College Admission Essays

College Admission Essays :

Samantha J. Cooper - New York - New York

A heartbreaking injury forced Samantha to reevaluate her future as a dancer. In her essay, she describes how she dealt with the decision that she says “changed the course of (her) life.” At Horace Mann High School, Samantha was editor of the school’s weekly newspaper, president of the Shakespeare Club and governor of the Northeastern State in the Junior State of America, the highest elected student position. She plans to work in journalism or law.

How Podiatry Begat Oratory - Princeton University

The ostrigonum is largely unknown outside dance circles. As its Latin name suggests, it is a bone of triangular shape, typically equilateral. It is found at the base of the ankle and is no greater than two centimeters in size. Like its better-known anatomical counterparts, the tonsils and appendix, this vestigial bone is an evolutionary dead end. My very personal discovery of it forced me to reevaluate my dance career and to seek application of its lessons elsewhere.

My summers were spent dancing at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center since Madam’s stick came to rest at my side. Madam was one of several French-speaking pre-Soviet Russian ballet mistresses. Each mistress had a prized talent, the ability to select from many the few to whom they would impart the collective wisdom of Petipa, Balanchine and Robbins. I met Madam and first spied her stick at an annual carnival of tears, the auditions for the School of American Ballet, teaching affiliate of the New York City Ballet. Places in the school’s pre-professional program were so coveted that any applicant’s chance of admission is less than slight. I was 8 and I thought Madam’s stick prevented her from toppling, but now I understand that her stick was a divining rod. It navigated a sea of pink satin and then came to rest near a few modestly nourished hopefuls.

The stick found me, and joy reigned in our previously danceless household. Family and school schedules would now accommodate my group classes, private classes, auditions and performances. Three hundred “Nutcracker” performances at a nonunion $9 each and an assortment of “Sleeping Beauties” and “Midsummer Night’s Dreams,” followed with increasingly demanding roles and stage time. I joined the company’s trips to the capital district in summer and returned to Lincoln Center for fall season. On stage or off, I was defined by teachers, friends and relatives in terms of art. I was a dancer-student, dancer-daughter and dancer-sister. I saw myself the same way, and I thought this identity would endure. All changed that summer when local specialists, Advil and cortisone failed to quiet the superfluous bone. A surgeon helped the fractured “os,” and life as a ballerina in training had ended. Nature had betrayed me. While recovering, I replayed Madam’s classes and searched for lessons that could be salvaged and applied to other aspects of my life. I was too young to be known for what I used to do.

The bone departed, but the relevance of the lessons remained. From a young age dance instilled discipline, focus and determination, skills no less valuable today. In learning choreography, I became analytical, searching for meaning in movement just as words convey feelings in poetry. I could communicate with the last row of any arena through pacing, cadence and rhythm. Ballet was my unconventional prerequisite for political debate, journalism and Shakespeare. When I joined Junior State of America (JSA) the gavel on the podium became my siren as Madam’s stick upon the hardwood. In JSA the theatre is a convention center and the audience is filled with constituents. My instrument is now my voice and the message my improvisation. In dance, I learned to move in unison with partners, excellent preparation for diplomacy. I play to the back rows to use the skills Madam taught to inspire others to collaborate as a unified corps.

While I have succumbed to the lures of the newspaper, JSA and Shakespeare with satisfaction and fulfillment, I still think of Madam’s stick and her lessons that have served me well in all my pursuits. As I stride confidently to the front of the ballroom to open debate conventions, whether in Boston, Stamford or Washington, D.C., I can still hear Madam reminding me, “Shoulders down. Chin up. Project!”

Why This Essay Succeeded

One of the strengths of Samantha’s essay is the story. She shares the tale of her celebrated selection to the School of American Ballet, her rise as a dancer and her horrific fall. And after all of this, she explains what she has learned from the experience. Who wouldn’t be moved by her experience? But even if you haven’t had such a traumatic occasion, you can see how it helps to be self-analytical and convey what you have gained from participation in an activity.

The other strength of this essay, and we can’t say this enough for all of you, is the quality of her writing. Samantha creates a vivid illustration of Madam, the celebration after being selected and her resulting experience in JSA. She picks and chooses just the right details to share without overloading the essay with unnecessary descriptions. A good writer is economical with words—using only those that are absolutely essential to the story. This is especially true with the limited space of a college admission essay.

College Admission Essays - College Admission Essays - College Admission Essays - College Admission Essays - College Admission Essays

More College Admission Essays

College Admission Essays :

Essays Index

College Admission Essays To HOME PAGE

Related Links : College Admission Essays