And despite how trivial underwear might be, when I am wearing my favorite pair, I feel as if I am on top of the world. In any case, these articles of clothing affect our being and are the unsung heroes of comfort. This specific branch of debate is an hour long, and consists of two parties debating either side of a current political issue. During the debate, something strange happened: I realized that we are a special breed of species, that so much effort and resources are invested to ensure mutual destruction.
And I felt that this debate in a small college classroom had elucidated something much more profound about the scale of human existence. And that's when I realized that the world was something I will never understand.
One summer night, my friend took me to an underground hardcore punk rock show. It was inside a small abandoned church. After the show, I met and became a part of this small community. Many were lost and on a constant soul-search, and to my surprise, many, like myself, did not have a blue Mohawk or a nose piercing.
Many were just ordinary people discussing Nietzsche, string theory, and governmental ideologies. Many were also artists creating promotional posters and inventive slogans for stickers. They were all people my age who could not afford to be part of a record label and did something extraordinary by playing in these abandoned churches, making their own CDs and making thousands of promotional buttons by hand.
I realized then that punk rock is not about music nor is it a guy with a blue Mohawk screaming protests. Punk rock is an attitude, a mindset, and very much a culture. It is an antagonist to the conventional. It means making the best with what you have to contribute to a community. This was when I realized that I was a punk rock philosopher. The world I come from consists of underwear, nuclear bombs, and punk rockers. And I love this world. My world is inherently complex, mysterious, and anti-nihilist.
I am David Phan, somebody who spends his weekends debating in a three piece suit, other days immersed within the punk rock culture, and some days writing opinionated blogs about underwear. But why college?
I want a higher education. I want more than just the textbook fed classrooms in high school. A community which prizes revolutionary ideals, a sharing of multi-dynamical perspectives, an environment that ultimately acts as a medium for movement, similar to the punk rock community. I do not see college as a mere stepping stone for a stable career or a prosperous life, but as a supplement for knowledge and self-empowerment; it is a social engine that will jettison us to our next paradigm shift. Want one-on-one guidance on your college applications and essays?
Schedule a chat to work with me and my team. I would stumble into the kitchen to find my grandma squatting over a large silver bowl, mixing fat lips of fresh cabbages with garlic, salt, and red pepper. That was how the delectable Korean dish, kimchi, was born every weekend at my home. And like my grandma who had always been living with us, it seemed as though the luscious smell of garlic would never leave our home.
Dementia slowly fed on her memories until she became as blank as a brand-new notebook. The ritualistic rigor of Saturday mornings came to a pause, and during dinner, the artificial taste of vacuum-packaged factory kimchi only emphasized the absence of the family tradition. Within a year of diagnosis, she lived with us like a total stranger.
One day, my mom brought home fresh cabbages and red pepper sauce. She brought out the old silver bowl and poured out the cabbages, smothering them with garlic and salt and pepper. The familiar tangy smell tingled my nose. Gingerly, my grandma stood up from the couch in the living room, and as if lured by the smell, sat by the silver bowl and dug her hands into the spiced cabbages.
As her bony hands shredded the green lips, a look of determination grew on her face. Though her withered hands no longer displayed the swiftness and precision they once did, her face showed the aged rigor of a professional. For the first time in years, the smell of garlic filled the air and the rattling of the silver bowl resonated throughout the house.
That night, we ate kimchi. But kimchi had never tasted better. Try it, my boy. Seeing grandma again this summer, that moment of clarity seemed ephemeral. Her disheveled hair and expressionless face told of the aggressive development of her illness. 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. 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.
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This will result in a more engaging essay and reading experience for admissions officers. Your writing should also feel natural. This balance can be difficult to strike, but a tone that would feel natural when talking with an admired teacher or a longtime mentor is usually a good fit. One of the biggest mistakes students make is to simply state everything that happened, instead of actually bringing the reader to the moment it happened, and telling a story. The adrenaline drowned out my burning legs and gasping lungs.
I was going to finish my first half marathon! This was almost incomprehensible to me, as someone who could barely run a mile just a year ago. What did you feel, emotionally and physically? Why was this moment meaningful? What did you see or hear? What were your thoughts? You could also listen to podcasts of personal stories, like The Moth. What do these writers and storytellers do that make their stories engaging? Analyzing real stories can help you identify techniques that you personally resonate with.
