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This book is dedicated to our fellow classmates who have shown strength and grace through tough times.

Preface Ive been sloshing through personal statements for over a decade now. Each fall, my students stumble in from summer with a subtle terror that has been building for years. Its time to fill out the dreaded college applications. While I cant help them with much, they do crave advice on the essay. In class, we read professional and exceptional sample essays, write drafts, revise, etc. in hopes that they will be able to convey an accurate and richly-written depiction of themselves. It is the personal element of the application and so a great opportunity to humanize oneself to an admissions officer (much harder to reject someone you feel like you know than someone who is dehumanized in vague answers). This compilation came about many months after the initial assignment, though. While trying to figure out what to do as a capstone project for their English careers, my students decided to jump into the emerging wild frontier of the literary world: e-publishing. After pondering what they could give to that market, they decided that they wanted to give others a chance to look behind the curtain of an admissions officer reading stacks of essays so the writers could determine for themselves what works well. They gave their own essays exactly as they were turned in to the schools, and have also listed the schools to which they were admitted and where they will be attending. My students hope that by allowing future applicants to see their what their competitionlooks like ahead of time, applicants will rise up and create better essays. My students have also chosen to give the book away for free in hopes that students from less-privileged backgrounds (and perhaps from other nations) will also be able to have the mystery of the essay removed. I think it goes without saying that I am very proud of them. --Lauren Monahan English Teacher La Costa Canyon High School Intro At La Costa Canyon High School each year, high school seniors begin the college application process, a highly anticipated and rather daunting landmark in any teenagers life. After seeking out potential college options, seniors must submit transcripts, standardized test scores, lists of extracurricular activities and accomplishments, alongside a personal statement-otherwise known as the college essay. Despite its horrid reputation, the personal statement is simply the opportunity for students to show who they are, what theyve done, what they can do in words beyond their GPAs and SAT scores. The personal statement is meant to be a self-reflective, creative masterpiece that a student is truly proud to send to universities. Essentially, the personal statement is a chance to dig deep and brag about what makes you you without judgement. However, to many seniors dismay, each college has its own unique prompt and requirements for their personal statement ranging from very specific to write whatever you want. This means that many students end up writing two, three, even four or more essays sent to various schools. 500 Words or Less compiles a collection of personal statements for college applications, reflecting upon the multi-dimensional lives of the seniors in Miss Monahans AP English Literature classes from La Costa Canyon High School in Carlsbad, California. Each essay is

accompanied by the students college of choice as well as the schools he/she was admitted to. In hopes to aid future college applicants, we have included in our book tips on writing personal statements as well as insight from our teacher, Miss Monahan. As a class, we hope that future college-bound seniors will be able to learn from techniques used in our essays and will enable the student to have a clearer prospect of what each school is specifically looking for. Best of luck with your college admissions process! Sincerely, Daphne Delgado and Brenna Lyles Co-Editor-in-Chiefs of 500 Words or Less 500 Words or Less: What Were All About Trying to write your college essay? Dont really know where to begin? You definitely have the right book in your hands. So congratulations, you did one thing right! Greetings from Ms. Monahans 4th and 6th period classes at La Costa Canyon High School. During our last month of senior year, we 54 students compiled our college essays into one fabulous book for your convenience. 500 Words or Less is a collection of example essays that got the average student into college. From everyones favorite prompt, personal choice, to the awkwardly specific What unique attributes would you bring to our college community, an example of every prompt is represented. At the end of each essay is a list of the colleges that the student got into, along with the college that they decided to grace with their presence. We did this for you, to help and guide you along the path to a higher education. So feel free to criticize the clichs or the mistakes that you have found, but in the end, we got into college. Good Luck!

Describe the world you come from for example, your family, community or school and tell us how your world has shaped your dreams and aspirations.

Analyssa Quaranta Applied: University of Southern California, Oregon State University, California State University Northridge, San Diego State University, University of California Irvine, and University of California Berkeley. Attending: Oregon State University

My World Ah, I can smell the deep fried bread dough stuffed with tomato, mozzarella cheese, and basil that fill the air with wonderful aromas. Savory, sweet, and salty flavors blend together. These folded over pizzas that my family makes taste more like a deep fried Calzone. We call this Italian creation Panzerotti. They are extremely popular with my family around the holidays and

special occasions, but we dont prepare them more often because it takes half the day to make these splendiferous treats. The dough must be made from scratch and rolled out to six-inch long circles; the inside toppings must be mixed together with the perfect amounts of tomato, basil, mozzarella cheese, and other secret ingredients. Then the dough must be folded over and closed. Making Panzerotti is a complex process one must strive to master. The recipe has been passed down from generation to generation. Making Panzerotti is only one of the many types of food my family enjoys making together. We even make our own pasta from scratch. I have spent many hours in the kitchen watching my grandparents and parents create works of art in how they cook their food. The food they make has to be just right before served. Just watching was enough to inspire me, and I began participating. Now these habits are a part of how I cook or bake anything. When I bake cookies, they have to be perfectly browned in order for me to allow anyone to eat them. My family and I take pride in how we cook or bake food. Our motto is, if you take the time to make an excellent meal for your family, then thats how you show them you love them. Along with cooking and perfecting the food that is to be served, we love having dinner or lunch with the whole family at every meal. No one is allowed to eat alone. This is important to my family because eating together means we can all catch up on each others day and, just talk. There have been very few times when I have sat by myself at the dinner table, especially during dinner-time. Being Italian, food is the way my family and I connect with each other and show each other how much we enjoy and love one another. It has always been my instinct to heal someone in my family by baking cookies for them, when they are sick. My future goal is to become an Epidemiologist. Epidemiologists deal with containing outbreaks of diseases and developing vaccinations for the infected people. Since this is a service career that involves caring for people, my intuition and desire to help others make this a perfect profession for me. Aiden Moran Applied to: UC Berkeley, UCSB, Cal Poly, San Diego State University Attending: San Diego State University Taking My Place I need you to get them fired up. Youre the team leader, my lacrosse coach told me, his calm tone managing to convey an intensity that sparked a fire within me. Just make sure they are ready to go. Coach Foss is all business, so as a La Costa Canyon High School lacrosse team captain, Im charged with helping keep my teammates focused and motivated. Entering high school, I had always been a team player but lacked leadership skills. To me, staying in line and following was much easier than having to step up and be vocal. Freshman year, I was called up to play varsity football. There I experienced many locker room speeches and pregame huddle rallies. I listened intently to the words and the tone of the messages and remember the feeling of being completely immersed in the teams rising energy, one unit with a common goal. Admittedly, at times I also felt intimidated, being one of the youngest there. Yet, even then, I knew in the back of my mind that one day I would be electrifying my teammates with the emotional impact of my words. For the next couple of years, I would quietly sit back and observe certain techniques that various team captains used, noting if they were successful or not. I went as far as remembering one-liners that I knew I would incorporate into future speeches, such as, Hard work beats

talent, when talent doesnt work hard. I knew that once I paid my dues and laid the foundation of persistent hard work, I would one day be appointed a team captain. I saw that different kids responded to various styles. Respecting these differences while managing to unify the team could be a tricky balance. One kid needed to have his confidence built up. Another kid needed to hear how his opponent belittled his skills in order to get motivated, and so on. As a team captain, understanding such nuances of personality would allow me to better serve my teammates and carry out the tasks the coach had placed on me. Ive even had to hone my diplomacy skills in my team captain role. When Coach Foss recently berated some younger players during a game, I saw that they were unused to his style. While his intention was to propel their skills to the next level, they started playing even sloppier, which I realized was caused by their fear of failing. I pulled them aside first chance I got, and enlightened them regarding our coachs intensity, letting them know not to take his words personally. He believes in you and your ability to play at a higher level, I explained. If he didnt, he wouldnt even bother. To my relief, the boys seemed to understand and settled down and performed to our coachs expectations. Sometimes, it takes seeing and understanding what someone is experiencing and respecting the differences in personality to truly be an effective team captain, able to unify a diverse group of players into one cohesive family.

Ben Garcia Attending: Palomar A Second Chance Many people have agreed that I am overly confident and proud. Some have even gone as far as to call me egotistical. This is mainly because Im not afraid of standing out or making a fool out of myself. But what makes me unique is that I have a reason to be egotistical. The ability to think properly is a gift that is convenient for us. We as human beings often take this gift for granted. Many children are simply handed opportunities and chances from their parents since the day they were born. I remember that, growing up as a young child, I did not have that luxury. I was born into the world without hope and without a clue, yet I found a way to deal with it. I grew up in the beautiful town of Encinitas, California, as the son of two loving parents. I remember starting school that I was never the brightest social butterfly in the class. My mother often worried about me as I played by myself and I didnt interact with anyone. I talked to imaginary friends, a new one each and every day, not feeling brave enough to talk to other children. It was in Preschool where I was first diagnosed with Type A Autism. I was fortunate enough to have a weak form of the disorder, (enough so that I could still receive a normal education), however it was not enough for me to live a normal life. I still remember the seemingly thousands of tutors that showed up in my room. I remember the shame of having to be pulled out of class for special treatment during elementary school. However the worst pain for me to even think about now is having my mom go through with it. Having Autism was a lot to deal with for me, but for me to watch my mom go through it with me was too much. My mom was the primary reason that I am no longer diagnosed with Autism and why I live a normal and happy life today. I had gone through many counselors and gone through many mental training exercises before I could rightfully say Autism no longer

affected me. It was because of her that I was given a second chance. I am proud because I know what I have gone through and I know what I can do. I devote my life to helping others everyday as my mother helped me. Brenna Lyles Attending College: UC Davis Accepted to: UC Davis, Point Loma Nazarene University, Cal Lutheran University , The Kings College, Colorado State University, University of Utah, Westmont College, Texas Christian University, Baylor University

Beating the Boys Standing at four feet five inches, dressed in worn-out Sketchers and lime green Gymboree capris, I crouched into the starters position, fixated on the chalk finish line before me. The adults watched in awe as I-- then just nine years old-- out-sprinted the seventh grade, neighborhood boys who challenged me to race. Rematch, rematch! You cheated, theyd claim until they were too exhausted to continue running. Although the day came when I could not longer beat the boys, my lust for running remained. Ive ran on the track team since seventh grade, competing in events from the 200 meter dash to the mile. As a junior, I made the whimsical decision to take up longer distance running and join the cross-country team. Despite defining myself as a sprinter, the sudden spike in mileage seemed to fare well as I began to train and race with Varsity. I gleamed with a newfound self-confidence as I discovered the strength and beauty in an eight mile trail run. However, the cross-country season of my senior year was plagued with disappointment as my times were not on par with the prior seasons. I constantly felt physically drained. I battled with the idea of quitting, yet with the support of my reassuring teammates and coaches, continued to push through difficult workouts and meets. With an optimistic outlook, I suspected that circumstances would improve and Id soon have a breakthrough race. That race never came, and with just weeks left of the season, a sharp, unrelenting pain developed in my left foot. Maybe youre tying your shoe too tight, my coach offered as I explained my discomfort. Although I had enough knowledge to reason that this wasnt the case, I graciously accepted his advice and continued to run, in fear of a doctors sentence to discontinue running. The pain worsened and I was soon diagnosed with a stress fracture in my second metatarsal, subsequently banished to a clunky orthopedic boot. My season ended just as it had started, disappointing. After struggling through both burnout and injury, I recognized many similar setbacks that my teammates had also been facing. After analyzing each weeks training, it became evident that I had been over-training-- and many of my injured peers probably had been as well. While I have always been interested in pursuing a career in exercise science, I now recognize a summoning to inform high school and collegiate-- specifically female-- runners how to reach peak performance. Who knows how many runners had been wrongly informed by a parent or coach just as I had been. In the future, I aspire to fuse my love for running and my ability to write to become a health and fitness journalist. Through a degree in Exercise Biology and minor in Journalism, I believe I can reach a generation of athletes who will subsequently eat healthier, train smarter, and perform better. By reaching out to runners through journalism, perhaps more girls will be able to keep up with the boys.

