College Essays

Common Application

Sweat dripped down my forehead as I dribbled to the right, stepped back, and shot the ball. Clank. Zooming past me, my brother snatched the ball and seconds later I heard the smooth swish of the net. Game over. I had inched closer to beating him each time we played, but I never finished the game on the winning side. In hopes of changing this outcome, I reflected on what I’d done wrong and worked on particular elements of my game. My left arm throbbed as I practiced lefty layups over and over again. I had enough of seeing my shots fly into our neighbor’s yard; so, I worked on making my shot release quicker.
I realized that if I only worked on my strengths, I would fall short every single time. I needed to identify and fix my flaws if I wanted to bring myself to the next level. And as a young middle schooler, I had no idea that this playful competition would help me flourish several years later.
In the spring of my freshman year, my percussion instructor moved me from playing the bass drum to the snare drum. Since the snare drum maintains the tempo for the rest of the marching band, our instructors expected us to play at a high level and rarely make mistakes. I was thrilled to take on this challenge. But in the beginning, my drumming sounded like a metal fork slowly scratching against a plate. However, with diligent practice, I slowly became a valuable member of the drum section.
The persistent criticism from my instructors and peers didn’t break me; in fact, it motivated me to practice even more. I played an exercise called Accents and Taps until my fingers blistered. Constant repetition of this exercise helped me finally play with dynamics. People often use the simile, “You should know it like the back of your hand.” I always wondered, who actually knows the back of their hand? Now, I do. While practicing, I stared at my hands in the mirror until proper technique became second nature to me. My ears rang with the monotonous beeping of a metronome as I played the music without falling off tempo. Just as I had picked apart every aspect of my basketball game as a middle schooler, I meticulously worked on each song our band played.
This rigorous process of constantly monitoring my performance showed me that with tenacity and patience, progress will eventually follow. This perseverance has led me to the present, where I am now the one offering constructive criticism to the new snares. The foundation I developed several years ago on that bumpy blacktop driveway helped me become the center snare for my drumline.
Just a few months later, with the sun slowly setting, I stood on the driveway with my right arm out protecting the ball and my body angled to the left. Dribbling over to the left side, I pretended to shoot the ball. My brother soared into the air, and as soon as his feet left the ground, I took a step past him and sunk a simple lefty layup. I had finally done it. I had finally won. Our small driveway felt like the biggest stadium in the world. And as the sun disappeared behind the trees, I turned on the driveway light and continued shooting.

Tips for Writing: 
Write about a topic that you enjoy because if you are bored while writing your essay, the chances are whoever is reading your essay will also be bored. Picking a topic that you like will also make the essay a lot more genuine and true to you. You’re going to have multiple people proofread your essay, but you don’t always have to take their advice when it comes to the content of your essay. This essay is about you, and you should write it in a way that you think best reflects your personality and character. It’s really important to start thinking of ideas for your essay as early as possible so you’ll have time to truly think about what you want to write about. If you have multiple ideas and don’t know what topic to choose, I would suggest writing drafts for multiple topics and seeing how the essays turn out.

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