College Admission Essays

College Admission Essays :

Donald H. Matsuda, Jr. – Sacramento – California

Even though he knew that his work inside of the classroom was important, Donald placed a high priority on his contributions outside the classroom as well. At Jesuit High School, Donald was editor of the newspaper and yearbook, director of counselors at Camp ReCreation, a summer camp for mentally and physically disabled children, and president of his church’s youth group. He says, “It’s satisfying to see I can make a difference.” Donald plans to obtain M.D. and M.P.H. degrees.

California Boys’ State - Stanford University

My tired eyes managed to slowly glide across the bright paper, struggling to distinguish the fading black type: “You have been distinguished as the top in the junior terms of leadership, character and scholastic ability.” I certainly felt honored to be recognized for my diligence throughout my high school career, although I was uncertain as to what this nomination was for. I continued, my ambivalence apparent by the expression on my face, until I discovered the two words which explained it all: Boys’ State.

I was informed that I would have to be interviewed, the opportunity for me to present the genuine “who I am” as opposed to “what I have done.” Numerous past achievements are undoubtedly essential in the evaluation of an individual, but as philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson once sagely observed, “What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.”

Once the interviews were completed and our records were reviewed (there were three other candidates who were nominated), the only thing left to do was wait. (This is, other than attending to the rigors of our engaged high school lives.) I was soon informed that I would represent Jesuit High School at California Boys’ State. I was ecstatic! I have always been eager to pursue and gain experience in any field of knowledge. Thus this opportunity was very intellectually promising. Nonetheless, my stay at Boys’ State was not at all as I had anticipated it to be.

The week commenced rather quickly as all of the delegates nervously arrived from various areas of California, most having adjusted to dormitory- style living within a matter of hours. All of the boys, divided into more productive groups termed “cities,” gradually united to build their own municipal governments. I spent the first few hours frantically studying for the afternoon bar examination, which ultimately deemed me proficient to practice law. Once the tension from the examination slowly dissipated, I was able to spend a considerable amount of time acquainting myself with some of the most outstanding fellow leaders in the state. This, undoubtedly, was one of the most remarkable aspects of Boys’ State. I was given the opportunity to meet these talented scholars and to learn about their academic and personal lives. I imagined it to be somewhat similar to orientation week at a very prestigious university (such as Stanford), for the most brilliant minds and talents convened on one campus. Each individual strove for the best but was always primed to work with others for the betterment of our city. This was unlike anything I had ever experienced at the high school level, and I must admit, it was wonderfully refreshing. Nevertheless, socializing with others was only a minor aspect of the complete experience. We were faced with numerous challenges of establishing efficient city and county governments, building successful political campaigns and presenting speeches.

Eight days passed more rapidly than the fleeting days of summer. Nevertheless, I felt that we, as a city, worked hard to accomplish all that we possibly could in one week. The opportunities that I was afforded (my election to the treasurer position, actively participating in running our city government and receiving the Most Outstanding Model City Award) were accomplishments that were achieved through the efforts of everyone in our city. The teamwork was absolutely remarkable. I will treasure the moments which were spent sharing knowledge, ideas and experiences with my roommates. It was incredible that, within a short period of time, our city of 40 strangers had bonded so beautifully and developed friendships for life.

Although Boys’ State was an intensive week of practical political science, it offered so much more than just training for a life of playing “the power game,” as author Hedrick Smith termed it. I gained a wealth of new knowledge about government and efficiency, countless friendships and, most importantly, a newfound outlook on life. While it seems incomprehensible that eight days could make such a profound difference in one’s life, I now believe it can. I did not just come away from my stay as a well informed United States citizen. I feel that I emerged a leader, ready and willing to take the invaluable experiences of Boys’ State and make a contribution to my high school, my community and my prospective college. I am now able to appreciate the importance of the qualities which constitute a true leader—responsibility, charisma, efficiency and, most importantly, honesty. My one week was well spent in that I also experienced a taste of what college is about: learning from textbooks, professors, friends, roommates and experience.

It would be an understatement to reflect upon this week as an “experience of a lifetime” because it was so significant to me. It was an experience that was beyond my expectations and one which I will certainly continue to build upon.

Why This Essay Succeeded When writing about an experience, it’s important to not only tell what happened but to explain its effect on you. Donald conveys a clear picture of the hectic week that he spent at Boys’ State, but he also interprets the lessons he learned about leadership and political science during the time. More important than what he did is what he gained from the experience.

For this type of essay, it’s important to remember to explain what you have discovered. The lesson doesn’t have to reveal the “secret of life.” It can be something small that you had not realized before. Using specific incidents is also helpful. You don’t have to be able to write complex prose to create a good essay. Simply having an eye for detail and presenting your thesis in a clear, uncluttered style can yield a successful essay.

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