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. Dare I say it out loud? Here, in my own home? 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. Why was this feeling so familiar, so tangible? 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. 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. But I could still save the bird. 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. I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth and whoever finds me will kill me. 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. That is, until March 11th, 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. The part that is about you is the most important part. If you feel you need to include a description, make it one or two lines. Remember that admission offices have Google, too, so if we feel we need to hear the song or see the work of art, we'll look it up.
The majority of the essay should be about your response and reaction to the work. How did it affect or change you?
This college essay tip is by Dean J, admissions officer and blogger from University of Virginia. The tip below is paraphrased from a post on the University of Virginia Admission blog. Be specific. Consider these two hypothetical introductory paragraphs for a master's program in library science.
Since I was eleven I have known I wanted to be a librarian. Some of my best days were spent arranging and reading her books. Since then, I have wanted to be a librarian. But they are extraordinarily different essays, most strikingly because the former is generic where the latter is specific. It was a real thing, which happened to a real person, told simply. There is nothing better than that. Tell a good story. Most people prefer reading a good story over anything else. Worry less about providing as many details about you as possible and more about captivating the reader's attention inside of a great narrative.
I read a great essay this year where an applicant walked me through the steps of meditation and how your body responds to it. Loved it. Yes, I'll admit I'm a predisposed meditation fan. Write like you speak. I actually use voice memos in my car when I have a really profound thought or a to do list I need to record , so find your happy place and start recording.
Make notes where and when you can so that you can capture those organic thoughts for later. This also means you should use words and phrases that you would actually use in everyday conversation.
If you are someone who uses the word indubitably all the time, then by all means, go for it. But if not, then maybe you should steer clear. The most meaningful essays are those where I feel like the student is sitting next to me, just talking to me. This college essay tip is by Kim Struglinski, admissions counselor from Vanderbilt University. Verb you, Dude! Verbs jump, dance, fall, fail us. Nouns ground us, name me, define you. Teach them well and they will teach you too. Let them play, sing, or sob outside of yourself.
Give them as a gift to others. Try the imperative, think about your future tense, when you would have looked back to the imperfect that defines us and awaits us. Define, Describe, Dare.
Have fun. This college essay tip is by Parke Muth , former associate dean of Admissions at the University of Virginia 28 years in the office and member of the Jefferson Scholars selection committee. Keep the story focused on a discrete moment in time. By zeroing in on one particular aspect of what is, invariably, a long story, you may be better able to extract meaning from the story.
So instead of talking generally about playing percussion in the orchestra, hone in on a huge cymbal crash marking the climax of the piece. Or instead of trying to condense that two-week backpacking trip into a couple of paragraphs, tell your reader about waking up in a cold tent with a skiff of snow on it.
Start preparing now. Take a look, and start to formulate your plan. Brainstorm what you are going to tell us — focus on why you are interested in the major you chose. If you are choosing the Division of General Studies, tells us about your passions, your career goals, or the different paths you are interested in exploring.
This college essay tip is by Hanah Teske, admissions counselor at the University of Illinois. Imagine how the person reading your essay will feel. No one's idea of a good time is writing a college essay, I know. But if sitting down to write your essay feels like a chore, and you're bored by what you're saying, you can imagine how the person reading your essay will feel. On the other hand, if you're writing about something you love, something that excites you, something that you've thought deeply about, chances are I'm going to set down your application feeling excited, too—and feeling like I've gotten to know you.
Think outside the text box! Put a little pizazz in your essays by using different fonts, adding color, including foreign characters or by embedding media—links, pictures or illustrations.
And how does this happen? Look for opportunities to upload essays onto applications as PDFs. This college essay tip is by Nancy Griesemer, University of Pennsylvania and Harvard University graduate and founder of College Explorations who has decades of experiencing counseling high schoolers on getting into college.
Write like a journalist. Think about any article you've read—how do you decide to read it? You read the first few sentences and then decide. The same goes for college essays. A strong lede journalist parlance for "lead" will place your reader in the "accept" mindset from the beginning of the essay. A weak lede will have your reader thinking "reject"—a mindset from which it's nearly impossible to recover.
So application essays are a unique way for applicants to share, reflect, and connect their values and goals with colleges. Admissions officers want students to share their power, their leadership, their initiative, their grit, their kindness—all through relatively recent stories.
Use your essays to empower your chances of acceptance, merit money, and scholarships. Rebecca Joseph, professor at California State University and founder of All College Application Essays , develops tools for making the college essay process faster and easier. Get personal. To me, personal stuff is the information you usually keep to yourself, or your closest friends and family.
So it can be challenging, even painful, to dig up and share. Try anyway. When you open up about your feelings —especially in response to a low point—you are more likely to connect with your reader s. Because we've all been there. So don't overlook those moments or experiences that were awkward, uncomfortable or even embarrassing.
