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I need College Admissions Essay help (less than 1000 words, autobiographical)


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I'm writing my application essay for the Cleveland State University Honors Program and it's not going as smoothely as I might hope. I wrote a little of another essay, but hated it, so this is my second attempt, taking into consideration what I've read online and in this book I got on writing a good essay. Any advice or oppinions would be greatly appreciated.

I'm far from finished with this draft, but I'm hoping for some feedback. For the record, I was told to be personal and entertaining (though not silly), and I'm afraid I may have gone a little too far. I'm only about 1/3 to 1/2 there, so bear that in mind. Here it is:

When asked to describe myself, I once replied “I take everything deathly seriously, and I always laugh at death”. Does that mean that I am a fearless individual, giving every situation absolute focus, like an on-the-prowl Indiana Jones or, my dad’s favorite, Doc Savage? Hardly; that is simply my round-about way of saying I am an individual that can see the humor in any situation.

Without a doubt, I received my sense of humor from my father, though whether the transfer from father to son was hereditary or taught, I cannot say. That is a question better posed for Nature vs. Nurture scientists. What I can say for sure is that my ability to laugh was not the only trait passed down. Others include an appreciation for old cars, an impenetrable skull (the fabled “O’Malley’s head”), the conviction that I am a superhero, and, of course, my name, Donald O’Malley.

I have yet to master the traits of my mother, however. The most important of these, and one I still need much work on, is patience. Hers would have been envied by Gandhi if he ever traveled to Cleveland. If it were not for her seemingly bottomless tolerance, my brother and I (mostly my brother) would have been tossed out on the street years ago.

And thanks again for any comments.


Edited by JesusTheNinja
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lalala, I heard of a boy who sent in for his college essay a drawing of his head and in little sections were things that represented him, except one section was blank and it said "FILL ME IN!" and the college admissions people accepted him, and filled in the section fully coloured and everythinggg.

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Hmm... if it's any help what-so-ever:

Here are the essays I used (the second one is the best):


I know that I need to be an artist. In order for me to be fulfilled, I am driven to create. However, I understand that there is a very real possibility that I won't "make it" in the world of art, which is an idea that simultaneously grounds me in reality and limits my artistic ambitions.

This past summer I participated in The Berkeley Repertory Theater's Summer Intensive, a program which combined traditional acting, movement, and voice with directing, playwriting, and technical production, and ultimately resulted in each student group writing and performing an original piece. My piece, "On the Futility of Relative Omnipotence", reflects my struggle for human understanding. It focuses on the struggle of a man with supernatural, visionary powers who attempts to relate his experience to an average man. My experience at The Berkeley Repertory reinforced both my desire to be an artist and my fear of failure.

I've always seen art as the individual's own internal web of conflict thrown out into the world. The artist most wants people to see his or her struggle as valid, and to identify this struggle with their own. So in art we seek validation and solidarity. I suppose that of these two hopes the first disappears with confidence, so it is the second that truly defines art. A masterpiece is a work of art within which anyone can see themselves, or in other words a masterpiece connects all of humanity through the common experience held inside of it. While I do not expect myself to create the ultimate work of art, I want to get as close to this ideal as I can.

Through writing, I come to understand my internal complexity and uncover the truth that is hidden inside of me. I also have a desire to aesthetically affect others through my writing. I do not share a traditional view of aesthetics, which emphasizes that an individual's response to beauty should be unambiguously positive. The traditional view of beauty does not capture the strong neutral and strong negative reactions that interest me. I am interested in creating an aesthetic response that captures a more complex range of emotions and potentially transcends the concepts of positivity and negativity.

In college I would like to expand my artistic pursuits and create meaningful art by broadening the scope of my interests and understanding. Through theater, creative writing, and my academic studies in literature, psychology, and philosophy, I want to become a more mature and innovative artist. I recognize the risk in trying to succeed as an artist, but I know that I could never be satisfied with any other choice.


Marcel Proust said,"We don't receive wisdom; we must discover it for ourselves after a journey that no one can take for us or spare us." Walt Whitman said ""Not I--not anyone else, can travel that road for you, /You must travel it for yourself." Nietzsche said "For he who proceeds on his own path in this fashion encounters no one: this is inherent in 'proceeding on one's own path.' No one comes along to help him: all the perils, accidents, malice and bad weather which assail him he has to tackle by himself. For his path is his alone," and Robert Hunter said "There is a road, no simple highway/ Between the dawn and the dark of night/And if you go no one may follow/That path is for your steps alone."

The metaphor of life's journey appears consistently within the context of modern human society. It is this metaphor which defines my attitude towards learning. It is learning that makes this journey through life significant. It is learning that allows us to differentiate between the journey of life and the journey down to the supermarket to buy a quart of milk. Learning facilitates a deeper understanding of the beauty of existence. The more one learns, the more he or she sees the interconnectivity of existence. The way that ideas from entirely different, people, fields, and time periods can so synergistically relate with each other to form a piece of the web of existence.

