College Admission Essays

College Admission Essays :

Michelle Lloyd - Dallas, Texas

There are a few things about Michelle that might surprise you. You probably wouldn’t expect someone who is passionate about electrical engineering to also be enthused by piano, dance and poetry. But Michelle has talents in these disparate areas. A graduate of The Hockaday School, she was a National Merit Scholar and perhaps even more significantly actually enjoyed writing her essay. She says, “I think it is a valuable exercise to sift back through your own personal experiences and see how they have affected who you are and what you want to become.” She may work in engineering, linguistics or academia.

Gordito - Rice University

“¡Gordito! ¡Gordito!” they teased as he jumped rope, but Ivan did not seem to mind being called chubby because he continued to enjoy himself and the company of the other children in the parking lot. His not-so-white shirt has a little tear and some dirt smudged on it, but he blended in with the other children playing at our Backyard Bible Club. Some, like Ivan, had worn the same outfit each day that our choir had come to the apartment complexes with our games, crafts, songs and stories. As part of our mission trip to Mexico City, we wanted to reach out to the hurting, impoverished children by spending three days with them sharing the love of Jesus Christ.

I did not notice Ivan right away. Instead, on the fi rst day, I saw the little girl with the faded blue and red ribbons on her dress sitting by herself, and I saw little Diego who could t h row a Frisbee even though he was only 3. Out of the confusion of over 100 children playing, Dwain, one of our sponsors, approached me with four 9-year-old boys tagging along. They were asking for regalas, gifts, meaning that they wanted “Eternity Bracelets.” These were bead bracelets each member of our choir made to give to the children as an explanation of the salvation Jesus offers us. While I retrieved my bracelets from the bus, Dwain led Ivan, Eduardo, Cristiano and Marcos away from the ruckus, and we all sat down beyond the bus so I could explain what the colors of the beads meant.

The boys listened, some more attentively than others, while I decoded the colors: black represents sin; red stands for Jesus’ blood; white is the purification He brings; blue means baptism, a sign of one’s decision to follow Christ; green is the growth of one’s relationship with Christ; and gold reminds believers they will go to heaven when they die. Dwain had me ask the boys if they understood everything and wanted to let Jesus enter their hearts. “Si, lo quiero,” they said. I led them in prayer to the Holy Father, “Santo Padre, quiero recibir a Jesus en micorazon.” “Santo Padre, quiero recibir a Jesus en micorazon,” they repeated in better Spanish than I had used. I will never forget how God used me to benefit the eternal future of those young boys.

On the second or third day of our Backyard Bible Club, Ivan brought me some children who did not have bracelets. I gave them bracelets but did not have to explain the colors because Ivan stayed to share what he knew about Jesus. Ivan’s enthusiasm was contagious. Instead of worrying about being teased while jumping rope, his new-found, eternal perspective was evident as he shared the story of Jesus with his friends.

Why This Essay Succeeded

Some students are afraid to write about religion since they worry the reader may be of a different faith—or may have no faith at all. Admission officers are professionals and while each has his or her own personal views about religion, none would deny that religion can be an important influence. Religion is, therefore, a perfectly acceptable topic. However, what admission officers do not like is an essay that is preachy. You are not trying to convert them or convince them of the superiority of your religion over others. Nobody wants to be told what to believe. But as long as you stay away from this pitfall you can write a perfectly good essay about your religious faith.

In this essay, Michelle presents a nice vignette of the Backyard Bible Club. After reading her essay, the admission officers could probably envision the chaos of the children playing, the small group huddled around Michelle to learn the significance of the bracelets and her satisfaction from knowing that she has helped them. But notice that she is neither preachy nor judgmental about her religion. Instead, she describes her involvement as she would any other important extracurricular activity. She is selective about what she writes about and takes the time to dissect this single experience rather than attempt to cover her entire experience with the church. This ability to focus is important for any essay regardless of topic.

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