how to write an excellent college admissions essay

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The great homework debate: Too much, too little or busy work? Photos: Parents grade their kids' homework: Too much or not enough? Hide Caption. Story highlights There homework too much or too little a sharp debate among parents about homework The National PTA composition dissertations 10 minutes of homework per night per grade level The research on the benefits of homework is mixed Giving students homework time at the end of school day helps, say students. Ask parents how they feel about homework, as we did on CNN's Facebook pageand the response is immediate and intense. So many parents from all over the country sounded off passionately, saying we expect too much, too little or the wrong things from young students.

How to write an excellent college admissions essay richard brunt resume services

How to write an excellent college admissions essay

If you're seeing this message, it means we're having trouble loading external resources on our website. To log in and use all the features of Khan Academy, please enable JavaScript in your browser. Donate Login Sign up Search for courses, skills, and videos. Life skills College admissions Applying to college Admissions essays. Writing a strong college admissions essay. Avoiding common admissions essay mistakes. Brainstorming tips for your college essay. How formal should the tone of your college essay be?

Taking your college essay to the next level. Sample essay 1 with admissions feedback. At thirteen, I saw the ancient, megalithic structure of Stonehenge and walked along the Great Wall of China, amazed that the thousand-year-old stones were still in place. It was through exploring cultures around the world that I first became interested in language. It began with French, which taught me the importance of pronunciation. I remember once asking a store owner in Paris where Rue des Pyramides was.

In the eighth grade, I became fascinated with Spanish and aware of its similarities with English through cognates. This was incredible to me as it made speech and comprehension more fluid, and even today I find that cognates come to the rescue when I forget how to say something in Spanish. Then, in high school, I developed an enthusiasm for Chinese.

As I studied Chinese at my school, I marveled how if just one stroke was missing from a character, the meaning is lost. I love spending hours at a time practicing the characters and I can feel the beauty and rhythm as I form them. Interestingly, after studying foreign languages, I was further intrigued by my native tongue.

Through my love of books and fascination with developing a sesquipedalian lexicon learning big words , I began to expand my English vocabulary. Studying the definitions prompted me to inquire about their origins, and suddenly I wanted to know all about etymology, the history of words.

My freshman year I took a world history class and my love for history grew exponentially. To me, history is like a great novel, and it is especially fascinating because it took place in my own world. But the best dimension that language brought to my life is interpersonal connection.

When I speak with people in their native language, I find I can connect with them on a more intimate level. I want to study foreign language and linguistics in college because, in short, it is something that I know I will use and develop for the rest of my life. I will never stop traveling, so attaining fluency in foreign languages will only benefit me. In the future, I hope to use these skills as the foundation of my work, whether it is in international business, foreign diplomacy, or translation.

Today, I still have the travel bug, and now, it seems, I am addicted to language too. Click here for this student's amazing Instagram photos. This was written for a Common App college application essay prompt that no longer exists, which read: Evaluate a significant experience, risk, achievement, ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you. Smeared blood, shredded feathers. Clearly, the bird was dead. But wait, the slight fluctuation of its chest, the slow blinking of its shiny black eyes.

No, it was alive. I had been typing an English essay when I heard my cat's loud meows and the flutter of wings. I had turned slightly at the noise and had found the barely breathing bird in front of me. The shock came first. Mind racing, heart beating faster, blood draining from my face. I instinctively reached out my hand to hold it, like a long-lost keepsake from my youth. But then I remembered that birds had life, flesh, blood. Within seconds, my reflexes kicked in.

Get over the shock. Gloves, napkins, towels. How does one heal a bird? I rummaged through the house, keeping a wary eye on my cat. Donning yellow rubber gloves, I tentatively picked up the bird. Never mind the cat's hissing and protesting scratches, you need to save the bird. You need to ease its pain. But my mind was blank. I stroked the bird with a paper towel to clear away the blood, see the wound. The wings were crumpled, the feet mangled.

A large gash extended close to its jugular rendering its breathing shallow, unsteady. The rising and falling of its small breast slowed. Was the bird dying? No, please, not yet. The long drive, the green hills, the white church, the funeral. The Chinese mass, the resounding amens, the flower arrangements. Me, crying silently, huddled in the corner. The Hsieh family huddled around the casket.

So many apologies. Finally, the body lowered to rest. The body. Kari Hsieh. Still familiar, still tangible. Hugging Mrs. Hsieh, I was a ghost, a statue. My brain and my body competed. Emotion wrestled with fact. Kari was dead, I thought.

My frantic actions heightened my senses, mobilized my spirit. Cupping the bird, I ran outside, hoping the cool air outdoors would suture every wound, cause the bird to miraculously fly away. Yet there lay the bird in my hands, still gasping, still dying. Bird, human, human, bird.

What was the difference? Both were the same. But couldn't I do something? Hold the bird longer, de-claw the cat? I wanted to go to my bedroom, confine myself to tears, replay my memories, never come out. The bird's warmth faded away. Its heartbeat slowed along with its breath. For a long time, I stared thoughtlessly at it, so still in my hands.

Slowly, I dug a small hole in the black earth. As it disappeared under handfuls of dirt, my own heart grew stronger, my own breath more steady. Kari has passed. But you are alive. I am alive. This essay could work for prompts 1, 2 and 7 for the Common App. From page 54 of the maroon notebook sitting on my mahogany desk:. I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth and whoever finds me will kill me.

Here is a secret that no one in my family knows: I shot my brother when I was six. Luckily, it was a BB gun. But to this day, my older brother Jonathan does not know who shot him. And I have finally promised myself to confess this eleven year old secret to him after I write this essay.

The truth is, I was always jealous of my brother. Our grandparents, with whom we lived as children in Daegu, a rural city in South Korea, showered my brother with endless accolades: he was bright, athletic, and charismatic. To me, Jon was just cocky. Deep down I knew I had to get the chip off my shoulder. Once we situated ourselves, our captain blew the pinkie whistle and the war began.

My friend Min-young and I hid behind a willow tree, eagerly awaiting our orders. To tip the tide of the war, I had to kill their captain. We infiltrated the enemy lines, narrowly dodging each attack. I quickly pulled my clueless friend back into the bush. Hearing us, the alarmed captain turned around: It was my brother.

Startled, the Captain and his generals abandoned their post. Vengeance replaced my wish for heroism and I took off after the fleeing perpetrator. My eyes just gazed at the fleeing object; what should I do? I looked on as my shivering hand reached for the canister of BBs. The next second, I heard two shots followed by a cry.

I opened my eyes just enough to see two village men carrying my brother away from the warning sign. Days passed. My brother and I did not talk about the incident. But in the next few weeks, something was happening inside me. That night when my brother was gone I went to a local store and bought a piece of chocolate taffy, his favorite. Several days later, I secretly went into his room and folded his unkempt pajamas.

