College Essays

Common Application

The first thing I see when I enter my room is my second brain— a grand illustration of scribbles and markings. Lines of blue, green, purple sprawled over a glossy white canvas, spilling into the kind of elegant entropy one would expect from a work of Pollock. A closer inspection would reveal the hastily-written characters that make up this painting: today’s goals outlined in red, reminders for upcoming quizzes and tests, administrative tasks for club meetings.
There was always an abundance of thoughts to think and ideas to ponder, and the physical limitations of my original brain (the one I was born with) prevented me from focusing on all of them at once. The logical solution seemed to upload these demands onto a device: let my smartphone become the cerebrum, the photo library replace the hippocampus, and that diverse collection of emoticons in the messaging app take the role of the limbic system for expression. But I did not want to replace my brain, I needed a way to filter the constant stream of thoughts flowing through it daily.
I discovered my alternate brain when my history teacher suggested that the best way to remember something was to handwrite it instead of frantically clicking on Macbooks to capture every bit of information. To prove this, she allowed us to write as many notes needed on a card for use during a quiz. As instructed, I covered my card in black ink trying to fit the definitions into its frame, and was confident on the day of the test, only to find that I had forgotten the card at home. However, the hours of meticulously transcribing each term had subconsciously engraved them all in my memory. Her hypothesis of memory and the physical act of writing was transformational and became my salvation.
I found myself writing on anything I could find— post-its, notepads and, when those were not in reach, napkins or wrappers. But when it proved too inconvenient to carry such miscellaneous items everywhere with me, I searched my house for a better solution, and uncovered an old whiteboard buried in the storage. Scraping the dried ink revealed the clear white beneath, and at last with a clear mind I looked upon the tabula rasa, my blank slate.
With the whiteboard serving as my second brain to hold me accountable for my responsibilities, I am no longer bound by the forgetfulness or physical limitations of my old brain. Just before leaving for school in the morning, visualizing the whiteboard ensures the right homework assignments and books are in my backpack. The second brain automates mundane tasks from taking out the trash to long term projects such as my summer internship, and elevates my independence and confidence that I can deliver on my promises.
My whiteboard and the brain dumps that constantly fill it has now become a habit. Like the cave paintings of our millenia old ancestors, the writings on my board can outlast the unceasing information overload from devices and media. As a result I am less anxious, more organized and confident in my ability to meet my daily obligations, a truly wonderful reward.

Tips for Writing:
The topic of your essay is very important, but more important is how you deliver it. Though there were many topics that I considered initially, I ultimately chose a more mundane or trivial topic over the significant options. I found that this very simple topic, a mere whiteboard in my room, did not have as many limitations as the others and allowed for me to showcase my full creativity, which is the ultimate goal of this essay. You also want to make sure that through this subject matter you can reveal an important characteristic about yourself; for me, I wanted to show my growth throughout high school and ability to take on responsibility. Lastly, though the overall writing is an essay it can benefit from an anecdote as this could make it more interesting for the reader. Try to begin with a catchy hook that will engage the reader and force them to ask questions that they need to read further to get answers to.

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