College Essays

Common Application

Essay:

As the radio crackled and music changed, my dad’s most beloved song began to play through the stereo. As soon as he recognized it, he reached his arm out, turned the dial as far as it could go, and started to sing. Normally my dad’s off-key singing annoys me; however, this time the song and his reaction did not. Instead, his tuneless voice made me smile from ear to ear, adding another layer of enjoyment to an already wonderful night.

“Don’t Stop Believing,” the renowned Journey song, is critical to a fantabulous night at the Thompson household. We don’t just sing it in the car and play it at dinner parties — we laugh and scream it too. 

I’ll never forget the night that I realized my dad cherished this song so deeply. After dinner, we were sitting at the kitchen table as “Don’t Stop Believing” came on. I looked up the lyrics to ensure that I knew every word and started to sing along. My dad then joined in too, and we listened to the song on repeat for hours, singing and laughing.In that moment he and I built our connection to this song: we will always share this time and I will bring this memory with me no matter where I go. 

Not only do I appreciate this song because it was played relentlessly during my childhood, but also because I love the meaning of the lyrics and my relationship  with them. I too am a “small town girl,” and I know that when I start my college journey it might be a “lonely world.” However, the warm memories of my dad jamming out will allow me to feel close to home, making my world a little less lonely. 

My brother became the “city boy” when he moved in with our grandparents in Mesa, Arizona during winter 2021. My brother and I always had a unique twin relationship: one second we would fight, and the next we were best friends. However, due to our immense amount of high school homework and athletic obligations, we grew apart as we never had any time to spend with each other. The longer he lived in Arizona, the more I started to miss my home partner, and at times I would start to feel like an only child. We began to Facetime weekly, which allowed us to re-establish our twin relationship and actually grow even closer than before, linking us together from across the country. Coincidentally, on one of our last facetimes, “Don’t Stop Believing” played on my phone, and we enjoyed listening to it together. Now whenever I hear this song, not only do I remember my dad and me jamming out in the kitchen, but I also remember the time that I grew closer with my brother. He was the “city boy living in Arizona,” and I was “the small town girl” at home.

I believe that my dad not only likes the tune and rhythm of the song, but also the meaning of the lyrics. Both of my parents have set a standard for me to “never stop believing” and that I can do anything that I want to do, as long as I put in my full effort. This song plays in the back of my mind throughout all of my activities. I “live to find emotion” by spending time with my friends and family, and I know that wherever I go, I will never be alone because while my dad and mom listen to this song at home and my brother listens to it from his future school, I too will continue to listen to it in my dorm, connecting me to my family wherever I go. 

Tips for writing:

in order to start writing your college essay, brainstorm a series of events or ideas that have significant meaning to you or someone else in your life/family. Then, once you have an idea that you would like to pursue, continue brainstorming events that tie into that idea, for example car rides, vacation, memories that taught you something. Then, just start writing, sometimes even jotting bullets down about potential ideas works better, because you can later go back in and connect and add details. Just start writing, and then write it again, and again, until you have something that you are proud of, and would like to share with others and college admissions officers. 

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