Then, other things began to change. I even ate fishcakes, which he loved but I hated. Today, my brother is one of my closest friends. Every week I accompany him to Carlson Hospital where he receives treatment for his obsessive compulsive disorder and schizophrenia. After he leaves, I take out my notebook and begin writing where I left off. And Grace, my fears relieved For analysis of what makes this essay amazing , go here.

Essay written for the "topic of your choice" prompt for the Common Application college application essays. Bowing down to the porcelain god, I emptied the contents of my stomach. Foaming at the mouth, I was ready to pass out. Ten minutes prior, I had been eating dinner with my family at a Chinese restaurant, drinking chicken-feet soup.

My mom had specifically asked the waitress if there were peanuts in it, because when I was two we found out that I am deathly allergic to them. When the waitress replied no, I went for it. Suddenly I started scratching my neck, feeling the hives that had started to form. I rushed to the restroom to throw up because my throat was itchy and I felt a weight on my chest.

I was experiencing anaphylactic shock, which prevented me from taking anything but shallow breaths. I was fighting the one thing that is meant to protect me and keep me alive — my own body. All I knew was that I felt sick, and I was waiting for my mom to give me something to make it better.

I thought my parents were superheroes; surely they would be able to make well again. But I became scared when I heard the fear in their voices as they rushed me to the ER. After that incident, I began to fear. I became scared of death, eating, and even my own body. Ultimately, that fear turned into resentment; I resented my body for making me an outsider. In the years that followed, this experience and my regular visits to my allergy specialist inspired me to become an allergy specialist.

Even though I was probably only ten at the time, I wanted to find a way to help kids like me. I wanted to find a solution so that nobody would have to feel the way I did; nobody deserved to feel that pain, fear, and resentment.

This past summer, I took a month-long course on human immunology at Stanford University. I learned about the different mechanisms and cells that our bodies use in order to fight off pathogens. My desire to major in biology in college has been stimulated by my fascination with the human body, its processes, and the desire to find a way to help people with allergies. To find out if your essay passes the Great College Essay Test like this one did, go here. This essay could work for prompts 1, 2, 5 and 7 for the Common App.

Watkins was the coordinator of the foreign exchange student program I was enrolled in. She had a nine year old son named Cody. I would babysit Cody every day after school for at least two to three hours. He would talk a lot about his friends and school life, and I would listen to him and ask him the meanings of certain words.

He was my first friend in the New World. She had recently delivered a baby, so she was still in the hospital when I moved into their house. The Martinez family did almost everything together. We made pizza together, watched Shrek on their cozy couch together, and went fishing on Sunday together. On rainy days, Michael, Jen and I would sit on the porch and listen to the rain, talking about our dreams and thoughts. Within two months I was calling them mom and dad.

After I finished the exchange student program, I had the option of returning to Korea but I decided to stay in America. I wanted to see new places and meet different people. After a few days of thorough investigation, I found the Struiksma family in California. They were a unique group. The host mom Shellie was a single mom who had two of her own sons and two Russian daughters that she had adopted. The kids always had something warm to eat, and were always on their best behavior at home and in school.

In the living room were six or seven huge amplifiers and a gigantic chandelier hung from the high ceiling. The kitchen had a bar. At first, the non-stop visits from strangers made me nervous, but soon I got used to them. I remember one night, a couple barged into my room while I was sleeping. It was awkward. In the nicest way possible, I told them I had to leave. They understood. The Ortiz family was my fourth family. Kimberly, the host mom, treated me the same way she treated her own son.

She made me do chores: I fixed dinner, fed their two dogs Sassy and Lady, and once a week I cleaned the bathroom. I also had to follow some rules: No food in my room, no using the family computer, no lights on after midnight, and no ride unless it was an emergency.

The first couple of months were really hard to get used to, but eventually I adjusted. I lived with the Ortiz family for seven months like a monk in the deep forest. It was unexpected and I only had a week to find a new host family. I asked my friend Danielle if I could live with her until I found a new home. The Dirksen family had three kids. They were all different. Danielle liked bitter black coffee, Christian liked energy drinks, and Becca liked sweet lemon tea.

After dinner, we would all play Wii Sports together. I was the king of bowling, and Dawn was the queen of tennis. Afterward, we would gather in the living room and Danielle would play the piano while the rest of us sang hymns. Of course, those 28 months were too short to fully understand all five families, but I learned from and was shaped by each of them. By teaching me English, nine year-old Cody taught me the importance of being able to learn from anyone; the Martinez family showed me the value of spending time together as a family; the Struiksma family taught me to reserve judgment about divorced women and adopted children; Mrs.

In short:. He buries a series of essence images in his first paragraphs one per family. When he reveals each lesson at the end, one after the other, we sense how all these seemingly random events are connected. We realize this writer has been carefully constructing this piece all along; we see the underlying structure.

Each of the first five paragraphs works to SHOW. See how distinct each family is? He does this through specific images and objects. Q: Why did he just show us all these details? A: To demonstrate what each family has taught him. He also goes one step further. Q: So what am I going to do with all these lessons? Identify your single greatest strength in this case, it was his ability to adapt to whatever life gave him. Ask: how did I learn this?

Show 1: "By teaching me English, nine year-old Cody taught me the importance of being able to learn from anyone. Show 2: "the Martinez family showed me the value of spending time together as a family" implication: he doesn't have this with his own family. Show 3: "the Struiksma family taught me to reserve judgment about divorced women and adopted children. Show 4: "Mrs. Ortiz taught me the value of discipline. For years, processed snack foods ruled the kitchen kingdom of my household and animal products outnumbered plant-based offerings.

I fully embraced this new eating philosophy to show my support. I became entranced by the world of nutritional science and how certain foods could help prevent cancer or boost metabolism. Each new food I discovered gave me an education on the role diet plays on health. I learned that, by eating sweet potatoes and brown rice, you could cure acne and heart disease.

I discovered eating leafy greens with citrus fruits could boost iron absorption rates. I loved pairing my foods to create the perfect macronutrient balance. Did you know beans and rice make a complete protein? Food has also turned me into a sustainability nut. Living plant-based also saves the planet from the impact of animal agriculture. For the same amount of land space, a farmer can produce kilograms of soybeans versus 16 kilograms of beef. I do my part to have as small of an ecological footprint as I can.

I stopped using plastic snack bags and instead turned to reusable beeswax wraps. My favorite reusable appliance is my foldable straw. We are currently working on a restaurant campaign to encourage local eateries to create a plant-based, oil-free menu option and become PlantPure certified. After discovering how many restaurants use oil in their cooking, I decided I needed to open a plant-based oil free cafe to make up for this gap. This allows me to educate people about nutritional science through the stomach.

Finally, I am a strong proponent of hands-on experience for learning what good food looks and tastes like, so cooking is one of my favorite ways to teach the benefits of a plant-based lifestyle. Our society has taught us that delicious food has to make us feel guilty, when that is simply not the case. The best feeling in the world is falling in love with a dish and then learning all the health benefits that it provides the body.

