College Admission Essays




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Jeff Bozman - The Hawaiian Good Luck Sign - Princeton University


Of all the apparent junk mail that fl ows through my e-mailbox, one particular anecdote stands out as a very entertaining story. The tale of the Hawaiian Good Luck Sign highlights the importance of good communication. The story concerns a clueless woman who, while driving, accidentally cuts off another driver, who in turn fl ips her off. Not knowing what that means, she asks her street-savvy daughter. The girl tells her mother that it is the Hawaiian Good Luck Sign. “Oh," the woman thinks, “how nice of him!" She proceeds to give the Hawaiian Good Luck Sign to everyone she passes, and—how about that!—everyone gives it right back to her! About the same time, she spies a bumper sticker that reads: “Honk if you love Jesus." Since she was in such a good mood already, she decides to spread the Good News of Jesus with everyone else. All of the other cars must be on their way to a religious convention, she imagines, because all of them REALLY love Jesus! What a wonderful day!


While a bit farfetched, the story emphasizes the fact that communication (or miscommunication, as it were) is at the heart of every aspect of daily life. Thus, in order to prevent another disaster like the one above, I would invest my time and talents into a traveling study of languages. Not only would my language skills enable me to converse with people in their native tongue (one of the highest compliments one can pay a foreigner), but they would open up opportunities for a more comprehensive liberal arts education. So far, my studies have been extremely Western-focused. In part, I blame the Anglo-American arrogance associated with the prominence of our language for this egocentric approach to education. Gregg Cox, who holds the world record for speaking the most languages (64) says, “People are so surprised—not that I speak so many languages, but that I’m an American and I speak so many languages!" If I were able to read the teachings of Confucius, Buddha and Mohammed in their original contexts and converse with people who have lived all their lives with these philosophies, I would undoubtedly gain a more erudite perspective from which to evaluate the conflicts of our modern global society.


Why This Essay Succeeded


While this essay begins with a lighthearted story, it also introduces the core of Jeff’s thesis: the importance of good communication. An “important issue" does not have to be one that headlines the evening news. You can do as Jeff has and pick a less-obvious topic. Notice, too, that Jeff ties in his own skills and goals of traveling and learning new languages. Like all of the essays in this section, Jeff is providing a solution to the problem that is very personal. It represents his contribution to improving the world’s communication problem starting with himself.


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