Admission Essays :
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
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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