Brianna Haeckl Accepted to: San Diego State University, University of California, Santa Barbara Attending College: San Diego State University Cowgirl Dirt, leather, hoof black, fly spray, hair spray, sparkles and spurs. The chemicals to which I have been exposed all of my life have definitely built up my immune system, but more importantly, they have strengthened my personality. The sound of horse snorts soothes me; my seat of choice is a saddle; my favorite view is looking down at those fuzzy ears and unruly mane; the last boy I kissed was a horse. When I am at the barn, I am in a separate world. Rodney Atkins blares from the speakers of my F250 diesel truck. My boots are my favorite pair of heels. The jingle of my spurs puts a huge smile on my face. There is love all over my clothes in the form of horse snot. I frequently sit in the dirt when there is no chair available. My jeans often serve as a napkin. My friends at school do not know much about this part of my life, but without it, I would not be the person I am today. I was born a cowgirl. I would attend my older brothers horse shows and wail, My turn-ahorsey! from my mothers arms. I was two years old at the time. The young one, the baby, the little girl; I was often the youngest in everything I did, and was hardly taken seriously. Pushed aside and ignored, I matured in order to assimilate and become friends with my fellow horseback riders. I constantly wanted to prove to the big kids that I was not just some little girl. As a toddler, I was expected to do the same things as people five years older than me, which promoted my self-sufficiency, stubbornness, and strong work ethic. My mother would often come up by my side and offer to help and my response was always, I can do it myself! my way of showing off to the big kids. Like any other sport, horseback riding demands perfection. Unlike other sports, riding requires me to work with an unusual teammate who will not always try her hardest, or strive to be the best that she can be. I have learned, though, to dismiss the bad days and focus on the good ones. Riding has taught me good sportsmanship, patience, compassion, and more. When I compete against the other girls, all signs that it is a competition float away. We play ninja waiting for Showmanship to start; it eases the nerves. It is a custom to ride up next to one another while waiting for classes. As I look down this line, I see the reflections of the sparkles on the girls faces underneath each freshly shaped cowboy hat. These girls understand me. I can be myself around them and we will be friends for the rest of our lives. Of course we all want to do well, but we are not hostile; we wish the best for each other. Most of all, showing horses has greatly influenced my goals. I distinctly remember the question in first grade, What do you want to do when you are older? The response is even clearer in my mind, I want to qualify for the (American Quarter Horse Youth Association) World Show. At that time, my goal seemed nearly impossible, similar to becoming an astronaut or the President of the United States. Since then, I have not fulfilled my dream once, but twice. My strong work ethic and my stubbornness will guide me to fulfill any of my ambitions.

Kelsey Klein Attending:UCLA The Red Suitcase I unzip my favorite red suitcase and begin to fill it with what Ill need for the week, yet again. Its Monday: transition day. Theres never been a time when people havent tilted their heads and looked confused when I shared my family story. But I wouldnt change the dynamic for anything. I am a sister to four siblings, yet Im the only child between my mother and father. Ive lived in nine different houses since I was born, all within San Diego.

Needless to say, my family situation is complicated. And on the surface, my moms house and my dads house are so different. At my dads, I like to eat my bowl of Rice Krispies outside because of the dewy coastal morning air. At my moms house, I wake up to two dogs and a cat scampering around the corners of the hall, while their fur flies every which way. My dads house is usually louder, because my seven-year old sister is constantly bouncing around every room and breaking things. Although my siblings who live at my moms are closer to my age, I can still find an assortment of Justin Bieber paraphernalia in my sisters room. Its almost as if I am entering into a new life every week: constant changes. Some people have a hard time dealing with changes, and I used to be the same way. However, growing up going back and forth between households hasprovided me with more variety than I could ask for; whether it is the environment, the activities, or the people Im surrounded by. Ive learned to like adjustments and new things because there is never a dull moment with my family. They certainly put the word fun in dysfunctional. My family, although complicated and frustrating at times, has greatly impacted my outlook on life. Spending a lot of my time taking care of such a young sister at my dads house has educated me on the importance of responsibility. Only spending a week at a time with each half of my family has made me realize the value of opportunities and to never take time for granted. I probably spend more time just hanging out with my family members than most people my age because of the fact that I dont get to see them all every day. Having two families, instead of being confined to the rules and customs of one, has taught me how to see a larger picture and think, act, and make decisions for myself. In college, I believe Ill be able to adapt easily and succeed on my own because of the extra support and extra wisdom I have been given from my extra large family. My favorite singer, Adele, says, Who wants to be right as rain? Its better when something is wrong. Maybe shes right, and its all still worth it even if our lives, or our families, arent perfect.Thats how we learn. Mark Hilton Applied to:UC Berkeley,UCLA,UCSB,Cal State San Marcos,Mira Costa Honors Scholar Program Attending:Mira Costa Honors Scholar Program/TAG UC A Pixelated Place When I was younger, my mom would always say It seems your whole world is a screen sometimes! whenever I was on my computer too much. Well, looking at myself, screens really are interconnected into my personal world. Before I push the power button and begin this journey through my pixilated, 1680x1050 resolution world, I have to admit something: Im an information junkie. I love absorbing information, whether its looking at statistics, reading about whats going on the Middle East, playing brain-wrenching strategy games, the list continues. By having this personal world of mine, Ive been able to pursue my interests more effectively and refine my social skills to interact outside the realm of the screen. Ive experienced a lot of change like many other people my age, but this screen has always been this force I can always fall back on. And that is what can define your world, internal or external. Having Aspergers Syndrome, it can be difficult for me to meet new people and make friends, so the internet is a good way to find common interests with people and discuss them, whether its people I already know, or anonymous users on an internet forum. The forum experience can be an interesting one. With the internet, everyone has a mask. We all hear

about the nefarious side of that frequently, but this mask allows me to discuss interests with others online without fear of failure that can dominate some of my offline social interactions. This online participation provides a certain level of practice that I can use when I finally decide to pull the mask off and find people like me in the offline world. A screen doesnt limit my interests, of which I have quite a variation. Im into photography, particularly that of local nature and the non-moving world. Im a connoisseur of heavy metal. I love far future, space travel science fiction. Contemporary architecture is utterly fascinating to me. But its through a computer screen that these interests grow further. I touch up my photos and upload them to my Facebook. I write metal lyrics and critique bands and albums. I write sci-fi of my own and look up books to buy or borrow. I use advanced CAD software and other design tools to create buildings and build upon what I learn during my architecture classes. The screen does not dominate my interests. Instead, it presents a way to bind and hold them together. At its core, a screen isnt a window into the world. Its a portal. Matthew Myose Attending: University of Hawaii at Manoa The Ferrari The low growl of a Ferrari V8 next to you at a stoplight is an incomparable noise. Your windows rattle from the vibration, and you guiltily envy the owner. I have lived in Carlsbad, California my entire life. It is home to one of the nicest climates in the world, which the wealthy apparently find to be very attractive. It's difficult to go a day without seeing a car that is worth at least $100,000. Visit any surrounding neighborhood and you will find houses "Starting from the low $3,000,000s!" As a child, I was blissfully unaware of economics, income, and job titles. I didn't care who had the biggest house or lived in the nicest neighborhood. It wasn't until I was about seven years old that I began noticing economic differences. It started with a bright green, V12 Lamborghini Murcielago that pulled up next to my family at a stoplight. I had never heard such a sound in my life. When I looked inside the window of the $170,000 dollar machine, I found myself surprised the driver wasn't the Monopoly Man donning a monocle, but a man that looked no older than thirty, wearing expensive sunglasses. I wondered what groundbreaking device he had created or what large inheritance he received to buy that car. But as I began searching for vehicles like this, I realized that most drivers were extremely young and evidently, extremely rich. I've been surrounded by success my entire life, evident in the cars, homes, and lifestyles of the wealthy that live in my community. Seeing these expensive belongings on a daily basis motivated me to become successful in my own life. While my conscience could never handle living a flashy lifestyle, owning a huge house, wearing expensive clothes, or driving a ridiculously impractical car knowing that the majority of the world is struggling just to survive, I do want the capability to live a comfortable life and help the impoverished third-world with whatever I have leftover. This privilege of course does not fall from the sky, and I'm not planning on winning the lottery any time soon, leaving only one real option. Work hard, get a good education, and find a job that I can be happy with doing until I get old. I may not induce whiplash so people can catch a glimpse of my car, I may not have people walk past my house in envy, but I hope that in working as hard as I can throughout life, I can live my life in happiness. I do not judge this by the amount of material goods in my possession as so commonly done by people today, but by personal fulfillment through helping others. I would much prefer to make enough money to buy nice houses and fast cars, but instead be unselfish with my wealth and

help those who are less fortunate. And I am willing to work as hard as I possibly can to obtain that ability. Micah McCarver Attending: Sonoma State University Where I Come From The grass is as green as an emerald, but even the beautifully cut grass does not distract you from the journey you are about to embark on. With every step you take, you can feel your blue and orange soccer cleats slowly sink in the partially wet sod. As your size 9 foot moves across the grass, the grass makes a noise as if it whispered to tell you a secret. All around you are fields filled with troops of boys and girls practicing. The fields are organized by circular orange and yellow cones. The players are organized by the color shirt they are wearing. On the field next to you, you can hear a tall man with an English accent yelling a little boy, not even five feet tall, to try harder. When you walk by the frustrated coach, who couldnt have worn a bigger hat, you catch a whiff of the massive amount of sunscreen he has piled on his skin, probably of the highest SPF. After a long trek across the grass, you finally reach your team. Because the walk felt like a marathon, you take out your cold yellow Gatorade and start to drink, being thankful for every sip you taste that goes down your throat. After all of this, it is only time to start to play. The soccer community is not the nicest, filled with selfish coaches and jerky players who do not care about you, but only their own success. When I was younger, I never had playing time, let alone was given a chance to be a leader. However, as I sat on the bench, I wanted to speak up. I knew I had what it took to be on the field. Game after game, I would sit on the bench and wonder if I ever would be able to have a chance to shine. Because I was not the superstar, I learned how to watch soccer a lot better than I learned how to play when I was younger. As time went on, the more I had an urge to step onto the field. As the urge got stronger, so did my voice. Instead of sitting and waiting, I had started to converse with my coaches about soccer, hoping it would lead to my playing time. As I matured and went through life, I started to develop a voice for myself. When I started high school, I started to talk to my coach about playing time. I stood up for myself something I never could have imagined myself doing when I was younger. Since the start of high school, I have started every game in the past four years on one of the most highly regarded teams. As I started to be more proactive and started to be a leader throughout high school, I joined Speech and Debate my junior year to voice my opinion. I also have gone to Australia to represent the United States for soccer, using my voice more than ever to have a spot on the team. If I looked down on the fact that I was sitting on the bench and just quit, rather than observing the game and realizing what it took to become a great player, I would not be where I am today. The hardest part for me was not to overcome a terrible problem. I just had to find my voice. Because of my experiences, one realizes sometimes the smallest things are the hardest to overcome. Through all of this, I have learned that sometimes one must take every opportunity and make the best of it. Playing soccer didnt shape me, but how I interacted off the field and how I handled situations did. I now eagerly await the opportunity to once again prove myself in the realm of college, whether it be in the classroom, out of the classroom, or on the field. Bryan C. Accepted to: University of California Berkeley, University of California Los Angeles, University of California San Diego, University of California Davis, Boston College Attending: University of California Berkeley