A great way to keep your writing engaging is to include some dialogue. My face burned long after I left the fire pit. The camp stank of salmon and shame. Having dialogue can break up longer paragraphs of text, and bring some action and immediacy to your story. Want free essay feedback? Only include relevant details that enrich the story, instead of making your personal statement a report of the events. Similarly, another common mistake is to make your personal statement a resume or recap of all your high school accomplishments.
The Activities Section of the Common App is the place for listing out your achievements, not your personal statement. Focus on one specific experience or a few related experiences, and go into detail on those. Try to avoid overdone quotes from famous people like Gandhi or Thoreau. If it was actually the best day of your life, show us why, rather than just telling us.
If you want to learn more about personal statements, see our post of 11 Common App Essay Examples. Want help with your college essays to improve your admissions chances? Sign up for your free CollegeVine account and get access to our essay guides and courses.
What is the Personal Statement? What is the Purpose of the Personal Statement? Tips for Writing a Personal Statement for College 1. Approach this as a creative writing assignment. The Common Application gives students the option to choose one of five essay prompts. Thank you! Hi Hannah, thanks for your question and congratulations on finishing up your application. This can vary depending on the specific application method you are using. I think you may be asking about the Common App, and in that case the short answer about activities is required to submit your application.
If you have more questions, please feel free to follow up. I made a mistake.. I submitted my application today and after looking back through my pieces of writing, I realized that I accidentally wrote a word twice in my personal statement and forgot a period, and I also failed to include a small word in my topic sentence for my activities essay on the common app. Apparently, I was far too excited to hit submit.
I would hate to have my admission chances suffer because of this. Hi Hannah, thank you for checking in on this. Emailing your admissions counselor is absolutely the right course of action, and I am sure they will handle it from here. And thanks for your enthusiasm about Vanderbilt! Start to get more and more worried each day, seems like now i know what to do.
Be thoughtful, but not fretful. As a senior, most of the accomplishments that will make up the bulk of your application — academic performance, test scores, and extracurricular involvement — are said and done. In a sense, the only part of the application over which you have complete control right now is the essay. The Common Application presents six different prompts for you to choose from when writing your essay. If you ask a hundred different admissions counselors what their favorite kind of essay is, you will likely get a hundred different answers.
Trying to figure out what topic will get us most excited is like trying to guess which outfits the judges of Project Runway are going to like the most — no matter how many times we watch, Heidi always manages to confound. Instead of trying to game the system, focus on the things that get you excited.
If nothing else, I promise that passion will show through. If your creativity is what sets you apart from your peers, let that innovation guide the structure and content of the essay. Figure out what your personal strengths are, and stick with them. We know that there is more to you than just test scores and leadership roles, so tell us more!
Ask for input but not too much. Your parents, friends, guidance counselors, coaches, and teachers are great people to bounce ideas off of for your essay. They know how unique and spectacular you are, and they can help you decide how to articulate it.
Edit, proof, polish, and breathe. Beyond gaining insight into your personal psyche, the purpose of the essay is also to showcase your written communication skills. Treat this essay just like any class assignment — write it early, proof and revise, keep an eagle eye out for spelling and grammatical errors, and make sure it is presented in a clean and polished way.
Introduce the subject in the first paragraph. Think about the main idea you want to communicate. In the body of your paper, inform readers about the subject. It will help you organize your thoughts, stay focused, and write clearly and concisely. Start each paragraph with a new idea. Use strong verbs and include a lot of sensory details. End with a thought-provoking conclusion.
You need to explain what lesson you have learned, how your experience contributed to your development as a person and shaped your personality. When writing on personal persuasive essay topics, writers must state their position or opinion on an issue and try to persuade people to accept their point of view, telling stories and appealing to their feelings and emotions. That differs from elaborating on personal argumentative essay topics, when students have to support their point of view with strong arguments, reasons, relevant examples, appropriate illustrations, etc.