It is this realization that caused me to become passionate about many fields which before I had only had a vague interest in. I first began to see ideas were interconnected last year in my Honors English 3 class when I assigned a paper relating an Alfred Hitchcock movie to the Puritan view of morality. At first, I was baffled, but then I started thinking about and suddenly I started seeing parallels between these two seemingly unrelated cultural artifacts. I began to believe that similar interconnections existed throughout the realms of human thought. I applied this search for connections to mythology, an old interest of mind, and was stunned by the similarities I found. For example, I began to see connections between stories of Loki, Prometheus, and Jesus. It was this this realization that lead me to found a mythology club at my high school where we examined the connections between various myths from different cultures so as to divine a greater understanding of human nature. As a result of these studies, the vice-president of the mythology club and I were able to present a detailed lecture on comparitive mythlogy for the benefit of our school's Latin classes.

Learning facilitates understanding. Understanding facilitates living. To know myself is to know how to live my own life. Understanding not only allows us to experience the jouney but to discover the paths that lead us to a universal something that is greater than ourselves. By learning we can shape our destinies and our passions and become people whose lives means something both on the scale of the individaul and on the scale of humanity. To learn is to live.


Whenever I become fascinated with a work of literature, I take on the identity of one of its characters to deepen my understanding. The only way to understand a book is to live it. I’ve lived Melville’s Ahab, Dostoyevsky’s Ivan Karamazov, Kundera’s Sabina, and most recently Shakepeare’s Hamlet. The same is true of my approach to the study of psychology, philosophy, and mythology. I learn by being. Sarah Lawrence offers an enviroment where I could explore living ideas.

The discussion-based class setting would greatly facilitate this process by allowing me to feel the emotional core of the academic subject matter. The vitality of an active discussion can transform an author’s creation into the living character. When I can feel the life of a character, I amend my own personality to take on an aspect of that character. For example, Ahab’s ambition to destroy the white whale transmuted into my ambition to become an artist as I read Moby-Dick. I feel that the environment at Sarah Lawrence could allow me to more deeply engage this process of empathic imagination.

The interdisciplinary emphasis at Sarah Lawrence would give me the freedom to apply my creative insights from one course to another. If for example, I was studying Aldous Huxley in one course and Beowulf in another, then I could simultaneously take on both of their mindsets and see them in terms of each other. Huxley in terms of Beowulf; Beowulf in terms of Huxley. I imagine that this synergistic interaction of adopted selves could bring about a fundamentally deeper understanding of both.

The theatre program at Sarah Lawrence offers a chance to expand this more embodied way of learning. Everything in theatre is defined by the process of transformation: an actor becoming a character, a stage becoming a set, and a script becoming a play. The freedom afforded by Sarah Lawrence’s interdisciplinary course work could allow me to take the insights gained through experiential learning and use them to create innovative theatrical productions.

In my life, theatre has a symbiotic relationship with academic learning. Doing one without the other would be impossible because they are essentially the same process. To understand a work of literature and to fully develop a role, a transformation of the self is necessary. At Sarah Lawrence, I will combine my academic passions with my theatrical pursuits in a learning community where all parts of me can find expression.

(incidentally, they did get me into my top choice school)

Edited by Mithrandir
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Thank you for the replies, all. After a look back over the essay thus far, I can see you're right about it being too silly. I'm axing the Rolling Stones part (it worked well in a different context, but not here), and I'm going to drop some of the other stuff I added in for humor. I was pushing too far into the realm of informality.

And thanks, Mith. It really helps to read other people's essays.


be like "i'm belial, most badass person alive. accept me or die. -belial"

Though a good idea, it doesn't much help me. Perhaps if Belial were to write "I'm Belial, most badass person alive. Accept Jesus or die. -Belial", then I could give it to the admission officers and get in with ease.

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Though a good idea, it doesn't much help me. Perhaps if Belial were to write "I'm Belial, most badass person alive. Accept Jesus or die. -Belial", then I could give it to the admission officers and get in with ease.

Hey man, if you want me to, I'll do it. Just PM me your address so I know where to send the signed and notarized letter to. I'll even throw in a baseball bat and a can of Belial's Ass Beating Juice, for use on the off chance that my recomendation isn't enough, at no extra charge.

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"Uh, yeah, I got my letters of recommendation from some people on the internet. They've taught me more than a teacher ever could." -- (soon to be) Failed applicant.

Thats when the baseball bat and can of Belial's Ass Beating Juice™ come in. Nobody argues or fails to accept you when their brains are all over the floor... and walls.

I guess they don't do much of anything in that case.

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Thank you for the recent replies...?

Well, this is as far as I've gotten up to now:


(If it doesn't have a period at the end of a sentence, it's because I haven't finished it yet, not that I forgot. Also, whereever there is an empty line of text(like I hit Enter too many times), that means I'm woking on connecting those two paragraphs.)

The essay just goes downhill, in my oppinion. I'm happy with the first few paragraphs, but then it just becomes more and more mechanical and impersonal.

Any further help would be greatly appreciated.


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