College Admission Essay Examples Influential Person In My Life

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On the surface I think I am like most young and modern American women: I take school seriously, I have dreams and goals for the future that I am determined to make happen, and I don't expect anyone to do the hard work for me. I come from what is an increasingly normal background: my parents are divorced and I live with my mom and sisters and only occasionally see my dad since he now lives on the other side of the country, but I still feel very lucky to have a supportive, if spread out, family behind me. What makes me different from the rest of the crowd though is how I choose to fill my time away from school...
Sometimes a task can seem monumental when you try to visualize the entire thing, but if you break it down into smaller goals suddenly it can become manageable. When I first started to consider going to college so that I could make a better life for myself and my daughter, I thought it was going to be almost impossible. I was working in a convenience store trying to make ends meet as a single mother, but I just knew that there was something more out there for me...
My father always used to say to me: “if you want people to respect you, first you must respect yourself”. At this juncture in my life I see going back to school to earn a degree in nursing as a symbol of respecting myself and the goals I have set for myself. I have made sacrifices in my life that are common for many women: putting my husband’s career before my own, and my child’s life and growth before my own as well, and for many years these sacrifices have been worthwhile...
Many people enjoy building things with Legos when they are growing up, but usually not to the exclusion of all other activities. For me though, nothing was more fun that getting a picture in my mind's eye and then being able to manifest it in reality using those ingenious little blocks, or any other substance that lent itself to my uses...
I was born and raised primarily in Medellin, Colombia, which is a land rich in beauty, but sadly for many of the people living there it is also a land of where poverty is a way of life. I am one of the few lucky ones who has never had to suffer the pains of an empty stomach, or had to struggle to make a living off the land with little or no education to back up my choices. However, if called upon to find a people with a better disposition or more welcoming spirits than those same indigenous people I grew up near, one would be very hard pressed...
Sometimes in life it just takes the influence of one person to help you see yourself in a whole new light. For me that person is my high school counselor Mr. Jones. I have been meeting with him twice a month for the past two years and the difference these meetings have made in my outlook in life, my goals for the future, and most importantly my self-confidence, is amazing...
When I first moved to the United States from Jakarta 8 years ago I was upset about leaving all of people I knew and loved behind me to follow my mother and brother here where we could find better "educational opportunities". I resented the fact that my dad, who is a physician, had to stay in Jakarta to keep up his practice to fund this move, and that we would only be able to see him on the odd occasion he could get away long enough for the endless flight to Arizona, this land where we knew no one...
The curtains are swaying slightly before me and I know that they will soon part and a sea of faces will suddenly be before me, staring up with their eyes burning into mine, unseen because of the footlights, but felt nevertheless. My nervous energy is mounting, but this isn’t the first time I have preformed on stage, and hopefully it won’t be the last. I can remember decades ago in high school when I first began dancing in front of an audience...
There are many challenges facing my generation today: our nation is at war, there are people in our own extremely prosperous country who go to bed hungry every night, and this spring, when I will be lucky enough to graduate from one of the best private high schools in the country, there will be other students elsewhere in America who are also graduating even though they can't read their own diploma...
When I think of ____ University, the aspects that most impress me and fan my desire to immerse myself in this prestigious learning environment are _____ University’s excellent resources. In addition to having some of the most recognized and lauded faculty in world, ____ is committed to maintaining a diverse student population. As person of African heritage who grew up in Jamaica, and is now planning to embark on my university studies in the United States, I see this commitment to diversity as an essential element...

A teacher at one of my recent college essay workshops asked,

“What are some good ways for kids to approach the Common Application essay prompt about a person who’s influenced them?"

Here a few tips.

1.  Remember what “influence” means.

Influence is defined as, “the action or process of producing effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc., of another…”  The fact that you admire someone doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve influenced you.  There needs to be some action or change in your actions, behavior or opinions.   That means you'll need to give specific examples of those things.  Deciding to improve your behavior in school, visiting a particular college you previously refused to see, spending more time volunteering at the soup kitchen—if you did those things because of someone else, that’s influence. 

2. Don’t choose this prompt to try to sound impressive.

The Common Application actually gives you five choices of essay prompts.  A lot of students who choose this one write about a famous activist, politician, or someone else notable in an effort to sound impressive.  Again, you have to remember what “influence” means.  The admissions committee doesn’t need to be convinced that Martin Luther King or Gandhi are admirable.  Unless you can point to specific examples of how someone famous really has affected your actions, behavior or opinions, choose someone else (or chose a different topic). 

3. Focus on the influence, not the person.

The exact wording of the question is, “Indicate a person who has had a significant influence on you, and describe that influence.”  The subtext there is that you shouldn’t spend the entire essay describing why this person is so wonderful.  Spend the essay talking about you—your behavior, actions and beliefs—and how those have changed or strengthened as a result of this person’s influence. 

4.    Write an essay nobody else could write.

An essay about how your mother has inspired you to work hard is a nice essay.  But it will read exactly like hundreds of other students’ essays.  Instead, be specific.  Give details.   Write an essay that no other student could write.  And if it’s about your mom, give enough specific examples so that nobody else’s essay about their own mother will be quite like yours.

You can find even more advice in our video, “How to Write Great College Essays.”  It’s $12.99 and available as a streaming download.

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