today i’m going to be reading a student’s common app personal statement essay that helped her get into brown university early decision let’s do it [Music] so i want to reiterate this is not my personal statement essay but rather um an amazing student who was gracious enough to share her successful essay with us so i’m going to read that essay.
today do a little bit of analysis afterwards and hopefully you can gain something from it gain some insights as to what makes for an effective common app personal statement so this student chose one specific prompt for the personal statement there’s a number of different prompts i’m of the opinion that you can essentially write about whatever you want to and you can find the prompt that kind of fits it the prompt she chose was some students have a background identity interest or talent so meaningful.
they believe their application would be incomplete without it if this sounds like you please share your story and without further ado i’ll read her essay passover is always a crowded holiday in our house the day before our week-long celebration of freedom begins our kitchen is filled with three generations of women blasting 80s hits and the smell of onions my mom always reminds me to wait before putting trey’s hot from the oven onto the counter.
because quote remember when i accidentally made the glass tray filled with farfell explode i laugh and form sticky dough into canadelock for the chicken soup for as long as i can remember i’ve helped prepare this exact meal the haroset the farfel and the canadelock until i was tall enough i stood on a step stool carefully following the recipes that my great grandparents and their east european shtetls passed down to me.
in my family’s sao paulo apartment i read the family’s cookbook’s instructions over and over making sure that i was doing everything exactly right i measured out ingredients chopped vegetables set timers for the oven slowly and attentively i felt it was my duty to carry out these tasks precisely identically but with time this routine became repetitive mechanical mundane these old songs rain in my ears i sighed as i cut up yet another carrot i dragged my feet to set up the table.
i started to tire of doing the same things over and over year after year naturally however i realized as the years passed repetition is not an exercise in vain repetition yields small but meaningful growth personal touch has become traditions in and of themselves every year i’d added my own touches to the holidays proceedings i’d incorporated customary ingredients leeks potatoes and bitter herbs into new dishes i’d changed.
the positions of the wine glasses to prevent spilling these were simple changes but slowly they became important parts of our seder i followed the same rules and traditions but the dishes grew more complex and the tablecloth thankfully cleaner later on it’s time for seder we gather around the plastic table set up in our jam-packed living room and begin telling the story of our people most of the seder is scripted but we recount it with fervor.
as if the story were new to tell and hear every year and in some ways it is though we sit through hours and hours of storytelling and praying we always find new ways to build on our traditions we turn old hebrew melodies into brazilian funk songs we scatter the table with masks stickers and drawings that represent different parts of the narrative of Passover.
we allow our experiences from each year to expand the way we look at the story already heard so many times this is what makes passover and tradition so special each year we create new meanings memories and ideas we retell the same stories stories that are repeated across generations and across the world only to find that there is more to uncover.
it is from repetition that novelty emerges acknowledging the past’s connection to the present opens up to us possibility innovation and insight through preparing the same meals i come up with new recipes through telling the same stories we found new angles of interpretation and i can see this now in everything else that may have otherwise become tiresome i repeat the same knit and purl stitches to make.
a new sweater i replicate the same procedures in the lab daily to get valid results regarding plant growth i play the same scales with students in my music program until they have dominant over the guitar yes repetition can at times seem pointless and annoying but when i think of sitting with the same people around the same table and to the sound of the same songs on passover it.
fills me with excitement for the new things that come out of our seder every year so that’s the essay a little bit of a quick discussion of the essay and why i think it’s so effective i think the student does a really good job about making an essay that is technically about her family about her religion about the tradition of passover and of the seder and how her family does it every year and she makes it about herself and her own personal journey.
in a way that doesn’t center herself an aggressive way but makes it clear that it’s about her own growth i think a trap that students often fall into when they’re doing something like the student does talking about a family tradition is it becomes very very exclusively about that family tradition and i as the reader don’t learn anything about that student but what this student did a really good job of is is doing that and revealing how her own kind of grappling with and relationship with with repetition changed over.
the years she found it monotonous at first it was a chore and then she kind of realized the beauty and the impact of repetition she realized that it yields quote small but meaningful growth personal touches become traditions and then i think she did a really good job in the final paragraph of connecting it to other parts i assume of her applications such as knitting such as procedures.
in the lab for plant growth such as the music program that she runs where she teaches students guitar she slipped those in in a way that was legitimately connected to the value that she ended up finding in repetition through her family seders it didn’t feel horseshoed in there it didn’t feel like she was bragging it felt like a legitimate lesson that she learned and then she reminded you the reader of some of her other accomplishments and some of the other aspects of her life.
that make her who she is so a shorter way of saying that is if you’re doing an essay like this where you’re talking about your background your culture your religion your family traditions make sure that it’s also about you that is the point of it connect that tradition to yourself and your relationship with the tradition and how you’ve grown and changed over.
the years to interact with that tradition and i think that this student did a really good job of it she obviously did a really good job of it she got into brown university as a result of it so congratulations to this amazing student who chose to remain anonymous but was very nice to lend us her essay and if you want help with your essays more information.
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