to expand my English vocabulary.
Studying the definitions prompted me to inquire about their origins, and suddenly I wanted to know all about etymology, the history of words. My freshman year I took a world history class and my love for history grew exponentially. To me, history is like a great novel, and it is especially fascinating because it took place in my own world. But the best dimension that language brought to my life is interpersonal connection. When I speak with people in their native language, I find I can connect with them on a more intimate level.
I want to study foreign language and linguistics in college because, in short, it is something that I know I will use and develop for the rest of my life. I will never stop traveling, so attaining fluency in foreign languages will only benefit me. In the future, I hope to use these skills as the foundation of my work, whether it is in international business, foreign diplomacy, or translation. Today, I still have the travel bug, and now, it seems, I am addicted to language too.
Click here for this student's amazing Instagram photos. This was written for a Common App college application essay prompt that no longer exists, which read: Evaluate a significant experience, risk, achievement, ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you. Smeared blood, shredded feathers. Clearly, the bird was dead. But wait, the slight fluctuation of its chest, the slow blinking of its shiny black eyes. No, it was alive. I had been typing an English essay when I heard my cat's loud meows and the flutter of wings.
I had turned slightly at the noise and had found the barely breathing bird in front of me. The shock came first. Mind racing, heart beating faster, blood draining from my face. I instinctively reached out my hand to hold it, like a long-lost keepsake from my youth. But then I remembered that birds had life, flesh, blood.
Within seconds, my reflexes kicked in. Get over the shock. Gloves, napkins, towels. How does one heal a bird? I rummaged through the house, keeping a wary eye on my cat. Donning yellow rubber gloves, I tentatively picked up the bird. Never mind the cat's hissing and protesting scratches, you need to save the bird. You need to ease its pain. But my mind was blank. I stroked the bird with a paper towel to clear away the blood, see the wound.
The wings were crumpled, the feet mangled. A large gash extended close to its jugular rendering its breathing shallow, unsteady. The rising and falling of its small breast slowed. Was the bird dying? No, please, not yet. The long drive, the green hills, the white church, the funeral. The Chinese mass, the resounding amens, the flower arrangements.
Me, crying silently, huddled in the corner. The Hsieh family huddled around the casket. So many apologies. Finally, the body lowered to rest. The body. Kari Hsieh. Still familiar, still tangible. Hugging Mrs. Hsieh, I was a ghost, a statue. My brain and my body competed. Emotion wrestled with fact. Kari was dead, I thought. My frantic actions heightened my senses, mobilized my spirit. Cupping the bird, I ran outside, hoping the cool air outdoors would suture every wound, cause the bird to miraculously fly away.
Yet there lay the bird in my hands, still gasping, still dying. Bird, human, human, bird. What was the difference? Both were the same. But couldn't I do something? Hold the bird longer, de-claw the cat? I wanted to go to my bedroom, confine myself to tears, replay my memories, never come out. The bird's warmth faded away. Its heartbeat slowed along with its breath.
For a long time, I stared thoughtlessly at it, so still in my hands. Slowly, I dug a small hole in the black earth. As it disappeared under handfuls of dirt, my own heart grew stronger, my own breath more steady. Kari has passed. But you are alive. I am alive. This essay could work for prompts 1, 2 and 7 for the Common App. From page 54 of the maroon notebook sitting on my mahogany desk:. I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth and whoever finds me will kill me.
Here is a secret that no one in my family knows: I shot my brother when I was six. Luckily, it was a BB gun. But to this day, my older brother Jonathan does not know who shot him. And I have finally promised myself to confess this eleven year old secret to him after I write this essay.
The truth is, I was always jealous of my brother. Our grandparents, with whom we lived as children in Daegu, a rural city in South Korea, showered my brother with endless accolades: he was bright, athletic, and charismatic. To me, Jon was just cocky. Deep down I knew I had to get the chip off my shoulder. Once we situated ourselves, our captain blew the pinkie whistle and the war began. My friend Min-young and I hid behind a willow tree, eagerly awaiting our orders.
To tip the tide of the war, I had to kill their captain. We infiltrated the enemy lines, narrowly dodging each attack. I quickly pulled my clueless friend back into the bush. Hearing us, the alarmed captain turned around: It was my brother. Startled, the Captain and his generals abandoned their post. Vengeance replaced my wish for heroism and I took off after the fleeing perpetrator.
My eyes just gazed at the fleeing object; what should I do? I looked on as my shivering hand reached for the canister of BBs. The next second, I heard two shots followed by a cry. I opened my eyes just enough to see two village men carrying my brother away from the warning sign. Days passed. My brother and I did not talk about the incident. But in the next few weeks, something was happening inside me.
That night when my brother was gone I went to a local store and bought a piece of chocolate taffy, his favorite. Several days later, I secretly went into his room and folded his unkempt pajamas. Then, other things began to change. I even ate fishcakes, which he loved but I hated.
Today, my brother is one of my closest friends. Every week I accompany him to Carlson Hospital where he receives treatment for his obsessive compulsive disorder and schizophrenia. After he leaves, I take out my notebook and begin writing where I left off. And Grace, my fears relieved For analysis of what makes this essay amazing , go here. Essay written for the "topic of your choice" prompt for the Common Application college application essays.
Bowing down to the porcelain god, I emptied the contents of my stomach. Foaming at the mouth, I was ready to pass out. Ten minutes prior, I had been eating dinner with my family at a Chinese restaurant, drinking chicken-feet soup. My mom had specifically asked the waitress if there were peanuts in it, because when I was two we found out that I am deathly allergic to them.
When the waitress replied no, I went for it. Suddenly I started scratching my neck, feeling the hives that had started to form. I rushed to the restroom to throw up because my throat was itchy and I felt a weight on my chest. I was experiencing anaphylactic shock, which prevented me from taking anything but shallow breaths.
I was fighting the one thing that is meant to protect me and keep me alive — my own body. All I knew was that I felt sick, and I was waiting for my mom to give me something to make it better. I thought my parents were superheroes; surely they would be able to make well again. But I became scared when I heard the fear in their voices as they rushed me to the ER. After that incident, I began to fear. I became scared of death, eating, and even my own body. Ultimately, that fear turned into resentment; I resented my body for making me an outsider.
In the years that followed, this experience and my regular visits to my allergy specialist inspired me to become an allergy specialist. Even though I was probably only ten at the time, I wanted to find a way to help kids like me. I wanted to find a solution so that nobody would have to feel the way I did; nobody deserved to feel that pain, fear, and resentment. This past summer, I took a month-long course on human immunology at Stanford University.
I learned about the different mechanisms and cells that our bodies use in order to fight off pathogens. My desire to major in biology in college has been stimulated by my fascination with the human body, its processes, and the desire to find a way to help people with allergies. To find out if your essay passes the Great College Essay Test like this one did, go here.
This essay could work for prompts 1, 2, 5 and 7 for the Common App. Watkins was the coordinator of the foreign exchange student program I was enrolled in. She had a nine year old son named Cody. I would babysit Cody every day after school for at least two to three hours. He would talk a lot about his friends and school life, and I would listen to him and ask him the meanings of certain words. He was my first friend in the New World. She had recently delivered a baby, so she was still in the hospital when I moved into their house.
The Martinez family did almost everything together. We made pizza together, watched Shrek on their cozy couch together, and went fishing on Sunday together. On rainy days, Michael, Jen and I would sit on the porch and listen to the rain, talking about our dreams and thoughts. Within two months I was calling them mom and dad. After I finished the exchange student program, I had the option of returning to Korea but I decided to stay in America. I wanted to see new places and meet different people.
