College Essays

Common Application

Prompt: Whatever you want to write about. 


“I’m the President of Utika, and I’m on your side!” 

Not to be mistaken for New York’s “Utica,” Utika is a fictional country born from 8-year-old me’s imagination. Its etymology is a blend of the final letters of my sister’s and my names, XXXX and XXXX. Utika is a magnificent, flourishing land with brilliant and benevolent people—and no poverty due to its naturally spawning money trees.

Being its creator and President, I designed a geometric emblem to represent our pride and success as Utikans. I structured the immigration process so it was swift and inclusive (all while awaiting my own U.S. citizenship). And I made sure to maintain Utikan international relations by addressing the public (my parents and grandparents) with my diplomatic speeches (a few sentences on scrap paper) read from a presidential podium (my music stand).

However, my sister, the vice president, had been displaying some traitorous behavior. One evening, when I was drawing the map of Utika, she scribbled with blue crayon all over it. By the next morning, she made a startling announcement: She was breaking off from Utika and forming her own rival country, Desmond. I was appalled—I thought she loved our country as much as I did; so, why was she abandoning it? I knew I had to figure out what was going on to maintain the peace of Utika. 

I summoned my sister to the dining room and greeted her upon her arrival, clearing my throat to begin the meeting. First order of business: the vandalized map.

“Vice president XXXX,” I paused, taking a sip of water from a Washington D.C. mug that I had written ‘Utika’ over, “Why did you ruin the map I was making?”

“Because. It’s not fair,” she said flatly. I furrowed my brows. 

“What’s not fair?” I asked. 

“It’s not fair that you were drawing the map without me.”

I sighed, finally understanding what went wrong. All she wanted was to be involved in the mapmaking process. I had to propose a solution. 

“You’re right. What if we made cartography both the Vice President and the President’s responsibility?” I suggested. She nodded, approving the policy change.

I smiled and clasped my hands together, concluding, “Great! So now you’ll come back?” I expected a yes, but instead she shook her head no. 

“What? Why not?”

“Because you didn’t let me draw the flag, either,” she complained. 

It suddenly struck that since I loved creating and running Utika so much, I hogged all the nation’s responsibilities to myself. My sister seldom could contribute to the country we said was ours. She had the title of Vice President, but none of the tasks. It was time Utika’s delegation of administration started to reflect the origins of its name.

“I’m sorry. Can we make a new flag together?” I offered.

“Okay. It should be pink.” I grimaced at the suggestion of my least favorite color. 

“Maybe not. How about blue?” 

“Fine. Blue. But I get to color it.”

“Deal.” We shook hands. 

Later that evening, I gathered the citizens of Utika and allowed my sister to announce her return to the republic. She gave her triumphant speech. 

“It is my pleasure to welcome Vice President XXXX back to the country!” I concluded. We stood there, side by side in front of our makeshift podium, finally on the other side of our conflict.

Looking back on the videos of these addresses now, I see a mini-politician buried somewhere in the girl who was buried somewhere in her dad’s suit jacket. I saw what I thought were problems in the world and changed them in my own fictional realities. Now, with a greater understanding of how the world works—but nevertheless equipped with the same dedication and drive as the President of Utika—I strive to induce change in this reality.

Tips for Writing:

My biggest piece of advice is to never sit and stare at a blank page—even if you feel like you can’t write about yourself, write about literally anything else. The moment you get your brain going it will be easier to write about the topics you actually want to write about. It’s also super helpful to do journaling and random writing prompts. Make a list of specific memories or anecdotes that have significance to you and that can highlight good traits in your personality—make sure to thoroughly brainstorm multiple different ideas so that if one doesn’t turn out how you expected, you always have a backup. Also, if it’s not too late by the time you’re reading this, do your college essays in the summer! All you need is a couple hours a week and you will be in a much better place the first half of your senior year. But if you are doing them now, like I am, dedicate as much time as you can to get them done as early as possible. This whole process is way less scary and stressful than you think it will be, so don’t worry. Good luck!

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