In 1990 my parents came to the United States from Taiwan with only two pieces of luggage in their name. They started a family in a country where they did not know anybody. Since I was young, I have heard stories about my parents education and why they decided to stay in the United States. My parents lived their childhoods in a dictatorship before Taiwan gained its democracy. They had "knowledge" crammed down their throats all the way through high school. They were taught myths disguised as history, and forced to memorize nonsensical theories shrouded as philosophy. Political and social issues were not open to interpretation. There was always only one correct answer. I started visiting Taiwan since I was one. Through the numerous trips, I gained insight regarding the values I have been raised on. I recall the quaint, mountainous village of Luku in which my father grew up. My grandparents harvest bamboo shoots for a living. They never spent more money than what was necessary to sustain their frugal lifestyles, yet they met every need their five children had ever had. They paid for my fathers education at the best university in Taiwan, and supported my parents when they decided to settle down in America. As a second generation immigrant with a multi-cultural and multi-lingual background, I am grateful for what my grandparents and parents did in order to create a promising future for my sister and me. I feel blessed growing up in a nation that encourages autonomous thinking and creativity. While I learn history from a standardized textbook at school, I can read Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States" at the same time. I love the freedom to question assumptions in society, and understand the nuances of the legal and political systems. As of now, my primary scholastic interests lie in economics and law. Upon reflection, I realize that both of these are derived from the world I come from. My curiosity about economics stems from the experiences I have visiting my grandparents, whereas my interest in law was inspired by the stories of my parents early education. I want to study economics to understand and solve the problems society faces associated with the inefficient allocation of resources. I have grown to understand the importance of spending money carefully and refraining from wasting. I cringe when I see leftovers thrown away, because I have seen firsthand how hard people in other societies, such as my grandparents, must work to provide basic necessities for life. I am intrigued by law because it serves as an application of philosophical principles that seeks justice. Reading philosophy is a cherished hobby of mine inspired by stories of my parents early education. Instead of indiscriminately accepting generally acknowledged ideas, I have a habit of searching for the rationale behind these ideas. Unlike what my parents were taught, I believe there can be multiple solutions to social and political issues. The law, which extracts ideas from many different philosophical theories, is the embodiment of my belief that different perspectives can be combined to solve a problem. To this day, my grandparents still toil in the mountains of Luku, saving as much as they can for their children and grandchildren. My parents trudged through a less than ideal education to realize they wanted to provide a better environment for their children to grow up in. These values that I have inherited from my family have helped shape my viewpoints and aspirations. My sense of appreciation drives me to always try my hardest and excel in whatever task I take on. Nicole Walters Accepted: Oklahoma Wesleyan University Attending: Horizon School of Evangelism.

Poetry and music are my daily dose of sanity. For most, sanity is conversing with friends, dancing in front of a crowd, playing catch in the outfield, running the last down to score the winning touchdown, or catching the perfect wave. My sanity is plugging in my earphones and writing sweet poetry that flows from my lips. Bukowski and Sexton spoke of their confessions while Frost spoke of the road less traveled by, and Collins spoke of his dog who only thought of him as a worthless alien. In any context one expresses themselves, masterpieces consisting of creativity by simply thinking of words are poured out onto a canvas of a whole new world. A world that anyone can enter and experience the minds of the artists who reside in it. I cannot get enough of the blaring melody that rattles my eardrums and the rush that the pen and paper give my mind when ink is etched onto the blank, white paper awaiting the masterpiece to be created. The endless stress that homework and school entail can be easily drowned away by the steady beat of 808 drums and guitar riffs echoing in the background. Writing allows my restless subconscious to drift away in the rivers of possibilities and float in the streams of the poetry world of my creating. Music allows me to step into a world of endless creativity and release any stress that is acquired throughout the day. I turn the volume up until the speakers are rattling in my ears and Im singing along to lyrics sung by Danny Worsnop while tapping my fingers on my imaginary drum set. Bands such as Asking Alexandria and The Devil Wears Prada are my inspirations to write poetry and want to pursue my career in writing as well as journalism. My dream is to be able to interview my favorite bands while rocking out backstage to the music I love. Music and writing allows my restless mind to emerge from its shell and reveal my innermost secrets and abilities. Allpoetry.com, an online world for aspiring poets, is the one place where I am able to completely escape from this life of endless homework and stress. Poetry allows me to express myself and show my true feelings towards anyone or anything. When I close my eyes, I paint a masterpiece with words, tasting each syllable on the tip of my tongue. I breathe poetry and listen intently to the words that spill from my lips. The feeling of ebony letters being painted onto a fresh page allows me to create a whole new world, one that only I can enter. I am the poetry that sets my mind at ease, containing my sanity. I reside in the world of allpoetry.com, my escape from reality. Sonya Akhavan Accepted to:Cal State San Marcos, San Francisco State University Attending: Cal State San Marcos It is 6:00 p.m. in the afternoon after school. I am in my room studying when the next thing I know, I am interrupted from an array of vibrations on my desk. The concentration from my work is switched from the screen of my phone to my father calling. I answer with a "hello" and my dad abruptly asks, "What are you doing?" I respond that I am busy doing school work. Then, again, my dad's monotonous lines are overplayed like an obnoxious song stuck on repeat. These phrases consist of him repeating, "Good job, study your hardest, these are the most important years of your life, spend it wisely, if you work hard now all the fun will come later, and it will be worth it." His persistence has made me the ambitious person I am today. Without him, I would not be able to cope with all the difficult situations I have stumbled across in my life. With his guidance, I am now able to solely get through a hard task by pushing myself to be a strong person. I cannot recall a time when I have given up, whether I ran two miles straight under fifteen minutes to try out for my high school soccer team or studying eight hours straight for my

hardest class and final of the year, Biology. Both rewarded me: I ended up making the freshman soccer team and I got a B on my final. In order to accomplish my dreams and aspirations for the future, I have worked my hardest to my best potential. Even though I'm not a straight A student and do not have a majority of AP classes in my schedule, that doesn't matter. What matters is I have abided each and every day to get to the place I've strived for, college. Currently during my senior year, I have challenged myself to take AP English and AP Psychology to prepare myself for college level classes in the future. The decision was arduous, however, it was my choice and I knew I wouldn't be dwelling on my father's support for much longer. Knowing the preconceived level of difficulty, I inquired a commitment independently of an unknown path to challenge myself. College is where I will continue to work hard in succeeding my dream to be a psychiatrist. Just like the bumps in the road I've had in my life, I want to give therapy to people who are diagnosed with mental disorders by assisting them through their issues. I know the journey will be hard and long, but it will be like an old dirt path. I will work hard to build concrete over all the ditches, thuds, and pebbles that stand in my way so I can make my way through it, and in the end, it will all be worth it. Eric Stern Accepted:University of California San Diego, University of California Santa Barbara, University of California Davis, San Diego State University Attending: University of California Santa Barbara A Daily Ritual To most, it is nothing more than the Latitude: 33-02'13'' N and Longitude: 117-17'31'' W. To many it is Encinitas, California, the number three surf town in the US according to Surfing Magazine. However to me, it means much more. Everyday I cherish my good fortune to have grown up in such a diverse community. Every house I pass on my daily commute to the beach is unique in its own way. In Encinitas, there are few regulations on houses, allowing the personalities of the homeowners to be reflected in all houses landscaping and architecture. Here it is not uncommon to see surfing Madonna murals, paintings of waves on the sides of buildings, older boats on plots of land being reused as apartments, and even 83 year old projection movie theaters still kept in use. These details that add character to the town help to show the diversity of where I come from. You can see the surfing community all around when you walk around the town and look at the houses. Surfboards are shaped into mailboxes, hung from trees, and even used as makeshift street signs. These totems are a sign of pride and adds to the uniqueness of the home. As I venture out, down to the beach, and into the ocean time and time again, I am always in awe at its power and beauty. As I sit in the lineup, it is apparent that surfing has a profound impact on everyone who is out in the water. Everyone is there for the same purpose: to have fun and enjoy the time spent in the water; this enjoyment is universal. When one is out in the ocean, it does not matter where they come from, their economic status, or their age. What does matter, however, is the way in which they live their life, making the most of every day. While surfing, people are judged based on how they treat, and respect others. One can trust others and leave their personal belongings unattended on the beach, knowing that others are looking out for them and their best interest. In Encinitas, I feel a sense of unity, allowing for less hostility towards other beach-goers, something that I have yet to find exist at any other beaches. Surfing has shown me that I can only gain respect of others through my own merit and actions, it will not simply be given to me. This idea has transpired into other aspects of my life. In school and work, everyone comes for a common purpose to learn, develop, and in the case of work, to earn a living. This community has allowed me to go out and achieve what I set out to do, making something for myself. Having grown up in Encinitas, surfing has become a part of my identity, who I am as a person. I aspire to always surf and maintain a close connection with the ocean