After a few days of thorough investigation, I found the Struiksma family in California. They were a unique group. The host mom Shellie was a single mom who had two of her own sons and two Russian daughters that she had adopted. The kids always had something warm to eat, and were always on their best behavior at home and in school. In the living room were six or seven huge amplifiers and a gigantic chandelier hung from the high ceiling. The kitchen had a bar. At first, the non-stop visits from strangers made me nervous, but soon I got used to them.
I remember one night, a couple barged into my room while I was sleeping. It was awkward. In the nicest way possible, I told them I had to leave. They understood. The Ortiz family was my fourth family. Kimberly, the host mom, treated me the same way she treated her own son.
She made me do chores: I fixed dinner, fed their two dogs Sassy and Lady, and once a week I cleaned the bathroom. I also had to follow some rules: No food in my room, no using the family computer, no lights on after midnight, and no ride unless it was an emergency.
The first couple of months were really hard to get used to, but eventually I adjusted. I lived with the Ortiz family for seven months like a monk in the deep forest. It was unexpected and I only had a week to find a new host family. I asked my friend Danielle if I could live with her until I found a new home. The Dirksen family had three kids. They were all different.
Danielle liked bitter black coffee, Christian liked energy drinks, and Becca liked sweet lemon tea. After dinner, we would all play Wii Sports together. I was the king of bowling, and Dawn was the queen of tennis. Afterward, we would gather in the living room and Danielle would play the piano while the rest of us sang hymns. Of course, those 28 months were too short to fully understand all five families, but I learned from and was shaped by each of them. By teaching me English, nine year-old Cody taught me the importance of being able to learn from anyone; the Martinez family showed me the value of spending time together as a family; the Struiksma family taught me to reserve judgment about divorced women and adopted children; Mrs.
In short:. He buries a series of essence images in his first paragraphs one per family. When he reveals each lesson at the end, one after the other, we sense how all these seemingly random events are connected.
We realize this writer has been carefully constructing this piece all along; we see the underlying structure. Each of the first five paragraphs works to SHOW. See how distinct each family is? He does this through specific images and objects. Q: Why did he just show us all these details? A: To demonstrate what each family has taught him. He also goes one step further. Q: So what am I going to do with all these lessons? Identify your single greatest strength in this case, it was his ability to adapt to whatever life gave him.
Ask: how did I learn this? Show 1: "By teaching me English, nine year-old Cody taught me the importance of being able to learn from anyone. Show 2: "the Martinez family showed me the value of spending time together as a family" implication: he doesn't have this with his own family.
Show 3: "the Struiksma family taught me to reserve judgment about divorced women and adopted children. Show 4: "Mrs. Ortiz taught me the value of discipline. For years, processed snack foods ruled the kitchen kingdom of my household and animal products outnumbered plant-based offerings.
I fully embraced this new eating philosophy to show my support. I became entranced by the world of nutritional science and how certain foods could help prevent cancer or boost metabolism. Each new food I discovered gave me an education on the role diet plays on health. I learned that, by eating sweet potatoes and brown rice, you could cure acne and heart disease. I discovered eating leafy greens with citrus fruits could boost iron absorption rates. I loved pairing my foods to create the perfect macronutrient balance.
Did you know beans and rice make a complete protein? Food has also turned me into a sustainability nut. Living plant-based also saves the planet from the impact of animal agriculture. For the same amount of land space, a farmer can produce kilograms of soybeans versus 16 kilograms of beef.
I do my part to have as small of an ecological footprint as I can. I stopped using plastic snack bags and instead turned to reusable beeswax wraps. My favorite reusable appliance is my foldable straw. We are currently working on a restaurant campaign to encourage local eateries to create a plant-based, oil-free menu option and become PlantPure certified. After discovering how many restaurants use oil in their cooking, I decided I needed to open a plant-based oil free cafe to make up for this gap.
This allows me to educate people about nutritional science through the stomach. Finally, I am a strong proponent of hands-on experience for learning what good food looks and tastes like, so cooking is one of my favorite ways to teach the benefits of a plant-based lifestyle.
Our society has taught us that delicious food has to make us feel guilty, when that is simply not the case. The best feeling in the world is falling in love with a dish and then learning all the health benefits that it provides the body. While my classmates complain about being tired, I have more energy because my body is finally getting the right macros, vitamins, and minerals it needs.
But the foods I am particular about have changed. Rather than a carboholic, I choose to call myself a vegeholic. Its instructions are simple: Open the Google Sheet, enter a number between 1 and 20 that best represents my level of happiness, and write a short comment describing the day. But the practical aspect of the spreadsheet is only a piece of what it has represented in my life. What had started as a farcical proposition of mine transformed into a playground where high school classmates and I convene every two weeks to prepare a savory afternoon snack for ourselves.
Hard-fought days of mixing cement and transporting supplies had paid off for the affectionate community we had immediately come to love. If happiness paves the roads of my life, my family is the city intertwined by those roads — each member a distinct neighborhood, a distinct story. In times of stress, whether it be studying for an upcoming derivatives test or presenting my research at an international conference, I dash to my father for help.
Coming from the dusty, people-packed backstreets of Thiruvananthapuram, India, he guides me in looking past the chaos and noticing the hidden accomplishments that lie in the corners. When in need of confidence, I find my mother, who taps her experiences living in her tranquil and sturdy tatami-covered home in Hiroshima, Japan, helping me prepare for my first high school dance or my final match in a tennis tournament.
The Happiness Spreadsheet is also a battery monitor for enthusiasm. Other times, the battery is depleted, and I am frustrated by writer's block, when not a single melody, chord, or musical construct crosses my mind. The Happiness Spreadsheet can be a hall of fame, but it can likewise be a catalog of mistakes, burdens, and grueling challenges.
The idea was born spontaneously at lunch, and I asked two of my friends if they were interested in pursuing this exercise with me. To this day, I ponder its full importance in my life. With every new number I enter, I recognize that each entry is not what defines me; rather, it is the ever-growing line connecting all the data points that reflects who I am today. Where will the Happiness Spreadsheet take me next? I was a left-handed kid who wrote from right to left, which made my writing comprehensible only to myself.
Only after years of practice did I become an ambidextrous writer who could translate my incomprehensible writing. As I look back on my life, I realized that this was my first act of translation. As I deciphered complex codes into comprehensible languages like rate of change and speed of an object, I gained the ability to solve even more complicated and fascinating problems.
Now, I volunteer to tutor others: as a Korean tutor for friends who love Korean culture and a golf tutor for new team members. Tutoring is how I integrate and strengthen new concepts for myself. I often put myself into their situation and ask, "What emotional support would I want or need if I was in this situation? However, my translation can't accurately account for the experiences I have yet to go through. After realizing the limitations of my experience, I created a bucket list full of activities out of my comfort zone, which includes traveling abroad by myself, publishing my own book, and giving a lecture in front of a crowd.
Although it is a mere list written on the front page of my diary, I found myself vividly planning and picturing myself accomplishing those moments. My knack for translating has led me to become a real-life Korean language translator. As an English to Korean letter translator in a non-profit organization, Compassion , I serve as a communication bridge between benefactors and children in developing countries, who communicate through monthly letters.
This experience has motivated me to learn languages like Spanish and Mandarin. As I get to know more about myself through different languages, I grew more confident to meet new people and build new friendships. While translating has been a huge part of my life, a professional translator is not my dream job. I want to be an ambulatory care clinical pharmacist who manages the medication of patients with chronic diseases. In fact, translating is a huge part of the job of a clinical pharmacist.
