College Admission Essays

College Admission Essays :

Kathleen C. Degen – Narberth – Pennsylvania

When she was writing her application essays, Kathleen knew that her strong academic record could speak for itself. She wanted to show the colleges another side of her. “I tried to write about things that were truly important to me in hopes of giving the admission officers a feel for what I was like outside of my grades and test scores,” she says. Kathleen was the captain of the varsity squash and crew teams and participated in theatre and the literary magazine at the Episcopal Academy.

On the Water - Princeton University

In the words of a former teammate, “Crew teaches you to find your limits and then surpass them.” There is no better feeling than finishing a 60-minute piece weary, exhausted and totally drained of energy knowing that you and your teammates have put your absolute all and more into it. The sport often entails early practices, late practices, long practices, hot weather, cold weather, blistered hands and general discomfort. Nevertheless, when you feel like you could not possibly force your legs up the slide one more time, the eventual goal of making that next piece or next race that much better pushes you to keep going and take another stroke.

Crew has also been one of the most humbling and rewarding experiences for me. I began the sport knowing virtually nothing about it. I now have a profound sense of what it is like to work towards a common goal with a group of people and, in the process, develop meaningful friendships. I have learned that it is impossible to succeed if all eight rowers do not work together. There are no stars. Unless the rowers think of themselves as one boat as opposed to eight individuals, it is simply not possible to win. It has taught me a life lesson that there is no way one can make it solely on her own and that sometimes it is necessary to seek help and support even when independence is what she may desire.

Why This Essay Succeeded

You often have a very limited space in which to write about an activity. Yet, Kathleen effectively describes why she has a passion for crew and what she has gained from the experience. She allows the admission officers to get inside her head to understand her motivations. When writing a short essay about an activity, it’s critical to select a specific aspect. Don’t try to cover all 12 reasons why you enjoy crew. Instead, zero in on one or two that are the most important. This will allow you, as Kathleen has done, to write a meaningful essay using only a couple of paragraphs.

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