While my classmates complain about being tired, I have more energy because my body is finally getting the right macros, vitamins, and minerals it needs. But the foods I am particular about have changed. Rather than a carboholic, I choose to call myself a vegeholic.

Its instructions are simple: Open the Google Sheet, enter a number between 1 and 20 that best represents my level of happiness, and write a short comment describing the day. But the practical aspect of the spreadsheet is only a piece of what it has represented in my life.

What had started as a farcical proposition of mine transformed into a playground where high school classmates and I convene every two weeks to prepare a savory afternoon snack for ourselves. Hard-fought days of mixing cement and transporting supplies had paid off for the affectionate community we had immediately come to love. If happiness paves the roads of my life, my family is the city intertwined by those roads — each member a distinct neighborhood, a distinct story.

In times of stress, whether it be studying for an upcoming derivatives test or presenting my research at an international conference, I dash to my father for help. Coming from the dusty, people-packed backstreets of Thiruvananthapuram, India, he guides me in looking past the chaos and noticing the hidden accomplishments that lie in the corners. When in need of confidence, I find my mother, who taps her experiences living in her tranquil and sturdy tatami-covered home in Hiroshima, Japan, helping me prepare for my first high school dance or my final match in a tennis tournament.

The Happiness Spreadsheet is also a battery monitor for enthusiasm. Other times, the battery is depleted, and I am frustrated by writer's block, when not a single melody, chord, or musical construct crosses my mind. The Happiness Spreadsheet can be a hall of fame, but it can likewise be a catalog of mistakes, burdens, and grueling challenges.

The idea was born spontaneously at lunch, and I asked two of my friends if they were interested in pursuing this exercise with me. To this day, I ponder its full importance in my life. With every new number I enter, I recognize that each entry is not what defines me; rather, it is the ever-growing line connecting all the data points that reflects who I am today.

Where will the Happiness Spreadsheet take me next? I was a left-handed kid who wrote from right to left, which made my writing comprehensible only to myself. Only after years of practice did I become an ambidextrous writer who could translate my incomprehensible writing. As I look back on my life, I realized that this was my first act of translation. As I deciphered complex codes into comprehensible languages like rate of change and speed of an object, I gained the ability to solve even more complicated and fascinating problems.

Now, I volunteer to tutor others: as a Korean tutor for friends who love Korean culture and a golf tutor for new team members. Tutoring is how I integrate and strengthen new concepts for myself. I often put myself into their situation and ask, "What emotional support would I want or need if I was in this situation?

However, my translation can't accurately account for the experiences I have yet to go through. After realizing the limitations of my experience, I created a bucket list full of activities out of my comfort zone, which includes traveling abroad by myself, publishing my own book, and giving a lecture in front of a crowd.

Although it is a mere list written on the front page of my diary, I found myself vividly planning and picturing myself accomplishing those moments. My knack for translating has led me to become a real-life Korean language translator. As an English to Korean letter translator in a non-profit organization, Compassion , I serve as a communication bridge between benefactors and children in developing countries, who communicate through monthly letters. This experience has motivated me to learn languages like Spanish and Mandarin.

As I get to know more about myself through different languages, I grew more confident to meet new people and build new friendships. While translating has been a huge part of my life, a professional translator is not my dream job. I want to be an ambulatory care clinical pharmacist who manages the medication of patients with chronic diseases. In fact, translating is a huge part of the job of a clinical pharmacist.

In one form or another, I've always been and will be a translator. I sit, cradled by the two largest branches of the Newton Pippin Tree, watching the ether. The Green Mountains of Vermont stretch out indefinitely, and from my elevated vantage point, I feel as though we are peers, motionless in solidarity. But a few months ago, I would have considered this an utter waste of time. Prior to attending Mountain School, my paradigm was substantially limited; opinions, prejudices, and ideas shaped by the testosterone-rich environment of Landon School.

I was herded by result-oriented, fast-paced, technologically-reliant parameters towards psychology and neuroscience the NIH, a mere 2. Subconsciously I knew this was not who I wanted to be and seized the chance to apply to the Mountain School.

Upon my arrival, though, I immediately felt I did not belong. I found the general atmosphere of hunky-dory acceptance foreign and incredibly unnerving. So, rather than engage, I retreated to what was most comfortable: sports and work. In the second week, the perfect aggregate of the two, a Broomball tournament, was set to occur.

Though I had never played before, I had a distinct vision for it, so decided to organize it. That night, the glow-in-the-dark ball skittered across the ice. My opponent and I, brooms in hand, charged forward. We collided and I banana-peeled, my head taking the brunt of the impact. Stubborn as I was, even with a concussion, I wanted to remain in class and do everything my peers did, but my healing brain protested.

I began wandering around campus with no company except my thoughts. Throughout those days, I created a new-found sense of home in my head. I am most enamored by ideas that cultivate ingenious and practical enrichments for humanity. I enjoy picking some conundrum, large or small, and puzzling out a solution.

Returning from a cross country meet recently, my friend and I, serendipitously, designed a socially responsible disposable water bottle completely on accident. Now we hope to create it. I am still interested in psychology and neuroscience, but also desire to incorporate contemplative thought into this work, analyzing enigmas from many different perspectives.

My internships at the NIH and the National Hospital for Neuroscience and Neurosurgery in London have offered me valuable exposure to research and medicine. But I have come to realize that neither of my previous intended professions allow me to expand consciousness in the way I would prefer. After much soul-searching, I have landed on behavioral economics as the perfect synergy of the fields I love.

All it took was a knock on the head. Suddenly, a miniature gathering of the European Commission glares straight at me. I feel the pressure of picking one option over the other. What do I choose? Like the various nations of the European Union, the individual proponents of these culinary varieties are lobbying their interests to me, a miniature Jean-Claude Junker.

Now, you may be asking yourselves: why would I be so pensive over a meal choice? Every year, that same family gathers together in New York City to celebrate Christmas. These exact conversations drove me to learn more about what my parents, grandparents, and other relatives were debating with a polite and considerate passion.

In turn, participating in debate has expanded my knowledge regarding matters ranging from civil rights reparations to American redeployment in Iraq, while enriching my capacities to thoughtfully express my views on those and other issues, both during P. This awareness incited a passion for statecraft within me — the very art of balancing different perspectives - and therefore a desire to actively engage in government.

With my experiences in mind, I felt there was no better place to start than my own neighborhood of Bay Ridge. Most importantly, my family has taught me an integral life lesson. As our Christmas Dinner squabbles suggest, seemingly insurmountable impasses can be resolved through respect and dialogue, even producing delicious results!

On a grander scale, it has elucidated that truly inclusive discourse and toleration of diverse perspectives render tribalism, sectarianism, and the divisive aspects of identity politics powerless over our cohesion. I fundamentally value cultural, political, and theological variety; my own microcosm reflecting our global society at large has inspired me to strive to solve the many conflicts of bitterness and sectionalism in our world today. This vocation may come in the form of political leadership that truly respects all perspectives and philosophies, or perhaps as diplomacy facilitating unity between the various nations of the world.

