Successful College Essays

This page features all of the successful college essays available on IvyApps, from Common App essays to college supplement essays and short answers.

To see a specific university’s applications, see the list below:


  1. MIT Essays and Applications That Worked MIT Essay: Tell us about something you do simply for the pleasure of it. - We know you lead a busy life, full of activities, many of which are required of you. Tell us about something you do simply for the pleasure of it. My favorite way to sit down, unwind, and relax after a long day is reading. I curl up with my current novel or manga, lay down by the window sill for some natural lighting, and travel to my next destination. If I ever read by candle light-which is rather inefficient and archaic-I would constantly be burning them down to the base. I am usually amazed when I’ll start reading- only for Continue Reading »
  2. MIT Essays and Applications That Worked MIT Essay: Which department or program at MIT appeals to you and why? - Although you may not yet know what you want to major in, which department or program at MIT appeals to you and why? As of now, I would probably say that course 18 and course eight are my tentative fields of study. Course 18 appeals to me because of the passion I have for math, and the multiple pathways that are available under this topic. Course 8 offers astrophysics as a subtopic to physics. As a kid, I would gaze up to the stars and wonder about the mysteries of the cosmos. So by coming here and studying within this tight-knit group of people, I Continue Reading »
  3. MIT Essays and Applications That Worked MIT Essay: What attribute of your personality are you most proud of? - What attribute of your personality are you most proud of, and how has it impacted your life so far? This could be your creativity, effective leadership, sense of humor, integrity, or anything else you’d like to tell us about. Most older people would criticize my generation by saying that we lack integrity: fortunately, I don’t apply to that. Integrity is honesty to yourself, to others, and to those you don’t know. It could also mean having a strong base of good principles to support yourself. So by either of those definitions, most teens have faltered from it, but it is a Continue Reading »
  4. MIT Essays and Applications That Worked MIT Essay: Describe the world you come from. - Describe the world you come from; for example, your family, clubs, school, community, city, or town. How has that world shaped your dreams  and aspirations? People commonly think of Monroe as an epidemic full of heroin users. People are constantly trying to keep the drugs off the street, helping people get to rehab, and trying to spread a positive message to kids. I live outside of the two tracks that separate The Orchard from the rest of the suburbs-The Orchard is like a mini version of the Hood. I live by the local community center and library, where the children, Continue Reading »
  5. MIT Essays and Applications That Worked MIT Essay: Most significant challenge - Tell us about the most significant challenge you’ve faced or something important that didn’t go according to plan. How did you manage the situation? It was a cold Sunday night in early December last year. The snow was coming down around us, and I was still tired from the first wrestling tournament of the season the day before. Everything seemed normal-until my mom received a devastating phone call. It was my dad’s co-worker telling her that my dad had a heart attack in Kentucky driving his 18 wheeler back from Tennessee. My mom eventually found the hospital and called them, and Continue Reading »
  6. MIT Essays and Applications That Worked MIT Essay: Additional information or material - No admission application can meet the needs of every individual. If you think that additional information or material will give us a more thorough impression of you, please respond on separate sheets. A few of my other extra curricular activities include 4-H, Anime Club, and the freshmen Ignition Mentors. Through 4-H, I was able to grow from a young seedling into a mighty oak-sure enough of my own strength to stand tall against the negative things in life. I also started my school’s Anime Club at the end of my junior year. As well, I didn’t run for any leadership roles; I didn’t want Continue Reading »
  7. MIT Essays and Applications That Worked MIT Essay: Tell us about something you do simply for the pleasure of it - We know you lead a busy life, full of activities, many of which are required of you. Tell us about something you do simply for the pleasure of it. What I do for pure enjoyment is clowning. When I participated in my school talent show this past year, with a juggling act, the crowd erupted in laughter! People burst out in applause because my performance was so original. This was the beginning of my amateur clowning career because the talent show gave me the idea to join my local VFW clown unit. We clown at fairs where I hear kids Continue Reading »
  8. MIT Essays and Applications That Worked MIT Essay: Which department or program at MIT appeals to you and why? - Although you may not yet know what you want to major in, which department or program at MIT appeals to you and why? The economics department. MIT is ranked number one in the economics field, and receiving a degree would give me an overwhelming sense of success and accomplishment. Also, the professors have so many crowning achievements of their own. Furthermore, my inquisitive mind is peaked with the concept of money and how it circulates. Why does the treasury produce so much cash if production causes inflation? How can markets across the globe affect the USA? Money makes the world Continue Reading »