In one form or another, I've always been and will be a translator. I sit, cradled by the two largest branches of the Newton Pippin Tree, watching the ether. The Green Mountains of Vermont stretch out indefinitely, and from my elevated vantage point, I feel as though we are peers, motionless in solidarity. But a few months ago, I would have considered this an utter waste of time.
Prior to attending Mountain School, my paradigm was substantially limited; opinions, prejudices, and ideas shaped by the testosterone-rich environment of Landon School. I was herded by result-oriented, fast-paced, technologically-reliant parameters towards psychology and neuroscience the NIH, a mere 2.
Subconsciously I knew this was not who I wanted to be and seized the chance to apply to the Mountain School. Upon my arrival, though, I immediately felt I did not belong. I found the general atmosphere of hunky-dory acceptance foreign and incredibly unnerving. So, rather than engage, I retreated to what was most comfortable: sports and work. In the second week, the perfect aggregate of the two, a Broomball tournament, was set to occur.
Though I had never played before, I had a distinct vision for it, so decided to organize it. That night, the glow-in-the-dark ball skittered across the ice. My opponent and I, brooms in hand, charged forward. We collided and I banana-peeled, my head taking the brunt of the impact.
Stubborn as I was, even with a concussion, I wanted to remain in class and do everything my peers did, but my healing brain protested. I began wandering around campus with no company except my thoughts. Throughout those days, I created a new-found sense of home in my head. I am most enamored by ideas that cultivate ingenious and practical enrichments for humanity.
I enjoy picking some conundrum, large or small, and puzzling out a solution. Returning from a cross country meet recently, my friend and I, serendipitously, designed a socially responsible disposable water bottle completely on accident. Now we hope to create it. I am still interested in psychology and neuroscience, but also desire to incorporate contemplative thought into this work, analyzing enigmas from many different perspectives.
My internships at the NIH and the National Hospital for Neuroscience and Neurosurgery in London have offered me valuable exposure to research and medicine. But I have come to realize that neither of my previous intended professions allow me to expand consciousness in the way I would prefer.
After much soul-searching, I have landed on behavioral economics as the perfect synergy of the fields I love. All it took was a knock on the head. Suddenly, a miniature gathering of the European Commission glares straight at me. I feel the pressure of picking one option over the other. What do I choose? Like the various nations of the European Union, the individual proponents of these culinary varieties are lobbying their interests to me, a miniature Jean-Claude Junker.
Now, you may be asking yourselves: why would I be so pensive over a meal choice? Every year, that same family gathers together in New York City to celebrate Christmas. These exact conversations drove me to learn more about what my parents, grandparents, and other relatives were debating with a polite and considerate passion.
In turn, participating in debate has expanded my knowledge regarding matters ranging from civil rights reparations to American redeployment in Iraq, while enriching my capacities to thoughtfully express my views on those and other issues, both during P. This awareness incited a passion for statecraft within me — the very art of balancing different perspectives - and therefore a desire to actively engage in government. With my experiences in mind, I felt there was no better place to start than my own neighborhood of Bay Ridge.
Most importantly, my family has taught me an integral life lesson. As our Christmas Dinner squabbles suggest, seemingly insurmountable impasses can be resolved through respect and dialogue, even producing delicious results!
On a grander scale, it has elucidated that truly inclusive discourse and toleration of diverse perspectives render tribalism, sectarianism, and the divisive aspects of identity politics powerless over our cohesion. I fundamentally value cultural, political, and theological variety; my own microcosm reflecting our global society at large has inspired me to strive to solve the many conflicts of bitterness and sectionalism in our world today. This vocation may come in the form of political leadership that truly respects all perspectives and philosophies, or perhaps as diplomacy facilitating unity between the various nations of the world.
Before I came to America, I drank Puer Tea with my father every morning in my bedroom, sitting cross-legged on Suzhou-silk mats beside a view of the Lakeside reservoir. Beside a dark end table, we picked up teacups as the mild aroma greeted our noses. As we faced the French window, my father would share the news he read in China Daily : the Syrian civil war, climate change, and gender equality in Hollywood. Most of the time, I only listened.
With each piece of news, my curiosity piqued. Secretly, I made a decision that I wanted to be the one to discuss the news with him from my perspective. So, I decided to study in America to learn more about the world. But, my new room lacked stories and cups of tea.
Fortunately, I found Blue House Cafe on my walk home from church, and started studying there. With white walls, comfortable sofas, and high stools, Blue House is spacious and bright. Similarly, as president of the International Students Club, I invited my teammates to have meetings with me at the cafe.
Coordinating the schedule with other members in Blue House has become a frequent event. Consuming several cups of coffee, my team and I have planned Lunar New Year events, field trip to the Golden Gate Bridge, and Chinese lunch in school to help international students feel more at home. Straightening my back and bracing my shoulders, I stood up behind the conference table and expressed my creative ideas passionately.
After each meeting, we shared buttermilk coffee-cake. In my spot next to the window, I also witnessed different kinds of people. I viewed visitors dragging their luggage, women carrying shopping bags, and people wandering in tattered clothes --the diversity of San Francisco. Two years ago I saw volunteers wearing City Impact shirts offering sandwiches and hot chocolate to homeless people outside of the cafe. I investigated more about City Impact and eventually signed up to volunteer. No longer was I a bystander.
At holiday outreach events, I prepared and delivered food to homeless people. While sharing my coffee, I listened to a story from an older Chinese man who told me, in Mandarin, how he had been abandoned by his children and felt lonely. Last summer, I returned to Xiamen, China, and taught my father how to drink coffee. Now, a Chemex and teapot are both on the end table. Instead of simply listening, I shared my experiences as a club president, a community leader, and a volunteer.
I showed him my business plan and prototypes. I am so proud of you. Together, we emptied our cups while the smell of coffee lingered. I add the critically measured sugary tea mixture to the gallon jar containing the slimy, white, disc-shaped layers of the symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. I place it on my kitchen counter, periodically checking it to relieve the built-up CO2. Finally, after an additional seventy-two hours, the time comes to try it.
I crack the seal on the bottle, leaning over to smell what I assume will be a tangy, fruity, delicious pomegranate solution. The insufferable stench fills my nostrils and crushes my confidence. I'm momentarily taken aback, unable to understand how I went wrong when I followed the recipe perfectly. My issue wasn't misreading the recipe or failing to follow a rule, it was bypassing my creative instincts and forgetting the unpredictable nature of fermentation. I needed to trust the creative side of kombucha— the side that takes people's perfectionist energy and explodes it into a puddle of rotten egg smelling 'booch my preferred name for the drink- not "fermented, effervescent liquid from a symbiotic culture of acetic acid bacteria and yeast".
I was too caught up in the side that requires extreme preciseness to notice when the balance between perfectionism and imperfectionism was being thrown off. The key, I have learned, is knowing when to prioritize following the recipe and when to let myself be creative. Sure, there are scientific variables such as proximity to heat sources and how many grams of sugar to add. But, there's also person-dependent variables like how long I decide to ferment it, what fruits I decide will be a fun combination, and which friend I got my first SCOBY from taking "symbiotic" to a new level.
I often find myself feeling pressured to choose one side or the other, one extreme over the alternative. I've been told that I can either be a meticulous scientist or a messy artist, but to be both is an unacceptable contradiction. However, I choose a grey area; a place where I can channel my creativity into the sciences, as well as channel my precision into my photography.
