College Essays

Common Application

Prompt (Common Application)

Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.


The sun was beating down on my mom and me as we harvested lauki plants from our garden. We quickly grew tired as we pulled the large, green, gourd plants by their stems. While tedious, we had been harvesting them for years in my backyard and knew the mouthwatering dishes would be our reward. 

As we gardened, my mom and I brainstormed ways to support the people in Kattavaripalem, my village in India. My family moved to the US when I was one and, while I was raised with the same Indian values taught to kids in India, I didn’t have many opportunities to interact with my Indian heritage. I wanted to do something more. 

Every summer, my family and I would hold a fundraiser or an event in order to raise money for Kattavaripalem. The money would be used for medical treatments or other items, such as books and glasses. When I was in middle school, we held an essay writing competition, but this summer, we decided to do something that would connect my family to our roots even more. Literally. 

My mom shared that my ancestors were all farmers and highlighted the importance of agriculture. As I grabbed another lauki plant, I realized that we could take the lauki seeds, sell them after they germinated, and donate the money. Since my entire family had been farmers, it seemed like the perfect project. 

Even though I harvested it, I knew very little about growing lauki. So I decided to learn, in order to become fully immersed in the project. My mom taught me the traditional way of growing lauki by taking a dried up lauki from last season, collecting its seeds, and then germinating them. 

With my mom preparing the plants, it was now my turn to actually sell them. I advertised on Facebook Marketplace at $5 per plant and explained that we were going to give the money to kids in my village in India. Within hours, we had raised $700. 

Many of the people who were buying these plants were Indian immigrants. When they saw that we were selling lauki, a native plant to India, they also had a chance to reconnect to their roots when they planted it in their garden and cooked it with their own traditional recipes or ones that my mom had shared, such as Lauki Pakoda. Along with this, there were a large number of people who weren’t Indian that wanted to experience it as well. The community roots expanded. 

By selling the lauki plants to my town, we were able to bring Indian culture and create a stronger community. When people sent pictures of themselves with their fully grown lauki plants, it became very rewarding to see the entire community coming together to grow plants. 

My lauki project was important to me when it came to the value of collaboration. For most of my life, I was always the type of person who would rather work by myself than work with others. Now, I collaborate with others on class projects and extracurriculars, meeting diverse and unique people in high school. Through this project, I was able to come out of my comfort zone, work with my mom, and help fund an eye treatment event in my village.

As high school comes to a close, I still have a lot to learn. I feel like a lauki seed myself. I’ve only barely hit the surface and am outside in the world for the first time. However, through my college experience, I will use these values of community and collaboration in order to gain my leaves of knowledge, create a more culturally diverse community, and reach greater academic and professional heights.

Tips for Writing

I started this essay the week my junior year ended and was able to complete it by the end of the summer. Since this essay will be used for the majority of your schools, the best piece of advice that I can give is that you start as early as you can. It is incredibly helpful as you aren’t rushing for time and you can create the best essay to present. Along with this, make sure you get someone to read over your essay and give comments. 

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