Before I came to America, I drank Puer Tea with my father every morning in my bedroom, sitting cross-legged on Suzhou-silk mats beside a view of the Lakeside reservoir. Beside a dark end table, we picked up teacups as the mild aroma greeted our noses. As we faced the French window, my father would share the news he read in China Daily : the Syrian civil war, climate change, and gender equality in Hollywood. Most of the time, I only listened. With each piece of news, my curiosity piqued.

Secretly, I made a decision that I wanted to be the one to discuss the news with him from my perspective. So, I decided to study in America to learn more about the world. But, my new room lacked stories and cups of tea. Fortunately, I found Blue House Cafe on my walk home from church, and started studying there.

With white walls, comfortable sofas, and high stools, Blue House is spacious and bright. Similarly, as president of the International Students Club, I invited my teammates to have meetings with me at the cafe. Coordinating the schedule with other members in Blue House has become a frequent event.

Consuming several cups of coffee, my team and I have planned Lunar New Year events, field trip to the Golden Gate Bridge, and Chinese lunch in school to help international students feel more at home. Straightening my back and bracing my shoulders, I stood up behind the conference table and expressed my creative ideas passionately. After each meeting, we shared buttermilk coffee-cake.

In my spot next to the window, I also witnessed different kinds of people. I viewed visitors dragging their luggage, women carrying shopping bags, and people wandering in tattered clothes --the diversity of San Francisco. Two years ago I saw volunteers wearing City Impact shirts offering sandwiches and hot chocolate to homeless people outside of the cafe.

I investigated more about City Impact and eventually signed up to volunteer. No longer was I a bystander. At holiday outreach events, I prepared and delivered food to homeless people. While sharing my coffee, I listened to a story from an older Chinese man who told me, in Mandarin, how he had been abandoned by his children and felt lonely. Last summer, I returned to Xiamen, China, and taught my father how to drink coffee. Now, a Chemex and teapot are both on the end table.

Instead of simply listening, I shared my experiences as a club president, a community leader, and a volunteer. I showed him my business plan and prototypes. I am so proud of you. Together, we emptied our cups while the smell of coffee lingered. I add the critically measured sugary tea mixture to the gallon jar containing the slimy, white, disc-shaped layers of the symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.

I place it on my kitchen counter, periodically checking it to relieve the built-up CO2. Finally, after an additional seventy-two hours, the time comes to try it. I crack the seal on the bottle, leaning over to smell what I assume will be a tangy, fruity, delicious pomegranate solution.

The insufferable stench fills my nostrils and crushes my confidence. I'm momentarily taken aback, unable to understand how I went wrong when I followed the recipe perfectly. My issue wasn't misreading the recipe or failing to follow a rule, it was bypassing my creative instincts and forgetting the unpredictable nature of fermentation. I needed to trust the creative side of kombucha— the side that takes people's perfectionist energy and explodes it into a puddle of rotten egg smelling 'booch my preferred name for the drink- not "fermented, effervescent liquid from a symbiotic culture of acetic acid bacteria and yeast".

I was too caught up in the side that requires extreme preciseness to notice when the balance between perfectionism and imperfectionism was being thrown off. The key, I have learned, is knowing when to prioritize following the recipe and when to let myself be creative. Sure, there are scientific variables such as proximity to heat sources and how many grams of sugar to add.

But, there's also person-dependent variables like how long I decide to ferment it, what fruits I decide will be a fun combination, and which friend I got my first SCOBY from taking "symbiotic" to a new level. I often find myself feeling pressured to choose one side or the other, one extreme over the alternative.

I've been told that I can either be a meticulous scientist or a messy artist, but to be both is an unacceptable contradiction. However, I choose a grey area; a place where I can channel my creativity into the sciences, as well as channel my precision into my photography. I still have the first photo I ever took on the first camera I ever had.

Or rather, the first camera I ever made. Making that pinhole camera was truly a painstaking process: take a cardboard box, tap it shut, and poke a hole in it. Okay, maybe it wasn't that hard. But learning the exact process of taking and developing a photo in its simplest form, the science of it, is what drove me to pursue photography.

I remember being so unhappy with the photo I took; it was faded, underexposed, and imperfect. For years, I felt incredibly pressured to try and perfect my photography. It wasn't until I was defeated, staring at a puddle of kombucha, that I realized that there doesn't always have to be a standard of perfection in my art, and that excited me.

So, am I a perfectionist? Or do I crave pure spontaneity and creativity? Can I be both? Perfectionism leaves little to be missed. With a keen eye, I can quickly identify my mistakes and transform them into something with purpose and definitude. On the other hand, imperfection is the basis for change and for growth. My resistance against perfectionism is what has allowed me to learn to move forward by seeing the big picture; it has opened me to new experiences, like bacteria cross-culturing to create something new, something different, something better.

I am not afraid of change or adversity, though perhaps I am afraid of conformity. To fit the mold of perfection would compromise my creativity, and I am not willing to make that sacrifice. I hold onto my time as dearly as my Scottish granny holds onto her money. Precious minutes can show someone I care and can mean the difference between accomplishing a goal or being too late to even start and my life depends on carefully budgeting my time for studying, practicing with my show choir, and hanging out with my friends.

However, there are moments where the seconds stand still. It is already dark when I park in my driveway after a long day at school and rehearsals. Not paying attention to the clock, I allow myself to relax for a brief moment in my busy life. Laughter fills the show choir room as my teammates and I pass the time by telling bad jokes and breaking out in random bursts of movement. This same sense of camaraderie follows us onstage, where we become so invested in the story we are portraying we lose track of time.

My show choir is my second family. I realize I choreograph not for recognition, but to help sixty of my best friends find their footing. At the same time, they help me find my voice. The heavy scuba gear jerks me under the icy water, and exhilaration washes over me.

Lost in the meditative rolling effect of the tide and the hum of the vast ocean, I feel present. I dive deeper to inspect a vibrant community of creatures, and we float together, carefree and synchronized. My fascination with marine life led me to volunteer as an exhibit interpreter for the Aquarium of the Pacific, where I share my love for the ocean.

Most of my time is spent rescuing animals from small children and, in turn, keeping small children from drowning in the tanks.

WHAT IS AN BIBLIOGRAPHY

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Take advantage of being able to share something with an audience who knows nothing about you and is excited to learn what you have to offer. Brag without being overly boastful. Write the story no one else can tell. Ease yourself into the essay-writing process. Take time to understand the question or prompt being asked. The single most important part of your essay preparation may be simply making sure you truly understand the question or essay prompt. When you're finished writing, you need to make sure that your essay still adheres to the prompt.

College essay questions often suggest one or two main ideas or topics of focus. These can vary from personal to trivial, but all seek to challenge you and spark your creativity and insight. Get your creative juices flowing by brainstorming all the possible ideas you can think of to address your college essay question.

