College Essays

Penn State Supplemental

Prompt (Penn State)

Please tell us something about yourself, your experiences, or activities that you believe would reflect positively on your ability to succeed at Penn State. This is your opportunity to tell us something about yourself that is not already reflected in your application or academic records. We suggest a limit of 500 words or fewer.


Seeing the disappointment in their eyes and the defeat on their faces is crushing. As a coach, it feels like a personal failure when your players look this discouraged. In these moments of loss, I remember why I coach these girls; to have fun as a team. I remind myself there is no point in wasting time mourning the loss. I tell them a loss is okay, as long as we learn from it. I tell them they should be proud of their hard work, and to let the loss wash away. We will come together at the drawing board; it’s time for a new plan. 

I’ve coached eight teams in the past four years. Some with winning records, and some with no goals to count. The wins don’t matter, my job is teaching these girls how to be a team. It’s about instilling values, modeling behavior, building character, and fostering respect for teammates and opponents. I ensure they know that much of the vital work is done off the field with conversations and doughnuts. I tell them that the best teams are the ones where the players are friends first, because they can only win on the field if they can work together off of it. 

In addition to building the team, my job is to figure out where to position players. At their age, most of the players find it insulting to be placed on defense, away from the glory of goal-scoring. However, the girls I place on defense are integral to a successful strategy. They are the players who can see the field and plan three passes ahead. These girls understand that passing to a teammate who has a better shot is the right move. 

I consider myself to be a pragmatic person. I know how to separate myself from the heat of a moment to analyze the situation. I do it on the field when I need to change a lineup, and I do it in my life when I bring people into my circle. Analyzing players on the field gives me the practice to analyze situations in my life. This allows me to surround myself with supportive, encouraging people who help me build myself up when I am down. I have friendships forged in a foundation of trust and respect that extends to my players. I know how to surround myself with good teammates in life. 

As I end my final fall of coaching, I’ve come to realize that the true measure of a coach and person lies in responding proactively to setbacks rather than mourning them. I teach my players this lesson as I remind them that it is almost impossible to control an outcome, but it is always possible to control our response. I practice this in my life as I execute my New Plan. As I take the next steps in my life, I’m not simply concluding a chapter, I’m writing a sequel featuring new opportunities.

Tips for Writing: 

My biggest tip for writing a college essay is to let your voice come through. Most students are used to writing formal essays for their English class, but these essays are how admissions officers make their decisions, so it is important to show your personality in your writing. By writing with your voice, you add dimensionality to your application and become more than your grades and resume. 

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