College Admission Essays

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Sarah Medrek – Hammondsport - New York

Sarah has such close ties to music that she can almost hear her piano and trombone beckoning. In her essay, she describes her relationship with Wurly, the name that she has given to her piano. A graduate of Hammondsport Central School, she was the first chair trombone in the New York All State Symphonic Band, received a first place award in Fletcher’s Piano Competition and attended the New York State Summer School of the Arts School of Orchestral Studies. She was also a National Merit Scholar and recipient of the Bausch and Lomb Science Award. She plans to work in engineering.

Wurly - Princeton University

Although it is 11:18 at night, I hear my piano, affectionately known as Wurly, calling me. From across the room he entices me with his white and black 88-toothed smile. He murmurs that my sheets of ragtime music and my collection of rock ‘n’ roll songs long to be read but instead lie dormant in his bench, soundlessly accumulating dust. I try to explain, “Wurly, it’s 11:18 at night, and you can’t wake up my parents. Tomorrow brings new opportunities.” Like any recalcitrant child, he does not understand. He sullenly closes his lid to rest for the night.

No matter how often I tickle his smooth and polished keys, it is not enough. Neither my daily morning renditions of “Twist and Shout” nor my hour sessions in the afternoon with Bach, Chopin and Schumann suffice. I do not like to mention it, but Wurly is downright jealous of my liaisons with the piano at school, where I accompany the junior high chorus. I wish I could be mad with him and reprimand him for his insolence, but I cannot.

I know he is right. He hates wrong notes: I play too many for his tastes. Wurly only wants the best and gets very jealous when I tell him of the flawless performance of Mozart’s Sonata in G Major I heard while at orchestra rehearsal. I neglect to tell him that a 13-year-old kid played this, but somehow he knows and shames me into another few minutes plunking out the rhythm to Gershwin’s Prelude #3.

If only I had unlimited time to play piano, I think wishfully. Not only would I satisfy the insatiable needs of Wurly the drill sergeant, I would bring myself contentment. Number Three on my list of lifetime goals is to become a virtuoso on the piano, able to play any piece of music thrown my way as if it were a one-finger version of Mary Had a Little Lamb. Although I come a sixteenth note closer to this goal every day, it is a slow process. It would take unlimited time and resources for me to be as good as I want to be.

The other items on my lifetime list of goals are more attainable. Someday, I will run a marathon; I just need to keep on jogging five times a week. Someday, I will speak Spanish fluently, as long as I continue to study Spanish and learn new words. Someday, I will be an unbelievably good trombonist; all I need to do is practice every day. These goals are a cinch compared to becoming a virtuoso piano player. They only require vigilant attention; perfect piano playing requires unthinkable amounts of time and an unfathomable amount of skill.

Why This Essay Succeeded

Sarah employs a creative approach by animating her piano and revealing her feelings about music and practice through her interaction with it. She also subtly weaves in her other life goals. After reading her essay, the admission officers understand how she feels about playing musical instruments, the importance they play in her life and how she motivates herself to achieve personal goals.

We all have idiosyncrasies that make us who we are. In this case Sarah has named and speaks to her piano. Some might call that crazy but to an admission officer it’s a sign of honesty. After all, it is these quirks that make each of us unique. You should not be afraid to share yours in your essay.

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