throughout my life. Encinitas is not just a set of coordinates on a map, instead, it is my home, where i grew up. Erica D. Accepted to: Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, University of California Irvine, University of California Santa Barbara, University of California Los Angeles, University of California Berkeley Attending: University of California Berkeley I dont sell cookies. I dont wear a sash adorned with patches and pins. I dont meet with a troop every week to eat snacks and play games. I am a Girl Scout, and although I have done all of these things over the past 13 years, I have now settled into a scouting life that works for me at 18 years old. Last year, I completed my Gold Award. I interviewed residents at an elderly home for hours about their lives and wrote articles about them. After I did this for nearly 20 residents, I gathered all of the seniors I had interviewed and presented them with articles about their lives. They beamed with pride as they looked back on their past in a 2 page biography that I wrote, and proceeded to show their stories to other residents and workers at the home. This experience helped me realize my love for the elderly and patience with people. The nature of the award taught me that I can accomplish things on my own and without rubrics or guidelines, giving me more initiative and competence. After 13 summers, I still havent grown out of Girl Scout camp. I love it just as much today as I did the first time I stepped on the bus as a nervous third grader, but now I am a quirky, confident counselor. Camp opened my eyes to other types of people and ways of life, and over the years has transformed me from a traditional, sheltered girl to a tolerant, universal individual. I have had life changing experiences at camp, like bonding with girls who I never would have the chance to meet at home. I have had touching moments at camp, like when I was a counselor in training and a young camper held my hand for an hour long hike because she missed her mom. I have had unforgettable, fun and crazy times, like when I was an intern and a friend and I flipped all of the tables in the lodge upside down. I know every corner of camp we hike, every song we sing, and every meal the cooks serve. I have immersed myself in the unique world of camp, and cant wait to spend most of next summer working at Camp Winacka. I am lucky to be a proud, passionate Girl Scout who knows exactly where she belongs in the scouting world. I have been acknowledged for epitomizing my world so clearly by being invited to speak as the representative of camp at a Girl Scout convention in front of more than 300 adults about what Girl Scouts means to me. Although I dont recite the Girl Scout Law or diligently complete badges, I have settled into a corner of Girl Scouts of my Gold Award and camp that fits me perfectly. Finding my place in the Girl Scout community has helped me realize who I am, and helped me find my place in the world. Jan Bernard Accepted:UCSB,UCSD, Cal Poly Slo Attending: Cal Poly San Luis Obispo My gooses name is Dan. At the time of the accident I was only 11, so Dan stood about as tall as my waist. I guess his gargantuan size compared to the other geese made him overconfident because he decided to waddle up to my horse and attack her. The result was Dan flying 30 feet across the corral; he is a flightless bird. Dan laid on his back bleeding profusely from his head. I went and picked up the mutilated, 30 pound pile of feathers and showed him to my mom. She didnt scream, just uttered Damn it. She went inside leaving me on the front porch with a half dead goose. I inspected his injury; from the left, his face looked fine. From the other side I could see the white of his skull and the pinkish, twisted flesh of the inside of his face

as it flopped down like the ear of a basset hound. My mom returned holding her sewing kit. She ran the nylon thread through the head of the needle and said, Hold him down. Apparently Dan was more alive than I thought. As my mom held his lacerated face together and started piercing the skin with the needle, Dan turned the scene into an amateur rodeo. I struggled to hold him down with my legs as I carefully aligned his flesh so that his ear lined up with the ear cavity and his eye lined up with his eyeball. As I held his face together, my mom stitched the flesh back together, creating a pattern of thread at the crown of his head. After that day, I realized that I didnt exactly have a regular suburban-kid life. My friends in 5th grade didnt have horses or geese or pigs or chickens; much less have they helped stitched any of the formentioned together. The thing that sets me apart from my friends is that unlike them with fancy cars, two story houses, and Hawaiian themed backyards with pools, I live on a farm. My life is structured differently. Ever since I was physically able to, I have been waking up at 5:30am every morning to feed the animals and clean their pens, only then do I go on to make my own breakfast, take a shower, and go to school. On Mondays I dont hang out with my friends because the trash truck comes on Tuesday morning and it takes me a few hours to clean all the corrals and pens and lug the 200 pound trashcans to the front of our driveway. Im not going to lie. Trying to find time to do all my chores, go to school, do homework, play soccer, go to work, participate in 4H, and have a social life is still difficult. But there are a few things I will take from this childhood. I will always be reliable to do what is needed of me. It started with having to feed all the animals in the morning in kindergarten, but transpired through my life. In this sense I have also become independent; my parents stopped having to tell me to do homework by fourth grade, I do my own laundry, I drive myself everywhere I need to go, I maintain good grades and a job, and I cant remember the last time someone made me breakfast. Ive never received a dime of allowance and the only things I have that I dont pay for are my car and my phone. If I stand next to another jock at La Costa Canyon; we look one in the same, except he doesnt have a farm. Anonymous Accepted to: Cal State San Marcos, SDSU Attending: Mira Costa Personal Essay They never speak to one another. They never smile or even consider the others existence; they are known to complain about each other at times, but they still respect each other. My grandparents are divorced, a rare situation in Mexican families. Even odder is the fact their homes are both next to each other on the same property, and grandpa spends a considerable amount of time on his red and white rocking chair on grandmas front porch. I never noticed this separation until I was nine, until then I had no realization that they were on bad terms with one another. I was completely ignorant to every warning sign around me, like having to decide where to eat dinner, or having to pay for each of their packs of warm tortillas separately on my trips to the store during my summers down in Mexico. I remember the warm July days I spent climbing trees in my grandmas back yard, and yelling, Pa Teban! Mirame! when I reached the highest point my little legs could get me; of course I was immediately told to get down from wherever I hung. He always laughed, Tu mama siempre se subia a el mismo arbol. Remembering those long summer days, my mind sometimes travels back to my sixth birthday, the one time I remember him stepping foot in grandmas traditionally large, rose colored kitchen, that moment he held me in his arms to blow

out my birthday candles and how she gladly accepted his presence there. Even though they were separated, our family still functioned, even in the oddest of situations we still managed. Even though my grandparents were two people that wanted nothing to do with one another, they put differences aside to make one little girl happy. They may not know this, but they both cooperated to help make me who I am today. I have learned one of the most valuable lessons from them, no matter how much you cant agree with the people around you, you still can set aside your differences and not let your problems affect others in a negative way. This lesson has become applicable throughout my life. In theater rehearsals, in academic league practices, through dance shows, and even in class the lesson has served me well. We are surrounded by people and differences are bound to happen, but everyone we encounter deserves respect. In theater, I have applied what I have gained from my grandparents most, respect is key when communicating on stage, with the director, and even with the audience, everything we do is a team effort. Anonymous Accepted to: University of California Santa Cruz, Fresno State University, University of Oregon, San Marcos State University Attending: Sonoma State University Growing up as the middle child, I have been able to experience both sides of authority. I have been lorded over by my older brother and I have been the authoritarian to my younger brother. Every challenge I met as a child and a young adult has been experienced through this dual role. At all moments, I am both the leader and the follower and that has allowed me a unique perspective on how best to accomplish my goals. I brought that perspective to the role of captain on my varsity water polo team this past season, where I was both a role model to my teammates and a subordinate to my coach. I recalled my relationship with my brothers to help empathize with the younger players, and help them adjust to the rigors of two-a-days and significant fatigue without berating or intimidating them. I used my experience as a senior player to advise and encourage them. Its easy to tell someone what to do, especially if your are older and bigger and have more experience than them. It is another thing to conscientiously take the time to understand who your teammates are so as to better coach them. As a younger brother, I always yearned for respect from my eldest brother and in the role as the older sibling, nothing satisfied me more than having the respect of my younger brother. This is the relationship I succeeded in establishing with my teammates, one of mutual respect. Creating this positive team dynamic was the only way I knew they would be willing to fight through anything to get the job done. To persevere to the final buzzer, not for me, not because of me, but with me. In this spirit, I led my team to CIF for the second year in a row and went the farthest our school has ever gone in the playoffs. This team, the season we had, and the fact that I was named captain for this group of guys has made me truly understand the power of cooperative, respectful interaction. I have realized that paying attention to the individuals around me and working with everyones strengths is the best way to achieve my goals. I am convinced that I will be able to apply these skills to all of my future endeavors and Im sure it will come in handy with my brothers as well. Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you. Adam Brandon

Carwash I love to sing in the shower. The acoustics are so incredible that I often think I have talent. But this Saturday morning, Blink 182 will have to wait, since I need to wash my car before the sun teaches me a lesson in timing. I grab the towels and fill the bucket until the bubbles overflow onto my bare feet. The chilled water stimulates my senses, recalling the fun I have had with this childhood chore. As I survey the car, I notice a reflection of someone on the hood. Determined to reveal their true identity, I spray the hose and begin washing away the weeks of dirt that obscure the image. I kneel down into the puddles to clean the wheels. They experience the worst road conditions Mother Nature can deliver, collecting layers of grime along the way. Still, they roll on. This reminds me of one Atlanta summer when my dad and I spent hours circling the green searching for misguided balls to resell to passing golfers. Days would pass without selling a single ball, but I refused to let rejection defeat my will to work. I toiled every day and by summers end, made enough money to buy a new basketball. I cherish that feeling of accomplishment and use it to remind me that there is a purpose for all of my hard work. I take that feeling with me as I wash the rest of the car. I use extra care with the windows because they are the portals through which I see the world. One viewpoint I embrace is welcoming the unexpected. Last spring, while tutoring a second grader named Sahil, our roles were reversed. I patiently sat and learned, while he taught me his yo-yo tricks. It was not how I envisioned the day, but by being flexible, I learned a valuable lesson and we created a memorable experience. I realized that mentoring had a social component that was just as important as the lesson itself. Opening my mind to new ideas is the part of my future I look forward to most. Once the exterior of the car is dirt free, I shift gears to the interior. As I wipe the dashboard, I am surprised to see the odometer now tallies nearly 45,000 miles. I have traveled a long way, not only in distance, but also in self-confidence. I recently drove up to Los Angeles and faced Friday rush-hour traffic. I abandoned my naturally timid behavior and became an assertive driver amidst the other honking, weekend-starved travelers. As insignificant a task as this sounds to people who do it everyday, this was a huge leap in my self-confidence and independence. After one final polish, I step back, and look at the masterpiece I have created. Im confident that this product of determination and perseverance will adapt well to the uncertainty of the future. I also notice the reflection on the hood; this time I can see it clearly. It is me. Prompt: Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you. Olivia Cornwell Accepted to: University of California, Los Angeles, University of California Berkeley, New York University, Brigham Young University Attending: Brigham Young University Jeopardy I remember May 7, 2009 for two reasons. It was the day I got my braces off and could finally flaunt my much anticipated straight and white smile. It was also the day I found out that my mother had breast cancer. My smile soon vanished. As I reflect on this day, Im still in awe that my perfectly ordinary life jumped a thousand miles in the opposite direction in less time than it takes to devour a piece of chocolate cake. But this time in my life was no sweet piece of chocolate cake. It seemed every day ended with lying in the dark, on a pillow damp from tears, praying that my mom wouldnt leave me yet. I had