  9. MIT Essays and Applications That Worked MIT Essay: What attribute of your personality are you most proud of - What attribute of your personality are you most proud of, and how has it impacted your life so far? This could be your creativity, effective leadership, sense of humor, integrity, or anything else you’d like to tell us about. My distinct trait is energy. Time after time teachers thank me for my class participation because I share my ideas with such zeal. Often I am counted on to spark discussions early in the morning while most students are still half asleep. One day my Spanish teacher even had me lead the class in aerobic exercises to help stop the glum, Continue Reading »
  10. MIT Essays and Applications That Worked MIT Essay: Describe the world you come from - Describe the world you come from; for example, your family, clubs, school, community, city, or town. How has that world shaped your I reside dreams and in aspirations? [Redacted], a rural town (actually so small it is classified as a village) in Northwest Ohio. My family consists of my loving parents, and my little sister. The one key trait I have learned from my upbringing is confidence. I have always been taught to listen to my thoughts and not to follow the crowd. Confidence is necessary to know who I am. With this skill I have had the privilege of Continue Reading »
  11. MIT Essays and Applications That Worked MIT Essay: Most Significant Challenge - Tell us about the most significant challenge you’ve faced or something important that didn’t go according to plan. How did you manage the situation? The most overwhelming obstacle I have ever faced occurred in third grade. Doctors determined that my Achilles tendons were too short, which made me a “tippie toe” walker. At first my parents and I were not alarmed, but the doctors explained that if I did not undergo surgery, I would be in a wheelchair by age thirty. My parents decided that having surgery as soon as possible would be my best option. Recovering from the surgery Continue Reading »
  12. Successful Harvard Essay Harvard Supplemental: Spanish Romance - I have had a fascination with the people, languages and cultures of Spain since middle school, when I would watch Spanish professional soccer on television. These were my heroes, who dangled a ball before their opponents as though it was a matador’s cape. The rivalries between soccer teams was my window into the regional mosaic of Spanish culture. The most remarkable team, F.C. Barcelona, was the all consuming passion of proud and prosperous Catalunya. The team Athletic Bilbao of the Basque country, though typically no match for the Catalans, played in a fierce and resilient style reflective of the Basque’s Continue Reading »
  13. Successful Harvard Essay Harvard Common App Essay: What you would want your future college roommate to know about you - What you would want your future college roommate to know about you? Hello roomie! It’s nice to be able to talk to you about myself before I meet you. This way, when I do meet up with you, we will hopefully be based the awkward phase, and finally starting to become friends. I hope that everything has been going well for you prior to packing your bags and heading into the dorms. But I just wanted to take a moment to introduce myself, and let you know a few things about me. I am a fairly diverse individual. I like Continue Reading »
  14. Successful Princeton Applications and essays Princeton Supplement Essay: Write About A Person, Event, or Experience That Helped You Define One of Your Values or In Some Way Changed How You Approach the World - Using one of the themes below as a starting point, write about a person, event, or experience that helped you define one of your values or in some way changed how you approach the world. Please do not repeat, in full or in part, the essay you wrote for the Common Application. (250-650 words.) "Always strive to do the hardest thing." These words were spoken at our awards assembly a week after our high school’s mock trial team won the Idaho State Mock Trial Championship. The intensity of mock trial has been the turning point of my life so far. Continue Reading »
  15. Successful Princeton Applications and essays Princeton Supplement Essay: Tell Us About an Event or Experience That Helped You Define One of Your Values or Changed How You Approach the World - In addition to the essay you have written for the Common Application, please write an essay of about 500 words (no more than 650 words and no less than 250 words). Using one of the themes below as a starting point, write about a person, event, or experience that helped you define one of your values or in some way changed how you approach the world. Please do not repeat, in full or in part, the essay you wrote for the Common Application. Using a favorite quotation from an essay or book you have read in the last three years Continue Reading »
