College Admission Essays :
Shashank Bengali – Cerritos - California
Shashank is the kind of person who is not afraid of standing out. So
even though most of his classmates did not join the Boy Scouts, he
did. Through the organization, he learned valuable lessons not only
about conquering the outdoors but also about looking inside himself.
At Whitney High School, Shashank was the editor of the newspaper,
student mentoring program volunteer and president of the Indian
student organization. He won the Knight Ridder Minority Journalism
Scholarship and Trustee Scholarship, providing a full tuition scholarship
to attend USC.
The Gang - University of Southern California
I’m in a gang.
We’re not a small group; this gang spans the entire nation, with offshoots
in 116 countries around the world. The members of my gang are devoted
and live their lives based on a code of conduct to which they are forever
sworn. We will never all meet, but we all share the same beliefs and ideals.
The members of this brotherhood have faced ignorant peers. We are told
that our gang is just a club of immature boys whose members are weak
and frail. Despite our proficiency with knives and clubs, our honed survival
skills and our keen practical knowledge, we are told we can’t hold our
own. Our structured lifestyle is labeled outmoded and impractical. We are
the butt of jokes and taunts, of stares and pointing fingers, of relentless
questions and unsatisfactory answers. Life is difficult but immeasurably
We’ve been told to get out, to leave this gang and find a new set of
friends and a new way of life. For all but a few, this pressure is too much to
In six years worth a lifetime, the Boy Scouts of America has shaped my
personal dogma. I have learned the value of friendship, truth, community and adherence to a moral code that I have found to be second to none.
Scouts are partners in a personal stand against the general dumping-down
of moral values. “Sanctimony!” is often cried, but in truth, the fundamental
tenets of truth and honor are perennially evident, and charity is never
far from the hearts of members.
Cold winter mornings serving breakfast to the homeless, hot summer
days repairing mountain trails in the Sierra Nevada and many an evening
volunteering at local hospitals and churches have imparted to me a feeling
of community, which I now fulfill as a volunteer at the local senior citizens
center. Service has become an integral part of my life, and I feel greater
compassion for those less fortunate, blessed as I am with such a rich environment
in which to mature. I derived pleasure from working with mentally
handicapped adults at the Association for Retarded Citizens and from
organizing a charity drive for tenants of a local halfway house. Community
service has helped me see life through different perspectives.
I have learned about leadership. I supervised 31 volunteers in the renovation
of a park picnic shelter, a project I had designed myself. I was very
gratified with the success of the job, but surprisingly, much more valuable
than the praise I received was the heightened sense of confidence I developed.
I was driven to seek more leadership roles to employ the practical
skills I learned as a Boy Scout. Serving at the helm of two major campus
organizations, the school newspaper and the Indian Club, could not have
been possible for me had I not been somewhat seasoned as a leader and as
a person. I came into these positions knowing how to deal effectively with
people, how to manage crisis situations and how to work within a system
to achieve the goals of an organization. I know what is required of a leader.
In the past, I might have shrugged off my duties in positions of authority
and thought nothing of it; now, I take my responsibilities seriously, often to
the extent that they consume me.
Who I am today, the actions I take and the decisions I make all stem, whole
or part, from what I have learned as a Boy Scout. Of course, I enjoy the
camping, hiking and rock climbing and I am proud to be called an Eagle
Scout, but these are finite destinations in a longer journey, and they pale in
comparison to the lessons and the richness of the trip. I began as a wide eyed 12-year-old, both ingenuous and insensitive about the world at large.
Now I am poised to enter college, confident, equipped with real-world
experiences and ready to take on new challenges. Such are the perks of life
in this gang.
Why This Essay Succeeded
Writing about a common extracurricular club like the Boy Scouts
requires a lot of extra planning. Shashank needed to approach his
involvement in a way that other students would not. He accomplishes
this by using a creative introduction that grabs attention and piques
interest. That done, he presents his scouting experience in a way that
distinguishes him from other scout applicants. He does this by focusing
on specifics. Sure, many scouts will write about learning how to
be trustworthy, loyal and kind but few will take the time to focus on
the details and go beyond the what they learn and try to explain why
it’s important to them. Notice how Shashank provides explanations
for what he gets out of community service and leading others. Even if
the admission officers read 100 essays on scouting, Shashank’s essay
would still stand out.
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