I still have the first photo I ever took on the first camera I ever had. Or rather, the first camera I ever made. Making that pinhole camera was truly a painstaking process: take a cardboard box, tap it shut, and poke a hole in it. Okay, maybe it wasn't that hard. But learning the exact process of taking and developing a photo in its simplest form, the science of it, is what drove me to pursue photography. I remember being so unhappy with the photo I took; it was faded, underexposed, and imperfect.
For years, I felt incredibly pressured to try and perfect my photography. It wasn't until I was defeated, staring at a puddle of kombucha, that I realized that there doesn't always have to be a standard of perfection in my art, and that excited me.
So, am I a perfectionist? Or do I crave pure spontaneity and creativity? Can I be both? Perfectionism leaves little to be missed. With a keen eye, I can quickly identify my mistakes and transform them into something with purpose and definitude.
On the other hand, imperfection is the basis for change and for growth. My resistance against perfectionism is what has allowed me to learn to move forward by seeing the big picture; it has opened me to new experiences, like bacteria cross-culturing to create something new, something different, something better.
I am not afraid of change or adversity, though perhaps I am afraid of conformity. To fit the mold of perfection would compromise my creativity, and I am not willing to make that sacrifice. I hold onto my time as dearly as my Scottish granny holds onto her money. Precious minutes can show someone I care and can mean the difference between accomplishing a goal or being too late to even start and my life depends on carefully budgeting my time for studying, practicing with my show choir, and hanging out with my friends.
My lanky, bald, and animated instructor, who often wore various cultural outfi We are the best. One class. One goal. Four years of hard work. Three days of campaign. Bad days and good days. Great ideas. I even have learnt how America stepped in the twentieth century with great ambition. They already produced more of everything then the world combined and the people had better living standards than anywhere else.
Little did they know that producing more things than the rest of the countries, gets you in a bigger hol The Illuminati changed my life. Three years ago, I found my first ambigram in one of my favorite novels, by Dan Brown. It was styled like a newspaper masthead, exquisite and complex, ye There were few dull minds in San Jose the spring of Around teens from around the world streamed into the heart of Silicon Valley for the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair; for me, it was an unforgettable first glimpse of the talent and imagination of my global peers.
Yet eve Small things make big differences. This is a truth I have come to see in my own experiences and in the world. A tech-addict since a young age, at thirteen I decided the best way to get my hands on a few smartphones was to start a YouTube channel dedicated to reviewing them. Within nine months, I rece My middle name is "Reddy. I'm assuming you don't know about South-Indian middle names so here's what you should know: "Reddy" is the name of a caste in India thought to have consisted of warriors who later became lords and aristocracy.
This caste became pa My life was drastically changed on January 6th, It was about 7 A. I was awakened by the sound of an explosion. When my eyes opened I found myself suspended in the air and unable to move. Below me, the floor began to cave in and split, the ceiling started to crumble abo Daydreams are often regarded as a distraction and a sign of laziness. However, I believe in the creative power of daydreams, which allows me to escape from reality. Daydreaming allows me to look within my mind, which I need as an introvert.
It's essential for introverts to recharge themselves af Bare skin meets raw iron. Such a relationship can only be found in this exact situation. The focus is so intense that nothing else matters. Pure concentration and expression translating into perfect execution - it's a physical marvel. It's the art of the perfect lift. Key Club is not simply another community service organization, it is my high school family. Key Club spurs excitement within me as it represents a tolerant organization that brings positive change through community service events and fundraisers.
My commitment to Key Club increased as I gained the p Graphs and data charts showing various statistical relationships between different biomarkers and cognitive functions are strewn across the screen in victory. Exhilaration rushed In my school collected 30, pounds of food for local families in its 9th annual drive.
Then it started floundering. Society, and the world, would be greatly improved with greater tolerance. I sauntered under the rotting wooden arch, careful not to hit the throng of dwarf-like minions that ran and clung to my side. My Dad fought leukemia all throughout In his struggle for survival, I found a means to work harder in my academic studies as a means to please him.
I had disappointed him in my middle school years before, and This is ironic though, because I also have a great desire to stay up and really venture into the late night. Late night, when one resides in barren quiet and introspective analysis, is often My experience designing websites and Internet applications landed me a job as a Webmaster for Intel Corporation this past summer. My task was to research I was pondering, with some trepidation, what determines the paths of lightning bolts; I reflected that they must take some course of least resistance.
Suddenly I was struck by an idea : could an electronic hardware model of t The clock struck four, and I was lost in the city of Zaragoza. Distracted by street musicians and fascinated by chance encounters with structures that were already anci Ninth grade geometry began my fascination of the world and its principles.
The unified and coherent system of geometry built around simple concepts--lines, circles, and polygons--captured my interest, as the idea of a system with so much clear depth seemed so unreal. How can an individual such as Eu While grabbing lunch between games at a water polo tournament, I noticed one of my new teammates rarely looked me in the eye.
Instead of taking the empty seat next to me, he opted to sit across the table. My grandmother was born and raised in Nigeria. Eunice Iwuchukwu was an old soul, who used to preach the word of God. My grandma had lived with my aunt, but moved in with my mom to assist with my care. Since I rarely saw my mother, or my father, or really any of my family, I had no one to teach me th To get away from the stares and the vulnerability I felt on the streets?
It's one of those riddles a kindergartner knows they can sincerely answer and adults think they can logically answer. I, however, am a teenager, stuck awkwardly between that simplicity and heightened logic, and my dilemma is evident: is it my actions or feelings that really mat Looks like we both made it.
I hail from the burbs of Chicago, and, yes, it snows all the way to your nose, and blackens your toes, but in the Windy City So what exactly does the acronym STEM stand for? When I was fourteen, I watched a real-life Q demonstrate ethical hacking at a presentation hosted by my The wind was howling so loudly that I could barely hear the occasional car that passed by. It was raining very heavily. Muddy water clung to my pants as I made each step.
The modern teenager craves information. Information is an inebriant, and smart phones are the bottle in which it is stored. Without a comfortable flow of status updates an So many characters and universes appear before me as I sit in front of the television screen, watching cartoons.
Nothing quells my thirst for an escape from reality more than animation. When seeing animated worlds unfurl, senses of absolute euphoria, freedom, and tranquility surge through me. The most important research project I have worked on is the massively parallel propagation-delay algorithm and FPGA field-programmable gate array microchip I independently designed for the Intel science Talent search.
The chip was demonstrated to solve certain computationally difficult problems All the juniors before me told me to take AP English Language simply because it improved their writing tremendously. But the individuals before me never told me about the intellectual growth that comes from the English language. My English teacher, Elizabeth Ward, encouraged us to think analytically Stepping back from Chopin, I throw myself into the world of Prokofiev. He is a man of strength and authority and so I must be, too.
A female pianist can only exert so much force before her muscles stress out and catapult the performance to an unfortunate end. However, when I become Prokofiev, my pow Rather than a single idea or experience, an entire series has been key to my intellectual development. Manifesting itself as a pointy-eared, green tunic-clad, tunic-wearing, Master Sword wielding hero on a quest to overthrow a treacherous warlord, sorcerer, or other malcontent and rescue the princes By all accounts, I have lived a blessed life.
I am forever appreciative for this and have striven to make the most of the o I came out to my best friend as bisexual the summer before ninth grade. Unlike the countless "coming out" YouTube videos I had watched to prepare myself, I don't really remember the sigh of relief or heart fuzzies of acceptance when she said that it was fine.