Believe it or not, the brainstorming stage may be more tedious than writing the actual application essay. The purpose is to flesh out all of your possible ideas so when you begin writing, you know and understand where you're going with the topic. Architects use a blue print.

A web page is comprised of code. Cooks rely on recipes. What do they all have in common? They have a plan. The rules for writing a good essay are no different. Create an outline that breaks down the essay into sections. By now you know exactly what you'll write about and how you want to tell the story. So hop on a computer and get to it. Try to just let yourself bang out a rough draft without going back to change anything.

Then go back and revise, revise, revise. Before you know it, you'll have told the story you outlined—and will have reached the necessary word count—and you'll be happy you spent all that time preparing! You've worked so hard up until this point, and while you might be relieved, remember: your essay is only as good as your editing.

Grammatical errors or typos could indicate carelessness—not a trait you want to convey to a college admission officer. Writing the college essay takes time and effort, and you should feel accomplished. When you submit your essay, remember to include your name, contact information, and ID number if your college provided one, especially if you send it to a general admission email account.

Nothing is worse than trying to match an application essay with no name or, worse, an email address such as donutsarelife domain. Make sure to keep copies of what you sent to which schools and when—and follow up on them! Be certain the college or university you're applying to received your essay. Looking for more college application essay help?

We have tons of advice here , including lots of examples from real students! Join the CollegeXpress community! Tags: admission advice admission essays college admission college applications college essays. CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit. The purpose of the admission essay Your college application essay needs to breathe life into your application.

Get to know your prompt Ease yourself into the essay-writing process. Read them again. Then read them one more time. Take some time to think about what is being asked and let it really sink in before you let the ideas flow. Is this essay prompt asking you to inform? Expand upon? These pieces rarely showcase who you are as an applicant. Brainstorm Get your creative juices flowing by brainstorming all the possible ideas you can think of to address your college essay question.

You have years to draw from, so set aside time to mentally collect relevant experiences or events that serve as strong, specific examples. This is also time for self-reflection. Narrow down the options. Choose three concepts you think fit the college application essay prompt best and weigh the potential of each. Which idea can you develop further and not lose the reader? Which captures more of who you really are?

Choose your story to tell. Studying the definitions prompted me to inquire about their origins, and suddenly I wanted to know all about etymology, the history of words. My freshman year I took a world history class and my love for history grew exponentially. To me, history is like a great novel, and it is especially fascinating because it took place in my own world. But the best dimension that language brought to my life is interpersonal connection.

When I speak with people in their native language, I find I can connect with them on a more intimate level. I want to study foreign language and linguistics in college because, in short, it is something that I know I will use and develop for the rest of my life. I will never stop traveling, so attaining fluency in foreign languages will only benefit me. In the future, I hope to use these skills as the foundation of my work, whether it is in international business, foreign diplomacy, or translation.

Today, I still have the travel bug, and now, it seems, I am addicted to language too. Click here for this student's amazing Instagram photos. This was written for a Common App college application essay prompt that no longer exists, which read: Evaluate a significant experience, risk, achievement, ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.

Smeared blood, shredded feathers. Clearly, the bird was dead. But wait, the slight fluctuation of its chest, the slow blinking of its shiny black eyes. No, it was alive. I had been typing an English essay when I heard my cat's loud meows and the flutter of wings. I had turned slightly at the noise and had found the barely breathing bird in front of me.

The shock came first. Mind racing, heart beating faster, blood draining from my face. I instinctively reached out my hand to hold it, like a long-lost keepsake from my youth. But then I remembered that birds had life, flesh, blood. Within seconds, my reflexes kicked in. Get over the shock. Gloves, napkins, towels. How does one heal a bird? I rummaged through the house, keeping a wary eye on my cat.

Donning yellow rubber gloves, I tentatively picked up the bird. Never mind the cat's hissing and protesting scratches, you need to save the bird. You need to ease its pain. But my mind was blank. I stroked the bird with a paper towel to clear away the blood, see the wound. The wings were crumpled, the feet mangled.

A large gash extended close to its jugular rendering its breathing shallow, unsteady. The rising and falling of its small breast slowed. Was the bird dying? No, please, not yet. The long drive, the green hills, the white church, the funeral. The Chinese mass, the resounding amens, the flower arrangements. Me, crying silently, huddled in the corner. The Hsieh family huddled around the casket. So many apologies. Finally, the body lowered to rest. The body. Kari Hsieh. Still familiar, still tangible.

Hugging Mrs. Hsieh, I was a ghost, a statue. My brain and my body competed. Emotion wrestled with fact. Kari was dead, I thought. My frantic actions heightened my senses, mobilized my spirit. Cupping the bird, I ran outside, hoping the cool air outdoors would suture every wound, cause the bird to miraculously fly away. Yet there lay the bird in my hands, still gasping, still dying. Bird, human, human, bird. What was the difference?

Both were the same. But couldn't I do something? Hold the bird longer, de-claw the cat? I wanted to go to my bedroom, confine myself to tears, replay my memories, never come out. The bird's warmth faded away. Its heartbeat slowed along with its breath. For a long time, I stared thoughtlessly at it, so still in my hands. Slowly, I dug a small hole in the black earth. As it disappeared under handfuls of dirt, my own heart grew stronger, my own breath more steady.

Kari has passed. But you are alive. I am alive. This essay could work for prompts 1, 2 and 7 for the Common App. From page 54 of the maroon notebook sitting on my mahogany desk:. I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth and whoever finds me will kill me.

Here is a secret that no one in my family knows: I shot my brother when I was six. Luckily, it was a BB gun. But to this day, my older brother Jonathan does not know who shot him. And I have finally promised myself to confess this eleven year old secret to him after I write this essay. The truth is, I was always jealous of my brother. Our grandparents, with whom we lived as children in Daegu, a rural city in South Korea, showered my brother with endless accolades: he was bright, athletic, and charismatic.

To me, Jon was just cocky. Deep down I knew I had to get the chip off my shoulder. Once we situated ourselves, our captain blew the pinkie whistle and the war began. My friend Min-young and I hid behind a willow tree, eagerly awaiting our orders. To tip the tide of the war, I had to kill their captain. We infiltrated the enemy lines, narrowly dodging each attack. I quickly pulled my clueless friend back into the bush. Hearing us, the alarmed captain turned around: It was my brother.

Startled, the Captain and his generals abandoned their post. Vengeance replaced my wish for heroism and I took off after the fleeing perpetrator. My eyes just gazed at the fleeing object; what should I do?

I looked on as my shivering hand reached for the canister of BBs. The next second, I heard two shots followed by a cry. I opened my eyes just enough to see two village men carrying my brother away from the warning sign. Days passed. My brother and I did not talk about the incident. But in the next few weeks, something was happening inside me. That night when my brother was gone I went to a local store and bought a piece of chocolate taffy, his favorite.