Weirdly, including painful memories and what you learned from them! Chances are, you also shared a mini-story that was interesting, entertaining and memorable.
This college essay tip is by Janine Robinson, journalist, credentialed high school English teacher, and founder of Essay Hell , has spent the last decade coaching college-bound students on their college application essays. I believe everyone has a story worth telling.
Sometimes the seemingly smallest moments lead us to the biggest breakthroughs. Keep it simple! No one is expecting you to solve the issue of world peace with your essay. Remember, this essay is about YOU. What makes you different from the thousands of other applicants and their essays? Use vivid imagery. This college essay tip is by Myles Hunter, CEO of TutorMe , an online education platform that provides on-demand tutoring and online courses for thousands of students. Honor your inspiration.
My parents would have much preferred that I write about sports or youth group, and I probably could have said something interesting about those, but I insisted on writing about a particular fish in the pet store I worked at—one that took much longer than the others to succumb when the whole tank system in the store became diseased.
It was a macabre little composition, but it was about exactly what was on my mind at the time I was writing it. I think it gave whoever read it a pretty good view of my 17 year-old self. I'll never know if I got in because of that weird essay or in spite of it, but it remains a point of pride that I did it my way. This college essay tip is by Mike McClenathan, founder of PwnTestPrep , which has a funny name but serious resources for helping high school students excel on the standardized tests.
Revise often and early. Besides these valid reasons as a possible college choice, why is Emory University a particularly good match for you?
Because they're tired of reading about those things. In fact, here's what to do after you've written your first draft: Go back through your essay and underline anything that sounds like it could have appeared in another student's essay.
Then delete it. In your "Why This College" essay you're making a case, and the case is this: "You [the school] and I [the student] are a perfect match. A bad Why This College example: "I really really want to go to Northwestern because I just have this feeling that it's the place for me" does not a good case make.
It doesn't show how you are a. And for that matter, neither does the statement, "I can see myself rooting for the Wildcats at MetLife Stadium on Sundays. It's the quickest way to show you're a crappy researcher. And, based on their home record these days, neither do the Giants.
But I digress. If you're going to use it, though, at least get the team names and colors right. I've heard more than one admissions officer say that a screw-up like this can immediately disqualify an application.
I'm not saying it definitely will, or that this is true for all admissions officers--some probably don't care--but don't give them a reason to put you in the "no" pile. Do your research. In other words, don't tout the school's bus system.
Today, let's get positive and talk about what should be in there by using some examples.
The 4 years I spent in the Army cultivated a deep-seated passion for serving society. Montage is a technique that involves creating a new whole from separate fragments pictures, words, music, etc. This college essay tip is by Janine Robinson, journalist, credentialed high school English teacher, and founder of Essay Hell , has spent the last decade coaching college-bound students on their college application essays. During my tour of duty, I witnessed several shipmates suffer from various mental aliments.
I instinctively reached out my hand to hold it, like a long-lost keepsake from my youth. The sentence in bold above is essentially her thesis.
Kimberly, the host mom, treated me the same way she treated her own son. Example: My feeling of isolation was probably coming from a need for connection or acceptance. Studying the definitions prompted me to inquire about their origins, and suddenly I wanted to know all about etymology, the history of words. Where others see the engineering, experimentation, and presentation of science as a chore, I only see excitement.
After that incident, I began to fear. Don't reuse an answer to a similar question from another application. Insight answers the question: So what?
You may also want to make a connection to how this has inspired some part of your educational journey or your future aspirations. From debriefing with my coordinator in the morning to checking and rechecking results well into the afternoon, I was on cloud nine all day, every day. The interest in serving and understanding people has never changed, yet I realized I could make a greater difference doing something for which I have a deeper passion, political science. A one millimeter difference can mean the difference between a successful root canal and a lawsuit.
Think outside the text box! Why was this feeling so familiar, so tangible?
The bird's warmth faded away. You may also want to make a connection to how this has inspired some part of your educational journey or your future aspirations. You need to ease its pain. While attending the University of Rochester, I would like to study international relations or comparative politics while in graduate school. Loads of snipping and pasting later, the clock reads three in the morning. Set it aside for a few days and read it again.
During my tour of duty, I witnessed several shipmates suffer from various mental aliments. Of course you want it to be a good read and stay on topic, but this is about showing admissions who you are.
It was a macabre little composition, but it was about exactly what was on my mind at the time I was writing it. Attending the University of Rochester with its focus on quantitative training, would not only allow me to utilize the skills and knowledge I gained as an undergraduate, but also would expand this foundation to better prepare me to conduct research in a manner I find fascinating.