All I can remember is the The first week was horrific. My only work experience had been a counseling job that consisted of being expected to lounge around in a lake, eat pizza, and ensure that seven year old kids didn't drown which, while easy and resulted in one of the greatest tans known to humankind, was so bori By allowing myself to realize a greater connection to the rest of humanity, in the respect that health is a major essence of the human experience, as well as excavating deeper into my own interests, my experience interning in Dr.
October 29th, I am alone. I am tired. I am at a Snoop Dogg concert. The drumbeat rattling my teeth is nearly overpowered by my deafening crash onto rock bottom. The school year cut me to pieces. I was a sophomore — a year notorious for being easier than the rest at my The whistle pierced through my ear drums, heralding the end of a minute session of utter humiliation.
I left the pitch, eyes fixed on the turf that has just witnessed this football massacre, as the gleaming summer sun of Dubai sent its flaming tongues licking the back of my stooped neck, and the I find it really hard to be perfectly content. I'm always distracted by math homework and that book I need to finish and the scarf I'm knitting and my friends and getting my license. Worrying consumes my days and I don't always realize it.
Sometimes I get tired of it and I'll go outs I can sit there and stare at it for hours - sometimes watching, not watching others. To the open-minded, it is classically pic When I reach the door, a maid greets me and gestures toward the piano room. One thing that bears great importance to me is that those who cannot otherwise provide safety and security for themselves are given the appropriate help. To me, this matter manifested itself in the form of animals. Ever since I was little, my life was filled with the abandoned, the left behind, the As it was a newly founded company, t I can honestly say that my most recent intellectually stimulating experience was a trip to the movie theater; I saw Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
Of course the CGI was visually stimulating, and talking monkeys are always intriguing, but what really hit me was the rapid adv Living in a stone den, the poet Shi loved eating lions and swore to eat ten of them. Read the top college essays that worked at Stanford, Harvard, Princeton, and more. Learn more. Government Vocabulary Important Documents. Vanderbilt Essays Wash. Essays Yale Essays Submit an essay.
College Admissions Essays. Top Successful College Essays Get into the college of your dreams! Share Tweet Post Message. Describe the world you come from. Read more. My World, My Dreams. Defining Yourself. Untitled Prompt 1. Tell us about a personal quality, talent, accomplishment, contribution or experience. Untitled Prompt 2. Stanford Supplement - Short Essays. MIT Short Essays. Stanford Supplement. Short Responses. Wired News, a sleek ma Topic of your Choice - "Rainfall on Ink". Engineering Essay.
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As my thoughts drifted by with snapshots of scenes of the most memorable parts of my summer, I realized more fully than ever why I love engineering: June 21st, Standing in the dim auditorium at the University of Texas in Austin, I nervously gulped as I nodded at my First Bytes computer science ca Intellectual Vitality. My life is a series of intense fascinations, which I dive into headfirst.
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What Matters. What matters. The cure for homesickness. Hey roommate! Why I did what I did.
My siblings arguing, the dog barking, the phone ringing—all meant my house was functioning normally. My Dad, a retired Navy pilot, was away half the time. When he was home, he had a parenting style something like a drill sergeant. At the age of nine, I learned how to clear burning oil from the surface of water.
My Dad considered this a critical life skill—you know, in case my aircraft carrier should ever get torpedoed. Clear a hole! While I'm still unconvinced about that particular lesson's practicality, my Dad's overarching message is unequivocally true: much of life is unexpected, and you have to deal with the twists and turns. Living in my family, days rarely unfolded as planned.
A bit overlooked, a little pushed around, I learned to roll with reality, negotiate a quick deal, and give the improbable a try. I don't sweat the small stuff, and I definitely don't expect perfect fairness. So what if our dining room table only has six chairs for seven people? Someone learns the importance of punctuality every night. But more than punctuality and a special affinity for musical chairs, my family life has taught me to thrive in situations over which I have no power. Growing up, I never controlled my older siblings, but I learned how to thwart their attempts to control me.
I forged alliances, and realigned them as necessary. Sometimes, I was the poor, defenseless little brother; sometimes I was the omniscient elder. Different things to different people, as the situation demanded. I learned to adapt. Back then, these techniques were merely reactions undertaken to ensure my survival.
But one day this fall, Dr. Hicks, our Head of School, asked me a question that he hoped all seniors would reflect on throughout the year: "How can I participate in a thing I do not govern, in the company of people I did not choose? The question caught me off guard, much like the question posed to me in Laredo. Then, I realized I knew the answer. I knew why the coat hanger had been handed to me.
Growing up as the middle child in my family, I was a vital participant in a thing I did not govern, in the company of people I did not choose. It's family. It's society. And often, it's chaos. You participate by letting go of the small stuff, not expecting order and perfection, and facing the unexpected with confidence, optimism, and preparedness. My family experience taught me to face a serendipitous world with confidence.
It's very helpful to take writing apart in order to see just how it accomplishes its objectives. Stephen's essay is very effective. Let's find out why! In just eight words, we get: scene-setting he is standing next to a car about to break in , the idea of crossing a boundary he is maybe about to do an illegal thing for the first time , and a cliffhanger we are thinking: is he going to get caught?
Is he headed for a life of crime? Is he about to be scared straight? It's the details that really make this small experience come alive. Notice how whenever he can, Stephen uses a more specific, descriptive word in place of a more generic one. The volunteers aren't going to get food or dinner; they're going for "Texas BBQ. Details also help us visualize the emotions of the people in the scene. The person who hands Stephen the coat hanger isn't just uncomfortable or nervous; he "takes a few steps back"—a description of movement that conveys feelings.
Finally, the detail of actual speech makes the scene pop. Instead of writing that the other guy asked him to unlock the van, Stephen has the guy actually say his own words in a way that sounds like a teenager talking. Coat hangers: not just for crows' nests anymore! Stephen makes the locked car experience a meaningful illustration of how he has learned to be resourceful and ready for anything, and he also makes this turn from the specific to the broad through an elegant play on the two meanings of the word "click.
They could also mean any number of things—violence, abandonment, poverty, mental instability. By instantly following up with highly finite and unambiguous illustrations like "family of seven" and "siblings arguing, the dog barking, the phone ringing," Stephen grounds the abstraction in something that is easy to picture: a large, noisy family.
Obviously, knowing how to clean burning oil is not high on the list of things every 9-year-old needs to know. To emphasize this, Stephen uses sarcasm by bringing up a situation that is clearly over-the-top: "in case my aircraft carrier should ever get torpedoed. The humor also feels relaxed. Part of this is because he introduces it with the colloquial phrase "you know," so it sounds like he is talking to us in person.
This approach also diffuses the potential discomfort of the reader with his father's strictness—since he is making jokes about it, clearly he is OK. Notice, though, that this doesn't occur very much in the essay. This helps keep the tone meaningful and serious rather than flippant. There's been an oil spill! The ending of the essay reveals that Stephen's life has been one long preparation for the future. He has emerged from chaos and his dad's approach to parenting as a person who can thrive in a world that he can't control.
This connection of past experience to current maturity and self-knowledge is a key element in all successful personal essays. Colleges are very much looking for mature, self-aware applicants. These are the qualities of successful college students, who will be able to navigate the independence college classes require and the responsibility and quasi-adulthood of college life. Even the best essays aren't perfect, and even the world's greatest writers will tell you that writing is never "finished"—just "due.
