College Essays

Common Application

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

First I learned to love my ears. As a member of the marching band, I play my flute and perform shows with a team. Our music highlights themes such as patriotism, the urgency to prevent climate change, and the duality of man. My ears boost my interpretive abilities to play melodious music that entertains thousands of audience members.
By working as an editor of my school newspaper, I began to appreciate my hands. I use my hands to type and edit articles that inspire many students. I write about pressing issues and report on current events, such as R.Kelly’s alleged crimes, mental health at our school, and the 2016 Women’s March in Washington D.C., which taught me the impact my fast-typing hands could have on student opinion. 
As a competitor on my school’s Speech and Debate Team, I fell in love with the power of my vocal cords. I use my voice to advocate and raise awareness about social issues, including homophobia, sexism, and racism. I have made judges and competitors laugh and cry as a result of my speeches, and I feel pride in the fact that my words are impactful enough to evoke such a spectrum of emotions. I also worked as a counselor at a Speech and Debate Camp for elementary and middle school students, where I could motivate others to use their voices and inspire change.  The dozens of medals and trophies in my bedroom stand as a testament to the meaningful impact of my vocal cords. 
My interest in International Dance taught me to love my feet. As a choreographer, I use my feet to create contemporary and expressionistic dance styles. My love for dance motivates me to learn about cultures from around the world and create inspiring art with my own two feet. 
Next, I began to value the unlimited potential of my brain, the source of my endless curiosity. Most apparently, in my Computer Science Club, I learn to utilize my brain to innovate fascinating things. I use coding languages such as Python and Java to design computer games, flight simulations, and online calculators. 
Lastly, a plethora of activities enable me to love my heart. When I ran for National Honor Society President, I had to write a compelling speech to prove I could lead 177 members. I wrote a speech that not only won the hearts of others, but also enabled them to trust mine. As my school’s NHS President and a leader of other volunteer organizations, I have learned the importance of lifting up those around me and giving back to my community. I now understand that it doesn’t really matter if my body is small, as long as my heart is big. 
I didn’t always love every part of myself as I do today. Although I grew up with the misnomer that a woman’s worth is solely dependent upon her beauty, I had the opportunity to challenge the conventions of society. High school empowered me to immerse myself in extracurriculars and prove my true worth. Little did I know that this would enable me to love my body in a way I never thought possible. 
The beauty of my story is that my physical appearance didn’t change: I still have dark skin, measure barely 5 feet in height, and wrestle with acne. Rather, it is my perception of my body that evolved. I learned that the true worth of one’s body is not defined by the color of its skin or its stature, but by its contributions to society. Looking at my reflection in the mirror empowers me to reflect on more than my physical traits, but rather my accomplishments. It would be a shame for me not to appreciate this beautifully benevolent body—every single part of it because it has so many amazing things yet to accomplish. After all, who is society to define me? I’ve defined myself. 

Tips for Writing:
When writing a successful college essay, it is essential to write one that could only have been written by you. An analogy I like to use is that if you dropped your unnamed common application essay in the middle of the 400 Wing at Ridge High School, anyone who knows you should be able to read it and identify it as yours. It’s also important to focus on the positive aspects of yourself and your experiences. Many times, people try to illustrate struggle in their lives and mistakenly come off too negative. While it’s great to illustrate obstacles you’ve overcome, it’s important to avoid frequent use of negative diction. Lastly, you want to portray aspects of yourself that would convince a college to accept you. What can you contribute to their community that will give their school a good name? This is the only portion of the application that can potentially display your personality, and not just your statistics. Give them a reason to want you!

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