Your College essay 1:
The sun sleeps as the desolate city streets await the morning rush hour. Driven by an inexplicable compulsion, I enter the building along with ten other swimmers, inching my way toward the cold, dark locker room of the Esplanada Park Pool. One by one, we slip into our still-damp drag suits and make a mad dash through the chill of the morning air, stopping only to grab pull-buoys and kickboards on our way to the pool. Nighttime temperatures in coastal California dip into the high forties, but our pool is artificially warmed to seventy-nine degrees; the temperature differential propels an eerie column of steam up from the water’s surface, producing the spooky ambience of a werewolf movie. Next comes the shock. Headfirst immersion into the tepid water sends our hearts racing, and we respond with a quick set of warm-up laps. As we finish, our coach emerges from the fog. He offers no friendly accolades, just a rigid regimen of sets, intervals, and exhortations.
Thus starts another workout. 4,500 yards to go, then a quick shower and a five-minute drive to school. Then it’s back to the pool; the afternoon training schedule features an additional 5,500 yards. Tomorrow, we start over again. The objective is to cut our times by another tenth of a second. The end goal is to achieve that tiny, unexplainable difference at the end of a race that separates success from failure, greatness from mediocrity. Somehow we accept the pitch–otherwise, we’d still be deep in our mattresses, slumbering beneath our blankets. In this sport, the antagonist is time. Coaches spend hours in specialized clinics, analyze the latest research on training technique, and experiment with workout schedules in an attempt to defeat time. Yet there are no shortcuts to winning, and workouts are agonizing.
I took part in my first swimming race when I was ten years old. My parents, fearing injury, directed my athletic interests away from ice hockey and into the pool. Three weeks into my new swimming endeavor, I somehow persuaded my coach to let me enter the annual age group meet. To his surprise (and mine), I pulled out an “A” time. I furthered my achievements by winning “Top 16” awards for various age groups, setting club records, and being named National First Team All-American in the 100-Butterfly and Second Team All-American in the 200-Medley. I have since been elevated to the Senior Championship level, which means the competition now includes world-class swimmers. I am aware that making finals will not be easy from here–at this level, success is measured by mere tenths of a second. In addition, each new level brings extra requirements such as elevated weight training, longer weekend training sessions, and more travel from home. Time with friends is increasingly spent in the pursuit of the next swimming objective.
Sometimes, in the solitude of the laps, my thoughts transition to events in my personal life. This year, my grandmother suffered a reoccurrence of cancer, which has spread to her lungs. She had always been driven by good spirits and independence, but suddenly my family had to accept the fact that she now faces a limited timeline. A few weeks later, on the other side of the Pacific Ocean, my grandfather–who lives in Japan–learned he had stomach cancer. He has since undergone successful surgery, but we are aware that a full recovery is not guaranteed. When I first learned that they were both struck with cancer, I felt as if my own objective, to cut my times by fractions of a second, seemed irrelevant, even ironic, given the urgency of their mutual goals: to prolong life itself. Yet we have learned to draw on each other’s strengths for support–their fortitude helps me overcome my struggles while my swimming achievements provide them with a vicarious sense of victory. When I share my latest award or triumph story, they smile with pride, as if they themselves had stood on the award stand. I have the impression that I would have to be a grandparent to understand what my medals mean to them.
My grandparents’ strength has also shored up my determination to succeed. I have learned that, as in swimming, life’s successes often come in small increments. Sometimes even the act of showing up at a workout when your body and psyche are worn out separates a great result from a failure. The difference between success and failure is defined by the ability to overcome strong internal resistance. I know that, by consistently working towards my goals–however small they may seem–I can accomplish what I set for myself, both in and beyond the swimming pool.
College essay 2
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. I had the drive to build a career that did not involve running credit cards through the machine and cleaning the public bathroom, I just needed the skills and the opportunity to determine what that other dream job was. It can be difficult to leave what is familiar, and I actually really liked the people who owned the convenience store and knew that they would be sad to see me go, but it was time to strike out on my own. I set a goal of successfully finishing one semester at my local junior college, just to see if I could manage it, and much to my delight I not only completed the semester, but earned a place on the Dean’s List as well. I felt a tremendous amount of pride in this accomplishment, and it certainly wasn’t easy, but it helped to give me the confidence I needed to set longer term goals. I found that I was very interested in the sciences and how the human body works. I am now about to graduate with my Associate’s of Science degree, having maintained my position on the Dean’s List the entire time, and I finally know that I am setting the kind of example for my daughter that I always dreamed of when I was wringing out the mop and restocking the shelves at the convenience store.
I am now eager to take my education to the next level by pursuing a degree in nursing at ____ University. It is my goal after graduating to become a nurse serving lower income and underrepresented communities. I am a naturally compassionate person, and because of my lower socio-economic background and life experience, I can relate easily to people who may fear going to see medical professionals whom they perceive as different from them, but whose services they need. I can help bridge that gap, and thereby encourage more people to actually get help that they require in a comforting and non-threatening environment.
My commitment to my education is strong and I know that, if admitted, I will be able to earn a solid grade point average, and graduate with the skills and experience I will need to build my career as a nurse. I feel such relief and gratitude to know that I have found my calling, and I am eager to begin this new stage of my education. Certainly the next two years will be challenging—requiring much juggling of schedules and time management expertise–but I have done it before, and with my clear goal in my mind, I know I can do it again with equal or greater success. Even though my commitment to my education takes some time away from my child, I know that ultimately it will be worth the sacrifice because she will see how important an education is by witnessing all I have given up to achieve mine, and what a strong career I will be able to build because of those same sacrifices
College essay 3
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, but I am proud to say that my son is now 12 and not in need of his mother in the same way he used to be, and my husband is fortunately very supportive of my career goals.
Growing up as the only daughter of an Army physician in France was quite an experience. The military lifestyle over there is much like it is here in the United States with frequent moves and the constant of always being the “new girl” in school. Because I was being uprooted every year or so I learned to find solace in school work because this was an area I could excel in no matter where in France we moved. I also found that I had a natural gift for the sciences and, perhaps due to my father’s influence, dreamed of one day becoming a doctor. I began my medical training in France at the age of 18 and after 3 years began working as a nurse to partially fund the rest of my studies. My first experience working in a hospital was excellent, and because I was so young and inexperience I assumed that all aspects of medical care would offer this kind of fulfillment. I chose to specialize in pharmacy and went on to earn all of my accreditations and degrees for this in France. I stayed for 2 more years in France after graduating, working as a pharmacist, which I found to be far less rewarding than my time working as a nurse had been. I missed being able to learn about such a wide variety of ailments, and offer care and compassion not just to my patients, but their families as well, in their time of need. It just wasn’t the same in pharmacy, and because I lacked a passion for this field, it was not too hard for me to move to the United States, even knowing that all of my medical training would be useless here.
I have lived in the United States for ___ years now, met and married my husband, raised a family, and learned to call it home, but I still miss the satisfaction and personal growth that I found while working as a nurse. I know that I can find that same degree of fulfillment again, and I am eager to begin the process at ____ University. My grades have always been high, but now that I know my true calling, and have the luxury of time to pursue it, I have maintained a perfect grade point average while taking prerequisite courses for my nursing degree at my local community college. I have every reason to expect that my academic performance while pursuing a nursing degree at ___ University will be no less impressive.