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Select an activity that you find significant or which could be a feather in your cap simply because of the way you write about it.
Agnes who is good at mock trials had preferred to talk about her trekking. Perhaps, now is the opportune moment to discuss her interests in mock trials. The college admissions staff will be aware of this in passing so now she can narrate about it from her perspective without crowding herself into it.
Ryan narrated his violin journey in his Common App Essay so he must now look for something else to write about.
Let’s examine Agnes’ essay about her mock trial activities – but before that, let’s remind ourselves that she was really good at mock trials. She has competed in mock trials at the national level and even won many numerous awards at these contests. Her achievements in mock trails will be mentioned in her resume and awards lists. And yet she hasn’t written about all this anywhere and she will not mention all this in her essay either as her resume and letters of recommendation will cover all of it. Her task is to tell the college admission staff something that they will never find anywhere else in her application.
Every semester, I allocate many Saturdays with a captive audience watching me enact a story. Nothing else charges me up with energy as these sessions do. Over the span of a couple of hours, I play the part of an attorney and my only stimulation is to win my case.
This isn’t a theater where I’m performing – I’ve never participated in a drama ever. I panicked and retched when I had to extemporize a scene at a theater camp. But oddly, I run riot as a mock trial member. I find it invigorating to rationalize a string of arguments, interrogate and get to the hub of the trial and thereafter be persuasive and lucid with a solid conclusion. That’s the real me. I’m Elle Woods and Perry Mason and this is the real me.
A few colleges more so the ones that have a liberal arts base may request you to devise a seminar or even envision a complete department.
Example of this cue:
There is one typographical error – a misspelling from an extra, missing, or misplaced alphabet, in the name of each department at the Washington University due to clerical oversight.
What is the new major you’ve devised and want to pursue? Mention the reasons why it appeals to you. What classes or subjects do you want to concentrate on in this program? Possibilities that you can choose from are Compoter Science, Romince, Languages and Litratures, Fundmentals: Isues and Texts, Arc History – take your pick from the complete list of unaltered majors, waiting for your editor’s eye.
Inspired by Hauf Joshmann, Class of 2018
The focus of Bowdoin College is to offer undergraduate programs primarily in the liberal arts with excellent training, personal growth, and participation in vital matters. Given a chance, what kind of study program would you devise? Which single perennial problem or concurrent issue would you confront and why?
Here’s a chance for you to let go and have some fun – wear your creative hat and demonstrate some adventure and enthusiasm at having an opportunity to learn something unique and different. But take this seriously and project fun and excitement in your essay as the college has a reason for posing such a cue – they want to be assured that you are a good fit for a college that puts a premium on cerebral curiosity.
Robbie’s essay to Duke University’s cue:
What will your academic program look like if you had a chance to create something new that is in keeping with Duke’s principles of inventiveness, cooperation, enterprise, and exploration? How would such a program effect and influence your classmates and your education? (500 words)
Why does my brother retch at the mildest whiff of chocolate while I salivate at its very mention? Why do some people love Chinese food more than Italian food? Why do our food preferences change with the seasons? Is there any way to be able to foretell what food someone may enjoy on the basis of his social circumstances or ideology? I’m a fervent foodie and always muse on what draws every individual to varied tastes.
My Freshman Seminar class on ‘Food for Thought’ will set out to find answers to these questions.
We’ll begin by noting the neurological effect of food from all over the world, by buying, cooking and savoring it. Everyone knows about consuming proteins, carbohydrates, and fats in the right quantities for a balanced diet and to be healthy. This new course will concentrate on the muted variance in the kinds of signals sent out by the brain when one eats various kinds of food. Students will learn of neuroimaging methods like fMRI and PET scans in theory and practice. We will pinpoint neurotransmitters that are released when food is eaten and examine if some parts of the brain light up as a reaction to various kinds of food.
Besides mapping the brain-food connection, students will learn using substantiated and dependable systems to examine how factors like a person’s cultural circumstance, age, gender, and point of views such as willingness to try new things correspond with the person’s likes and dislikes.
The course will further examine the ethnic aspects of food. To comprehend each dish as a whole, it’s vital to recognize the factors behind what we are served – this is how we’ll be savoring the food on our plates. We will also have reading sessions of short food passages and stories and watch clips of famous films that showcase the cuisine that we are checking. People bond well when they cook and eat together – Ratatouille and The Hundred Foot Journey are good examples of this.
Besides being educational and illuminative, the course will keep the students busy and give them practical experience. Freshmen will learn some worthy wisdom – establish a community and reconsidering their basic attitude to education by proposing interdisciplinary notions. ‘Food for Thought’ will offer freshmen a consolidated perspective of science even as they become familiar with one another in an informal atmosphere. When they have completed the course, students will have a better grasp of neuroscience as well as acknowledge the variety of food in different cuisines.
Robbie’s essay is so wonderful, anyone reading it would want to take the course! It’s well written on numerous counts. Robbie has gone to town while ideating an interdisciplinary subject. She’s had fun doing it and deftly brought in a not so important aspect of her nature – food, with what’s already in her application – her fascination with medicine and neuroscience. Knowingly or unknowingly, Robbie has also referred to students’ takeaway after doing the course which is so important for a freshman. In doing this she has acknowledged to the college admission staff that she knows about Duke’s belief that both academics and community go hand in hand. She’s the type of student every college wants on their campus.
