Admission Essays

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Marie A. McKiernan – Warwick - New York

A dancer and pianist since elementary school, Marie has won four Professional Dance Teacher’s Association and Hoctor Dance bronze medals and taught children how to dance. She shares her interests, which include dancing and her love of potatoes, in her essay about three objects. At John S. Burke Catholic High School, she volunteered with the National Honor Society and worked in a dental office to explore a possible future in that field.

A Potato, a Seashell, a Pair of Eyeglasses - Cornell University

A potato, a seashell, a pair of eyeglasses; all three of these small objects offer a window into my personality. I can assure you that I do not picture myself as a round, dirty carbohydrate, a leftover from an oyster dinner or the spectacles from the dollar store my mother seems to constantly misplace; rather, these three objects reveal my versatility, my inner character and my ability to discern different perspectives.

Oddly enough, a potato reveals much about me. I love potatoes. Mashed, baked, broiled, fried or roasted, potatoes are delicious. The versatility seen in the preparation of this vegetable parallels my own versatile interests. On any given day I may fi nd myself choreographing a dance to a new Latin rhythm, discussing calculus with a peer, playing classical music with my father or making greeting cards with a new stamp I purchased. There is no limit to the possibilities. I believe this versatility allows me to be open to new experiences and enables me to adapt to these fresh situations. In addition, like the roots of the potato that grow deep into the ground, the foundation of my character, such as honesty, integrity, compassion and my Catholic faith, are deeply rooted in who I am.

The potato alone only reveals a part of me, so I add the seashell as a representative of another aspect of myself. The seashell’s true beauty and potential lie deep within its channels. One must hold the shell to his or her ear and listen carefully to understand the seashell’s immensity. Similarly, my true potential and inner character lie within me. Therefore, I must listen carefully to my conscience and soul to achieve all I am capable of accomplishing. If I stay true to my values such as truthfulness, humility and kindness, I can reach my greatest ability and personal success. This may include believing in myself when struggling with a new tap step or following my heart and dream of one day becoming a dentist. The seashell reminds me to listen and believe in who I am.

Although the potato and the seashell reveal a majority of who I am, I would be remiss in not mentioning the value of spectacles. I have been cursed with poor eyesight for the majority of my academic career. However, this malady has proved to be a blessing in disguise. My ailing vision introduced me to eyeglasses. Eyeglasses come in a myriad of sizes, shapes, shades and prescriptions; however, they do not singly represent one’s visual handicap or personal style. These possibilities reflect differing perspectives of sight and life. When I equip myself with spectacles, a window of perspective opens to me. My vague, fuzzy world transforms allowing me to see another perspective. Although my physical vision is limited, I do not allow my vision of the world to be distorted. When I do feel that I am constricting my view, I revert to my eyeglasses, my window of perspective and all which I have yet to brave.

A potato, a seashell, a pair of eyeglasses; each of these objects reveals a truth about me. I am a person who desires to indulge in varied experiences, a person who continually tries to be true to herself and a person who quests to see the world in all its colors. These objects bring me back to my reality and fuel my determination for my future.

Why This Essay Succeeded

The introduction to an essay is very important because it entices the admission officers, drawing them into the story and making them want to read to the end. Don’t you want to know how these three seemingly disparate objects—a potato, seashell and eyeglasses—are reflective of Marie?

Notice how Marie defines each object in a way that helps her illustrate her personality. The potato is “versatile” while the seashell displays “inner character” and the spectacles not only represent her poor eyesight but her ability to see different “perspectives.” Whatever you write about, you don’t have to use the literal or conventional definition. Feel free to be creative and interpret things the way you want to. Remember, it’s your essay and you are in control. The reader is just along for the ride.

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