never been so scared. My fear led me to wonder and as I walked through campus I began not just to look, but to really see the people around me. I began to wonder if their smiles were artificial; simply masks, hiding broken hearts. I realized that my problem was only one, swimming around in a sea of others. Nobody gets through life, or even high school, unscathed. I believe this was the moment in my life that I realized what I love. I love ballet and playing the guitar; I love listening to Christmas music and watching Jeopardy. But more than anything, I love people. When my mom was in the most pain, at her lowest, she still worried more for me than herself. I realized that though she had lost her hair and her body had become so fragile, she was even more beautiful and strong than ever before. It shouldnt have had to take cancer to get me to open my eyes and see the beauty in everyone. When we let ourselves love someone, we see them for who they really are. I learned that judgements never hold true. A pair of ill-fitting, handme-down jeans cant tell us if someone is kind. No amount of makeup can tell us if someone is honest. Its impossible to know the incredible feats someone has accomplished or the pain someone has felt, simply by looking at them. Every person has a divine nature; every person is a sliver of hope for the future. When I think of the power people can have when they open their hearts and accept each other, my smile makes a very welcome reappearance. Paige Griffiths Accepted to: University of California Santa Barbara, University of San Francisco, Loyola University Chicago, Depaul University, American University, Boston University, Northeastern University, Columbia College Chicago. Attending: Boston University Better Than a Movie Clip Five bullet points, one sheet of paper, and a plane ticket taking me halfway across the globe-- thats all I started out with when I decided to spend one month of my summer in Ladakh, India. I left expecting the next month of my life to be similar to movie clips from Slumdog Millionaire and blurs of saris and bhindis. I didnt know that when they said we were going to work at a school, wed be staying with kids our own age in a completely self-sustainable green house. I didnt know that when they said we were going to take a trek through the mountains, we would be backpacking without showers for 10 days, 13,000 feet above sea level in the Himalayas. Despite this fact, I knew what I wanted. I wanted to experience a different lifestyle, eat different food, meet different people, and see perspectives completely different from my isolated San Diego home. And, of course, I left with an experience that no movie clip could do justice. I lived with composting toilets, handmade solar panels, and irrigation systems, bucket showers, and kids my age who were expecting me to help them with their English. I was given one roll of toilet paper and relied on my 30-pound suitcase to sustain me for the next month. My life became a routine: wake up, eat, work, teach, eat, rest, eat, sleep. Such a simple routine, yet I managed to go to bed reflecting on who Id met, what Id eaten, and what Id learned each day. After living in the school for a few days, I noticed the way each Ladakhi girl covered not only her entire body but her feet as well. I saw a Ladakhi boy looking quizzically at my camera every time he saw a flash appear out of nowhere. I realized that even though these kids were living in a place where having a cell phone was like having a G5 airplane, for them, every day was like winning the lottery. And then, as I started molding to their way of living, I put my Ipod and Kindle back into my luggage and began to walk in their shoes. With that came an experience beyond what the five-point itinerary told me. As I taught them English, I started

noticing the way their faces secretly lit up with joy when they phrased a statement correctly. I started to feel that when I gave a Ladakhi girl a hug, her embrace lasted long after she let go; but her impact lasted even longer. While I didnt come home as a new person--Im still the same quirky, adventurous young adult I was before this journey began--I came home sprinkled with the ability to understand a new form of communication: one of compassion, gratefulness, and buoyancy--a language I needed to hear before I could genuinely speak.

Rachel Grant Accepted: University of Oregon, University of Vermont, University of California Santa Cruz, University of California Davis Attending: University of Oregon THE UNEXPECTED At my age, dying is not something I like to think about often. On a warm January night, though, that thought almost became a reality. I was unaware of the dangers that lurked around me. What sixteen year old could have known? I drove through the intersection when suddenly I felt something hit me hard. I spun out of control, then everything stopped. Was I dead? The smell of gasoline was overpowering. I looked at the crushed door to my left and crawled through the shattered window to escape, falling to the pavement below. I soon realized I had been hit by a driver who had run through a stop sign. For the first time that night I experienced the fear of dying. After the accident, I was in and out of school. My body had gashes all over, and the pain from my sprained back and neck were acute. I tried to focus, despite the pain. Just as I was beginning to feel stronger, I was diagnosed with Mononucleosis. The thought of missing more school was terrifying. Dealing with Mono was a struggle. I was constantly tired. When I returned to school, I could barely get through the day, and had to sleep during the afternoons. I had missed so many tests and quizzes that I wasnt sure if I was ever going to catch up, but I was determined not to give up. There was no way I would permit myself to fail a class because of something that was beyond my control. I didnt have a choice; I had to motivate myself. After a long winter and difficult spring, it was finally summer, and my grades were in my mailbox. I nervously opened the envelope and began to cry when I saw my results. Not only had I passed all my classes, but I had also exceeded my expectations. I had proven to myself that I could endure anything if I put my mind to it. Things never happen the way we plan them; life is unpredictable. Throughout this low point in my life, I found the strength and courage to succeed. I learned that if I really push myself, I can accomplish anything. Today I speak to other teens about my accident, and the importance of driving safely. I teach them to be defensive drivers because we never know what can happen on the road. I have discovered that the choices I make affect not only me, but others as well. The driver who caused my accident made a choice to drive impaired and his actions almost took my life. Before the accident I took life for granted. I now live with more meaning and purpose. I value the time I spend with my family and friends. I hope that no one has to experience what I did. It was a dark time for me, but I was able to find the light that led me back to where Im supposed to be. How can you contribute to the cultural diversity and atmosphere on campus?

Anonymous Accepted: University of Oregon, University of Colorado at Boulder, University of Washington Attending: Community College Travel Arrangements The school exit seemed awkward and strange even after walking through these doors a whole semester. The sky was dark with clouds; the darkness mirrored the ground, which was iced with snow that had been tramped brown. As I walked out of the doors one final time, my mind clouded with thoughts of how my life would change once again. I should have been staying another three years and dreaded going back home again after I adjusted to life in another country and forged friendships with people from dozens of nations. Joel and Max, two other new kids who I connected with from day one, felt like they would be life-long friends. Now, I was leaving after a few short months. Six months of changes reset in a matter of days. It seemed unreal. I assumed everything would go back to the way it was. The rain hit my face with an icy sting as I walked to the taxi and handed over the fare. The drivers simple response Cheers, as I climbed inside. Moving to England changed my life forever by showing different aspects of the world that I had yet to experience. My schools growing up had been a cliquey mess, but this school was different. Students were still part of different groups, but they were able to put aside their differences and rely on common ground to make friends. The majority of the students had also moved to the ACS International School in the past two years. School basketball and rugby games, band performances, plays, and dance shows with away events in other countries brought everyone together. School events, such as the weeklong trip to Wales, were created to get the new freshman students to connect for a week with fellow students. That trip brought me closer than anything due to the vicious struggle of a hike over the top of a mountain near Bangor College, in the UK, where we stayed during the trip. The hike in the pouring rain and sleet, had winds that knocked us over causing hilarious but scary moments while climbing. Personal friendships were created with people from Germany, Sweden, France, Russia, Wales, Turkey, and Spain. Friendships that proved stronger than any I had experienced. When I returned home, I was slammed back into reality. Walking onto my old campus surprised me. The drastically different groups of people, football players, soccer players, water sports, debate club, and the thespians filled the school grounds without talking to one another. I couldnt find a place to fit into this old yet strange world. Even my closest friends changed and separated while I was gone. This helped me understand that everyone is different but can still be brought together. College is my next step, and although I am unsure where I will be going in life, I just need the college to help me get to the next stage. The constant changes set me back, but I cannot let that affect my future success.

How has a life experience made you who you are? Zach Rice Accepted:BYU Idaho Attending: BYU Idaho On most of these applications, one sees a large variety of somber stories told of a tragic life. Ill tell you right now, I dont have one of those, whether that is good or bad. My life is simple. Most of my experiences are fun and enjoyable, and thats what Im going to talk about, one of my passions, and not a sob story.

Backpacking is a spiritually uplifting experience, the kind where you feel closer to the heavens. After a day or two, my feet begin to blister and the pain is felt in every struggling step that I take. The weight of my pack seems to multiply after everyday. My shoulders are sore, and my back is burning with the constant chafe every step brings. Why would anyone do this one might ask? Its not the pain that I strive for, but the joy and peacefulness that accompanies the pain and struggles. The high reaching pine trees and the spanning mountain ranges are what makes one small trip all worth it. The snow that covers some of the trails lingers all summer just to experience the smell that the sweet spring water running through a brook and to see the ice covered lake gleam and turn to a turquoise blue in the early afternoon. To breathe in the soft summer air is a prize that cannot be bought. That experience is brand new and just as exciting every time. The food is awful. Never in my life would I choose to eat those disgusting Mountain Meals if I had the choice. But its all part of the sacrifice that is made for the rewards, whether they are mental, physical, emotional, or even spiritual. This is the type of experience that describes me. I would do almost anything to reach my goals, and I would go through the pains and struggles of great proportions to attain those few seconds of peaceful harmony with nature and all of the wonderful things that God has given us to enjoy, even if they are in the back mountains where few travel. It is all about the journey, not the destination. If there was an influential person in your life, describe your experience with them and how it has shaped what you want to do in your future. Anonymous Accepted:Sacred Heart, Drexel, Seaton Hall, Mcdaniel Attending: University of Rochester When I was young, like most kids, I played almost every sport and loved something about each of them. The problem was, none stood above the rest as a sport that I wanted to pursue with a passion. In the summer following sixth grade, it found me. That summer, my grandpa invited me on a golf trip in Northern Nevada. I had never golfed outside a thirty-mile radius of my house, so naturally I was ecstatic. I was not only going to be able to spend time with my grandpa, but play a game I was soon to love. Our first round of golf was on a particularly dry, blistering summer day and my mouth was parched. As the round ended, all I wanted to do was go inside, get a glass of cold water, and soothe my throat. My grandpa was going to have none of it, telling me, Grab your putter and meet me on the putting green. I had putted multiple times that day and I was upset, yet it had never occurred to me to do something about it. For the next hour, he guided me through multiple putting drills, and to my excitement, my putting drastically improved. My grandpa taught me a priceless lesson that day, as he awoke me to the reality of what it takes to be a successful golfer. From that day on, after every round of golf, I ask myself what needs improvement in my game and what I need to do to make those improvements. Those days we spent in the hot summer sun, playing and practicing together, with sweat dripping off our faces, is when golf truly became a game that I wanted to play and explore for years to come. Over the years, I began to realize that the lessons that my grandpa taught me on the golf course were also lessons that I could apply to the rest of my life. Those lessons are responsible for many of my character traits that emerge every day, on and off the golf course. When he taught me that I needed to learn from my mistakes on the course, I now understand that he was teaching me to learn from the mistakes I made in all areas of my life. My Grandpa showed me that treating people with respect on and off the golf course is an essential character trait that

should never be absent in my behavior. He instilled in me a work ethic that I have used not only to become an accomplished golfer, but also to become a better student and a more successful person in todays world. While my grandpa intended to teach me all of these values and qualities to improve my golf, he more importantly helped better me as a person. I can only hope that one day I will shape someone as my grandpa has shaped me.

