This is very tentative, any and all comments/advice is welcome!
Personal Essay 1 - TOPIC A
Write an essay in which you tell us about someone who has made an impact on your life and explain how and why this person is important to you.
Personal Essay 1
We all know that person that just seems to be naturally talented at, well, everything. You know-that kid that's been given every single opportunity? That girl that can juggle AP Physics and dance rehearsals, but is still Varsity soccer captain with a great social life? Or that guy that's simultaneously the Varsity Quarterback/Short-Stop/Homecoming King/Valedictorian? We all know that person. They're talented. They're lucky. They're driven. And they know it. Now usually this is where I would tell you who this person is to me and how their great accomplishments have motivated me to better myself. But I'm not going to do that. Not because I'm trying to be offbeat, or because I think I am that person, but because that person, to me, never knew she was.
"You've been acting a lot like Alexa lately," was one of the most hateful things my mother has ever said to me. To the people that know Alexa, but don't know her very well, this is a nice enough comment. Even to me, this was a compliment to some degree; but I knew as well as my mother that she didn't mean it as a compliment. Alexa Ellis will probably always be the most talented person I know. I have never met someone with so much potential-at everything. It takes a lot to say that someone is just naturally talented, but that's the only way to describe her. Alexa doesn't study. She doesn't practice. She doesn't care. How could so much natural talent belong to just one person? How could so much natural talent essentially go to waste? I hate to say it, but it's true: Alexa is letting her A's-in-all-AP-classes go to waste. She's letting her voice-that-sounds-like-Hayley Williams' and musical-gift-like-Conor Oberst's go to waste. Alexa, her potential, and her lack of appreciation for it have made a severe impact on my life and how I view myself as a person.
Alexa and I were best friends for most of my sophomore and junior year. We grew apart due to several reasons, none of which have anything to do with this, but her importance to me and the impact that she had on me won't fade as fast as our friendship has. Alexa made me realize that even though some people get lucky, they don't always stay that way. She hasn't embraced her potential, not yet at least, and until she does Alexa will stay where she is. She could, literally, be anything she wants to be, but instead she is content with community college, cosmetology school, and the piano in her room. I wish that I could somehow show her what she could be. I wish that I could've inspired or encouraged Alexa to make something more of herself, but I'll probably never get the chance to.
I'm slowly learning to embrace my own potential, not to envy those with more than me. Before Alexa, I wouldn't have auditioned for Varsity Choir OR Rock School. Before Alexa, I didn't know that I could make it into both. It frustrates me to think of how much she has and how much she could do, and this continues to motivate me. I know my potential. I appreciate it, and I'm going to use it. In the past year, I've been thinking a lot more about my future, and I know now how I can use my past, my experiences, and my skills to do what I want to do. I know all of this now, and I want to help others realize-and reach-their own potential. And what better way to do this than to teach.
But I'm not going to do that. Not because I'm trying to be offbeat, or because I think I am that person, but because that person, to me, never knew she was.---- this is high quality stuff. I like it. You have an interesting way...
Alexa, her potential, and her lack of appreciation for it have made a severe impact on my life and how I view myself as a person.--- this makes the essay very profound. I suspect that you may get in arguments with people who will never see eye to eye with you because you can think in such a complex way.
The only real change I would make is to take a few sentences out of that intro paragraph... it takes a long time to make it's point. But really, this is a favorite of mine.
In order to write this essay, it is helpful to take a step back from the sometimes panic-inducing task of focusing on your college applications and instead look around. As you go about your day, maintain awareness of things that ordinarily seem insignificant, to the point that you may be taking them for granted.
For instance, remind yourself of the neighborhood you wake up in every day, the foods available to you for breakfast, and how you feel as you pass through your community on your commute to school. Reflect upon the impact your surroundings have on your day-to-day life and the ways in which they have fostered your personal development. You are probably familiar with your surroundings, to the point where they don’t seem particularly remarkable to you, but you are trying to introduce yourself to an admissions committee that probably knows very little about your hometown.
After reflecting on this exercise, you might realize that your work ethic stems from your gratefulness for the sacrifices your immigrant parents have made in order to give you a chance to succeed, or it could take the shape of your precocious desire to study geriatric medicine and hearing-loss pathologies because you have grown up in a town where the majority of your community is of advanced age.
This thought experiment is the perfect way to start dissecting what it is about your surroundings that has shaped you into the person you are today. Most importantly, it will show your essay reader that you have matured enough to be able to speak about yourself in a frank and vulnerable way. As long as you speak your truth, there is no wrong answer.
That being said, as you tell your story, you will want to avoid clichés and stay true to the complexity of your experience. If you have struggled to overcome obstacles, you don’t need to present yourself as a heroic individual that has achieved success because of your own grit and determination. You can acknowledge the bonds of friendship or family that helped you hold yourself together during tough times. There is nothing wrong with asking for help, and indeed having the courage to reach out and the humility to acknowledge your support network is one way to demonstrate maturity.
If you needed to watch after your father while he was suffering from early onset Alzheimer’s, you might talk about how you had to work with your sister to watch him in the evening, and how sometimes you needed to get out of the house and play soccer with your friends in order to be able to come back inside and commit yourself to the work of care all over again. Maybe that experience is part of what made you want to get into nursing, not only to help patients suffering from Alzheimer’s, but also to encourage patient’s family members to take care of themselves.
If you describe poignant tales of overcoming hardship and obstacles in your response, that is fine, as long as it is the truth. Some applicants might think that exaggerating their tales will score with admissions officers, but admissions officers are not judging your essay based on the level of hardship you have overcome. Rather, the question they will ask is what you’ve learned from your experiences and what kind of person you will be when you join the Texas A&M community.
One last word: As we’re revising this guide for the 2017 application season, the rains have only just barely stopped falling after Hurricane Harvey. The environmental, economic, and political dynamics of this disaster will be thought about and debated in the coming years as people try to rebuild more resilient cities in a changing climate. The students, faculty, and staff at Texas A&M will be taking part in this conversation.
If you were affected and feel so moved, you can certainly talk about your experience of the storm in your essay, even if you think that a lot of other applicants will also be talking about the storm as well. A major disaster contains a multitude of narratives, and if you focus on the particularities of your experience — what you lost, what you saw, how you imagine going forward — you will be making a contribution to a conversation about Harvey that will continue for years to come.