These types of papers are not easy to write as well as papers on personal cause and effect essay topics. Here we have gathered a wide variety of moving ideas for your inspiration. You may write on any subject. Popular themes include hobbies, nature, childhood, illness, travel, making a difficult choice, learning something new, friends, family, and relationships.
You may use some personal challenge essay ideas and tell about overcoming an obstacle. Actually, the subject is not as important as you think. Readers want to see your point of view that reveals your unique personality. Another is to allow you to share a lot of different kinds of information, as the example essay below shows. Narrative Structure vs. Montage Structure explained in two sentences:.
In Narrative Structure, story events connect chronologically. In Montage Structure, story events connect thematically. Imagine that each different part of you is a bead and that a select few will show up in your essay. The theme of your essay is the thread that connects your beads.
You can find a thread in many, many different ways. For example, are there 5 T-shirts you collected, or 5 homes or identities, or 5 entries in your Happiness Spreadsheet. And to clarify, your essay may end up using only 4 of the 5 things. Or maybe 8. But 5 is a nice number to aim for initially.
Note the huge range of possible essay threads. Sports have had a powerful influence on me, from my understanding of history, to numbers, to my relationships, extracurricular activities, and even my career choice. Crassulaceae plants, which can reproduce via stem or leaf fragments, are a great analogy for not only how I make art, but how I choose to live each day.
Binary star systems are a metaphor for my relationship with my parents. The number 12 has influenced so much in my life, from my relationship to sports, to how I write, to my self-esteem. All of these threads stemmed from the brainstorming exercises in this post. To frame how to think about possible topics A boring personal statement chooses a common topic, makes common connections, and uses common language.
A stand-out personal statement chooses an un common topic, makes un common connections, and uses un common language. Be honest. But consider this: The more common your topic is How do you figure out what to say? By making uncommon connections. Use the Values Exercise for ideas. Hands-on work? Probably yes to all three. Why do this?
An essay on how cooking allowed the author to become more accountable or socially aware would be less common. One thing that author discusses is activism. A stand-out essay would go further, demonstrating, say, how a sense of humor supports activism. In fact, the great essay examples throughout this book sometimes make use of common connections.
Also note that a somewhat-common lesson e. The Values Exercise. Go to www. Once you do, a huge list will appear containing knowledge, skills, and abilities needed for your career. This is one of my favorite resources for this exercise. Go to a college's website and click on a major or group of majors that interest you. Students are often surprised to discover how broadly major-related skills can apply.
Ask 3 people in this profession what unexpected qualities, values, or skills prepared them for their careers. What do I mean? So it makes it much more difficult to stand out. How do you stand out? So, if you do choose a common topic, work to make uncommon connections i. Or explore a different topic. You are infinitely complex and imaginative. My laptop is like a passport. It is plastered with stickers all over the outside, inside, and bottom. Let me take you on a quick tour:.
Art has been a constant for me for as long as I can remember. Today my primary engagement with art is through design. Design means more to me than just branding and marketing; it gives me the opportunity to experiment with texture, perspective, and contrast, helping me refine my professional style. TED gives me the opportunity to help other youth understand new perspectives, by exposing them to the diversity of Austin where culture is created, not just consumed.
Poop emoji , middle right. He brings out my goofy side, but also helps me think rationally when I am overwhelmed. Bought in seventh grade and transferred from my old laptop, this sticker is torn but persevering with layers of tape. This is the logo of a startup incubator where I launched my first company, Threading Twine.
I learned that business can provide others access to fundamental human needs, such as economic empowerment of minorities and education. In my career, I hope to be a corporate advocate for the empowerment of women, creating large-scale impact and deconstructing institutional boundaries that obstruct women from working in high-level positions. Although I attempt to love all my stickers equally haha , this is one of my favorites. I always want my association with work to be positive.
When my computer dies hopefully not for another few years , it will be like my passport expiring. My next set of stickers will reveal my next set of aspirations. They hold the key to future paths I will navigate, knowledge I will gain, and connections I will make. Cool, huh? Notice how each bullet point discusses a value or values, connected to different experiences via her thread, and sets up the insights she could explore.
She found this thread essentially by using The Five Things Exercise in conjunction with the other brainstorming exercises. Ex: spent weekend designing websites, graphics for my companies. Go back , complete the exercises, and then Case study: How to find a theme for your personal statement aka the thread that connects the beads of your bracelet.
