Common Application Essay
Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn?
Ralph Waldo Emerson, the great American transcendentalist, said, “The greatest glory in living is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” Like Emerson, I believe that rising through my failures has enabled me to become successful and satisfied throughout my high school years. In the summer of 2013, I had committed myself to attending the Governor’s School for Science and Technology, considered one of the most prestigious institutions for high school students. I was never truly sure of what career I wanted to pursue in the future and joined the program for the prestige it brought. It was only after I enrolled that I realized that my judgment was misguided.
During the spring prior to my enrollment, I was encouraged by one of my teachers to apply to the program for my mathematical skills, and decided that applying could not be harmful. After completing my application, I thought little of it, and, while hoping for acceptance, did not concern myself with their decision. It was only after I received an acceptance letter that I had to make my decision. My parents were very proud, but ultimately indifferent to my decision, believing it was my duty to write my own future. And so, after visiting, I decided to accept their offer.
That summer, I utilized my time to complete my preliminary work for attending the Governor’s School. During which time, I was still content with my decision, but I began to question my reason for attending the school. Later that summer, my anxiety compounded as I realized I would lose what I had gained through the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corp (JROTC) program, and would furthermore abandon the rank of Ensign that I had just earned. I felt as if I were neglecting what I worked so hard to accomplish over the previous two years in JROTC, academics, and relationships. Nevertheless, I was determined to continue in the program and started the school year in an entirely new environment.
As I became accustomed to the school, I realized that the opportunities I was missing outweighed the possibilities that were opened to me. I became more and more concerned that I would be happier taking the opportunities available to me at my local high school. After weeks of agony, questioning whether or not to return to the high school, I finally resolved to withdraw from the Governor’s School.
Some may not consider it a failure; but, I could not bear the thought of withdrawal. Whenever I thought of my decision, I considered it a failure to persevere, as if it were a great intellectual defeat. In my mind, nothing could be more of a failure than deciding to quit. I wondered how people would view me, and how the stigma of being a dropout would affect me in the future. But throughout this process, everyone supported me in doing that which was best for me, regardless of my perception. In fact, I learned that I must follow my dreams no matter the cost in personal discomfort, and ultimately, that doing what I believe is right and following my passion makes me more successful and fulfilled.
Princeton Supplement Essay
Using the quotation below as a starting point, reflect on the role that culture plays in your life.
“Culture is what presents us with the kinds of valuable things that can fill a life. And insofar as we can recognize the value in those things and make them part of our lives, our lives are meaningful.” Gideon Rosen, Stuart Professor of Philosophy, chair of the Council of the Humanities and director of the Program in Humanistic Studies, Princeton University.I first experienced the value of culture at a young age. It was one of my grandparents greatest desires for me to become a cultured person, an individual who recognizes and appreciates not just our Western art, customs, and principles, but those of people across the world. As a result, they often took me to art museums and encouraged me to watch television that they believed would encourage me to understand others, and stimulate my curiosity about other cultures.
Although I gave no concern at first, by continually being exposed to others’ cultures, I learned that culture is not merely customs people engage in, but the main source of joy and happiness for individuals. Thus, I was determined to derive joy by embracing my own culture. I began by painting. I found the practice of brushing a white canvas with swaths of color quite exhilarating. My grandmother herself enjoyed art and urged me to produce it. The more I painted, the more I enjoyed it, but my experience with culture did not stop with painting.
As a child, I was quite shy and introverted, and I found others to be intimidating. Each time I met someone that I did not know, I became afraid. However, I soon realized that the world is filled with people, and the only way to survive is to embrace them. When I did, I became more outspoken and more confident in my abilities. It was then that I realized that culture is fundamentally composed of people, and that in order to fully experience culture, you must share it with others. By becoming more friendly and embracing others, I shared my own desires and learned the likes and dislikes of them, finding that in doing so my life became meaningful.
Through my experience, I have found that culture is what connects people together. It is the very fabric through which we learn to interact with others and understand each other. Through the television we watch, the plays we attend, and the art we appreciate, we grow and grow values of love, hatred, vengeance. Ultimately, those values and the meaning that we derive is our culture, without which, life maintains no significance. As Plato said, “The soul takes nothing with her to the next world but her education and her culture.” To which, I say, make the most of culture. Try not to whither away, sliding through life without caring to take embrace in culture, but learn its value. Learn the distinctive qualities of surrounding people, and, in doing so, make life meaningful as I learned to do.
Standardized Test Scores:
- SAT Composite: 2100
- Subject Tests:
US History: 730
English Literature: 700
- ACT Composite: 33
AP Test Scores:
US History: 5
European History: 4
English (Literature): 5
Calculus AB: 5
School Record and Class Ranking:
- Cumulative Rank: Not provided/unranked
- Cumulative GPA:
- 4.29 weighted
Extracurriculars and Student Demographics:
Latin Club President
Naval Junior ROTC Commander
Varsity Tennis Captain
Recreational Ice Hockey