College Admission Essays :
Scott Itano – Homedale – Idaho
According to Scott, he is the second student in Homedale High School’s
history to attend an Ivy League college. While in high school, he was
student body president, a competitor in the state’s science competition
and volunteer for SMELLS (Students Making Everyone Less Likely to
Smoke or Spit), a group sponsored by the American Cancer Society.
In the Field - Harvard University
Experiences are the building blocks of life. They provide the blueprints
for how I think and act. They are the sources for emotions such as bliss,
puppy dog love or devastation as in a soap opera storyline. One of my
most treasured events occurred this past summer when I attended the
Student Challenge Awards Program (SCAP) in the Sierra Nevada Mountains
in California. I studied plant responses to climate changes in the Western
United States with seven talented high school students, two undergraduate
students and a professor from U.C. Santa Cruz.
The biological research I did in California fulfilled years of wondering how
field biology works. I lived in an environment for two weeks where knowledge
saturated everything. I learned a multitude of new concepts and
ways of thinking, not to mention how wacky teenagers can become when
they’re sleep-deprived. (Tree hugging is just one example.) I developed
friendships with extremely gifted people who shared my love for science
and actually understood how I felt. Honestly, words do not justify the feelings
I have for this experience since they are sensations more powerful than
immense satisfaction and gratification.
I will be indebted forever to the Durfee Foundation (sponsors of SCAP) for
exposing me to the real world. Reflecting on my time in California, I see it
as a life-changing experience. Instead of satiating my appetite for knowledge,
it has only stimulated my hunger for it. I now realize how much of
the world is yet to be understood and, more importantly, to be discovered.
I am more aware of the world around me and my role in it. Everyday
people like me can make a difference.
I will treasure my experience in California. It’s the kind of memory that
sticks like a person’s first kiss. My trip instilled knowledge, awareness
and hope in me. Because of this single experience, I believe I am a better
person. Experiences can be diamonds in the rough, unsuspecting and silent
until someone discovers them. Not only do experiences provide memories
to savor but lessons for living.
Why This Essay Succeeded
In a way, Scott’s essay is a coming-of-age story, although in his case it
takes place on an academic level. His experience exposed him to research
in the field and awoke in him a desire for continuing to conduct
research. The admission officers could probably tell from his writing just
how excited he was by the opportunity. For an essay on an academic
subject, if you have the space it can also help to describe the actual
research. —the questions you pursued and the answers you found. These
details help the admission officers see your intellectual curiosity.
Notice that Scott does not only focus on the hardcore academic lessons.
He comments on the effect of sleep deprivation and some of the
silliness of working in the forest. All of this helps to ground his essay
and show the admission officers that he is not just a student scientist
but also a young person with a sense of humor who observes his fellow
students as much as he does his experiments.
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