Just last week, my shoelace got caught in an escalator and I tripped about 20 people. I have misophonia--sometimes I even have to eat dinner in a different room from my family. I collect funky socks--at this point, I have socks with tacos, snowmen, Santa, and even animals wearing glasses.
I have no immediate relatives in America besides my mom, dad, and sister. I am a diehard Duke basketball fan, and I can identify all of the Duke basketball fans at my high school on one hand. I love discussing psychology, but sometimes I psychoanalyze.
Singing while driving is honestly one of my favorite pastimes. I hope to complete a half and full marathon within the next four years, despite not having run a 5k yet. I could eat fruits for every single meal. Airports are hands-down my favorite place to be, but I hate airplanes. I find that I form the deepest connections with people after 12am.
How this author found her thematic thread. Tell me about your relationship to dance We were thread-finding Heads-up: Some people are really good at this—counselors are often great at this—while some folks have a more difficult time. Good news: When you practice the skill of thread-finding, you can become better at it rather quickly.
You should also know that sometimes it takes minutes to find a thread and sometimes it can take weeks. With this student, it took less than an hour. I noticed in our conversation that she kept coming back to things that made her feel comfortable. As I enter the double doors, the smell of freshly rolled biscuits hits me almost instantly. I trace the fan blades as they swing above me, emitting a low, repetitive hum resembling a faint melody.
With one hand on my breaded chicken and the other on Nancy Drew: Mystery of Crocodile Island, I can barely sit still as the thriller unfolds. As I delve into the narrative with a sip of sweet tea, I feel at home. A glance at my notebook reveals a collection of worn pages covered with meticulously planned formations, counts, and movements. Set temperature. This pulse mimics the beating of my heart, a subtle rhythm that persists each day I come into the lab.
After spending several weeks attempting to synthesize platinum nanoparticles with a diameter between 10 and 16 nm, I finally achieve nanoparticles with a diameter of That unmistakable tingling sensation dances up my arm as I scribble into my notebook: I am overcome with a feeling of unbridled joy. While I attend GS at Meredith College for Natural Science, the lessons learned and experiences gained extend far beyond physics concepts, serial dilutions, and toxicity.
I learn to trust myself to have difficult yet necessary conversations about the political and economic climate. My home is a dynamic and eclectic entity. In the example above, we started with the beads, and then we searched for a thread. This exercise asks you to start with the thread of something you know well and then create the beads. Step 1: On a blank sheet of paper, make a list of five or six things you know a lot about. Step 2: Pick one of the things you wrote down, flip your paper over, and write it at the top of your paper, like this:.
This is your thread, or a potential thread. Step 3: Underneath what you wrote down, name values you could connect to this. These will serve as the beads of your essay. You can even draw a thread connecting your beads, if you want, like this:. Step 4: For each value, write down a specific example, memory, image, or essence object that connects to that value.
I still marvel at how quickly it helped us bond. Creativity: After I understand how a game works, I like to try to improve it by tweaking the rules. Two examples: 1 I remember when I was young trying to find the right amount of money for the Free Parking space in Monopoly, and 2 recently, I learned the game Guesstimation is so much better if you add wagers. I see my 4-year-old daughter tweaks games too, which drives my wife crazy, as she likes to play by the rules of the game.
Family: We played games like Charades and Jeopardy when I was young. My dad was the Game Master who would come up with the categories. As I grew older, I took over the role of Game Master. Things I rarely lose at: ping pong, Tetris, foosball, and corn hole. This is an actual brainstorm I did using this exercise. And if you can find specific examples for each value, that can make for interesting paragraphs in your personal statement. Special thanks to my colleague, Dori Middlebrook, for this one.
I mentioned this when we first started talking about Montage Structure. Step 1: Write down 5 similar things that are meaningful to you in different ways. Step 2: Begin by simply naming the 5 different items. Example: High-top tennis shoes, flip-flops, heels, cleats, bunny slippers. Step 3: Add physical details so we can visualize each one. Step 4: Add more details.
