A Response to the Common Application


Look familiar?
November 28, 2008
by Rachel Turkel

Editor’s note: Rachel Turkel won third prize in the creative non-fiction category in the Chappaqua Library’s 2007 Young Writer’s Contest with this essay. We reprint it now as a humorous diversion for Greeley seniors plugging away at their college applications this Thanksgiving weekend.

Please choose from one of the following essays:

NOTE:  This essay is not required; the Common Application essay fulfills our writing requirement.  Your response will not weigh heavily in our admissions process, though you should keep in mind that we do not consider applicants who have not responded to one of these questions.

1.  In 840 to 850 words, tell us why you would like to attend Wilmington College, and what you would add to our community (i.e. athletic abilities, diversity, a new media center, etc.)

2.  In four pages, using 1.75 spacing, fill in the blank:  Life is _____.

3.  In nine paragraphs, answer this question:  What if God was one of us?

4.  On the back of an 8.5 x 11 sheet of lined paper, respond to the following quotation, “Nothing will come of nothing.”  -William Shakespeare  


Essay option 1:

    For as far back as I can remember I have always known what college I wanted to attend.  To this day, that decision has not changed. The outstanding grades that you will see in my transcript attest to my determination and motivation to attend the school of my dreams - Harvard University. But although I am confident in my intelligence and abilities, even the smartest person needs a safety school. As my mother always said, “a safety school should be somewhere you wouldn’t mind going. You may not want to go there, but you shouldn’t hate it.”  Heeding her wise words, I visited the Wilmington Campus and fell in love with it, as much as I could have fallen in love with a school of Wilmington’s caliber. Since that visit, my mind has been made up - if not Harvard, Wilmington is the ideal school for me.

    Some people spend their summers doing community service work so that when senior year rolls around, their applications are padded with extra-curricular activities. I am not one of these people. When I spent four days last summer in South Africa caring for orphaned children suffering from fatal diseases, I did it because I knew that’s what I was meant to do. The experience was life-changing. Though I would never want to go back, I will never forget the satisfaction that I felt every time a little boy or girl looked up at me, wide-eyed and teary, thanking me for all that I had done. Of course, they couldn’t thank me in words because we didn’t speak the same language, but I could see in their eyes that I had changed them forever.

    When I visited Harvard, I could see that the university would provide a plethora of opportunities for me to continue bringing joy to those less fortunate than I am. Wilmington, however, has a spectrum of colorful student organizations that, though they are not quite as intellectual, I am positively itching to join.  “Knittin’ Kittens,” for example, is perfect for me, because I have always dreamed of knitting clothes for stray kittens.  “Filmington,” the student-led film society, would be the ideal place to engage my fascination with amateur cinema. Of course, a Wilmington experience would not be complete without joining “Cartunes,” the drive-by a cappella group that has become quite popular on campus. I look forward to joining these clubs, and more, if a cruel fate forces me to attend this wonderful school.

    Though I can’t say the same for typical Wilmington students, for me, classes are more important than clubs in a college education. When I learned about Wilmington academics, I found that this school is extraordinarily unique in many ways. For example, I visited dozens of schools, and yet Wilmington was the only one to boast about small class sizes and intimate relationships with professors. I also love the fact that Wilmington has professors who are experts in their fields. Instead of forcing these successful men and women to waste their time teaching undergraduate students, the college administration allows them to do what is truly important - independent research. Wilmington students have the privilege of taking classes with TAs (teaching assistants), who have only recently graduated, so they have the information fresh in their minds. 

    Not all schools can talk about their excellent relationship with the rest of the town around them. Wilmington, indeed, should probably not mention the recent murders that have occurred in the town of Wilmington. However, I was happy to hear that the Wilmington students who committed these murders were thoroughly reprimanded. Ever since the college tore down a neighboring community of low-income housing to make room for the new science center, tempers have run high between the college and the “townies.” While some people dislike the idea that these two groups don’t get along, I don’t feel that this will be a problem for me at Wilmington. I am not the type of person who feels the need to get out of the college bubble and explore the so-called “real world.” I have no desire to interact with the Wilmington townies who are, sadly, uneducated for the most part. The residents should be thankful that the college exists, for it brings in money to support this lower-class community.   

    Wilmington College cannot be characterized by numbers and quick facts. The real “selling point” for me was my campus visit. If I had not visited the campus, I never would have known that a non-Ivy League school could have such intelligent professors. Average GPAs and SAT scores (along with a less-than-thrilling selection of cafeteria food) were what originally dissuaded me from applying to Wilmington, but when my mother forced me onto the campus, I was surprised at how well-spoken the students actually are. As a high-achieving, trilingual student with outstanding extra-curricular activities including concert piano and positions on four varsity sports teams, I would bring diversity to your campus that others would learn from. Aside from Harvard, I am confident that Wilmington College is where I was meant to be. 

Rachel Turkel is happy sophomore at Bowdoin College in Maine. She claims that the application process is now a distant memory and her scars are fully healed. And while she enjoys talking to visiting high school seniors about how much she adores her college, she makes a point of assuring them that it isn’t the name over the gate, but the wonderful friendships, inspiring professors, wild parties and unimagined opportunities that make four years seem too short!       


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