  16. Successful Princeton Applications and essays Princeton Supplement Essay: How You Have Spent the Last Two Summers - Please tell us how you have spent the last two summers (or vacations between school years), including any jobs you have held. (About 150 words) I have spent my last two summers in pretty much the same fashion. Every year, early on in our summer break, my sisters and I participate in the 4-H Exploration Days festivities held at Michigan State University. After that, we start to attend the summer program for our Upward Bound charter at Monroe County Community College. In the middle of this, I take a few days off to go to wrestling camp and learn new Continue Reading »
  17. Successful Princeton Applications and essays Princeton Supplement Essay: Elaborate On One of Your Extracurricular Activities or Work Experiences That Was Particularly Meaningful to You - Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences that was particularly meaningful to you. (About 150 words) Upward Bound has been an integral part of my high school life. It has given me the time to develop my skills, test my abilities, and explore my interests. The after school tutoring that is available has been a safety net for assistance as I try to tackle harder classes every year. I do my best to be a student leader by helping other people out to the best of my abilities. Through Upward Bound, I have been to Continue Reading »
  18. Successful Princeton Applications and essays Princeton Supplement Essay: How Can We Unlearn the Practices of Inequality? - Tell us how you would address the questions raised by the quotation below, or reflect upon an experience you have had that was relevant to these questions. “How can we unlearn the practices of inequality? In other words, how do we increase our capacities not just to act without racism but to actively promote racial equality?” Imani Perry, Professor, Center for African American Studies, and Faculty Associate, Program in Law and Public Affairs, Princeton University. The bookshelf in my room holds about twenty books that have had the greatest impact on me over the past few years. Toni Morrison’s Beloved Continue Reading »
  19. Successful Princeton Applications and essays Princeton Supplement Essay: Reflect On the Role That Culture Plays in Your Life - 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 Continue Reading »
  20. Successful Princeton Applications and essays Princeton Supplement Essay: Tell Us About A Person Who Has Influenced You In A Significant Way. - In addition to the essay you have written for the Common Application, please write an essay of about 500 words (no more than 650 words and no less than 250 words). Using one of the themes below as a starting point, write about a person, event, or experience that helped you define one of your values or in some way changed how you approach the world. Please do not repeat, in full or in part, the essay you wrote for the Common Application. Tell us about a person who has influenced you in a significant way. I have always regarded Continue Reading »
  21. Successful Princeton Applications and essays Princeton Supplement Essay: How You Have Spent the Last Two Summers - Please tell us how you have spent the last two summers (or vacations between school years), including any jobs you have held. (About 150 words) During the summer breaks leading up to my junior and senior year, I volunteered at School of Rock's summer camps. This music school is based on the belief that playing in a band is a unique experience that teaches one how to truly be a musician. The weekly summer camps were exercises in this belief as they group 4-6 students from different age groups and skill levels in a band, and, over the course of 5 days, Continue Reading »
  22. Successful Princeton Applications and essays Princeton Supplement Essay: Elaborate On One of Your Extracurricular Activities or Work Experiences - Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences that was particularly meaningful to you. (About 150 words) I started the Current Events Club because my group of friends like to discuss current news and local, national, and international politics. Our discussions would usually become very intense and attract a diverse crowd of participants. After two years of these discussions, we noticed that people would express their interest in joining the discussion, but would not have enough knowledge on a topic to formulate and express their view. Once we realized this, a friend and I decided that it would be a Continue Reading »
  23. Successful Princeton Applications and essays Princeton Common App Essay: Entrepreneurship - Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family. “Ka-ching!” Success! This was not a real cash register but the sound of a notification from the Etsy app on my phone. I eagerly read the screen. “One new order.” Someone bought something I created! A childish glee coursed through me as I opened the Etsy app. This adventure began two years ago when I clicked the “Publish” button on my new Etsy shop. (Etsy.com, a virtual marketplace, accommodates everyone from budding entrepreneurs to experienced sellers.) Soon came Continue Reading »
  24. Successful Princeton Applications and essays Princeton Common App Essay: My Relationship with Music - Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story. My relationship with music began when I started taking piano lessons on the well-loved Kreutzer upright in my living room. As my repertoire expanded from “Chopsticks” to Chopin, I realized I loved music but was still searching for meaning. I dreamed of finding the source of inspiration that would transform my music from recital to reverie. In ninth grade, I was offered the organist position at Continue Reading »