Several days later, I secretly went into his room and folded his unkempt pajamas. Then, other things began to change. I even ate fishcakes, which he loved but I hated. Today, my brother is one of my closest friends. Every week I accompany him to Carlson Hospital where he receives treatment for his obsessive compulsive disorder and schizophrenia. After he leaves, I take out my notebook and begin writing where I left off. And Grace, my fears relieved For analysis of what makes this essay amazing , go here.

Essay written for the "topic of your choice" prompt for the Common Application college application essays. Bowing down to the porcelain god, I emptied the contents of my stomach. Foaming at the mouth, I was ready to pass out. Ten minutes prior, I had been eating dinner with my family at a Chinese restaurant, drinking chicken-feet soup. My mom had specifically asked the waitress if there were peanuts in it, because when I was two we found out that I am deathly allergic to them.

When the waitress replied no, I went for it. Suddenly I started scratching my neck, feeling the hives that had started to form. I rushed to the restroom to throw up because my throat was itchy and I felt a weight on my chest. I was experiencing anaphylactic shock, which prevented me from taking anything but shallow breaths. I was fighting the one thing that is meant to protect me and keep me alive — my own body.

All I knew was that I felt sick, and I was waiting for my mom to give me something to make it better. I thought my parents were superheroes; surely they would be able to make well again. But I became scared when I heard the fear in their voices as they rushed me to the ER. After that incident, I began to fear.

I became scared of death, eating, and even my own body. Ultimately, that fear turned into resentment; I resented my body for making me an outsider. In the years that followed, this experience and my regular visits to my allergy specialist inspired me to become an allergy specialist. Even though I was probably only ten at the time, I wanted to find a way to help kids like me. I wanted to find a solution so that nobody would have to feel the way I did; nobody deserved to feel that pain, fear, and resentment.

This past summer, I took a month-long course on human immunology at Stanford University. I learned about the different mechanisms and cells that our bodies use in order to fight off pathogens. My desire to major in biology in college has been stimulated by my fascination with the human body, its processes, and the desire to find a way to help people with allergies.

To find out if your essay passes the Great College Essay Test like this one did, go here. This essay could work for prompts 1, 2, 5 and 7 for the Common App. Watkins was the coordinator of the foreign exchange student program I was enrolled in. She had a nine year old son named Cody. I would babysit Cody every day after school for at least two to three hours. He would talk a lot about his friends and school life, and I would listen to him and ask him the meanings of certain words.

He was my first friend in the New World. She had recently delivered a baby, so she was still in the hospital when I moved into their house. The Martinez family did almost everything together. We made pizza together, watched Shrek on their cozy couch together, and went fishing on Sunday together.

On rainy days, Michael, Jen and I would sit on the porch and listen to the rain, talking about our dreams and thoughts. Within two months I was calling them mom and dad. After I finished the exchange student program, I had the option of returning to Korea but I decided to stay in America. I wanted to see new places and meet different people. After a few days of thorough investigation, I found the Struiksma family in California.

They were a unique group. The host mom Shellie was a single mom who had two of her own sons and two Russian daughters that she had adopted. The kids always had something warm to eat, and were always on their best behavior at home and in school. In the living room were six or seven huge amplifiers and a gigantic chandelier hung from the high ceiling.

The kitchen had a bar. At first, the non-stop visits from strangers made me nervous, but soon I got used to them. I remember one night, a couple barged into my room while I was sleeping. It was awkward. In the nicest way possible, I told them I had to leave. They understood. The Ortiz family was my fourth family. Kimberly, the host mom, treated me the same way she treated her own son. She made me do chores: I fixed dinner, fed their two dogs Sassy and Lady, and once a week I cleaned the bathroom.

I also had to follow some rules: No food in my room, no using the family computer, no lights on after midnight, and no ride unless it was an emergency. The first couple of months were really hard to get used to, but eventually I adjusted. I lived with the Ortiz family for seven months like a monk in the deep forest. It was unexpected and I only had a week to find a new host family.

I asked my friend Danielle if I could live with her until I found a new home. The Dirksen family had three kids. They were all different. Danielle liked bitter black coffee, Christian liked energy drinks, and Becca liked sweet lemon tea. After dinner, we would all play Wii Sports together.

I was the king of bowling, and Dawn was the queen of tennis. Afterward, we would gather in the living room and Danielle would play the piano while the rest of us sang hymns. Of course, those 28 months were too short to fully understand all five families, but I learned from and was shaped by each of them. By teaching me English, nine year-old Cody taught me the importance of being able to learn from anyone; the Martinez family showed me the value of spending time together as a family; the Struiksma family taught me to reserve judgment about divorced women and adopted children; Mrs.

In short:. He buries a series of essence images in his first paragraphs one per family. When he reveals each lesson at the end, one after the other, we sense how all these seemingly random events are connected. We realize this writer has been carefully constructing this piece all along; we see the underlying structure. Each of the first five paragraphs works to SHOW.

See how distinct each family is? He does this through specific images and objects. Q: Why did he just show us all these details? A: To demonstrate what each family has taught him. He also goes one step further. Q: So what am I going to do with all these lessons? Identify your single greatest strength in this case, it was his ability to adapt to whatever life gave him. Ask: how did I learn this? Show 1: "By teaching me English, nine year-old Cody taught me the importance of being able to learn from anyone.

Show 2: "the Martinez family showed me the value of spending time together as a family" implication: he doesn't have this with his own family. Show 3: "the Struiksma family taught me to reserve judgment about divorced women and adopted children. Show 4: "Mrs. Ortiz taught me the value of discipline. For years, processed snack foods ruled the kitchen kingdom of my household and animal products outnumbered plant-based offerings.

I fully embraced this new eating philosophy to show my support. I became entranced by the world of nutritional science and how certain foods could help prevent cancer or boost metabolism. Each new food I discovered gave me an education on the role diet plays on health. I learned that, by eating sweet potatoes and brown rice, you could cure acne and heart disease. I discovered eating leafy greens with citrus fruits could boost iron absorption rates.

I loved pairing my foods to create the perfect macronutrient balance. Did you know beans and rice make a complete protein? Food has also turned me into a sustainability nut. Living plant-based also saves the planet from the impact of animal agriculture. For the same amount of land space, a farmer can produce kilograms of soybeans versus 16 kilograms of beef.

I do my part to have as small of an ecological footprint as I can. I stopped using plastic snack bags and instead turned to reusable beeswax wraps. My favorite reusable appliance is my foldable straw. We are currently working on a restaurant campaign to encourage local eateries to create a plant-based, oil-free menu option and become PlantPure certified. After discovering how many restaurants use oil in their cooking, I decided I needed to open a plant-based oil free cafe to make up for this gap.

This allows me to educate people about nutritional science through the stomach. Finally, I am a strong proponent of hands-on experience for learning what good food looks and tastes like, so cooking is one of my favorite ways to teach the benefits of a plant-based lifestyle. Our society has taught us that delicious food has to make us feel guilty, when that is simply not the case. The best feeling in the world is falling in love with a dish and then learning all the health benefits that it provides the body.

