College Essays

Common Application


“TIME FOR STACK IT UP!” I announce above the din of chatter and laughter. Excited children emerge from the bouncy castle. Sweating teenagers drop their basketballs. Conversing adults saunter across the grass. All my neighbors gather around the folding table in my front yard to find a stack of red, plastic cups stationed at the center. I step up first to model the game for those who may never have played. Within 45 seconds, I produce a triangular mountain of red cups stacked one upon the other. The crowd cheers me on. “Go, Go, Go.” 10 seconds are left. “10…9…8…7…”


When I arrived in my new neighborhood, I realized that my neighbors had hectic routines. On weekdays, walking to the bus stop, I saw parents, dressed in business suits, stuffing their children into cars, leaving stay-at-home parents with their toddlers. On weekends, stepping into my Honda, I saw parents, wearing their pajamas, rushing their children to the YMCA for swimming or dance lessons, leaving grandparents at home. We waved across the lawns, but oftentimes, many would simply walk by, tapping their iPhones.


After settling on my street, I committed myself to unify my neighborhood. After all, we were a community. How could I help my busy neighbors find time to bond with each other on the street they called home? Then, it came to me–how about an old-school block party? I pitched the idea to every house on my lane, going door to door one Saturday. With about 50 supportive houses, I understood that the event could really work, and I excitedly began compiling a list.

Block Party To Do List

  • Chairs: Mrs. Singh → uses a walking stick, needs to sit

  • Babysitters: Choys → enjoy more if Danny is supervised

  • Bouncy castle: rent → entertains kids

  • Games: Minute to Win It, Basketball, Hockey → everyone loves these!

  • Barbecue: of course → main courses catered (hot dogs, burgers, chicken)

  • Potluck: snack, appetizer, or dessert from every household → ethnic to celebrate diverse cultures

  • City permission: search regulations

  • Entry fee: minimal, collect in advance to pay for catering & rentals

  • My team: get friends to volunteer as babysitters, set up/clean up, organize events, etc.

On the morning of the party, while my friends and I hung balloons on trees, neighbors carried trays of spanakopitas, spring rolls, and taquitos to the six-foot gray tables we covered with rose-patterned sheets. By the afternoon, the whole neighborhood had gathered. Instead of waving to each other across yards while mowing the lawn or pushing a stroller, my neighbors were laughing with each other. Beers in their hands, the adults chatted about sports, vacation plans, and migration to the neighborhood. Jumping around in their air-filled paradise, children discovered classmates they hadn’t actually spoken to yet. iPhones came out of pockets only to record phone numbers and emails, along with plans for future dinners and activities.

I felt delighted and accomplished–I had unified my community with an event that I brought from idea to fruition. The street party’s success gave me the confidence that I could organize such events, and I haven’t stopped since. I bring people together through simple daily activities–study groups in my classes, carpools for my clubs, pasta parties for my swim team, and pick-up basketball games on my street. I can’t wait to unite my dorm floor as a family and create a home away from home for everyone living there with me.

Frantically, I collapse each row of cups, resulting in 8 stacks. “3…2.” I merge the stacks on top of each other to create one bundle of red cups. The crowd roars with excitement. Pats on the back and an oreo cookie prize give way to the next competitor. I started the game for others to continue, just as I help create friendships for others to expand on their own.

Tips for Writing:

Be yourself when you write. Describe your experiences by way of showing your personality instead of simply trying to state your characteristics. Start early so that you can brainstorm and craft. Make sure the essay is unique to yourself and do not fear writing the essay. Don’t rely on a thesaurus to build your vocabulary since your own voice will be most pronounced through your own words.

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