College Admission Essays

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Daniel Alexander Uribe – Houston – Texas

Not many students would voluntarily choose to make life more difficult for themselves, but this is exactly what Daniel did. Unchallenged by his high school, he transferred to YES College Preparatory High School for a more rigorous academic curriculum. At YES, he participated in student council and YES Family, in which he mentored younger students. He wrote this essay for the University of Miami but decided to attend Cornell University.

Bench-Pressing My Education - University of Miami

Saturday morning—I was determined to accomplish the task that lay before me. I was not only doing it for myself, but for all my friends who had tried but failed.

This morning, however, I believe the odds were on my side. The struggle began, and once again, I felt myself succumbing to its power; however, I was not going to go down without a fight. I felt that I was crushing the cold steel, bending and twisting it. With every squeeze of my palm, the cold sweat on my forehead slowly disappeared and I saw myself winning. I was finally doing it—I was bench-pressing 200 pounds!

To many people, bench-pressing 200 pounds may not be a significant achievement. For me, it was more than just the physical act. Before I accomplished this goal, I spent many hours in my backyard gym. At first, I failed to see the fruits of my labor because I wanted quick results. Disappointment set in, and I did not see myself improving. After I bench-pressed 200 pounds, I realized something beyond lifting the actual weight: success o r rewards are not always going to be initially apparent. The hours of work in the gym, the sweat and the soreness all helped me understand the commitment and dedication needed to accomplish my long-term goals.

This same idea holds true with my education. At Milby High School, I felt that I was not being challenged academically, so I decided to transfer to YES College Preparatory, a school with a rigorous academic program.

At fi rst I was overwhelmed with the amount of work. I resisted and resented what teachers asked of me; I did not see the advantages of doing it. I felt that I was back in the gym and once again, the hard work was not showing immediate results.

Consequently, I shut down mentally and refused to work because I truly felt my efforts were in vain. However, my overall attitude changed during my junior year as I began to embrace the challenge of proving to myself that I could handle the course load. My grades improved and I found myself thriving in this environment. The summer before my senior year, I had the opportunity to attend a challenging summer program at Stanford University focusing on philosophy. Besides learning about Plato’s theories, I also realized during those three weeks that the work that I had done in school and the high level of expectations placed on me by my teachers helped prepare me to be a successful student in this program. This unique opportunity existed because of the hard work and commitment that I had finally shown in school, just as I had shown in the gym.

Reflecting on my first two years of high school, I, like so many others, wish that I could go back and redo them. However, I feel fortunate to have gained this insight when I did, for I know now that while I cannot change the past, I can always shape my future.

Why This Essay Succeeded

This essay may have been quite ordinary if not for the fact that Daniel deftly draws a parallel between weightlifting and learning. He is able to connect the two skills and show how his experience overcoming the 200-pound barrier also helped him excel in school. This is an attention- getting connection to make.

Daniel’s essay also shows that he is not afraid of a challenge. But he is a realist and understands that achievements—both physical and mental— take time and dedication. Daniel does an excellent job taking an otherwise common topic and turning it into something uniquely his own while showcasing his strengths to the colleges.

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