While my classmates complain about being tired, I have more energy because my body is finally getting the right macros, vitamins, and minerals it needs. But the foods I am particular about have changed. Rather than a carboholic, I choose to call myself a vegeholic. Its instructions are simple: Open the Google Sheet, enter a number between 1 and 20 that best represents my level of happiness, and write a short comment describing the day.

But the practical aspect of the spreadsheet is only a piece of what it has represented in my life. What had started as a farcical proposition of mine transformed into a playground where high school classmates and I convene every two weeks to prepare a savory afternoon snack for ourselves. Hard-fought days of mixing cement and transporting supplies had paid off for the affectionate community we had immediately come to love.

If happiness paves the roads of my life, my family is the city intertwined by those roads — each member a distinct neighborhood, a distinct story. In times of stress, whether it be studying for an upcoming derivatives test or presenting my research at an international conference, I dash to my father for help. Coming from the dusty, people-packed backstreets of Thiruvananthapuram, India, he guides me in looking past the chaos and noticing the hidden accomplishments that lie in the corners.

When in need of confidence, I find my mother, who taps her experiences living in her tranquil and sturdy tatami-covered home in Hiroshima, Japan, helping me prepare for my first high school dance or my final match in a tennis tournament. The Happiness Spreadsheet is also a battery monitor for enthusiasm. Other times, the battery is depleted, and I am frustrated by writer's block, when not a single melody, chord, or musical construct crosses my mind.

The Happiness Spreadsheet can be a hall of fame, but it can likewise be a catalog of mistakes, burdens, and grueling challenges. The idea was born spontaneously at lunch, and I asked two of my friends if they were interested in pursuing this exercise with me.

To this day, I ponder its full importance in my life. With every new number I enter, I recognize that each entry is not what defines me; rather, it is the ever-growing line connecting all the data points that reflects who I am today. Where will the Happiness Spreadsheet take me next? I was a left-handed kid who wrote from right to left, which made my writing comprehensible only to myself.

Only after years of practice did I become an ambidextrous writer who could translate my incomprehensible writing. As I look back on my life, I realized that this was my first act of translation. As I deciphered complex codes into comprehensible languages like rate of change and speed of an object, I gained the ability to solve even more complicated and fascinating problems. Now, I volunteer to tutor others: as a Korean tutor for friends who love Korean culture and a golf tutor for new team members.

Tutoring is how I integrate and strengthen new concepts for myself. I often put myself into their situation and ask, "What emotional support would I want or need if I was in this situation? However, my translation can't accurately account for the experiences I have yet to go through. After realizing the limitations of my experience, I created a bucket list full of activities out of my comfort zone, which includes traveling abroad by myself, publishing my own book, and giving a lecture in front of a crowd.

Although it is a mere list written on the front page of my diary, I found myself vividly planning and picturing myself accomplishing those moments. My knack for translating has led me to become a real-life Korean language translator.

As an English to Korean letter translator in a non-profit organization, Compassion , I serve as a communication bridge between benefactors and children in developing countries, who communicate through monthly letters.

This experience has motivated me to learn languages like Spanish and Mandarin. As I get to know more about myself through different languages, I grew more confident to meet new people and build new friendships.

While translating has been a huge part of my life, a professional translator is not my dream job. I want to be an ambulatory care clinical pharmacist who manages the medication of patients with chronic diseases. In fact, translating is a huge part of the job of a clinical pharmacist. In one form or another, I've always been and will be a translator.

I sit, cradled by the two largest branches of the Newton Pippin Tree, watching the ether. The Green Mountains of Vermont stretch out indefinitely, and from my elevated vantage point, I feel as though we are peers, motionless in solidarity. But a few months ago, I would have considered this an utter waste of time. Prior to attending Mountain School, my paradigm was substantially limited; opinions, prejudices, and ideas shaped by the testosterone-rich environment of Landon School.

I was herded by result-oriented, fast-paced, technologically-reliant parameters towards psychology and neuroscience the NIH, a mere 2. Subconsciously I knew this was not who I wanted to be and seized the chance to apply to the Mountain School. Upon my arrival, though, I immediately felt I did not belong. I found the general atmosphere of hunky-dory acceptance foreign and incredibly unnerving. So, rather than engage, I retreated to what was most comfortable: sports and work.

In the second week, the perfect aggregate of the two, a Broomball tournament, was set to occur. Though I had never played before, I had a distinct vision for it, so decided to organize it. That night, the glow-in-the-dark ball skittered across the ice. My opponent and I, brooms in hand, charged forward.

We collided and I banana-peeled, my head taking the brunt of the impact. Stubborn as I was, even with a concussion, I wanted to remain in class and do everything my peers did, but my healing brain protested. I began wandering around campus with no company except my thoughts. Throughout those days, I created a new-found sense of home in my head. I am most enamored by ideas that cultivate ingenious and practical enrichments for humanity. I enjoy picking some conundrum, large or small, and puzzling out a solution.

Returning from a cross country meet recently, my friend and I, serendipitously, designed a socially responsible disposable water bottle completely on accident. Now we hope to create it. I am still interested in psychology and neuroscience, but also desire to incorporate contemplative thought into this work, analyzing enigmas from many different perspectives.

My internships at the NIH and the National Hospital for Neuroscience and Neurosurgery in London have offered me valuable exposure to research and medicine. But I have come to realize that neither of my previous intended professions allow me to expand consciousness in the way I would prefer. After much soul-searching, I have landed on behavioral economics as the perfect synergy of the fields I love.

All it took was a knock on the head. Suddenly, a miniature gathering of the European Commission glares straight at me. I feel the pressure of picking one option over the other. What do I choose? Like the various nations of the European Union, the individual proponents of these culinary varieties are lobbying their interests to me, a miniature Jean-Claude Junker.

Now, you may be asking yourselves: why would I be so pensive over a meal choice? Every year, that same family gathers together in New York City to celebrate Christmas. These exact conversations drove me to learn more about what my parents, grandparents, and other relatives were debating with a polite and considerate passion.

In turn, participating in debate has expanded my knowledge regarding matters ranging from civil rights reparations to American redeployment in Iraq, while enriching my capacities to thoughtfully express my views on those and other issues, both during P. This awareness incited a passion for statecraft within me — the very art of balancing different perspectives - and therefore a desire to actively engage in government.

With my experiences in mind, I felt there was no better place to start than my own neighborhood of Bay Ridge. Most importantly, my family has taught me an integral life lesson. As our Christmas Dinner squabbles suggest, seemingly insurmountable impasses can be resolved through respect and dialogue, even producing delicious results!

On a grander scale, it has elucidated that truly inclusive discourse and toleration of diverse perspectives render tribalism, sectarianism, and the divisive aspects of identity politics powerless over our cohesion. I fundamentally value cultural, political, and theological variety; my own microcosm reflecting our global society at large has inspired me to strive to solve the many conflicts of bitterness and sectionalism in our world today. This vocation may come in the form of political leadership that truly respects all perspectives and philosophies, or perhaps as diplomacy facilitating unity between the various nations of the world.