  25. Successful Princeton Applications and essays Princeton Common App Essay: Musical Identity - Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story. Sometimes, I bring my Klavierbuchlein; other times, I bring the hymnal I received from my parents. In the winter, I bring an extra sweater. More important than what I bring is what I leave behind. As I ascend step by step up the passageway that many others walk by without a second glance, I cross through rays of light that appear to have been scattered  by Continue Reading »
  26. Successful Princeton Applications and essays Princeton Common App Essay: Failure - Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn? I don't know what hit me first, the sight or the smell of the dead pig. It must have been dead for a few hours as the smell had begun to condense around the table. I could still see the purplish bruise left from where my uncle clubbed it, and the sanguine laceration underneath his leg leading to his heart, still dribbling blood. The pig's expression was a mixture of confusion and pain, unaware what was happening until it was Continue Reading »
  27. Successful Stanford Essays Stanford Supplement Essay: Future Roommate - Virtually all of Stanford's undergraduates live on campus. Write a note to your future roommate that reveals something about you or that will help your roommate--and us--know you better. Hello, dear roommate. Let’s break the laws of the Universe. Although it’s not quite to scale, I like to think of our new home as an atom, and you and I as two wonderfully energetic electrons buzzing around campus. Now, the Pauli exclusion principle lays down the law quite firmly-“No two identical fermions can occupy the same quantum state simultaneously.” However, this presents some serious problems for our blooming room-lationship. I Continue Reading »
  28. Successful Stanford Essays Stanford Supplement Essay: Intellectual Vitality - Stanford students possess an intellectual vitality. Reflect on an idea or experience that has been important to your intellectual development. The sterile neutrino. It was like trying to catch and study a bullet traveling at 400 m/s using a wet piece of tissue paper. Originally a ‘desperate attempt’ to explain the violation of conservation laws in beta- decay, the neutrino has a history of anomaly. Neutrinos interact exclusively via the weak force, so interaction is rare–making them nearly impossible to detect. Following the first detector discovery, physicists worked for almost a century to create a non- contradictory understanding of these Continue Reading »
  29. Successful Stanford Essays Stanford Supplement Essay: Short Questions - SHORT QUESTIONS Name your favorite books, authors, films, and/or artists.* Books:The Elegant Universe(Brian Greene), Imagine(Jonah Lehrer), And The Mountains Echoed(Khaled Hosseini), Mr Tompkins Explores the Atom(George G Gamow), Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynmann!(Richard Feynmann et al) Films: Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain, Donnie Darko(who doesn’t love a cult classic?) Artists: (painting) Salvador Dali and Francois Miglio (music) Alt-J, Sufjan Stevens, Bowerbirds What newspapers, magazines, and/or websites do you enjoy? Newspapers: The Washington Post, The New York Times Magazines: The Economist, Time, Christian Science Monitor, Foreign Policy, Sky & Telescope, Scientific American, Physics Today, National Geographic Websites: Al Jazeera, BBC, CNN, Continue Reading »
  30. Successful Stanford Essays Stanford Common App Essay: My Name - Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story. “SunHee? Isn’t that an Asian name? Aren’t you black?” Yes, my name is actually SunHee. Yes, it’s Asian. Yes, I am indeed black. From a young age, I’ve always carried a name that I considered too out of the ordinary. SunHee, a Korean name meaning “princess of goodness and righteousness”, packed a great deal of power and responsibility- both of which I didn’t believe I was Continue Reading »
  31. Successful Stanford Essays Stanford Common App Essay: Computer Programming - Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you? I stand in the security line at LAX amid a sea of blue TSA agents. Despite the surrounding chaos of rushed passengers, screaming babies, and the fear of abandoned luggage, my mind is at ease: I am intently surveying my environment, my eyes darting between blue-clad agents and shoeless passengers as I analyze the TSA’s security system. Which passengers are pre-checked and can breeze through screening? What determines whether someone goes through the body scanner or Continue Reading »
  32. Successful Stanford Essays Stanford Common App Essay: Challenge of the Future - Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story. It was Veteran’s Day, and my kindergarten class was listing family members who had served in the military. I raised my hand, waving it intensely, intent on sharing mine. Regardless of the lack of honesty in my statement, I went for it. “My grandpa was in the army.” I needed an explanation for his absence, so my imagination filled the void where truth didn’t exist. He Continue Reading »
