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Yearly The New York Times announces a call for college essays on money, work and social class. The best five essays are published along with a brief information on their authors. These essays are a good example of standout University application essays. Let’s review these latest winning college essays and trace the particular characteristics that make them so special and fascinating.
1. How your environment has shaped you. All these winning essays describe the family and place background of the authors. They start from something very simple and expand upon it, rather than starting from a large idea that then would be a difficult fit into a short essay. The essays focus on the familiar and very personal descriptions of what it means to make a living and a life in America today. They contain decidedly mixed feelings about parents and their sacrifices and the values they have learned from observing their family members.
2. Contraposition or living in-between. The best college application essays chosen by The New York Times are compelling accounts of the awkwardness of vastly different socio-economic circumstances the students have found themselves in. The authors narrate their experience on living in-between of rural and urban, poverty and wealth, being an outsider in a school, “excessive politeness” to rude and screaming hotel guests, injustice in all sorts of everyday interactions and a choice whether to resign oneself to it or rebel. The authors’ personalities shine through their powerful written voice.
3. Descriptive, sensory language. These excellent college essays are full of vivid descriptions which bring readers into the described environments: the well-off professors’ home, “swaddled cacophony” of the bed-and-breakfast, arid land of Phoenix. The stories are rich with sensory details of accomplishments: “the whir,” “suction,” and “squeal” of a vacuum cleaner, “truck kicks dust into the air”, a laptop “heavy enough to hurt … back and constantly sighing like a tired dog”, “clinking silverware”, sound of “porcelain plates” being removed from the oven. This vivid language creates an atmosphere in your paper for your reader of the same picture you have in your mind.
4. The American Dream. Yes, it still remains a powerful underlying theme (though artfully implicit) of many college essays. Jonathan Ababiy, Moldovian immigrant’s son, states “Their home was a sanctuary for my dreams”, which implies “America is my dream”. Zöe Sottile, concludes her essay with what she could achieve through hard studies and persistence “I am a full-scholarship student who benefits from cultural, socioeconomic and racial privilege”. While Caitlin McCormick takes an active part in building this American Dream for the universal benefit participating. Yet, when using this theme in your essay remember that it should really convey the essence of who you are and evidence that it means to you not only earning much money, but also bringing in positive changes for the community benefit.
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