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College Essay

Trey Reely | November 2013

    It is the time of year again when high school seniors are frantically filling out application forms for college admissions, scholarships, and grants. Many will be writing college essays as a part of the admission process. Here is a sample essay your students may want to use as a model of what not to do.
    The famous composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart once said, “A man of ordinary talent will always be ordinary, whether he travels or not; but a man of superior talent (which I cannot deny myself to be without being impious) will go to pieces if he remains forever in the same place.” I, too, feel that I must go places. It is not my lot to stay in this small town of well-meaning but boring and ordinary people.
    I have had to overcome many obstacles to reach the pinnacle of success I have reached so far. My father has no musical ability so his genetic contribution to my talent was nil, my mother works three jobs and I never see her, and my little sister is just plain annoying and screams anytime I play a note above the staff. Because of my mother’s inability to get a decent job, I have had to pawn my horn three times (you may have seen me on Pawn Stars) and perform on a coiled-up garden hose, which made my performances less than desired, except on Handel’s Water Music. Because my family had no car I have to walk to school uphill both ways. I know that is a cliché, but it is really true. (My dad must have told me a million times never to exaggerate.)
    The person who probably had the biggest impact on my life was my band director, who told me I would never amount to anything. This clever use of reverse psychology propelled me to prove him wrong. He purposefully tested my mettle by secretly changing my school schedule several times, but I always changed it back, proving my persistence. Even as I write this essay, his words and tough love drive my very being.
    If you select me to attend your college, you will not regret it. My life experiences would allow me to bring diversity to your fine institution. I have been exposed many times to individuals less talented than I am (most of the population) and have shown great patience. For example, my best friend is a mediocre flute player with a tone not unlike a coyote with emphysema, yet I played a duet with her at a solo and ensemble competition. I considered playing with other band members closer to my talent level, but decided our friendship was worth more than any possible humiliation I might have performing with her. Happily (luckily?) we still received a one despite this “Beauty and the Beast” situation.
    Although music is my main interest and consumes every waking moment of my life, I still consider myself a well-rounded individual. In my spare time, I have been composing a symphony that dramatically portrays the dangers of global warming while simultaneously promoting world peace. All the substantial proceeds from the sale of this work will go toward a cure for cancer though I may hold a little back for lessons with a famous horn teacher or two.
    If you admit me to your school, you will not be sorry. I am sure my admission will aid you in your quest to admit only the finest students. (I’ve heard that you could use a little help in that department.)
In conclusion, Mozart also said, “Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together go to the making of genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius.” I could hardly have said it better. As I have reflected on my genius over the years, I have determined that it had to be the result, not of my supreme talent and hard work, but of my loving and lovely nature, couched in humility.