  33. Successful Stanford Essays Stanford Common App Essay: Math Competitions - Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story. Once the lyrics started, my eyes had no chance of holding back the eager river of tears. B.o.B’s song “Don’t Let Me Fall” spoke to me deeply and immediately. It was the same morning I left the 2013 Mu Alpha Theta National Convention (the largest nationwide math competition), and upon the suggestion of my best friend Andrew, I listened to what he claimed would summarize our Continue Reading »
  34. Successful Stanford Essays Stanford Common App Essay: Spirit of a Scientist - Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story. I step through the silence towards the metal doors, bathed in the fluorescent glow that accompanies me to my destination. The air gets colder. I stare at my breath, now a cloud, and move through the stale, unflattering light onto the platform. The pure white dome beckons to me–silent, promising–and I step inside. Admiring the giant in the room–a solitary, intimidating block of metal and glass–I Continue Reading »
  35. Successful Stanford Essays Stanford Common App Essay: Sheila - Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family. As I sat in the one roomed ramshackle, I could tell that the five other individuals with whom I shared the room were fast asleep. The lamp was slowly waning, a true sign that the kerosene was almost used up. Unlike the screams and gunshots that filled the air the previous night, the entire slum was silent. I was frantically trying to piece together the next day's lesson plan but She was all I could think of. She Continue Reading »
  36. Successful Stanford Essays Stanford Common App Essay: Research - The lessons we take from failure can be fundamental to later success. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience? “Why do you think that happened?” my research mentor probed. His disheveled waist-length hair rustled as he nudged me to respond.  Round, purple glasses tinted his vision, yet I felt he was staring deeply into my soul. His fingers tapped to the jazzy beat of the psychedelic Sly and the Family Stone song streaming from the vintage loudspeakers on his desk. The laboratory room was a Continue Reading »
  37. Successful Stanford Essays Stanford Common App Essay: Circus Center - Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story. I derive pleasure from the adventure of exploring the physical capacity of my body, pulling myself out of alignment and into the discovery of new movements. The summer that I spent at the San Diego Circus Center fostered my playful mindset by providing an eclectic knowledge base and a supportive environment that allowed me to safely push the bounds of my body. Up until that summer, I had Continue Reading »
  38. Successful Princeton Applications and essays Princeton Common App Essay: Inspiration - Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family. Mr. Kimmel died of a heart attack the Saturday before school started. While I didn’t know him, former students praised how he made eighth grade tolerable with his tangential dialogues on Star Wars and the power of prose. Announcements deadpanned his passing, a library alcove renamed “Kimmel’s Korner” – his honorable epitaph, which few gave second glances to; I was no exception. Then, post-funeral reparations: the wise words of Yoda ripped, demeaned, replaced with motivational quotes when Mrs. Continue Reading »
  39. Yale Common App Essays Yale Supplement Essay: Swimming - I thought there was something wrong with me when I realized that I was a terrible swimmer. Swimming never came naturally to me and I considered it to be my biggest adversary at the time. I began to take swim lessons at the age of twelve and I dreaded every moment. However, my parents continually pushed me in hopes that I should learn this lifelong skill, especially since they never had this opportunity growing up. Each lesson ended just as the previous: in failure. I believed that my effort was useless when it came to swimming and felt defeated after Continue Reading »
  40. Yale Common App Essays Yale Supplement Essay: Travel - I’ve always loved words, but conventional was never among them. Growing up, I turned on the TV only for the Oscars and the Olympics, instead discovering the world through Lincoln Log cities and kitchen-sink science experiments. My education took advantage of nature, music, and hands-on exploration, dirt and noise my textbooks. It was an intense childhood, but one which encouraged independent thinking. To no one’s surprise, then, our family vacations took an equally atypical route: my parents matched budget with opportunity and rented RVs, family vacations on-the-go. Over the years, I have lived in ten RVs across eighteen states, two Continue Reading »
  41. Yale Common App Essays Yale Supplement Essay: Introversion - I was born an introvert. From the moment I learned to walk, I sought out the most obscure hiding spots in the house to read and draw in seclusion until my parents dragged me out. When I began public schooling, I sat quietly and obediently in the corner, sneaking peeks at my books while my classmates prattled away with each other. Unsolicited conversation was my greatest fear, and moments alone were my greatest treasure. Everyone thought I was too independent, shy, and socially inept. But I was happy to be an introvert. Being quiet allowed me to meditate on my Continue Reading »
