College Admission Essays :
Kelly Y. Tanabe – Cerritos – California
When writing her essay, Kelly, the co-author of this book, remembered
the painful experience she had in elementary school when she made
her fi rst presentation to the class. With moist palms and butterflies in
her stomach, she anxiously read the words on the index cards. Kelly
vowed that she would become a writer so that she could express herself
fully through words on paper if not always aloud. At Whitney High
School, she became the editor of the newspaper, assistant editor of the
yearbook and worked with the local library to start a reading program
for elementary school children. And she made many more presentations
to the class, growing more comfortable each time.
My Voice - Harvard University
I have a soft voice. When I was younger, I did not like to present oral
reports to my class because my voice did not carry. I have always desired a
powerful voice, a voice that beckoned others to listen, captivated them and
provoked them into absorbing the thoughts I expressed.
I was not born with this voice.
For this reason, I have turned to writing. For me, my voice is projected
through the words I write. Since I wrote my first article for my elementary
school newspaper at the age of 8, I have had a passion for journalism.
Through my school newspaper, Aspects, I grew acquainted with the field
of journalism. As the Editor of this self-funded work, I learned the steps
necessary to produce a publication—from the conception of articles to the
distribution of the paper.
This background with Aspects developed in me the desire to continue my
growth as a journalist. For this reason, I plan to develop my communications
abilities in college as well as to write for a publication upon my graduation.
With this education at Harvard and Radcliffe, I hope that my writing
skills will progress in order to prepare for my future in the field.
With this education, I hope to hone my voice. I want others to listen, to
hear my ideas, to have their lives affected by the articles that I write. For
while the words that I speak are heard only once, the words that I write will
be heard many times. Now, I have a powerful voice.
Why This Essay Succeeded
Since this is my (Kelly’s) essay I can add some thoughts on how I
wrote it and what I was trying to accomplish. My biggest challenge
was the limited space. It’s a problem that every student faces. I knew
that I could only get in a few key points and I definitely wanted one
of them to be my work with the school newspaper. But I also knew
that this could be problematic since there were literally thousands of
high school journalists applying to college. So how could I make my
The answer came when I did some self-reflection into why I enjoyed
writing and how I felt when I wrote. When I thought about it I realized
that I loved writing because it gave my voice—which was soft—volume.
I could be heard through my writing in ways that I never could be in
person. So that became my introduction and how I would make my
Doing so also allowed me to work in the fact that I had been writing
for a very long time. On the Harvard application I listed my involvement
in the high school newspaper but there was no place to mention
my writing before then. So my essay allowed me to include my earliest
journalistic assignment at age 8. I hoped that this would show the
admission officers that writing was something that was an integral part
of the majority of my life.
Finally, I wanted to conclude the essay on a high note and show that
my future was only just beginning. I wanted the admission officers to
understand that as a college student I would continue to raise my voice
through my writing (which I ultimately did working on the Harvard
newspaper) and make myself heard.
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