College Essays

University of Vermont Supplemental

Prompt (University of Vermont)

If you could pick one song to be the soundtrack of your life, what would it be? What is your connection to the song?


“I faced it all, and I stood tall, and did it my way”, words from Frank Sinatra’s My Way that have stuck with me since my third grade sing along. Growing up, movie channels like TCM and actors like Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire played incessantly on our SONY trinitron TV which my dad would never turn off. So when I heard that our assigned song for grandparents day was by Frank Sinatra, I took pride in knowing that my peers would take weeks to learn a song that I had already memorized.

Days leading up to my performance, my dad informed me that my grandma, Omi, couldn’t fly up for the sing along due to her recently diagnosed cancer. I informed my teacher that no grandparent of mine would be attending the show and she then grouped me into a corner with the other grandparentless children. Unfortunately, my underdeveloped brain decided it was the result of Omi’s ‘choice’ to stay home, and I began to resent her for ruining my very anticipated show. 

Finally, the day arrived and my peers all arrived hand in hand with their grandmas and grandpas and brought them to their seats. I arrived alone. We walked single file up the stairs to the stage and shuffled in to fit onto the bleachers. I no longer cared about the song nor where I was standing so that my “grandma” would have a good view of me. I thought of nothing. Absolutely blank. Something I was so excited about, and now, couldn’t even enjoy because although I was so proud of myself, no one was there to see my efforts. 

The piano melody began playing through the gymnasium and a slight smile formed on my face. It was a childlike melody: very bittersweet to make every person in the room nostalgic. As the intro concluded, every high pitched third grade kid strained their voice to begin the song. I believe the mature audience slowly realized the irony of having such naive children sing this powerful song and giggles formed throughout the seats. As the words of the song settled in my head, I looked out to bittersweet tears forming on every grandparent’s face. A connection sparked the whole gymnasium as parents, siblings, and teachers of all ages held hands and smiled at us singing. The room felt bigger than before. A song that talked about being so proud and satisfied with the life you made for yourself connected people in this old, overheated gym. I no longer resented my grandma. In fact, a wave of disgust overcame me as I looked out into this moment and realized she couldn’t experience it with me. Before I could think about it any longer, a round of applause formed louder than any other, concluding the touching moment and leaving everyone in the gymnasium with a memory of lasting nostalgia.

Tips for Writing

I think that the best way to write your common app essay/supplementals is to find a topic that you could talk about for hours on end. Something that you’re incredibly passionate about or simply know a lot on the topic. It makes it infinitely easier when you find an idea that you are incredibly interested in, instead of writing about a topic you don’t know much about because it will be like pulling teeth. Also, if you’re ever doing your daily activities and you come up with an idea in your head or a really good sentence, write it down fast in your phone or somewhere safe so you can have it for later (it saves a lot of time). Good luck!

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