Before I came to America, I drank Puer Tea with my father every morning in my bedroom, sitting cross-legged on Suzhou-silk mats beside a view of the Lakeside reservoir. Beside a dark end table, we picked up teacups as the mild aroma greeted our noses. As we faced the French window, my father would share the news he read in China Daily : the Syrian civil war, climate change, and gender equality in Hollywood.

Most of the time, I only listened. With each piece of news, my curiosity piqued. Secretly, I made a decision that I wanted to be the one to discuss the news with him from my perspective. So, I decided to study in America to learn more about the world.

But, my new room lacked stories and cups of tea. Fortunately, I found Blue House Cafe on my walk home from church, and started studying there. With white walls, comfortable sofas, and high stools, Blue House is spacious and bright. Similarly, as president of the International Students Club, I invited my teammates to have meetings with me at the cafe.

Coordinating the schedule with other members in Blue House has become a frequent event. Consuming several cups of coffee, my team and I have planned Lunar New Year events, field trip to the Golden Gate Bridge, and Chinese lunch in school to help international students feel more at home.

Straightening my back and bracing my shoulders, I stood up behind the conference table and expressed my creative ideas passionately. After each meeting, we shared buttermilk coffee-cake. In my spot next to the window, I also witnessed different kinds of people. I viewed visitors dragging their luggage, women carrying shopping bags, and people wandering in tattered clothes --the diversity of San Francisco.

Two years ago I saw volunteers wearing City Impact shirts offering sandwiches and hot chocolate to homeless people outside of the cafe. I investigated more about City Impact and eventually signed up to volunteer. No longer was I a bystander. At holiday outreach events, I prepared and delivered food to homeless people. While sharing my coffee, I listened to a story from an older Chinese man who told me, in Mandarin, how he had been abandoned by his children and felt lonely. Last summer, I returned to Xiamen, China, and taught my father how to drink coffee.

Now, a Chemex and teapot are both on the end table. Instead of simply listening, I shared my experiences as a club president, a community leader, and a volunteer. I showed him my business plan and prototypes. I am so proud of you. Together, we emptied our cups while the smell of coffee lingered. I add the critically measured sugary tea mixture to the gallon jar containing the slimy, white, disc-shaped layers of the symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.

I place it on my kitchen counter, periodically checking it to relieve the built-up CO2. Finally, after an additional seventy-two hours, the time comes to try it. I crack the seal on the bottle, leaning over to smell what I assume will be a tangy, fruity, delicious pomegranate solution. The insufferable stench fills my nostrils and crushes my confidence. I'm momentarily taken aback, unable to understand how I went wrong when I followed the recipe perfectly. My issue wasn't misreading the recipe or failing to follow a rule, it was bypassing my creative instincts and forgetting the unpredictable nature of fermentation.

I needed to trust the creative side of kombucha— the side that takes people's perfectionist energy and explodes it into a puddle of rotten egg smelling 'booch my preferred name for the drink- not "fermented, effervescent liquid from a symbiotic culture of acetic acid bacteria and yeast". I was too caught up in the side that requires extreme preciseness to notice when the balance between perfectionism and imperfectionism was being thrown off.

The key, I have learned, is knowing when to prioritize following the recipe and when to let myself be creative. Sure, there are scientific variables such as proximity to heat sources and how many grams of sugar to add. But, there's also person-dependent variables like how long I decide to ferment it, what fruits I decide will be a fun combination, and which friend I got my first SCOBY from taking "symbiotic" to a new level.

I often find myself feeling pressured to choose one side or the other, one extreme over the alternative. I've been told that I can either be a meticulous scientist or a messy artist, but to be both is an unacceptable contradiction. However, I choose a grey area; a place where I can channel my creativity into the sciences, as well as channel my precision into my photography. I still have the first photo I ever took on the first camera I ever had. Or rather, the first camera I ever made. Making that pinhole camera was truly a painstaking process: take a cardboard box, tap it shut, and poke a hole in it.

Okay, maybe it wasn't that hard. But learning the exact process of taking and developing a photo in its simplest form, the science of it, is what drove me to pursue photography. I remember being so unhappy with the photo I took; it was faded, underexposed, and imperfect. For years, I felt incredibly pressured to try and perfect my photography. It wasn't until I was defeated, staring at a puddle of kombucha, that I realized that there doesn't always have to be a standard of perfection in my art, and that excited me.

So, am I a perfectionist? Or do I crave pure spontaneity and creativity? Can I be both? Perfectionism leaves little to be missed. With a keen eye, I can quickly identify my mistakes and transform them into something with purpose and definitude. On the other hand, imperfection is the basis for change and for growth. My resistance against perfectionism is what has allowed me to learn to move forward by seeing the big picture; it has opened me to new experiences, like bacteria cross-culturing to create something new, something different, something better.

I am not afraid of change or adversity, though perhaps I am afraid of conformity. To fit the mold of perfection would compromise my creativity, and I am not willing to make that sacrifice. I hold onto my time as dearly as my Scottish granny holds onto her money. Precious minutes can show someone I care and can mean the difference between accomplishing a goal or being too late to even start and my life depends on carefully budgeting my time for studying, practicing with my show choir, and hanging out with my friends.

However, there are moments where the seconds stand still. It is already dark when I park in my driveway after a long day at school and rehearsals. Not paying attention to the clock, I allow myself to relax for a brief moment in my busy life. Laughter fills the show choir room as my teammates and I pass the time by telling bad jokes and breaking out in random bursts of movement. This same sense of camaraderie follows us onstage, where we become so invested in the story we are portraying we lose track of time.

My show choir is my second family. I realize I choreograph not for recognition, but to help sixty of my best friends find their footing. At the same time, they help me find my voice. The heavy scuba gear jerks me under the icy water, and exhilaration washes over me. Lost in the meditative rolling effect of the tide and the hum of the vast ocean, I feel present. I dive deeper to inspect a vibrant community of creatures, and we float together, carefree and synchronized.

My fascination with marine life led me to volunteer as an exhibit interpreter for the Aquarium of the Pacific, where I share my love for the ocean. Most of my time is spent rescuing animals from small children and, in turn, keeping small children from drowning in the tanks. Finding this mutual connection over the love of marine life and the desire to conserve the ocean environment keeps me returning each summer.

She had just fallen while performing, and I could relate to the pain and fear in her eyes. The chaos of the show becomes distant, and I devote my time to bringing her relief, no matter how long it may take. I find what I need to treat her injury in the sports medicine training room. Saturday morning bagels with my family. Singing backup for Barry Manilow with my choir. Swimming with sea turtles in the Pacific.

These are the moments I hold onto, the ones that define who I am, and who I want to be. My whole life has been others invading my gender with their questions, tears signed by my body, and a war against my closet. Soon after this, I came out to my mom. My mom cried and said she loved me.