KPF Accepted: Yale Attending: Yale **Athletic Admittance The Next Rung It was at that moment, when I was five feet from the top of the course, just five feet from victory, that I had a panic attack. As I clung to the ladder, unable to pull myself up enough to get my feet under me, I realized that I had no choice but to ascend the next rung. After twenty minutes of convincing myself that I was going to rot atop this stupid rope course, I had a sudden fleeting thought of my grandfather. He would have broken down in a fit of laughter just by looking at me suspended a hundred feet above the ground on a ladder too big for me to climb. My grandpa would never have been in my situation, for he was so adventurous and courageous that nothing would have stopped him from exploring every inch of this giant jungle gym. I imagined that I could hear his boisterously loud voice beside me, telling me that I could do it, and convincing me that the more negatively I felt, the more likely I was to never succeed. His confidence flooded my body, and I felt adrenaline pumping through me as I lifted myself up with all my might, managing to struggle my way into a standing position on the ladder. With one more big jump, I was at the top. I looked at the beautiful scene before me, and realized that I could never have made it through this treacherous team bonding exercise without the braveness and positivity that my grandpa instilled in me. More than simply a blood relative, my grandfather was my role model that I looked to as an inspiration, but unfortunately, when I was eleven, he died tragically in a plane crash. It took me months to recoup from my loss, for I had always looked to my grandpa to be the support system in my life. It seems unfathomable that I am inspired most by a person who is no longer here; that I am still learning every day from the principles that he taught me and my family; and that I was able to see these amazing attributes of my grandfather not in his life, but in his death. Those aspects of him that I cherish most, I have begun to notice in myself. On the volleyball court I see in me the leadership that he possessed, and I can feel his determination for success in my veins every time I step into the classroom. The lessons of friendliness, openness, and positivity that my grandfather taught me and the rest of my family, are morals that I will continue to hold close to my heart for the rest of my life. I strive to be as fearless as my grandfather, for he showed me what it means to be able to jump from one rung of the ladder to the next, and not be afraid of the fall. Jack Koby Accepted to: UC Davis, University of Oregon, Colorado School of Mines Attending: University of Oregon College Essay

In elementary school, I never had to sign my name at the top of my assignments. Teachers always knew that the spelling tests and math worksheets filled with drawings of futuristic rocket cars and amphibious vehicles belonged to me. Fast-forward to today, and my dream to design exceptional vehicles is still the same. My inspiration to pursue that dream all came from one special teacher. His name was Chuck Jordan, and after decades as the head of design for General Motors, he volunteered to teach a small group of students at my high school in order to pass on his expertise in the art of design. Mr. Jordan taught me that through the design process, I could do much more than just draw cars; I could create every aspect of them. He showed me how to identify and correct the problems of current car models. He encouraged me to refine my designs until I had a completely new vehicle that was better than anything on the road today. Taped up drawings of cars now paper the walls of my room and serve as windows into my thoughts. Layers of notes point out the various concepts crafted into each design. I am particularly proud of my idea for an aerodynamic, retractable bed cover for a pick-up truck. Mr. Jordan thought I should obtain a patent for this feature because he didnt think it had ever been done before. Tragically, Mr. Jordan died of cancer last December. I wrote him a letter that he read just hours before he passed away. I was honored when his wife chose to read my letter at his memorial in Detroit. I tried to capture what Mr. Jordan had meant to me: All my life, I wanted to learn to draw cars, but you shaped me into a person who could create a car. I went on to say, You taught me the importance of thinking differently from those around me and gave me the ability to express my ideas on paper. Above all, you taught me the importance of leaving a mark on this planet, the significance of contributing to society, and the power of innovation. I hope to continue in Mr. Jordans footsteps, knowing how lucky I am to have spent a year being mentored by my idol and a true auto industry legend. Though perfection is never possible in the eye of a designer, it is something that I will always strive for. I know that design is a never ending process because even the best new ideas will soon become obsolete. Starting with Mr. Jordans words of wisdom, I'll always keep trying to create the perfect car, beautifully sculpted with a synchronized symphony of moving parts. It will have started with a little sketch in the margin of whatever paper happened to lie in front of my thoughts. Allee Bradford Accepted to: University of Washington, UC Davis, UC Santa Cruz, University of Oregon, Saint Johns University Going to: University of Washington Abigail Her name is Abigail. She was in the fourth grade and I was a sophomore when we first met at Casa de Amistad, the learning center for Latino students where I volunteer as a tutor. She walked up to me with her curly brown hair, her thick gold-framed glasses highlighting her huge, brown eyes and her perfectly crooked grin. As she approached me with her belly pushed out, subtly rocking back and forth, she said with her giggly raspy voice, Hi, whats your name? Surprised, I responded, Im Allee, whats your name? We sat down next to each other, as she asked me questions about myself. As we walked down the bare, stone hallway, Abigail was talking the whole time. She was enthralled with my answers to her questions, and equally eager to divulge about herself. She told me that she lived with her parents, her brother, and her cousins all under one roof. She told me she liked soccer, and she would play with her family in their front yard. She enthusiastically explained that the goals ran from the tree to the curb and they had to create the other goal out of makeshift objects. I asked her if she had a computer at home to type her poem. She told me she didnt have a computer or a television, but that her and her family took turns on

the Nintendo they got for Christmas. Somewhat ashamed, I noticed my Blackberry, which was lying on the table next to her papers, and slid it into my pocket. Abigail was stubbornshe didnt like doing her homework and she definitely didnt like me telling her she had to do her homework. I hated seeing her so careless about something I valued so much. We came from two inherently different worlds, yet these two worlds collided to form a bond I hold most valuable. During my sessions with Abigail, I learned as much as she did. I learned about the real story of immigrantsher parents made their way to the United States through difficult paths that I cant imagine. They spoke precious little English, and I occasionally spoke Spanish to them. I could see the hope in Abigails parents, the belief that education could help to transform their children and the realization that they needed help from someone like me to teach their children. It was at once a burden and an uplifting sense of responsibility. Abigail is not a perfect student who does her homework on time and gets everything right. She struggles, and I struggle with her, and through this process we move forward. I taught Abigail her multiplication tables and spelling words, and Abigail taught me the value of human connection and that despite inevitable dissimilarities, we have the ability to create friendships with people from different worlds. But above all, Abigail taught me appreciationthat we must not ignore these differences, but that we must be aware and simply realize our own fortunes. Griffin Smith Accepted:University of Pacific, Colorado State University, University of Colorado at Boulder, University of Denver. Attending University of Denver My Dad In 1986, my father drove across the country from Miami, Florida to San Diego, California. He didnt have a job, family member, or friend waiting for him there, but he was determined to start a new life and pursue his passion of triathlon. Without a college degree on his resume, it was going to be challenging finding a job that he would be able to make a career out of, but he knew he had the ability to succeed. He used his confidence, and ambition, to eventually start his own sporting magazine, with a focus on triathlon. His goal was to inspire readers to go out and live the active lifestyle that he knew and loved so well. Through hard work and enthusiasm he was able to grow his company into the large corporation that it is today. When I was a sophomore in high school, my dad told me his life story, and I was able to truly appreciate my fathers career and the way he was able to provide for our family while still doing what he loved to do. In turn, this newfound admiration for my father and his path taken inspired me to follow my ideals in the same way; not to drive cross country and start a magazine, but to follow my heart and do what I love. I learned that with relentless dedication and commitment to a concentrated goal, success can be achieved. I have been able to apply these philosophies to certain regards in my life such as my long standing volleyball career, in which I have received many high accolades, as well as general dedication to my studies and more specifically, my artwork. Being a kid in San Diego, I have developed a love for surfing, skateboarding, snowboarding, and the culture and lifestyle that embody these sports. I am profoundly interested in music, fashion, and art, and I want to be able to incorporate these concepts into my future life and career. I hope to start my own company, and execute my own vision as part of the up and coming youth culture. I aspire to create, innovate, and inspire. Just as my father motivated an entire generation of triathletes, with his magazine, I intend to affect the youth

generation, though my company, whether it is through art, music, or fashion. My father has influenced me in many ways throughout my life, but I especially respect for him for the way he was able to start a business based on what he loved, and turn it into a fulfilling career. He has lived a rewarding life due to his ingenuity and determination to succeed, which has shaped my future aspirations. I hope to start a company, as he did, and be equally successful in doing what I love.

Hanna Beyer Accepted: Southern Methodist University, Texas Christian University, University of Washington, University of California Santa Barbara, Whitworth University, Fordham University, California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo, University of Minnesota Attending: Texas Christian University The Blurred Line At promptly seven oclock each night, my little brother and I crawl into a nest of rumpled flannel giraffe sheets for a bedtime story. His choice of literature usually consists of an excerpt from an atlas or National Geographic Magazine. As I begin to read aloud from the tiny text, uncovering facts about ancient civilizations and mythical creatures, I watch his eyes widen and his hands twitch excitedly. Sam is diagnosed with autism, a neurological impairment in his brain that affects his social skills and learning abilities. Although he is unable to read or write at age twelve, Sam harbors an endless capacity for knowledge. He can memorize even the most acute details of dense information, and recite them with impeccable accuracy. Sam has revealed to me the power of true knowledge, an intellect that stretches further and runs deeper than receiving a decent grade on a paper or acing a test. Witnessing his constant and genuine enthusiasm for learning has renewed my own, and reminded me of my true motives behind completing fifty-page reading assignments and hours of homework. Sam has helped me to realize that understanding stems from a flickering spark of curiosity, and it is sought with the purpose of bettering oneself and ones views. Knowledge is not an entitlement, but a privilege, and it is only as useful as what I choose to do with it. The acquirement of wisdom and its principals calls for a creative balance. Sams three-dimensional imagination has encouraged me to salvage my own imagination from the abandoned playground of my childhood dreams. He has shown me that there are various forms of wisdom and self-expression, and has helped me discover my own formwriting. Unlike my brother, my fantasy world does not exist amongst dense atlases and history magazines; it is founded upon words. I explore the uncharted waters of my mind when sitting with a paper and pen. Sam has made me aware of my story-telling talent. I find my own line between reality and make-believe blurred when absorbed within my penned-ink universe. When I write, I access those forgotten figments of my imagination that I thought would never resurface. It is Sam who has shown me the hunger for education and wisdom, a hunger capable of opening doors to undiscovered passions. Sam has allowed me to challenge my previous and rigid definition of knowledge and the idea that it can be fully measured in Grade Point Averages or test scores. He has stripped the filmy layer of realism from my eyes and challenged me to explore my creative thought. Sam has shown me the beauty in

imagination and imperfection, and made me aware that the two concepts of understanding and fantasy go hand-in-hand. We both live within the boundaries of our blurred linesstraddling conventional standards of knowledge and our own creative forms of self-expression. It is here, within my own bedtime story, that my little brother has helped me find the key to unlock those doors. Sean Helmer Accepted:University of Oregon, Colorado State,University of Colorado at Boulder Attending: of Colorado at Boulder A Day at the Beach My desk has become cluttered with countless miscellaneous items; leadless pencils, last years algebra 2 worksheet, even a few scattered gum wrappers. Most of these objects fail to grasp my attention, but there is always one that stands out: a picture of me when I first learned how to ride a bike. More importantly my dad is in the background, wearing a smile as almost as gleaming as mine. Each time I get transfixed on the picture, I cant help but think about how much my dad has meant to me. He has taken time out of his busy life to be there for every important moment in my life. He showed me even when I was only six how to remain calm and to think positive when my mom had cancer. I could never imagine myself ever becoming like him, but it wasnt till a distinctive southern California marine layer summer morning, that maybe I could. This summer, I worked for the Solana beach junior beach lifeguard program. I spent countless afternoons working with kids aging from six to fourteen teaching them the fundamentals of the beach. Days like these reminded me of the times when my dad was extremely eager to teach me the things he loved to do. One day in particular was almost a similar experience that my dad and I shared. When I was with the seven year olds, they were all very timid of entering the ocean because they were afraid of getting knocked down by the waves. Day by day, most of the kids overcame their fears but Jake, so undersized that his head struggled to break even with my waist, could not overcome his fear of the intimidating waves. Jakes salty tears took me back to the picture on my desk. What I cant see in the picture but I clearly remember are the pair of waterfalls I now deem eyes when my dad would attempt to take my training wheels off. I knew I would have to teach Jake the same way my dad taught me; I had to show him it was safe. Just like my dad, I would walk with Jake all the way into the surf; it was tough at first but he quickly discovered when I was around him that he was in no danger. I felt the same way about my dad who was always the safety blanket when I rode the bike. Jakes tears evaporated by the end of the day and were replaced by a giddy, innocent smile of a seven year old. Jakes smile never dared to disappear when he ran to his mother eagerly informing her of his accomplishment. How could it? Im convinced my smile from the picture on my desk has never abandoned me either. Up until that day I had not yet approached my dad and thanked him for all his priceless lessons. Perhaps its because Ive never realized how important they were to me, or perhaps because I havent finished learning yet. Tell us about a personal quality, talent, accomplishment, contribution or experience that is important to you. What about this quality or accomplishment makes you proud and how does it relate to the person you are? Megan Hammon