A few colleges will want you to choose a particular major at the onset itself while some may ask you to mention your choice. There are other colleges who don’t expect you to have thought through the options and state the major you hope to pursue.
What is the reason for your choosing this particular major? Please convey what fascinates you about this major and if there are any incidents that have influenced your selection. In particular, discuss how studying from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the University of Florida will help you achieve your educational objectives.
(Please write in up to 650 words)
Please mention why you want to pursue the program that you have indicated in your application. Are you in doubt or still in two minds of which programs at Syracuse will correspond with your interests? Then, broadly speaking, mention the educational subjects or points of discussion that keeps you preoccupied. (150 words limit)
Describe your academic objectives and how you will accomplish them at the University of Michigan. You can discuss your primary selection and second major choice. (250 words limit)
The colleges are actually asking you to address two questions in this essay – so it’s a dual essay. It is a ‘why us’ essay integrated with where you see yourself a decade from now.
Browse through the undergraduate program or major on the website of the college that you are applying to. Peruse the student and alumni description too. Does the description of someone mentioned there inspire you? Describe them and what you find inspiring. Also check if the college offers a summer course, a specific class, an internship, or some such course or activity that is associated with the program that appeals to you.
Look into the future and see yourself living your dreams and describe to the college admission staff how the major you want to pursue will help you make it a reality. You should be as accurate and explicit as possible as this is what is driving you to take up that program and aspire for a future that you’ve envisioned – it’s reality, not a story.
We’ve examined Ryan’s essay to the University of Southern California earlier in this chapter. Now here’s another that he wrote to the cue from Syracuse University. Ryan is unsure of what major he should pursue. He is however inclined towards international affairs and global political studies.
International Relations and Southeast Asian Studies are programs that I’m drawn to. My mother is American while my father is Japanese. The two countries weren’t really close when they first met. However, Japan and the US are now the closest allies economically, politically, and culturally. I’m drawn to both countries and want to utilize my study at Syracuse to study Japanese and subsequently pursue studies in Japan. I’m also drawn to the Southeast Asian Studies program requirement of being involved with countries besides Japan and studying the translocating patterns and ethnic dialogue in the subcontinent and getting a chance to learn more about Singapore and Indonesia will give me a better understanding of that part of the world.
When a college cue asks you to write an essay about what you will offer to the college community, what the college actually wants to know is how you will bring something different and add to the mélange in their college community. Your response can be based on your identity – racial, cultural, gender, socioeconomic, or whatever else, but there is no compulsion to do so. All that such a cue seeks is for you to describe what new experience and difference you as an individual will bring to the college campus and community.
The educational experience and Residential College System at Rice are largely determined by the distinctive ethnic traditions and life experiences that every student brings with them. What individual outlook or perspectives will you enrich the life at Rice with? (500 words)
Non-mandatory essay – Cornell constantly looks for students who will become a part of a wide variety of human experience as we are convinced that a mélange of students gives more strength to our community. Would you like to tell us about your perspectives and outlook? Or are there some life experiences pertaining to your ethnicity, community, or something else that will give us a better picture of you? It will be really helpful if you do as real people will read what you have to say and we wish to know as much as we can about all our applicants (250 words)
It’s time to once again refer to what you wrote when you took ‘the first steps to write’ (Topic 5). Is there anything there that makes you stand out among your classmates? Usually, you’ll seek something that’s perhaps not easily seen by others but seems obvious to you. Is there anything specific that you mentioned about your family, neighborhood, or city/town?
Robbie’s essay has been shared above so let’s now examine Sam’s essay that he wrote to Cornell’s cue - to remind you, Sam learned mountain climbing from his uncle in his Common App Essay. Despite mentioning his uncle in his Personal Statement, Sam brings him into this non-mandatory essay too but will mention him from another perspective and ensures that it isn’t expendable. This repetition is acceptable since the essay is non-mandatory.
I’m a Californian – born and brought up in a small mountain town in eastern California and studied at the best public school in town. We have a good ethnic blend in our high school. Asians, African Americans, Latino, Hapa, and many others mingle and are a riot in our school hallways. Until recently, my racial identity seldom crossed my mind. My maternal grandfather was Hawaiian and he married an American – a white person so my uncle was half Hawaiian. My paternal grandparents are Californians by birth and I hardly look Hawaiian. However, towards the end of high school, when my uncle was badly injured in an accident and died, I became curious about my culture.
I read up about Hawaiian history and the colonial presence. Today about eight percent Hawaiians serve in the US military. I find this very complex and want to pursue further study at college.
I may never settle in Hawaii but I still want to learn Hawaiian history or anthropology and document this bit of American history that I didn’t pay much attention to in my younger years. My Hawaiian background will bring something distinct to the community at Cornell. I believe it will also liven up discussions about social justice which is something white people often find themselves hardly playing a part in. Having a racial background that I appreciate, I believe I am more inclusive of varied ethnicities and it will mold me and the college I study at.
A few colleges may request you to respond with snappy, short answers in about 35 words. Some instances of college cues:
The residential colleges at Stanford often present informal conversations with guests who come with varied achievements and experiences.
Mention a person – past or present, whom you will invite. What is that one question you will ask him?
Your answers must be genuine and honest. Some colleges may go to the extreme of having somebody read out the snappy questions - like they do in ‘rapid-fire’ session in programs, and reply spontaneously. Use this opportunity to sound like the real you – the person your family and friends know.