College Admission Essay to Duke University

College Admission Essay to Duke University :

Zane Curtis-Olsen – Charlotte - North Carolina

Zane has conducted research on nanotechnology and developed a method for measuring the electrical conductivity of retinal proteins. His research helped him become a member of the USA Today All-USA High School Academic Team and win a full scholarship as an Angier B. Duke Scholar. Through his essay he demonstrates that he can write about more than lab experiments. He delves into his personal influences. Outside of the classroom at Myers Park High School, he was the co-captain of his cross country team, state Hi-Q team champion and debate team captain. Offered admission to many selective colleges, Zane chose Duke University.

Santiago’s Fight - Duke University

I’ve always been fascinated by far-off places and new and strange ideas. And that’s affected my taste in books, a mix of ancient and medieval history, Japanese and South American literature, exotic philosophy and science books about the latest advancements in quantum physics and nanotechnology.

Yet, despite this, the book that has had the most profound effect on me is the definition of humble, and it took me no further than a small fishing village in Cuba. This was a book I read for school, The Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemingway. At first, I didn’t fi nd it particularly special, a small book about a simple fisherman. Even when we learned about it in class, the message about humility and hard work sort of went in one ear and out the other. But then, our teacher gave us an assignment based on quotes we were supposed to find in the book. To fi nd these quotes, I read the book about three or four times, looking for some of Hemingway’s more poignant passages. It was in this search that I found this work a rather profound statement on humanity, the natural order of the universe and the eternal power of the human spirit.

Within Santiago’s story, I found many of the themes I found in philosophy. Santiago has succeeded where so many existentialist philosophers have failed in finding his perfect place in our universe and in doing so. Santiago has developed an understanding of the natural world equal to Lau Tzu’s. Santiago is a fisherman. Everything he does, he does to be a better fisherman, and in the end the desire to be the best fisherman leads him further than he has ever been before. And though he is a fisherman, he views the fish he catches and even the sharks that attack his caught fish as noble creatures that are as meant to swim and eat as he is to fish. This sort of respect is something I feel a lot of people can learn from, including myself. Just imagine if our politicians had the sort of respect for their opponents that Santiago does. And I feel the idea of recognizing who you are and what you are meant to do and working to match that ideal can apply as much to any career as fishing. That the great Santiago is just a poor old fisherman also taught me about the dignity resting in every class and every profession.

Santiago’s quest for his fish also says a lot about human nature. The statement can best be summed up in Hemingway’s own words: “But man is not made for defeat. A man can be destroyed but not defeated.” Santiago goes out on the sea for days and holds onto the giant marlin though it is constantly pulling against him and though one of his hands cramps. Once he has caught the fish, Santiago fends off sharks with every tool available to him. He knows the challenges presented to him are not impossible and does whatever he can to overcome them. I find this will to fight and succeed is an amazing human property and one that we can all take advantage of.

Why This Essay Succeeded…

When colleges ask about a favorite book, they don’t want a book report. What admission officers are looking for is your interpretation of the book and how it relates to you. Zane does this well in his essay. He draws connections between the book’s major themes and his own views of life. From his essay, the colleges learn that he values respect of an opponent and taking pride in what you do.

When writing about an influential book, don’t try to summarize the story. In fact, it’s not really important for the reader to know the plot of the story or all of the main characters. Follow Zane’s example and pick only the important ideas within the book that affected you. Reveal something about yourself through the impact and effect that these ideas had on your own life.

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