Accepted: Cal Poly Pomona, Colorado State University, UC Davis,SDSU Attending: San Diego State University My story begins when I feared my life was about to end. The man who I had belonged to for two and a half years was highly abusive, fierce with rage, and confused by his harsh childhood. He grew up surrounded by his parents depression, infidelity, poverty, and eventually his mothers suicide. I in contrast, grew up nave and ignorant. I was dragged into his world. If I ever attempted to escape his hold over me, he would threaten me with his life. Eventually, there was too much pain and no excuses left to be made when I found out that he had been with another woman behind my back for six months. What little affection I had left for him vanished. I was determined to leave him; I could not suffer any more on his behalf. In response to this, he immediately took a razor blade from behind his back and drew it to his throat. He threatened to cut deep if I left. I tried to cut communications with him, but he retaliated by leaving me graphic and gruesome voicemail messages. I listened as he described in great detail the ecstasy he felt while cutting into his fingers with a paring knife. At the end of the message, fear began to grow inside me like a lead weight forcing my heart to descend down into my stomach. This feeling was reinforced one night when he stalked me, following me to a bonfire party at a local beach. Overcome with jealousy, he ordered me to either meet him in the empty parking lot or face a public beating. Petrified by his ability to find me there, and shocked by his threat, I grudgingly obeyed. The extensive walk up the dusky trail seemed to last hours as millions of panicked thoughts swirled around in my head like a whirlpool. That night, he tried to drive us both off a steep, thirty foot cliff at the edge of the lot. When his fear of death overcame his insane wrath, the attempt thankfully failed. He warned me, You know I would have done it, and I did know. Before the terror of that night came to a close, he gave his last threat. He planned to hurt my family and to make my life as wretched as he felt his was. Only then, he said, would he finally murder me and kill himself to end it all. The next morning, I finally gained enough sanity and audacity to tell the police I needed help and protection. My verbal statement took over three hours to complete, and by the end of the discussion, I was both mentally and physically exhausted. The officers concluded that I had been a victim in a rare case of domestic violence, and would probably suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for many years. He was then transported to Tri-City mental hospital, and enforced to end all contact and association with me, or else face certain arrestment. The moment the police car drove away down the empty road, with him sitting in the back seat, head bowed and wrists cuffed, I became instantly free. The weight of fear had been lifted and my own life finally started over again. My experiences in coping with domestic violence have taught me that I am always the person who holds the most power over my life. Although domestic violence is rare among young couples my age, it becomes more profound as people and their relationships mature. Having been through this experience, Ive attained scarce dexterity of knowing firsthand how to cope with and recover from abuse. I hope with all my heart to help those who go through the terror and isolation I have been through, and to prove there is a way for everyone to create their own powerful light that will forever overcome the seemingly endless darkness. Anonymous Accepted to all UC schools Attending: to UCSD As I felt the mountain of water rising behind me, I knew this wave exceeded my capabilities. I stood up, praying the lip of the wave might gently crumble instead of curl. It curled. Gravity momentarily reversed. I was in the lip of the wave and when it finally broke, it felt like an

airbag had deployed against my ribs. Turbulent whitewater enveloped me. The devil on my left shoulder, my body and human instinct, told me to panic: to fight the wave, and battle upwards. The angel on my right shoulder, my mind and past experience, told me to relax: to let my body go limp like a ragdoll. For the first time, I shoved the panic aside and pulled in my composure. As the turbulence subsided, my mind could only grasp gratitude: the gratitude I had for still having air in my lungs, for steering clear of the reef, and for Nature once again humbling me. I felt a great sense of accomplishment in overcoming panic in the midst of a tumultuous situation. My ability to relax under pressure is derived from surfing, which has proven advantageous in my other life passions, particularly in science. In my AP Chemistry class, the dreaded final exam was to be a qualitative analysis. My teacher gave every student a five milliliter test tube of clear liquid that had either three, four, or five ions in it. We were to isolate and confirm the ions we had in two hours, and we would need every minute. Monday, May 24, 2010 was the infamous final exam day. Twenty-nine minutes into the lab, an ominous, unmistakable odor wafted up from my workspace. This didnt seem possible. I had followed all the steps. I had added nitric acid, heated, centrifuged, and decanted, then added sodium hydroxide, heated, centrifuged, and decanted. I had gently squeezed the bottle of six molar hydrochloric acid to release two drops, anticipating the colorful precipitate that would reveal the answer. Instead, the putrid smell of rotten eggs was erupting from my test tube. I realized that the thiosulfate ions, which should have been removed, were still present and had bonded with the hydrogen ions from the hydrochloric acid to form hydrogen sulfide gas. The tube nearly slipped from my hand. I had made a crucial error. I could feel the panic creeping up my limbs as the whitewater began to envelope me. However, the angel on my right shoulder reminded me to stay calm. I started over, going through each step meticulously. My newly focused and relaxed mentality empowered me to find all four ions successfully with minutes to spare. Surfing has taught me that when I get caught up in the whitewash, I must relax in order to survive and surface with the best outcome. This is the same in science. Science is the study of nature, and nature offers many unexpected difficulties that must be met with calm in order to achieve deeper understanding. It is both the thrill of surfing and this deeper understanding that is my reward when I overcome these challenges by maintaining perspective and composure in moments of chaos. Alyssa F I didnt submit this essay to any colleges because the colleges I applied to did not require an essay. Accepted: Biola and Azusa Pacific Attending: Point Loma Nazarene Curled up tightly in my (hopefully) bug-free sleeping bag, the knowledge of lying on a small, rotting, scratched-up, spider infested bunk bed left me with one last burning flicker of motivationdo it for the kids. Although the hornets guarding the water fountain were a lessthan-welcome surprise, the meals were something short of tasty, and the constant battle of my arachnophobia was etching deeper worry lines, camp was quite frankly the best week ever. I was lucky enough to attend my very own Sixth Grade Camp: Round 2 over the summer when a group of sixth grade girls were in need of a counselor. Now Ive always known of my love for kidsIve spent over a year with the preschoolers at my church and every summer I make room to volunteer for local church camps. The more time I spend coloring outside the lines or playing silly games with each little rascal, the more I fall in love with offering my time to be with them. When this camp opening presented itself, I just knew I should take it.

Looking back, I wasnt just there to counsel six girls; I realized that they had a lot to teach me too. I saw what it really means to love someone, and to put their needs before my own. When Lina was sick and I had to skip a lunch to bring her to the nurse, she taught me to love. When Marissa explained to me how her mom died of MS, I could feel my heart growing like the Grinchs. The way that eleven-year-old told me of her mothers death as I sat on the cold dark deck, cross-legged and teary-eyed, will haunt me forever. She explained with an expressionless face how her mom lost movement in her legs, then her arms, then more and more until she could only move her neckuntil she died. I was shocked at the bravery of a girl her age, having to watch her mother deteriorate in front of her eyes. It made me sick. I was overwhelmed with the feeling that I had to comfort her. I told her the story of how my mom got cancer when I was her age, but I felt guilty saying that she lived, saying that I had something so precious that she will never get back. Throughout that night I listened to other stories of girls whose lives have been much harder than my own, and the only thing I could think to do was love them deeper. That week I was given the rare gift of being constantly immersed in loving others, and its something thats truly changed me. Whether it meant waking up at 2:30 in the morning for chilly, sleepy bathroom treks, talking under the stars until we fell asleep mid-sentence, or sitting up in a three-story tree house braiding an endless amount of heads during story time, those six girls deepened my love for other people and my desire to humble myself so I can serve others. Of course I dont always succeed in that department, but I have a reason to try. Ive seen the good that comes out of selfless love its worth fighting for.

Caroline

Illuminated Gingerly dipping my toes into the frigid maroon seawater, my expectations for the surf session faltered. Tonight was the last night for the red tides bioluminescence to brighten the big blue. It is rumored that once pure darkness sets in for the evening, movements disturbing the waters stillness light up as a bright green blue streak. To be honest I was a total skeptic of the phenomenon, but thats just my character. I hadnt always been so cynical, but what kid naturally is? Being a direct product of my environment, I just so happen to be the perfect subject of study for the average psychologist and whoever else concerned with the results of children being drug about the country by the military from here to there, there back to here, and then maybe over yonder past a few more states. Time after time, like a bad eighties song playing back to back on a broken radio with no operating controls to change the station, I moved across the country. I made friends, and then lost them. Made some more, those soon disappeared also. I adapted and became a solitary introvert only concerning myself with the intangible and the negative Before I could finish this reflection on my character (I often analyze my current being) the foamy white wash broke my thought and consumed my flailing body. I was brought back to the present: waiting for dark to break the sunset so I could see this so called glow in the ocean. While the others examined the surrounding seawater, my incredulousness grew. I seemed to be the only one who could not distinguish whether or not it was the bioluminescence or my eyes tricking my mind. But then, as the sun sank deeper into the ocean, my heart, which was once

