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College Application Essay

by Em16


When the world upends, it’s natural that you should be upended too. If someone pulls the rug out from under you, you can’t help but trip and fall.

When my school announced the start of a two week hiatus due to concern over COVID-19, I wasn’t worried. I thought I’d stay home for a few weeks before returning to my habitual activities, and life would continue on as normal.

The first month, I did the exact same thing at home that I would’ve done at school. I spent three hours a day studying for my AP tests. I did my math homework with extreme diligence, triple checking all my answers. I sang my songs for choir for hours on end and read books like Middlemarch and Stalingrad. I was determined that when we went back to school, I would be even smarter than I’d been when we left.

But then, we didn’t go back to school. And I was lost, because there was no one to impress. I had been running in the same hamster wheel for so long, and now it felt like someone had taken the wheel away. Yet I kept running, and as time wore on, I lost my motivation to do anything. I’d sit down and stare at the clock, knowing I should be doing something, but not having the energy to do it.

I was exhausted, but at night, I couldn’t fall asleep. Scenes from my childhood would come to me, unbidden, taking me back to a place so far off it seemed like a fairytale. Images would collide; the bright colors of my Road Dahl books, the small font of my mother’s copy of Anne of Green Gables, the ribbons hanging from the Dear America books I got from the library, Edith Hamilton’s Mythology, the spine worn from the number of times I’d read it. In my dreams, I’d flip through the pages of the countless journals I had written in, watching the handwriting get messier and messier as I got older.

One morning, when I woke up, instead of reaching for my computer or my textbooks, I reached for a journal. I didn’t know what to say, but I started writing and watched my halting thoughts transform into smooth, well constructed sentences.

Before the pandemic, I’d built my entire identity around one single element: being the perfect student. All my friends were so smart and accomplished and I wanted to be just as incredibly as they were. But they weren’t around for me to emulate anymore. My life was completely my own, now. And I wanted to do it differently. I wanted to feel like life was worth living for myself, not simply because I needed to get a good score on the SAT.

So I pulled out all the books I’d hidden in my closet, the ones that wouldn’t make it on a list of one hundred books to read before you die. I curled up in bed and ate candy and read tons of forgettable YA novels with stereotypical characters. I stayed up late watching Youtube videos of my favorite boy bands. I took long walks and listened to Iron and Wine, sweating out all the anxiety building in my stomach. I started writing poems again, spending evenings on the back porch playing with metaphors and imagery.

I imagine, in my school full of future doctors, lawyers, and politicians, I’m the only one who spent the pandemic this way. But I’m fine with that. I’ve learned my passion is not for politics or medicine or science; it’s for literature. Not too long ago, I tried to run from my passion, because I thought literature was less impressive than other pursuits. I’m not running anymore. Being a writer and a bookworm is something I’ll never able to change about myself, and since I can’t change it, I’ve decided to embrace it. 


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7 Reviews


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Reviews: 7

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Thu Aug 12, 2021 1:35 am
StarGuardian wrote a review...



First of all, I wish you good luck getting into your collage! Second, your essay was very well written. You seem very- ready to take on the world, and determined to get into this college. That's a good thing, especially when going to college you want to be motivated and not just like, "Whatever." this was a good thing! "I stayed up late watching YouTube videos of my favorite boy bands." I'll be honest, I've done the same.

I say that this essay of yours was well thought out and put together, I also say that I think you'll get in. Knowing I'm a lot younger than you, I mean- I just started high school- but I think a strong writer like you would go far. I wish you luck! :D




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233 Reviews


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Fri Jul 30, 2021 8:58 pm
RandomTalks wrote a review...



Hey Em16! RandomTalks here with a short review!

This was a great college application essay and I really like how you didn't jump straight into it but slowly built it up little by little. The introduction was really great.

"When the world upends, it’s natural that you should be upended too. If someone pulls the rug out from under you, you can’t help but trip and fall."
This is a great place to begin and it instantly hooks the reader and makes them want to read more. It certainly made me want to read more! Your words are simple and direct but it creates an effect on the reader.

The first few paragraphs make it clear that the narrator, in this case, you, are a diligent student. While the pandemic shook the rest of the world, you were in your room doing sums and keeping up with school work so that you can be the smartest kid in school when it reopens. While that is more than I can ever say for myself, it builds a clear picture of who you are as a person and reveals certain pieces of your character.

"And I was lost, because there was no one to impress. "
This line was especially good as it puts you in a vulnerable light and makes the reader connect with you on a more personal level. Because honestly, who hasn't lost themselves when the rest of the world has been stripped down to the four walls of their room? Without the distractions and the usual routines of normal life, you get to discover yourself once again. And that is precisely what you have done in this essay.

I liked how you drew connections to your childhood, citing names of those beloved books and adding that personal touch to your essay. I liked how you walked us through your journey of discovering your passions and interests, and finding the confidence to shift from the set path you had set for yourself. It was motivating and hopeful and everything it should be.

A few nitpicks I noticed:

"All my friends were so smart and accomplished and I wanted to be just as incredibly as they were."
There is a typo in here, I guess. 'incredibly' should be 'incredible' here so that it reads: "and I wanted to be just as incredible as they were".

"My life was completely my own, now."
Pull out the comma after 'own'. It feels unnecessary in this sentence.

"Being a writer and a bookworm is something I’ll never able to change about myself....."
You missed the word 'be' here after 'never'. The sentence should read: "I'll never 'be' able to change about myself.."

Overall, this was a really great essay. I just feel it would have been better if you included why you are interested in literature instead of just pursuing it because it is a part of yourself that you cannot change. If you delve a little deeper in that, I think, it could have turned out even better. Just a suggestion though!

Good luck to you! And I hope this review helped a little.





No man or woman who tries to pursue an ideal in his or her own way is without enemies.
— Daisy Bates