College Essays

Common Application

My heart pounds up against my skull and my shoulders seem to cave in on themselves. The fact is, I should be used to this. Still though, here I am, eyes burning with salty pain, mourning the end, at least for another 9 months. My weekly companion has again slid into its seemingly perpetual hibernation. I’m fully aware that I will be here again next year, and that, governed by an insane obsession, I’ll will myself through it.

  1. When Packers legend Brett Favre signed with the New York Jets, I was christened into the awkward allure of Jets fandom. They were the local team, and, mirroring my anti-establishment young self, I simply had to defy all my friends and their Giants across town.

2011, AFC Championship, the Steelers, Fourth Grade. My parents ensured that the aftermath of my only ever visit to the principal’s office that Friday afternoon was a virtual hell, and, aside from my Jets, the most stressful thing that weekend was preparing for my first solo at the impending piano recital. I attacked our new keyboard, and I wouldn’t stop until “Brahms’ Lullaby” sounded perfect. But on Sunday, after almost four hours, the comeback fell short, and I was left staring incredulously at the TV. Two straight years, so good, and so close, and then all too quickly, so typically Jets. I endured, though, and I would be back in the fall with another Super Bowl guarantee from Rex Ryan.
2012, Thanksgiving, the Patriots, Sixth Grade. Transitioning to the unfamiliar independence of middle school left me homeless in the lunchroom, and I found a haven in the world of the athletes. My life’s mission was to relentlessly strengthen these new fragile bonds of friendship. But Turkey Day is about the comfort of home, and piercing through the perfect harmony of family and food, the butt fumble. Of course, because what else? But I hung on – the 2013 Draft would be another chance at a Franchise Quarterback, right?
2015, Week 17, the Bills, the Bills, Ninth Grade. Everything now revolved around getting into college. Grueling tests and essays brought my first B’s and C’s and drove me to persist in my schoolwork and to refine my schedule even further – I wouldn’t even let Sunday’s Jets game prevent me from acing Monday’s test. After ringing in the new year a few days prior, on the back of a gritty win over the mighty Patriots, Sunday brought 60 minutes of football. I lay dumbfounded on the sofa, picking at its intertwined wool and looking around at the empty room. My vision was blurred as I watched a couple of teardrops stain the green fabric below me. This one was by far the cruelest. But I’m still here.
I don’t know what it is about it exactly. Realistically, the thing that drags me to the end of the week is disappointment, anguish, and years upon years of heartbreak. Despite this, each and every fall and winter Sunday, in black Old Navy sweatpants and a red long-sleeved pajama tee, I hear the CBS football anthem surrounding me, almost patriotic at this point, and I do its bidding. To my left, my brother sits, biting off the last living skin around his nails and throwing a bouncy ball against the wall, and we let ourselves live through the team on the screen. We have grown up together with this team, learning how to lose and be mocked every Monday morning in school. This has been the constant in my life, almost keeping me grounded in a twisted sort of lovable failure. I can’t say that Jets football has taught me how to accept failure, but it has taught me how to hope. How to have faith and blindly persist. I’ve learned that, whether in a week or in 9 months, there will always be next Sunday.

Tips for Writing:
Don’t procrastinate, yes, but don’t force yourself to write either. Ideas or inspiration will come eventually, and if you force yourself to write when you have nothing to write, you will waste a lot of time and will not like the results of this unnatural and unauthentic writing. Always be ready to start writing. As I said before, you never know when inspiration will hit, and you have to be ready to write at any time. I often drafted ideas on my phone on Docs, a lot of times on long car rides or while doing other homework. So, since you will naturally have college essays on your mind a lot of the time, when you figure something you want to write, write it down right away. To go along with the idea above, start your essays with disconnected thoughts about your topic written at any different times you have thought about it, and when you feel good about your emotional investment in these, start to put them together. It’s obvious that you can’t just write an essay from start to finish, so another method to start is the ‘stream of consciousness’ style when you write all your ideas down in a random trail of thoughts at the same time. I didn’t like this either, so I preferred the above method, where I would write a few lines or ideas at any different times and from different perspectives on my topic whenever I thought about my topic and was struck by an idea, and then I put these together and worked around them. Start this process in the summer, when you are less busy, so you have more time to relax and for inspiration to hit you at any point during the day. Don’t be afraid to rewrite an essay. I had a problem with this, because I had put a few weeks’ work into a supplemental, and then, only a few weeks from when I wanted to submit, I read it over and really hated it. Chances are, if you do not like the way an essay is, it’s because you have ideas to make it better. Only ask people you really know well or trust to read your essays. Aside from your English teacher, who has experience and knows how to write, I would only ask your family to read and critique it. For me, my parents and brother read every essay, and that was it. They know your voice better and can connect with you better – your peers, as close as they may be, likely cannot.

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