University Admission Essay to Harvard University :
Gen S. Tanabe – Waialua – Hawaii
One of the authors of this book, Gen turns an ordinary, everyday experience
into a powerful essay. He wanted an essay that not only conveyed
his accomplishments but that also relayed the special relationship that
he had with his family and his father in particular. At Waialua High
School, Gen was president of the student body, captain of the debate
team and vice chairman of the Hawaii state student council.
Dad’s Pancakes - Harvard University
In spite of the various extracurricular activities I’ve done and interesting
people I’ve met, not one event or person has been more meaningful to me
than my father’s preparation of breakfast.
Every morning I wake up to the sounds of my father cooking breakfast.
While lying in bed, I try to guess if the clank of a pan means scrambled
eggs or maybe his specialty, banana pancakes. Waking up to nearly 7,000
such mornings, I have grown to admire my father’s dedication, a dedication
that never falters even after hours of late-night work.
I readily applied this value of dedication when I was elected Vice-Chairman
of the State Student Council. With the tremendous amount of work related
to this position, there were numerous occasions when I found myself having
to choose between reviewing Board of Education policies and going to
the beach with friends. And whenever I felt myself beginning to vacillate,
I was always reminded of my father’s unwavering dedication. I knew that
the students who elected me depended on my dedication, and like my
father’s daily commitment, I would not let them down.
Whenever I hear my father making breakfast I always hope that he is preparing
his piece dé résistance, banana pancakes. My father’s pancakes are
not generic “Bisquickies," but one-of-a-kind masterpieces. He uses scratch
ingredients from hand-sifted fl our to homegrown bananas. As I grew older
I noticed that I also began to assume the same ambition toward life as my
father has toward his pursuit of the perfect pancake.
In my freshman year I took an interest in film making and soon my goal
was to own a video camera and recorder. To accomplish this goal I could
either wait six months until Christmas and hope Santa could afford a new
VCR, or I could earn the money and buy it myself. My ambitious yearning
took over and for the next three months of summer vacation I held a
brush in one hand and a can of latex in the other as the hired painter of
my grandmother’s house. Although the work was hard and tiring, by the
end of the summer, I was able to earn the money to fulfill my goal. Having
learned from my father to strive for success, I have since worked fervently
but patiently to attain my goals in life.
After my father has flipped the last pancake, the best part of breakfast has
arrived—consumption. As I devour the stack of scrumptious pancakes, I
notice that my father has a bright smile across his face; I am not the only
one to savor this moment. My father truly enjoys making my breakfast. My
father’s joy from even the simplest things has been the model that I have
tried to apply to my life every single day.
Failure to heed my father’s lesson was disastrous in my sophomore year
when I decided it would be impressive to become a cross country runner.
As I was running the three-mile course, I began to realize around the second
mile that I did not particularly enjoy running. In fact I hated running.
This painful experience reminded me of my father’s overarching aim to enjoy
what he is doing. Since then I have chosen to excel in tennis and other
activities, not for the prestige or status, but simply because I enjoy them.
My father completes the tradition of preparing breakfast by soaking the
dirty pans in the sink. As he does, I think of how fortunate I am. Some
people only have one meaningful event in their lives, but I have one every
Why This Essay Succeeded
Since this is my (Gen’s) essay I’d like to give you a behind-the-scenes
look at how and why I wrote it.
To find an original idea is not always easy. I spent several days just
listing topic possibilities. On my list I wrote my father’s name since
he was very influential. Under his name I outlined admirable qualities one of which was that he made me breakfast each morning. When
I zeroed in on that aspect I realized how much care he put into my
favorite—banana pancakes. Although I continued to brainstorm every
time I looked at the list this one aspect—banana pancakes—kept drawing
That’s when I began to write. I am not a naturally good writer. It takes
me many, many re-writes to be able to express on paper what is in my
mind. I probably wrote this essay more than a dozen times. Each time
it got a little better and more focused. When I thought it was just about
perfect I shared with two of my favorite English teachers.
When I got back their comments I thought a bottle of red ink had
exploded. Most importantly, they had the perspective of a first time
reader. I was so close to the story that I didn’t realize there were sections
that needed more explanation or transitions that weren’t smooth.
This feedback was critical and I went through an additional half dozen
It took about a month from the time I started brainstorming to the
day I had a finished essay in hand. It really helped to be able to let
the essay ferment. There were days that I thought it was perfect, only
to re-read it a day later and find all sorts of problems. The best advice
I have for writing an admission essay is to give yourself the time you
need to discover your own masterpiece.
University Admission Essay to Harvard University - University Admission Essay to Harvard University - University Admission Essay to Harvard University - University Admission Essay to Harvard University