Stephen uses handy phrases like "twists and turns" and "don't sweat the small stuff" as a kind of shorthand for explaining his relationship to chaos and unpredictability. But using too many of these ready-made expressions runs the risk of clouding out your own voice and replacing it with something expected and boring. Use another example from recent life.
Stephen's first example breaking into the van in Laredo is a great illustration of being resourceful in an unexpected situation. But his essay also emphasizes that he "learned to adapt" by being "different things to different people. We can help. PrepScholar Admissions is the world's best admissions consulting service. We combine world-class admissions counselors with our data-driven, proprietary admissions strategies.
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I have always loved riding in cars. After a long day in first grade, I used to fall asleep to the engine purring in my mother's Honda Odyssey, even though it was only a 5-minute drive home. As I grew, and graduated into the shotgun seat, it became natural and enjoyable to look out the window. Seeing my world passing by through that smudged glass, I would daydream what I could do with it. In elementary school, I already knew my career path: I was going to be Emperor of the World.
While I sat in the car and watched the miles pass by, I developed the plan for my empire. I reasoned that, for the world to run smoothly, it would have to look presentable. I would assign people, aptly named Fixer-Uppers, to fix everything that needed fixing. That old man down the street with chipping paint on his house would have a fresh coat in no time.
The boy who accidentally tossed his Frisbee onto the roof of the school would get it back. The big pothole on Elm Street that my mother managed to hit every single day on the way to school would be filled-in. It made perfect sense!
All the people that didn't have a job could be Fixer-Uppers. I was like a ten-year-old FDR. Seven years down the road, I still take a second glance at the sidewalk cracks and think of my Fixer-Uppers, but now I'm doing so from the driver's seat. As much as I would enjoy it, I now accept that I won't become Emperor of the World, and that the Fixer-Uppers will have to remain in my car ride imaginings. Or do they?
I always pictured a Fixer-Upper as a smiling man in an orange T-Shirt. Maybe instead, a Fixer-Upper could be a tall girl with a deep love for Yankee Candles. Maybe it could be me. Bridget the Fixer-Upper will be slightly different than the imaginary one who paints houses and fetches Frisbees. I was lucky enough to discover what I am passionate about when I was a freshman in high school. A self-admitted Phys.
On my first day, I learned that it was for developmentally-disabled students. To be honest, I was really nervous. I hadn't had too much interaction with special needs students before, and wasn't sure how to handle myself around them. Long story short, I got hooked. Three years have passed helping out in APE and eventually becoming a teacher in the Applied Behavior Analysis summer program. I love working with the students and watching them progress.
When senior year arrived, college meetings began, and my counselor asked me what I wanted to do for a career, I didn't say Emperor of the World. Instead, I told him I wanted to become a board-certified behavior analyst. A BCBA helps develop learning plans for students with autism and other disabilities. Basically, I would get to do what I love for the rest of my life. He laughed and told me that it was a nice change that a seventeen-year-old knew so specifically what she wanted to do.
I smiled, thanked him, and left. But it occurred to me that, while my desired occupation was decided, my true goal in life was still to become a Fixer-Upper. I'll do one thing during the day, then spend my off-hours helping people where I can. Instead of flying like Sue, though, I'll opt for a nice performance automobile. My childhood self would appreciate that. Bridget takes a somewhat different approach than Stephen, but her essay is just as detailed and engaging.
Let's go through some of the strengths of her essay. The essay is arranged chronologically. Bridget starts each paragraph with a clear signpost of where we are in time:. I wanted to become a board-certified behavior analyst. What makes this essay fun to read is that Bridget takes a child's idea of a world made better through quasi-magical helpers and turns it into a metaphor for the author's future aspirations.
It helps that the metaphor is a very clear one: people who work with students with disabilities are making the world better one abstract fix at a time, just like imaginary Fixer-Uppers would make the world better one concrete physical fix at a time. Every childhood Fixer-Upper ever. Ask your parents to explain the back row to you. This essay uses many techniques that make Bridget sound genuine and make the reader feel like we already know her.
Technique 1: humor. Notice Bridget's gentle and relaxed humor that lightly mocks her younger self's grand ambitions this is different from the more sarcastic kind of humor used by Stephen in the first essay—you could never mistake one writer for the other.
Technique 2: invented terminology. The second technique is the way Bridget coins her own terms, carrying them through the whole essay. It would be easy enough to simply describe the people she imagined in childhood as helpers or assistants, and to simply say that as a child she wanted to rule the world. Instead, she invents the capitalized and thus official-sounding titles "Fixer-Upper" and "Emperor of the World," making these childish conceits at once charming and iconic.
What's also key is that the titles feed into the central metaphor of the essay, which keeps them from sounding like strange quirks that don't go anywhere. Technique 3: playing with syntax. The third technique is to use sentences of varying length, syntax, and structure.
Most of the essay's written in standard English and uses grammatically correct sentences. However, at key moments, Bridget emphasizes that the reader needs to sit up and pay attention by switching to short, colloquial, differently punctuated, and sometimes fragmented sentences. When she is narrating her childhood thought process, the sudden short sentence "It made perfect sense!
Similarly, when the essay turns from her childhood imagination to her present-day aspirations, the turn is marked with "Or do they? The first time when the comparison between magical fixer-upper's and the future disability specialist is made is when Bridget turns her metaphor onto herself. The essay emphasizes the importance of the moment through repetition two sentences structured similarly, both starting with the word "maybe" and the use of a very short sentence: "Maybe it could be me.
The last key moment that gets the small-sentence treatment is the emotional crux of the essay. As we watch Bridget go from nervously trying to help disabled students to falling in love with this specialty field, she undercuts the potential sappiness of the moment by relying on changed-up sentence length and slang: "Long story short, I got hooked.
The best essays convey emotions just as clearly as this image. Explain the car connection better. The essay begins and ends with Bridget's enjoying a car ride, but this doesn't seem to be related either to the Fixer-Upper idea or to her passion for working with special-needs students. It would be great to either connect this into the essay more, or to take it out altogether and create more space for something else. Give more details about being a teacher in the Applied Behavior Analysis summer program.
My efforts were fruitless. Livid, I bit a rejected twig, determined to prove that the forest had spurned me, offering only young, wet bones that would never burn. But the wood cracked like carrots between my teeth—old, brittle, and bitter. Roaring and nursing my aching palms, I retreated to the tent, where I sulked and awaited the jeers of my family. Rattling their empty worm cans and reeking of fat fish, my brother and cousins swaggered into the campsite.
Immediately, they noticed the minor stick massacre by the fire pit and called to me, their deep voices already sharp with contempt. My face burned long after I left the fire pit. The camp stank of salmon and shame. In the tent, I pondered my failure. Was I so dainty? Was I that incapable?
I thought of my hands, how calloused and capable they had been, how tender and smooth they had become. Crawling along the edge of the tent, a spider confirmed my transformation—he disgusted me, and I felt an overwhelming urge to squash him. I still eagerly explored new worlds, but through poems and prose rather than pastures and puddles.
That night, I stayed up late with my journal and wrote about the spider I had decided not to kill. When the night grew cold and the embers died, my words still smoked—my hands burned from all that scrawling—and even when I fell asleep, the ideas kept sparking—I was on fire, always on fire. This Common App essay is well-written. The student is showing the admissions officers their ability to articulate their points beautifully and creatively.
In addition to being well-written, this essay is thematically cohesive. Quite simply, this essay shows how quality writing can make a simple story outstandingly compelling. When I was younger, I was adamant that no two foods on my plate touch.
