College Admission Essays :
Gregory James Yee – Cerritos – California
Gregory’s music career began after his parents realized that without
having taken a single music lesson, he could hum The Star-Spangled
Banner in perfect pitch and rhythm—at age 2. Fifteen years later, the
piano lessons he started while still a toddler paid off. The Whitney
High School graduate has won numerous piano awards including the
Raissa Tselentis Award given to one student nationwide for outstanding
performance in the Advanced Bach category in the National Guild
Audition. In addition to music, Gregory was a National Merit Commended
Scholar, played on his school’s varsity baseball team and is an
avid sports fan, having collected the autographs of over 400 collegiate
and professional athletes. While he wrote this essay for USC, he was
also accepted to Stanford University.
How Rocky Changed My Life - University of Southern California
In fifth grade, my teacher asked the class to list our heroes. My friends
repeated familiar names like Michael Jordan, Tom Cruise and Michael Jackson.
My answer? Bill Conti. Who? You may not know his name, but you’ve
certainly heard his work: the theme song to the movie “Rocky.” Bill Conti is
a musician, composer and, to me, hero.
I fi rst saw him at a concert when I was 9 that featured several of his
original compositions. The most stirring and inspiring that night was the
“Rocky” theme. As the trumpet fanfare began the audience instantly recognized
the music and erupted. For an unassuming man, he commanded
the audience’s undivided attention throughout the performance. That night
I decided to become a composer.
When the orchestra performed the “Rocky” theme with Mr. Conti at the
helm, it was the first time I had ever seen a man lead 80 other people performing
a composition of his very own. He was like a painter who had an
image in his mind and was conducting his understudies to create a majestic
portrait before our very eyes. Unlike at any concert I had been to before, I wasn’t listening to the notes written by someone centuries ago. From his
own imagination, Mr. Conti created every note his orchestra played. Just
as every ear-pleasing chord and fl owing melody created a powerful image
of Rocky preparing for a big fight, my music, like Mr. Conti’s, expresses images
and feelings in my mind.
Since that concert, I have written several award-winning compositions that
I have performed on numerous occasions, including my sister’s wedding
and at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts. Last year I was honored
by my high school band when they played one of my compositions. The
concert by Mr. Conti inspired me to convey my feelings and emotions in
the form of musical composition. My dream is to be an artist, writing music
for the world to hear and conveying my thoughts through music.
Why This Essay Succeeded
There’s something inspiring about witnessing a person’s realization that
they have discovered what they would like to do for the rest of their
life. That’s exactly what Gregory allows the admission officers to be a
part of in his essay. In describing Bill Conti’s concert, he shares what he
heard and how he became inspired. Even someone who is not a music
aficionado can relate to Gregory. In his story, it is not the subject that
stands out so much as the verbs and adjectives.
Many people embrace music, perhaps you among them. Like Gregory
did, make your story unique by making it intensely your own, and you
will have written a winning essay. While Gregory could have focused
on his own original compositions or performances, he chooses to emphasize
something that is totally his own—how he fell in love with music.
This is a unique topic that will not be shared with another applicant.
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