Admission Essays

Admission Essays :

Linda Lau – Flushing - New York

Linda says that a creative essay question makes her think philosophically. So when Cornell asked her to describe three important objects, she reflected on three Looney Tunes characters. These three animals taught her the value of working hard, how to express herself through music and art and the meaning of dreams. She developed these values while a student at Stuyvesant High School, where she was involved in yearbook and orchestra. Linda also participated in the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival.

A Dog, a Cat and a Bird - Cornell University

I remember years ago, I loved watching the Looney Tunes with Tweetie bird, Sylvester the cat and the bulldog. The plot seemed always the same. Sylvester would try to eat the bird, which would then either outsmart him, hide or seek protection from the dog. That was hardly my favorite show but the three animals involved quite impressively influenced my philosophy of life. I believe that as one grows and develops, it is possible for a human to have seemingly contradictory potentials, values and attributes. As a result of these different layers of personality, we can develop into certain “perfect” characters. I find in these three animals some distinct characteristics that I have and wish to possess.

In Chinese culture there is a belief that a person is born into a state of being determined by the exact geo-temporal dimension of birth. Not intending to restrict a person’s abilities, this determination supposedly foretells the characteristics and potentials contained within the person. In my case, by the lunar calendar, I was born in the year of the dog, signifying that I would be a diligent, devoted, straightforward and friendly person. Whether or not I am who I am because of the year I was born into, or rather the self-fulfilled prophesy created through my own belief that is what I should be, I have indeed turned out to be a devoted hard worker. I may at times be considered stubborn as well. Thinking back, I have indeed spent my first few years in love with dogs. It is one of my favorite animals though I still do not own one, if the one within me is not counted.

I believe I started to like cats a few years after my family picked up a black and white stray cat. The reason for the long lead time was not because of my previous affection for dogs but mainly because of the fear I had of cats. Extremely clever and in control, the dignified animal does at times seem to be very independent and unperturbed by its surroundings. However, cats will cling on to people they trust. And once a bond is established, it hardly ever breaks unless of course, there is total betrayal. There is perhaps a streak of wildness trapped within cats; that they cannot be entirely tamed sometimes makes them pretty dangerous. However, their frankness and show-all emotion is the reason for my liking them. To watch the actions and manners of my cat, whether sleeping cozily on my bed or speeding crazily through the halls, refreshes me like cool breezes in the heat of a summer’s day. In my opinion, a cat’s body language speaks volumes in comparison to human words. Perhaps this is why I would rather express myself through music and art than words, because as descriptive or symbolic as words can be, they may not convey true feelings or meanings that are intended.

One day, my cat came back after a walk and presented to my family a dead bird. At that time, my entire family felt shocked and puzzled, but I now know that for the cat the lifeless gift signified his disposition and trust towards us. Coming from an innate instinct, birds were his prey. Catching a bird is his dream come true, a rite-de-passage for his cathood. As fast as birds can glide and as high as they can soar, when the time comes, they are still not quick enough. For me, birds remind me of the goal in front of me that is forever flickering but elusive. I don’t have intrinsic powers to catch “birds.” However, like dreams, they are things so fast and beautiful that I hesitate to catch them even if I can for fear that if I do and successfully cage one, it will no longer be the bird I cherished.

In the cartoon, the dog, the cat and the bird coexisted together because they shared the same space and were forced to live together. They are able to grow to adore and aid one other despite their varying personalities. Correspondingly, I believe that when a person is given the chance to intermingle with others, however idiosyncratic, it may turn out that new and loyal bonds would be established. Life may not always be mischievous chasing, bullying or outsmarting each other after all.

Why This Essay Succeeded

Linda takes a risk by attempting to connect a Looney Tunes cartoon with ancient Chinese philosophy. At first this seems odd but Linda is successful because she ties the characters to her own philosophy and experiences. Her analysis is multifaceted. For example, she addresses both the literal connections between the cartoon cat and her own cat as well as the less overt shared personality traits between her cat and herself.

Using the cartoon as a metaphor for her personality—she is loyal and hard working like a dog, expressive through the arts like a cat and reaching for goals like a cat does for birds—Linda gives a great deal of insight into what kind of person she is. This, after all, is the point of all college admission essays. You need to reveal something about yourself. That Linda is able to do this through weaving her own traits with that of the animals—both real and animate—is only more impressive.

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