As a result, I often used a second plate to prevent such an atrocity. In many ways, I learned to separate different things this way from my older brothers, Nate and Rob. Growing up, I idolized both of them. Nate was a performer, and I insisted on arriving early to his shows to secure front row seats, refusing to budge during intermission for fear of missing anything.
Rob was a three-sport athlete, and I attended his games religiously, waving worn-out foam cougar paws and cheering until my voice was hoarse. My brothers were my role models. To me, they represented two contrasting ideals of what I could become: artist or athlete. I believed I had to choose. And for a long time, I chose athlete. I played soccer, basketball, and lacrosse and viewed myself exclusively as an athlete, believing the arts were not for me.
I conveniently overlooked that since the age of five, I had been composing stories for my family for Christmas, gifts that were as much for me as them, as I loved writing. So when in tenth grade, I had the option of taking a creative writing class, I was faced with a question: could I be an athlete and a writer?
After much debate, I enrolled in the class, feeling both apprehensive and excited. When I arrived on the first day of school, my teacher, Ms. Jenkins, asked us to write down our expectations for the class. I just want this to be a place where I can write freely.
For the first two submission days, I had passed the time editing earlier pieces, eventually pretty quickly resorting to screen snake when hopelessness made the words look like hieroglyphics. I must not have been as subtle as I thought, as on the third of these days, Ms. Jenkins approached me. After shifting from excuse to excuse as to why I did not submit my writing, I finally recognized the real reason I had withheld my work: I was scared.
I yielded to Ms. By the time the letter came, I had already forgotten about the contest. When the flimsy white envelope arrived in the mail, I was shocked and ecstatic to learn that I had received 2nd place in a nationwide writing competition. The next morning, however, I discovered Ms. Jenkins would make an announcement to the whole school exposing me as a poet. I have since seen more boys at my school identifying themselves as writers or artists.
I no longer see myself as an athlete and a poet independently, but rather I see these two aspects forming a single inseparable identity — me. Despite their apparent differences, these two disciplines are quite similar, as each requires creativity and devotion.
I am still a poet when I am lacing up my cleats for soccer practice and still an athlete when I am building metaphors in the back of my mind — and I have realized ice cream and gummy bears taste pretty good together. This essay is cohesive as it centers around the theme of identity and the ability for two identities to coexist simultaneously an interesting theme!
At times, this essay is also confusing. In the first paragraph, it feels like the narrative is actually going to be about separating your food and is somehow going to relate to the older brothers? It is not entirely clear that this is a metaphor. Also, when the writer references the third submission day and then works backward to explain what a submission day is and that there are multiple throughout the semester, the timeline gets unnecessarily confusing. Reworking the way this paragraph unfolded would have been more compelling and less distracting.
Skittering around the room, eyes wide and pleading, I frantically explained my situation to nearby coaches. The seconds ticked away in my head; every polite refusal increased my desperation. Despair weighed me down. I sank to my knees as a stream of competitors, coaches, and officials flowed around me. My dojang had no coach, and the tournament rules prohibited me from competing without one.
Although I wanted to remain strong, doubts began to cloud my mind. I could not help wondering: what was the point of perfecting my skills if I would never even compete? The other members of my team, who had found coaches minutes earlier, attempted to comfort me, but I barely heard their words.
Since my first lesson 12 years ago, the members of my dojang have become family. I have watched them grow up, finding my own happiness in theirs. Together, we have honed our kicks, blocks, and strikes. We have pushed one another to aim higher and become better martial artists. Although my dojang had searched for a reliable coach for years, we had not found one. When we attended competitions in the past, my teammates and I had always gotten lucky and found a sympathetic coach. Now, I knew this practice was unsustainable.
It would devastate me to see the other members of my dojang in my situation, unable to compete and losing hope as a result. My dojang needed a coach, and I decided it was up to me to find one. However, these attempts only reacquainted me with polite refusals. I soon realized that I would have become the coach myself. At first, the inner workings of tournaments were a mystery to me. To prepare myself for success as a coach, I spent the next year as an official and took coaching classes on the side.
I learned everything from motivational strategies to technical, behind-the-scenes components of Taekwondo competitions. Though I emerged with new knowledge and confidence in my capabilities, others did not share this faith. My self-confidence was my armor, deflecting their surly glances. Every armor is penetrable, however, and as the relentless barrage of doubts pounded my resilience, it began to wear down.
I grew unsure of my own abilities. Despite the attack, I refused to give up. To quit would be to set them up to be barred from competing like I was. Now that my dojang flourishes at competitions, the attacks on me have weakened, but not ended. I may never win the approval of every parent; at times, I am still tormented by doubts, but I find solace in the fact that members of my dojang now only worry about competing to the best of their abilities.
Now, as I arrive at a tournament with my students, I close my eyes and remember the past. I visualize the frantic search for a coach and the chaos amongst my teammates as we competed with one another to find coaches before the staging calls for our respective divisions.
I open my eyes to the exact opposite scene. Lacking a coach hurt my ability to compete, but I am proud to know that no member of my dojang will have to face that problem again. This essay is great because it has a strong introduction and a strong conclusion. The introduction is notably suspenseful and draws readers into the story. Because we know it is a college essay, we can assume that the student is one of the competitors, but at the same time, this introduction feels intentionally ambiguous as if the writer could be a competitor, a coach, a sibling of a competitor, or anyone else in the situation.
As we continue reading the essay, we learn that the writer is, in fact, the competitor. This is a very compelling strategy! Plus, learn how to improve your own writing by providing peer reviews for other students. Submit or Review an Essay — for free! Submit or Review an Essay — for fr. Tears streamed down my face and my mind was paralyzed with fear.
Sirens blared, but the silent panic in my own head was deafening. I was muted by shock. A few hours earlier, I had anticipated a vacation in Washington, D. My fear turned into action as I made some of the bravest decisions of my life. Throughout her surgery, I anxiously awaited any word from her surgeon, but each time I asked, I was told that there had been another complication or delay. Relying on my faith and positive attitude, I remained optimistic that my mother would survive and that I could embrace new responsibilities.
My mother had been a source of strength for me, and now I would be strong for her through her long recovery ahead. As I started high school, everyone thought the crisis was over, but it had really just started to impact my life. My mother was often fatigued, so I assumed more responsibility, juggling family duties, school, athletics, and work.
I made countless trips to the neighborhood pharmacy, cooked dinner, biked to the grocery store, supported my concerned sister, and provided the loving care my mother needed to recover. Each day was a stage in my gradual transformation from dependence to relative independence. I now take ownership over small decisions such as scheduling daily appointments and managing my time but also over major decisions involving my future, including the college admissions process.
Although I have become more independent, my mother and I are inseparably close, and the realization that I almost lost her affects me daily. Each morning, I wake up ten minutes early simply to eat breakfast with my mother and spend time with her before our busy days begin. I am aware of how quickly life can change. My mother remains a guiding force in my life, but the feeling of empowerment I discovered within myself is the ultimate form of my independence.
Though I thought the summer before my freshman year would be a transition from middle school to high school, it was a transformation from childhood to adulthood. This essay feels real and tells readers a lot about the writer. It has drama, it has emotions, and it has the reader wanting more. And, when you keep going, you get to learn a lot about a very resilient and mature student.
It is simply a fact that they have proven! Sometimes writing about adversity can feel exploitative or oddly braggy. This student backs up everything they say with anecdotes that prove and show their strength and resilience, rather than just claiming their strengths. When I read this essay, I want to cheer for its writer! And I want to be able to continue cheering for them perhaps, if I were an admissions officer, that would make me want them at my school!
