Admitted Essay for the Common Application: Essay Review
Students Are Regularly Told To “Tell A Story,” In Their College Application Essays…
However, what does that really mean?
Today we’re taking a deep dive into an excellent college application essay that does exactly that: tells a compelling story that not only impressed college administrators, but earned this student admission to college! Keep reading to see this essay, find our expert review, and learn our top tips for writing an essay that’s equally successful.
What You’ll Find In This Essay Review:
- An Admitted Essay for the Common Application
- Our Expert Review
- How to Apply This Advice to Your Own College Essays
- Tell a Story and Wow Colleges in the Process!
An Admitted Essay For The Common Application
Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
“And from Staten Island, New York, it’s Team #375, the Robotic Plague.” We were the number one ranked team at the New York City Regional; everything was going perfectly. All of us were already dreaming of walking across the field and holding the first place trophy and medals. There was no way we could lose during eliminations.
As we entered the semifinal round, everything was going as planned. All pre-round checks were good: all bolts tightened, tank treads replaced, battery charged. The first thirty seconds of the match went flawlessly – we scored a perfect autonomous and started to conquer our opponents. Suddenly, the robot lost power. Immediately, we reset the robot remotely, thinking that this was a programming problem (it’s always the programmers). Unfortunately, it sat motionless.
At the end of the match, we ran onto the field with only thirty seconds between semifinal matches to frantically make repairs. The problem was immediately evident: the chain snapped. Thankfully, it was an easy fix. Problem was, we didn’t have a vital part. Again, simple; after running around the pits asking dozens of teams we finally found one. Although it was a slightly different type and a bit tighter than usual, it appeared operational. In the final seconds, we were ready for the next semifinal match.
The match was going perfectly. As the final twenty seconds closed in, it looked as though we would win the match and advance to the finals. To our shock, the robot again sat motionless. The entire team was in disbelief. We were out. It seemed as though all of our hard work had gone to waste.
On the bus ride back to school, we all sat in silence. As is our tradition for a victorious ride home, we had brought our loudest speakers to blast We Are the Champions and Sweet Caroline as we passed around the trophy. They too remained silent.
In the midst of the silence, the build captain – the person technically responsible for the chain snapping – stood up and profusely apologized. His voice cracked and tears formed. As one of the most well-respected and well-liked team members, no one wanted him to feel bad. A teammate stood up and reminded everyone about the time he sprayed WD40 on the floor so we could have out-of-control cart races. I got up and talked about one particular all-nighter in which we were so exhausted that the word “flange” became incredibly hilarious; it seemed like we couldn’t stop laughing for an hour that night.
At some point, I think we all realized that passing around a stupid trophy paled in comparison to all the great and silly memories we made together along the journey; reminding us why we really loved robotics.
It was there on that bus ride that I thought about the way I had always approached everything I did. I was so focused on my grades and achievement that I never quite valued the day to day. From then on, I focused on what was being taught in class today, not what would be on the test in two weeks. Not only has this perspective made school more enjoyable, but it has helped me get the most out of all other aspects of my life: academic and otherwise. Instead of focusing exclusively on learning the entire piece of music, I find it helpful to focus on the particular sequence that I am practicing. Instead of focusing exclusively on the entire assembly, I focus on the individual components that make it up. Instead of focusing exclusively on what I am working towards, I focus on what I am working on.
Our Expert Review
At its core, this is a by the numbers “realization essay.”
To start the essay, the student provides a story that sets the scene of a robotics competition, covering who, what, when, where, why, and how. Then, they inject the scene with a bit of suspense to prevent the essay from feeling like just one more robotics story – something college admissions officers see frequently. Just when the student thinks they’ve won the competition, despite a few setbacks, the tides turn and their robot fails to work again.
For many, this would have been the end of the story, but this student expertly weaves in a tale of personal growth and discovery. Instead of ridiculing the student whose fault it was that they lost, they remind them of all the wonderful experiences they’ve had together. Despite everyone’s disappointment, they realize that the fun they have together is more important than any trophy.
Finally, the student closes the essay by summing up the competition, bringing it home by describing the lessons they learned thanks to this difficult – but ultimately positive – experience.
How To Apply This Advice To Your Own College Essays
TELL A STORY
This college application essay works because of the story it tells. Not only does it paint a compelling scene by focusing on the sights, sounds, and energy of the robotics competition, but it also creates suspense. By teasing us with the first setback, only to have another setback grind the team’s progress to a halt, the reader gets a chance to root for the team and feel for them when they fail.
Finally, by bringing it all together with a lesson at the end, the student crafts a cohesive, powerful story that their college admissions officers were clearly impressed by.
When writing your own college essays, ask these questions:
- What detail can you share that will help you set the scene of a particular event or experience?
- What setbacks or challenges did you face during that experience that built suspense?
While the start of this student’s essay is all about the experience they had, they round out the entire story with a strong showing of personal growth. This is perfectly in line with the prompt they were provided, and shows that they not only paid attention, but also understood what the prompt was looking for.
Showcasing how you’ve practiced self-reflection and personal growth is important for college admissions officers, since the best students are ones who are continually improving themselves throughout their lives. This self-reflection shows a maturity on the part of the student, when it would have been far easier to ridicule or mock the team leader who has failed them.
When writing your own college essays, ask these questions:
- What major life lessons have shaped who you’ve grown into?
- Have you ever remained positive, even when it would have been easy to get angry at another person?
Tell A Story And Wow Colleges In The Process!
Fortunately, applying these tips to your own college essays isn’t too hard; the key is paying attention to the prompt and finding a story that fits with that prompt well. Once you do that, all you need to do is set the scene, create suspense, and tie it all together with a lesson at the end.
Of course, that doesn’t mean college essays aren’t intimidating or difficult in their own right. If you’re struggling to make your college application essay work, consider reaching out to one of WeAdmit’s professional college counselors. Not only are we experts at writing college essays, but we also offer unlimited revisions and can guide you through every other part of the college application process as well!
You Have A Story To Tell; You Just Need To Find It!
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