College Essays

Common Application

The first time my family pulled away from the Applebee’s on Route 202, I realized my heart had been opened wide and changed forever. That restaurant parking lot is where time and time again my heart is shattered and rebuilt by one person: Isaiah. 
On February 12, 2014, 8-year-old Isaiah stepped out of the social worker’s car and into my life. I was immediately drawn to his wide, dark brown eyes that scanned our faces, our rooms, and our toys piled high, untouched for years. Little did we know that this momentarily quiet boy would light up our lives. He was my family’s first foster child.
At first, I was hesitant about my parents’ vocation to become foster parents. Being a teenager, I was focused on myself and how fostering might break apart my own family of five.
Fostering did not come easily to me at first. Cramming into the backseat of our minivan, the dinner conversations focusing on Isaiah, the gum wrappers littering the house, and the constant flow of the Frozen soundtrack on high volume pushed me over the edge nearly every day. However, things began to change for me when Isaiah referred to me as his sister for the first time. 
Since Isaiah had two older sisters already, I never expected to occupy such an important place in his heart. To me, Isaiah was always just a foster brother. He never held the status of one of my “real” brothers with whom I already shared a lifetime of memories. I never believed that I had the capacity to love another boy like the brothers I had. 
Isaiah and I have completely different backgrounds, but we were able to find common ground. We danced around the kitchen together, brother and sister, singing the duet to “Love is an Open Door” from Frozen. We decorated cookies and made fun of our other brothers together, laughing like true siblings. We were able to share not only the tangible things that Isaiah had never experienced, but the love a family has for each other.
In the four months that Isaiah was with us, I learned more about myself than I have in eighteen years of my life. As a foster sister, I grew in patience, maturity, and compassion. After Isaiah, I was much more prepared for the other foster brothers that came into my life. 
On June 18, 2014, when Isaiah pulled away with his social worker, I felt my family was being ripped apart. Isaiah was my brother. A few months later, his aunt called to ask if we’d like to see him. We met in the Applebee’s parking lot, the halfway point between our houses, to pick him up for a visit. Since then, he has continued to visit us several times a year. When I first hugged Isaiah in that parking lot, I felt my heart being put back together. In that place, I learned that love truly is an open door. It opens hearts and connects people. 

Tips for Writing:
Have an interesting and gripping opening line. This is so important in all essay writing. A reader is going to have a first impression on you based solely on your first line. This is the first time that essay reader is hearing your voice. What do you want them to hear? How can you steal their attention and set your essay apart? In my essay, I pulled the readers in with a specific place and moment in my life. Talk about a specific event. This will allow you to focus your essay more on one topic instead of multiple different things. You can always branch off like I did when I mentioned how I had other foster children in the future, but my main event was the time Isaiah lived with my family and I. Having too many events in one essay makes it confusing to the reader. Mention how you were changed. The even you choose should be a defining moment in your life that changed who you are, what you believe, or your perspective on something. Make your essay like a timeline. The beginning introduce the event, middle how you felt during the event, and the end how you were changed because of the event. Add parallel events or lines. Events that parallel to each other are much more interesting for the reader and show off your knowledge of essay writing. In my essay, I wrote about Isaiah and I singing ¨Love is an Open Door¨ to add detail about our relationship, and then I closed my entire essay saying, ¨love truly is an open door. It opens hearts and connects people.¨ This paralleling format allows the reader to make connections and notice your writing skills. Make your essay all about YOU. This tip was an important one for me. When writing about a specific event it is very easy to get sidetracked and only focus on details of it, especially if you are writing about a person. I realized that I had been writing a lot about Isaiah as a person and his personality traits instead of my own. I was writing about his story and failing to tell my own. Colleges don’t care about your event. They care about YOU. Although Isaiah is very interesting, colleges don’t really care about him since he is not applying to college. Keep your essay focused on you. 

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