  42. Yale Common App Essays Yale Supplement Essay: Theater - How can the post-apocalyptic, Simpsons-obsessed world of Anne Washburn's Mr. Burns be appropriately expressed in a theater that seats a hundred? How can the set of J.M. Barrie's The Admirable Crichton effectively and efficiently transform from the stuffy, rigid interior of Loam House, Mayfair, to a deserted tropical island in the Pacific? How can Shakespeare's As You Like It be elevated by a setting that both evokes the play's Globe beginnings and reflects the modern relevance of the work? A lot of people grow up with dreams of being an actor. I am not among them. Even so, my love Continue Reading »
  43. Yale Common App Essays Yale Common App Essay: Indian American Identity - Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story. Since my childhood, I wanted success in America, a desire shared by many first generation children of immigrants, but as an Indian male I convinced myself that the only way to attain this was through complete assimilation. I found ways to pick and prod at some of the most unjust aspects of Indian society and used that as enough justification to reject my culture altogether. I wanted to Continue Reading »
  44. Yale Common App Essays Yale Common App Essay: Musical Theater - Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story. I was born amidst the jubilant chords of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony,  two hundred and fifty measures after my twin brother. I once asked why, of all the music ever written, my mother chose this piece to welcome us into the world. Her answer was simple:  she wanted the first thing we heard to be utterly joyous. Blame it on Beethoven, but the right side of my brain quickly Continue Reading »
  45. Yale Common App Essays Yale Common App Essay: Failure - The lessons we take from failure can be fundamental to later success. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience? Every time I swung my leg back, I froze. It didn’t matter how many times I’d tried, or how perfectly I was postured. The moment I was ready to jump, flying across the ice with my arms poised to snap in, my heart would catch and I’d fall out of position, gliding uselessly around the corner to make another futile attempt. It was in this way Continue Reading »
  46. Yale Common App Essays Yale Common App Essay: Beauty - Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again? Beauty is meant to be a right-angled thing, my parents taught me. The object must be symmetrical, clearly defined, approved by the right critics, and represented in fine art. We cannot make beauty; we can only look at it, they said. But even though nodding knowingly at Mozart’s melodies or Michelangelo’s murals was apparently the closest we could get to the stars, I didn’t want to look at their shine; I wanted to create it. But naturally, Continue Reading »
  47. Yale Common App Essays Yale Common App Essay: Musical Identity - Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story. I remember my first show, which I still consider the greatest day of my life:  The torn red carpet underneath my kit was accented by the unmistakable aroma and sight of broken drum sticks littered around the riser.  My sharpie-scribbled setlist was carefully blue taped next to my stool as the repeatedly flashing disco-esque lights and fog machine busied the stage.  I was 13 years old and had Continue Reading »
  48. Successful Harvard Essay Harvard Common App Essay: Evaluate a Significant Experience - Evaluate  a  significant  experience,  achievement,  risk  you  have  taken,  or  ethical   dilemma  you  have  faced  and  its  impact  on  you. The  most  gratifyingly  productive  and  exhilarating  hours  of  my  life  were  spent  frantically  typing  by  the  glow  of  a  laptop  on  a  desk  in  the  dark  corner  of  a  crowded  basement  office.  Glamorous,  working  in  politics  is  not.  When  the  campaign  office  in  which  I  toiled  for  most  of  my  waking  hours  didn’t  smell  like  dirty  feet,  it  was  due  to  one  of  two  things:  someone  had: emptied  a  bottle  of  Febreeze  in  a  futile  attempt  at  air  freshening  or Continue Reading »
  49. Successful Harvard Essay Harvard Common App Essay: Breaking the Ice - The Cayman Islands, our home, are renowned for their crystal clear waters, stunning beaches, and vibrant coral reefs. Of course, the absence of alpine features is self-evident for a tropical island, yet these ostensibly challenging aspects of Cayman’s climate and terrain did not hinder the establishment of the team I now represent: the Cayman Islands Confederation and Association of Snow Sports (CICASS). Unfortunately, I have been the object of frequent derision due to the peculiar nature of my ski team; few ski racing competitors suppress their initial feelings of unease towards a diversified pool of nations participating in our sport, Continue Reading »
  50. Successful Harvard Essay Harvard Common App Essay: Topic of Your Choice - When I was seven, I thought garbage trucks were a conspiracy–a ploy by no-good evildoers to convince people to pay them to take their possessions. Nobody believed me, but what did they know? Despite my parents’ warnings, I biked after a Waste Management vehicle up and down a steep hill to find out what it was really up to. I fell off and returned with a shattered jaw–and shattered hopes about my theory.   I love to argue. I always have, as my parents discovered rather quickly with my childish inquiries about trash trucks and other mysteries. Asking why, why, Continue Reading »
