Commentary: College essays prompt healthy self-reflection

Embrace College Essays For What They Are, A Reflection of You

Gazette/ staff photo

Gazette/ staff photo Andrew Yung

Andrew Yung, Co-editor-in-chief

I am an avid fan of haikus.

  Perhaps it is the way that the 17 syllables roll off the tongue in such a short, savory way. Perhaps it is the Asian origin of the haiku, a heritage I share.

  Or perhaps it is the limitation that the haiku entails. Because who doesn’t like a challenge?

  Hemingway sure refused to back down from one, as did Dr. Seuss. As a result, we are gifted with “For Sale: Baby Shoes Never Worn” and “Green Eggs and Ham.”

  And in the vein of willingness to take on a challenge, I must say this: I enjoy the challenge of the Common Application general statement essay.

  I enjoy the challenge of writing it. I enjoy the challenge of thinking about it. I enjoy the challenge of having to depict the entirety of my 17-year life, the entirety of my being, with 650 words.

  Because, though the task initially is daunting and stressful – as this will perhaps be the most important piece of writing I will ever do – I feel confident in my ability to portray my being in a way that is true to myself.

  Not true to what colleges want in an applicant. True to myself.

  That is why I have sat on this essay for several months now. To brainstorm, to ponder and to edit.

  However, my parents have attributed the long wait to my supposed procrastination.

  They think that because I am usually quick with homework and other assignments, my essay remains incomplete only because I do not feel the urgency of finishing the essay.

  How wrong they are.

  When I said earlier that for the last several months now I have been working on this essay, I lied.

  It was in the eighth grade that I started thinking about this essay.

  Because it was in the eighth grade that that I started to question my true identity.

  Although such intense self reflection was prompted by a family death and ongoing problems at school, I am truly glad I went through that rough time.

  I learned a lot about myself that year.

  I learned that enduring persecution doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong, but vice versa, and it only makes you a stronger person.

  I learned that dealing with loss doesn’t mean you’re overly sensitive or vulnerable, but it only makes you more empathetic and caring.   

  I learned that my purpose in life was not to better myself, but to be a light to others.

  That is why, when the admissions officers read my essay, I want them to look my essay in the face. I want them to stare into its eyes and not only get a feel for who I truly am, but also what I stand for. I want it to encompass every aspect of me: the creative side, the athletic side, the religious side, the giving side.

  Above all else, I hope they will get to know me better. And if they choose not to accept me, so be it.

  If they do not accept me for who I am, then it is their loss. It is only my loss if I pretend to be something I am not.