College Essays

Common Application

Prompt (Common Application) 

Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.


As an enthusiastic fifth grader, walking onto the set of TODAY to compete in a grammar competition with singer, Andy Grammar, became an experience I’d never forget, since it sparked my love of the entertainment industry—even if I didn’t realize it at the time. I stepped through the NBC studio doors multiple times during my elementary years and could never stop myself from marveling at the grandeur of it all. To my left was the greatest breakfast spread I had ever seen and to my right was Vanessa Hudgens (what ten year old wouldn’t fall in love with the experience that allowed her to meet Gabriella from High School Musical?).

However, what I remember even more than my appearances is how the production team worked together as a unit. From the hair and makeup artists, to the backstage runners, to the camera crew, everyone knew what they needed to do at all times in order to achieve their shared goal: the perfect show. Now at the time, I don’t think I could tell you which people were fulfilling which jobs, but it was apparent that they were all doing something crucial. I often ask myself: if I went back to TODAY now, how would my experience differ? Upon reflection, I can confidently say that if I went back as my current self not one thing in that studio would go unnoticed. Sure I would still be in awe of craft services or the celebrities in the green room, but within the last few years it has become clear that my real fascination with the entertainment industry comes from those often unsung backstage heroes.

I tend to organize my life like a television production, focused on organization, attention to detail, and collaboration. As a competitive dancer of fourteen years, precision as well as the ability to work with my peers and mentors has become an essential part of my life. One arm out of place or one kick not as high as the others damages the effect of the performance as a whole— not so differently as if a teleprompter malfunctioned. Furthermore, this mentality has allowed me to thrive in my academics. Not just listening, but really hearing my teachers, asking questions, and taking notes on emphasized content ensures that even in my rigorous courses, confusion on a minor topic won’t lead to the misunderstanding of a major concept. Even in other activities such as my school’s yearbook committee where I am sports editor, the oversight I give every picture, quote, or team statistic is vital to the construction of a nearly four hundred page book. 

It’s as though I cannot help but slip into the role of production manager in my life and my community. The need to organize and lead has never left me; therefore, not only is this a strength of mine, but a passion. For instance, the opportunity to act as the second ever President of my school’s National Honor Italian Society chapter and leave the organization with a sense of longevity gives me an exhilarating feeling. Similarly, I know no excitement like the rush and comradery with my teammates when getting off stage after we’ve finished our best performance, receiving positive feedback on an intellectually challenging project, or finally seeing the completed, printed yearbook for the first time. 

Over the course of my life I have evolved in many ways through noticing the small details, but my elation in watching a project of any kind come to fruition has never wavered; and while the younger me may have only had the poise to appear on screen, the curiosity and skill of my seventeen year old self most certainly has what it takes to finally be the production manager.  

Tips for Writing

When I was first trying to write my essay, I was lost and had no idea what I would write about. However, the biggest thing that got me out of the rut was thinking about one of the most interesting things that has happened to me. This thought process opened me up to a flood gate of ideas. As I wrote about in my essay, I made several appearances on TODAY in elementary school, which I know is a unique experience that not a lot of people would be able to write about. 

Furthermore, as I wrote I knew I wanted to somehow connect this experience to the person I am today and my interests. In the future, I want to go into the television and film industry as a producer, which easily lended itself as a connection to my appearances on TODAY. I found it imperative to connect the various aspects of myself back to the original experiences and then to my interests, in order to truly show my personality to the admissions officers. 

All in all, showing off your personality is one of the biggest things to keep in mind when writing your college essay. Using your writer’s voice and adding rhetorical flair can be a great way to do this. Admissions officers can already see a host of things in between your transcript and activities list, so you should try to use the personal essay as a place to show them something that they wouldn’t already know from your application.

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