Armed with a red pen, I slowly walked across the room to a small, isolated table with pink stools. Swinging her legs, my young student beamed and giggled at me, slamming her pencil bag on the table and bending over to pick up one of her toys. Natalie always brought some new toy with her to lessons—toys which I would sternly take away from her and place under the table until she finished her work. At the tutoring center where I work, a strict emphasis on discipline leaves no room for paper crowns or rubber chickens.
Today, she had with her a large stuffed eagle from a museum. As she pulled out her papers, I slid the eagle to the other side of the table. She looked eagerly around, attempting to chat with other students as I impatiently called her attention to her papers. I cringed—there was no wondering why Natalie always had to sit by herself. She was the antithesis of my academic values, and undoubtedly the greatest adversary of my teaching style.
As the lesson progressed, Natalie became more fitful; she refused to release her feathered friend, and kept addressing the bird for help with difficult problems. We both grew increasingly more frustrated. Determined to tame this wryly, wiggling student, I stood my ground, set on converting this disobedient child to my calm, measured ways of study. Much like myself. Both the eagle and I were getting nowhere in this lesson—so we hatched a quick plan.
Lifting the eagle up in the air, I started reading in my best impersonation of an eagle, squawking my way through a spelling packet. The result provided a sense of instant gratification I never knew I needed. Despite my ostensibly dissatisfied attitude toward my students, I did not join the tutoring center simply to earn money.
I had always aspired to help others achieve their fullest potential. As a young adult, I felt that it was time for me to step out of the role of a pupil and into the influential role of a teacher, naively believing that I had the maturity and skill to adapt to any situation and help these students reach their highest achievements academically. For the most part, the role of a stern-faced, strict instructor helped me get by in the workplace, and while my students never truly looked happy, I felt that it was part of the process of conditioning a child to learn.
Ironically, my transition to adulthood was the result of a stuffed animal. It was indisputable that I always had the skill to instruct others; the only thing needed to instruct someone is knowledge of the subject.
However, it was only upon being introduced to a stuffed bird in which I realized that students receive the most help not from instructors, but teachers. While almost anyone can learn material and spit it back out for someone, it takes the maturity and passion of a teacher not only to help students improve in their students, but also to motivate them and develop them into better citizens.
From my young pupil and her little bird, I have undergone a change in attitude which reflects a growth in maturity and ability to improve the lives of others that I hope to implement in my future role as a student, activist, and physician. In this essay, the student effectively explores their values and how they learned them! While the writer humbly recognizes the initial faults in their teaching style, they do not position their initial discipline or rigidity as mean or poorly intentioned—simply ineffective.
My favorite part about this essay is its subtlety. The complexity of this narrative comes through reflection. The final sentence of this essay ties things up very nicely. Readers are left satisfied with the essay and convinced that its writer is a kind human with a large capacity for reflection and consideration. That is a great image to paint of yourself!
My newt, Isaac, fascinated me to no end, and I spent hours admiring his tenacity and resilience. For Christmas, I received a California newt and named him after Isaac Newton, for the wordplay and their unique personalities. Real Newton, Isaac the newt, and I shared the same personality type: creative, ambitious, bold; however, I grew increasingly passive as my fear of failure overwhelmed my natural drive. Meanwhile, Isaac dauntlessly wrestled with earthworms twice his size.
Even when he was sick, he continued to swim and climb, all despite the infection. He inspired me most with his courage, resourcefulness, and resilience, and I tried to regain confidence to be like him. My interest in studying newts began when my former AP Biology teacher suggested an animal behavior project. Though I hoped to gather some information about the sensitivity of their skin, I discovered something even more interesting: tetrodotoxin, or TTX.
Few researchers had studied TTX, and I was excited by its huge potential to alleviate human suffering as a non-addictive alternative to mainstream painkillers. Since so few had studied it, I was shocked to discover a UCSF professor who studied toxins and ion channels. It took me hours to craft an email to inquire about his research, and I debated for another two hours on whether I should send it; I was afraid of appearing ignorant in front of such a respected scientist.
I kept worrying, Why would he want to meet a high schooler? Surprisingly, he responded that he was interested in meeting with me. During some discussion in his lab, he initially dismissed my suggestion of using electron microscopy in their research. With greater confidence, I brought the subject up again , this time mentioning the specific subfield of cryo-electron microscopy.
Surprised by my knowledge, he offered his lab to me for a simpler project if I was interested, but ultimately admitted that the scope of the goal was much too ambitious. I accepted the setback and looked to a new solution. I emailed a couple more labs with less deliberation and more conviction, but was told that my ambitions to study TTX was a project best-suited for a postdoc, not a high schooler.
There, I helped a postdoc study how heavy metals and industrial chemicals affect the growth and function of nerve cells in culture. I felt like a burden at first, needing guidance and supervision around the new instruments and important samples. The postdoc seemed annoyed whenever I asked a question.
So, I studied voraciously in my free time, reading scientific journals and spending extra hours in the lab perfecting my technique. I eventually won the respect of the postdoc. Beyond that, I gained skills for a strong foundation for future scientific research—both the technical skills, and my perseverance in the face of daunting challenges. Though Isaac may not win every fight against the worms, no failure can deter him from attacking again. He led me to fascinating research and inspired me to boldly pursue my interests.
While this feels like a bit of a stretch at times it is a bit simple for the student to have overcome their fear of failure just by thinking about their pet , it makes the essay cohesive. Overall, this essay is interesting and creative, but the student could have used some of the words that focused on research to describe their personal exploration and development.
Scalding hot water cascades over me, crashing to the ground in a familiar, soothing rhythm. Steam rises to the ceiling as dried sweat and soap suds swirl down the drain. The water hisses as it hits my skin, far above the safe temperature for a shower. The pressure is perfect on my tired muscles, easing the aches and bruises from a rough bout of sparring and the tension from a long, stressful day.
The noise from my overactive mind dies away, fading into music, lyrics floating through my head.
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The best way to tell your story is to write a personal, thoughtful essay about something that has meaning for you. Be honest and genuine, and your unique qualities will shine through. Admissions officers have to read an unbelievable number of college essays, most of which are forgettable. Many students try to sound smart rather than sounding like themselves. Others write about a subject that they don't care about, but that they think will impress admissions officers.
You don't need to have started your own business or have spent the summer hiking the Appalachian Trail. Colleges are simply looking for thoughtful, motivated students who will add something to the first-year class. It could be an experience, a person, a book—anything that has had an impact on your life. Anyone can write about how they won the big game or the summer they spent in Rome.
When recalling these events, you need to give more than the play-by-play or itinerary. Describe what you learned from the experience and how it changed you. A student who can make an admissions officer laugh never gets lost in the shuffle. But beware. What you think is funny and what an adult working in a college thinks is funny are probably different.
We caution against one-liners, limericks and anything off—color. Set it aside for a few days and read it again. Put yourself in the shoes of an admissions officer: Is the essay interesting? Do the ideas flow logically? Does it reveal something about the applicant? What you write in your application essay or personal statement should not contradict any other part of your application—nor should it repeat it. This isn't the place to list your awards or discuss your grades or test scores.
A teacher or college counselor is your best resource. And before you send it off, check, check again, and then triple check to make sure your essay is free of spelling or grammar errors. Connect with our featured colleges to find schools that both match your interests and are looking for students like you.
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