College Essays

Common Application


Paris, France: 11 bis rue Cesar Franck in the 15th arrondissement: my family’s first apartment. When flipping through old pictures from this era of my life, I see my younger self dressed to the nines, wearing the most adorable white skirt and pink jacket combination in front of our apartment, the Eiffel Tower stretching above our roof. My mother always had fun dressing me up as a child, with her own brand of style. Without knowing, she instilled a love for style and individuality within me. 

When I was 16, one of my first sewing projects was a pair of low-rise, knee length shorts passed down from my aunt. To an untrained eye, these pants look dated, faded in color. They fit loosely at the waist and too wide at the knees. But when I saw them, I immediately fell in love. I saw beauty in potential. I envisioned a one-of-a-kind black mini skirt that could be paired with nearly anything. Cutting the excess material at the legs and between the pant holes, I slowly saw my image come to life. Now came the difficult task: threading the needle and executing the hem. In the end, it took me two hours to figure out how to thread the needle. I cut the threaded hem approximately three times, leaving  gaps in the fabric and a blast to my ego.

However, I kept going, I stayed up until the late hours of the night working, making sure that the bottom was even, the seams were straight, and the fabric was cut precisely. In my perfectionist mind, I only reach my best self when I am working at my own highest level of potential. Nevertheless, I created art that made me proud without worrying about its flaws. I no longer cared that my skirt did not resemble a fast fashion one; it finally looked perfect to me. A flipped thrift find showed me the endless potential of hidden beauties. This alteration made me accept that who I am is not some idealized final product. Working hard at something and showing passion matter, even if there is a snag on the sleeve. 

Returning to Paris this February, I know I will wear this skirt as not only a symbol of my creativity, but also as an ode to the country and influences I owe it all to. I will again walk the streets I once roamed as a child, feeling a sense of déjà vu and a surge of expressive possibility whirling in the Parisian air. 

Expressing who I am through fashion has been a part of me since I left the streets of Paris so many years ago. But it was only recently that I realized my hobby of sewing has helped to foster the development of a strong, hard-working, and relentless young woman. Sewing taught me that my inner strength will always outweigh the worries of messing up. In the future, I will take the lessons I have learned from sewing and meet any challenge with confidence I have in my determination and creativity. Now, when I see an old button-down shirt, I cut and tear and hem the life out of it, unafraid.

Tips for Writing: 

At the beginning of my college application process I was truly stressed and overwhelmed with the amount of essays and supplements that I had to complete. Not only was the amount of work stressful but it was also confusing to think in depth about these questions they were asking me. In regards to the main common application essay I wish that I had these few tips and tricks in my repertoire when I started writing to expand and aid my essay. Personally I believe that you will put the most work, heart, and effort into this essay above anything else you have written. In order to fully encapsulate your character you need to write about what you truly want to write about, do not follow a prompt. Rather write about what you want to write about, and the prompt you need to answer will form to what you are saying within the essay. Also, I would not limit myself to one singular essay idea. I would write multiple essays on multiple moments and characteristics that I have. Not only does this help your writing ideas flow, it also helps thread your ideas together. You can use ideas from multiple essays and thread them together to create an overarching amazing essay. Finally, make sure you approach writing this essay like it’s your personal journal. Do not treat it as a  formal essay that is worth a huge chunk of your marking period grade and do not fry and tell the admissions committee what you think they want to hear because they will see how ingenuine your writing is. It will lack the individual flare that you have when you break free from the constraints of a rubric.

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