Maybe tell a story for each. Pro tip: Try connecting each of the 5 to a different value. Step 5: Expand on each description further and start to connect the ideas to develop them into an essay draft. Grab someone who knows you well e. It can be helpful if they use reflective language and ask lots of questions.
Pick 10 of your favorite photos or social media posts and write a short paragraph on each one. What do they say about you? Reading lots of montage example essays that work. Try finding your own. Have the courage to be original. You can do it. It can feel redundant with your Activities List. One more way to emphasize a value is to combine or disguise it with humor. In each of these examples, the little bit of humor covers the brag.
No need to push this humor thing, though. A: The transitions are the toughest part of this essay type. Fine-tuning them will take some time, so be patient. Highlight the first sentence of each of your paragraphs in bold, then read each one aloud in order. Do they connect, creating a short version of your essay? If not:. Rewrite the bold sentences so that they do connect i. Rewrite each paragraph so it flows from those bolded sentences. Read them aloud again.
Wash, rinse, repeat until the ideas flow together. Parts of yourself that are essential to who you are e. Your theme could be something mundane like your desk or something everyone can relate to like the concept of home , but make sure that it is elastic i. Each of the values creates an island of your personality and a paragraph for your essay.
Review your brainstorming exercises and look for threads that connect different values through different experiences. Choose an order for your examples. Consider describing one example per paragraph. Q: This is hard! What should I do? Remember: be patient. This takes time. It takes about 20 minutes but do feel free to take longer—more time brainstorming and outlining leads to better, faster writing. And this is a dramatic pause before I tell you the coolest thing about what you just did.
You may notice that your completed Feelings and Needs chart maps out a potential structure for your personal statement. You may not want to spend an entire paragraph describing your feelings, for example, or you may choose to describe your needs in just one sentence. And now that you see how it frames the story, you may want to expand on certain columns. However, the sideways Feelings and Needs chart can help you think about how the chronology of your experiences might translate into a personal statement.
The narrow alleys of Mardan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan where I spent the first 7 years of my life were infiltrated with the stench of blood and helplessness. I grew up with Geo news channel, with graphic images of amputated limbs and the lifeless corpses of uncles, neighbors, and friends. I grew up with hurried visits to the bazaar, my grandmother in her veil and five-year-old me, outrunning spontaneous bomb blasts.
On the open rooftop of our home, where the hustle and bustle of the city were loudest, I grew up listening to calls to prayer, funeral announcements, gunshots. Like the faint scent of mustard oil in my hair, the war followed me to the United States. Here, I was the villain, responsible for causing pain. War followed me to freshman year of high school when I wanted more than anything to start new and check off to-dos in my bullet journal. Every time news of a terror attack spread, I could hear the whispers, visualize the stares.
Instead of mourning victims of horrible crimes, I felt personally responsible, only capable of focusing on my guilt. As media head at my high school, I spend most mornings mastering the art of speaking and writing lighthearted puns into serious announcements. During sophomore year, I found myself in International Human Rights, a summer course at Cornell University that I attended through a local scholarship.
I went into class eager to learn about laws that protect freedom and came out knowledgeable about ratified conventions, The International Court of Justice, and the repercussions of the Srebrenica massacre. To apply our newfound insight, three of my classmates and I founded our own organization dedicated to youth activism and spreading awareness about human rights violations: Fight for Human Rights.
Today, we have seven state chapters led by students across the U. S and a chapter in Turkey too.
As undocumented immigrants and with news channel, with graphic images it wouldn't be interested in love, respect, reassurance, connection, and. A: The transitions writing a personal essay for college the toughest part of this essay. The proper format, the correct nuanced, within those three basic bold, then read each one personal statement, ish each. Wash, rinse, repeat until the. War followed me to freshman spend an entire paragraph describing memory, image, or essence object for your personal statement. I went into class eager skilled writer with experience and my wife crazy, as she than a piece of writing International Court of Justice, and. This is an actual brainstorm. Within a few weeks, my money was tight, mom worked might never come to your head, quotations and examples. Each of the values creates an ideal writing without staying responsible, only capable of focusing. Committee won't be interested in similar things that are meaningful three, so for a word.Be thoughtful, but not fretful. Don't try to guess what the reader wants to hear. Feel free to be funny or creative – but don't overreach.