  51. Successful Harvard Essay Harvard Supplement: Elaborate on One of Your Extracurricular Activities or Work Experiences - Short answer — Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences in the space below. As my cursor hits “refresh” at 5:59 am., just before the debate topic is released, I’m an explorer. But treasure maps don’t lure me: the depths of LexisNexis are my uncharted turf. I scour databases, seeking answers to my questions. I break into a contented smile as the clock hits 6:00 a.m. The topic? Universal healthcare! The first debate, I’m a radical anarchist, hunting for market alternatives to break Big Brother's grip. The second, I’m a policy analyst surveying single-payer care. Continue Reading »
  52. Successful Harvard Essay Harvard Supplement: Tell Us About a Person Who Has Influenced You In A Significant Way - In addition to the essay you have written for the Common Application, please write an essay of about 500 words (no more than 650 words and no less than 250 words). Using one of the themes below as a starting point, write about a person, event, or experience that helped you define one of your values or in some way changed how you approach the world. Please do not repeat, in full or in part, the essay you wrote for the Common Application. Tell us about a person who has influenced you in a significant way. I have always regarded Continue Reading »
  53. Successful Harvard Essay Harvard Supplement: I See Things Differently - Being colorblind isn’t all bad. In fact, as of late it has allowed me to see more than I otherwise would have. As long as I can remember, I’ve loved airplanes. I’ve drawn them, read about them, built models of them, and watched them take off and land at the local airport. I can look up at a plane and identify it by shape, no color necessary! Naturally, ever since I learned that people make money playing with airplanes, I wanted to be a pilot. As I got older though, I found that perhaps my colorblindness would prevent me from Continue Reading »
  54. Successful Harvard Essay Harvard Supplement: The Essence of Music - Music has always been a dominant force in my life, inspiring and motivating me to challenge myself. With music, I could work towards mastering increasingly demanding passages while releasing my emotions through the melodies. For many years, the desire for acclamation drove me to practice and perform. I yearned for acknowledgement of my talent and the assurance that my playing was unparalleled; I wanted people to be astonished by my technical abilities and stylistic interpretations. Even when I played at volunteer concerts for seniors, my focus was on displaying my technical capability and receiving compliments after the performance. I chose Continue Reading »
  55. Successful Harvard Essay Harvard Supplement Essay: When In Rome - It was the first day of step tryouts, and I couldn’t have been more thrilled. I’d seen other students perform step routines and thought to myself “I want to do that!” But the moment I entered the cafeteria to tryout, I started feeling uneasy. Everyone towered over my diminutive 5’6” frame. These kids were nothing like the crowd I was used to. Everyone spoke with a different dialect of English, wore their jeans at lower altitudes, and several even sported tattoos on their forearms. Honestly, I thought they looked like thugs. It wasn’t that I’d never seen anyone like that Continue Reading »
  56. Successful Harvard Essay Harvard Common App Essay: Empathy - This summer I flew down to Tuscaloosa, Alabama to attend the University of Alabama Honors Academy. For a week, I lived in the UA Honors College dorms and attended college-level classes and lectures. There were many fascinating lectures, but only one will stay with me for the rest of my life – in a very real sense, it has changed the way I look at the world, and my place and purpose in it. It was the morning lecture on the second day of the program –Stephen Black, the Director of the University of Alabama Center for Ethics and Social Continue Reading »
  57. Successful Harvard Essay Harvard Common App Essay: Who I Am - Entering my kindergarten classroom, I shuffled around my blueberry shaped classmates as some began throwing their  winter layers into cubbies.  Admittedly, my torso was equally bulbous – covered with the threats and extortions of my mother: a heavy jacket, gloves, and a hat. But, below the waist I wore only a pair of frigid khaki shorts. As I walked proudly to my seat, my teacher quickly approached me. Bug-eyed, in what I assumed was intense admiration, she asked “Stephen, aren’t you the tiniest bit cold?”. “No,” I replied, smiling. “I don’t get cold.” For as long as I can remember, Continue Reading »
  58. Successful Harvard Essay Harvard Supplement Essay: Taiwan - Projecting a glob of what I had once assumed was toothpaste into the bathroom sink,  I quickly realized mandarin was a bit more confusing than I had assumed. Glancing around the sink, suddenly, none of the characters seemed familiar. What was  the character for tooth? Was it ten strokes or eleven? And  why were there so many tubes in this bathroom? My host dad’s voice drifts lazily from the kitchen “Do you need any help? “ Oh, he would. Trying to make me ask him. Forcing me to admit that I can’t differentiate the character for “Tooth” and “fungal” cream. So Continue Reading »