separate from my mind, leaped up and captured my thoughts. That faint blue streak glowing before my eyes turned my attitude right side up. As the sky grew darker and darker, my spirit became illuminated with every single movement I made through the water. I flipped and splash and most important of all I laughed all while watching the magic happening around me. The gleaming bright blue streams surrounded me, flowing with me, radiating from me. The total awe I experienced was like nothing else I had ever known, nothing else I had ever felt before. Consumed by the glowing aura of the Sea I allowed everything else to completely disintegrate with the fading of the spent algae. My newly illuminated self has awakened and I now suddenly see life just a little more clearly than before. It is as if nature has instilled in me a newfound beauty and I forever owe the world and life itself my gratitude. All life has potential to be beautiful, and if one is fortunate to recognize the opportunities, nature will lead the way to repairing oneself. Maddy Goss Accepted:UC Berkeley,Villanova,Southern Methodist University,University of Texas, Austin,University of Massachusetts, Amherst,Colorado University, Boulder,University of Oregon University of Alabama, Pennsylvania State University Attending:Pennsylvania State University I am a gymnast. Those four words are how I have described myself since I was five: five days a week, four and a half hours a day. I knew no other path nor would I have wanted one. The echoing gym walls, the chalk-filled musty air, and the reverberation of the floor are the descriptions that accompany my earliest memories. The joy of pleasing a coach negated the fear of a four-inch beam, four feet off the ground. However, not many have the ability to defy gravity and soon, neither did I. Upon breaking my arm, I was sentenced to immobility and a cast for six months. I was determined to come back stronger than I had ever before. Although I was forced to stop training through club gymnastics, I found a new, but undeveloped, gymnastics program at my high school. This offered a less demanding, more inclusive atmosphere. I initially doubted the coaches and my new teammates; however, this was disproved after a few short practices. We were immediately thrown into the competition and established a name for our up-and-coming program, attempting to be recognized for our performances. When first hearing the news from the doctor, I immediately thought I was done with the sport because I could no longer perform to the best of my abilities. I came to realize that all circumstances are not solely defined by being the best. I learned that leadership and supporting others can lead to just as much fulfillment; I was nominated captain of the Varsity team. As I was unable to contribute to the scoring of the team, my place came to lend more support than I could have on the floor. I helped coach and guide all through their victories, losses and injuries. I was recognized with the 2009 CIF Sportsmanship Award; I felt a strong sense of accomplishment, as I was able to help support my teammates. I never gave up trying to accomplish my goal to resume competing, though. This work paid off. The tactics endured through grueling practices and competitions offered the determination I needed to keep pushing forward and to overcome fear of potential mishaps. I now am able to compete all-around as three years later my elbow has fully healed. Last season I prepared long and strenuous hours to compete my favorite event, the floor exercise. I respected my coachs guidance and my teammates reciprocated support. I pride myself with the reigning title as Avocado League Floor and Beam Champion and furthermore that of CIF Floor Exercise Champion. The season enabled me to test my limits. Various other coaches and judges realized my progress and success. I was awarded with CIF Gymnast of the Year. I came to realize my success was attributed to my teammates and coaches, whom I first second-

guessed. I am no longer just one mind on the beam; I am a girl who helps all to reveal the true strength of the team behind the seemingly dusty and clouded atmosphere of the gym. Neela Mohan Accepted: Cal Poly SLO, University of California Los Angeles, University of California Berkeley, Georgetown University Attending: Georgetown University Scars My left knee is home to two scars. Though they look similar, each represents a different aspect of my character. I lined up on my P.E. number as the teacher scanned the rows and marked tardies. "We will be participating in relay races today," she announced. On the outside, I resembled my forty-odd classmates - green mesh shorts, grey polyester T-shirt, trendy bracelet - but it was my inner thoughts that set me apart from the rest of my classmates. For me, "participate" translated to "compete," and these relay races were not just easy participation points; I wanted to win. I selected the team that would lead me to victory and began to warm up my muscles, just as I would before one of my soccer games. When it was time for our race, my team assembled and decided that I would be the last leg of the relay; I loved the pressure. We lined up on our marks on the dirt tract and my mind instinctively focused; I envisioned myself running to the best of my ability and winning the race. The race was quick, and in a matter of a minute, I was clutching the baton, darting for the finish. I would not allow myself to lose; my body and my mind propelled me to the front. My eyes were glued to the caution tape posing as the finish line. And then it happened. My worn out New Balance shoes lacked the traction to grip the gravel of the dirt track, and moments before I was destined to pass my opponent, I took a long, painful, knee-scarring slide. Scar number one: competitiveness. But, the race was not over yet. Although blood was streaking down my dusty leg, I rose to my feet and strived to regain momentum. There were only thirty yards to go and the first place girl was now several yards my superior. It didn't matter; I was on a mission and would not give up. I gained ground until I overtook my rival. The desire in my eyes matched the smile on my face as I clinched victory and broke through the finish line a champion. And then it happened. Just when I thought the race was over, the gravel turned to ice and I took another spill. Scar number two: dedication. In reality, the relays might have been silly, recreational races that warranted 60% effort at best. However, I pride myself on not settling for anything short of what I know I am capable of, and this has paved the path for high standards. Whether it is playing soccer or taking a test, I aim to be the best. When I want something, I fight for it. This has allowed me to play for one of the best soccer teams in the nation and be at the top of my class. As my dedication and my competitiveness drive me through life, my scars will always be along for the ride as a constant reminder that I always compete. Discuss any events or special circumstances that have affected your academic record, as well as any adversities you have overcome. Julia Farrell My Life as an Overgrown Child Sometimes I wonder if living with autism forces you to live as an overgrown child.

I know that its a handicap I will never get rid of. I know that I cant read peoples intentions no matter how hard I try (and believe me, I try). I know that I come off as too enthusiastic during certain activities, and people react by trying to ignore me or staring at the freak. I know that I still live in daydreams of magic and superheroes. I have reason to worry. I have an aunt on my mothers side and an uncle on my fathers side with some form of autism (neither have had it categorized). Were all fans of comic books and Star Wars and Star Trek, but my aunt relies on her brothers and sisters to feed herself and her son and my uncle never moved out of his parents house. I dont want to be like that. But I have hope. The TV show Bones has a lead character and supporting cast member that are believed to be autistic. The main lead has an extremely prolific career, regularly going to other countries and enjoying high government connections. The other character has a close friend that he lives with and a strong family life. Maybe I can be like them. But who I am must be considered. I wasnt kidding about living in daydreams of magic and superheroes. For nine years and counting, Ive turned on some music and walked in circles at any time of day, daydreaming scenes from unwritten stories. They star superheroes with amazing powers that consider themselves family and always save the day. One character that Ive come up with in recent years is violent and sexual and unfailingly loyal, trying to hide her fears behind physical action. Its a fragile strength, but: it is strength. The good thing about my autism and love of superheroes is that it led me to the world of Tumblr activism. Being awkward in real life, I turned to the Internet years ago to find something to be confident with, and the strongest common ground we have is what we like to read and watch. But comic book fans, like any group of people, can still have a significant portion of racists and sexists and homophobes. I have absolutely no tolerance for intolerance, and I learned to fight back. I dont understand how people can be so callous. I dont understand the big bad world out there that somehow stops people from remembering that everyone has feelings too. But I keep posting and I keep talking, and if it all gets to be too much, well, thats when the music turns on and I drift back into the happy world where even the overgrown children are okay. The University of Colorado Boulder's Flagship 2030 strategic plan promotes exceptional teaching, research, scholarship, creative works, and service distinguishing us as a premier university. We strive to foster a diverse and inclusive community for all that engages each member in opportunities for academic excellence, leadership, and a deeper understanding of the world in which we live. Given the statement above, how do you think you could enrich our diverse and inclusive community and what are your hopes for your college experience? Anya Merkle Accepted:University of Colorado Boulder, SDSU, University of Miami Florida, Cal Poly SLO, and UCSB. Attending:UCSB. The smile on Bernies face makes it all worthwhile. A shy, introverted thirteen-year-old girl with Downs Syndrome who lights up at the sight of me tacking up her horse is why I volunteer at Helen Woodward Animal Centers Therapeutic Riding Program. She has come to rely on me to help her with her riding lesson and to cheer her on every week. Over the period of time that I have been working with her, I have seen improvement in Bernies confidence and self-esteem. The riding has helped her balance and strength, while the bond of friendship has improved her social skills. When I first met her, she was scared to even go within five feet of a

horse, but now she runs up to them without a moment of hesitation and with a beaming smile spread across her face. At first she didnt talk, but as she slowly began to trust me she came out of her shell. To see her spirit blossom makes the time I spend with her infinitely gratifying and rewarding. I have come to know that the relationships developed between the students and volunteers are as important to them as the riding itself. The best way to create a genuine and lasting relationship with the riders is by treating them as the equals they are. My experience with Bernie has taught me that we are not so different as some people would assume. We laugh at the same jokes, have a similar taste in music, and even the same favorite color. At the same time I have realized that I need to be thoughtful in my choice of words and not say things that create separation between us. The mention of attending a midnight premiere of the new Twilight movie would only make her feel her limitations, whereas expressing excitement about wanting to see the movie brings us closer together and makes her feel included. Focusing on the commonalities people share instead of their differences creates a supportive environment where parity is natural. Before meeting Bernie I didnt realize that helping a stranger, especially someone so different from myself, could have such a profound impact on my views on life and my desire to help others. To me, diversity is individuality and what makes people unique, not what should be scrutinized and used as an excuse to initiate disunion. My friendship with Bernie has shown me that no matter how different people may look on the outside, we are all equal and should be treated with mutual respect. In my college experience and the rest of my life, I strive to carry forth the ideals represented by Bernies smile. Cameron P. Accepted: Santa Cruz, Chapman, University of Oregon,University of Colorado, Boulder Attending: University of Colorado, Boulder Universities greatly benefit from diverse student populations as well as students who support and encourage their peers. I have first hand experience with being a student at a fairly homogenous high school. It is also a school that could be perceived as less tolerant of outliers. It isnt such a great experience to feel like an outlier. I come from a community that focuses much of its attention on athletics. The vast majority of the kids I have met during my life have had a major connection with sports. Like most of my friends, I grew up trying one sport after another until I found my niche; the sport I loved. I ended up being a water polo player. This is decidedly not a mainstream sport at my school. La Costa Canyon High School is a school nearly completely devoted to sports, most importantly its football team. Sports are so huge at this school that it was recently named San Diego Magazines Top High School for sports. County championships are the norm for this school. Playing a non-mainstream sport at a high school that focuses primarily on its football team, cheerleaders and other more typical sports was initially very daunting. It wasnt easy spending four years at a school where people criticized what they didnt understand. Its clear that teenagers are perfect examples of people who come down hard on things they dont understand; speedo-wearing athletes being no exception. However, Ive felt that putting myself in this situation has caused me to stand up for myself socially. This experience molded me into an individual of great self-sufficiency and independence. The combination of playing a team sport and having an increasingly independent personality has taught me not to rely on others for my validation, but at the same time to be able to work as a cohesive team member. I value both of these lessons.

I feel like being one of the outliers has lead me to value diversity more so than the typical high school football player or cheerleader. I understand what it means to be unique and what people from all different areas of life can bring together in a common atmosphere, such as a university. When I enter a university, I hope that not only will I be put on the right path to my future career, but that I will also develop lasting relationships with a diverse group of people. I want to meet not just the people who think like I do, but also those who have different opinions than mine. I want to broaden my point of view and my perspective on the world. I want to enter a university with an open mind and exit a more well-rounded, intelligent human being.

Topic of My Choice Drew Toolson Attending: BYU Hawaii Footsteps Not many kids dream of being an orthodontist when they grow up. Most kids hate going to the orthodontist to get their braces on, or to get them tightened, but I have always been fascinated by this process. My dad is an orthodontist, so I have grown up learning the process of using orthodontic appliances to create beautiful smiles. People often laugh when I tell them that I want to be an orthodontist, but they do not realize how important an orthodontist is in their lives. Yes, braces may have made some people look awkward during their teenage years, but the end result of orthodontic treatment is life changing. A perfect, white smile lights up a persons face and changes who they are, internally and externally. In some ways, orthodontists are miracle workers because they change lives for the better, which is what I try to do now. I have worked hard to achieve the best grades I can and I have held leadership positions to help others. I try to be an example to everyone and to make each persons day brighter. As an orthodontist, I will work hard to improve each persons life with a brighter, beautiful smile. Name: Scott Baylon Accepted: BYU, BYU Idaho, San Diego State Attending: BYU BYU Guitars can be tuned with ones own ears. When the same two notes are struck, the vibrations will signal whether or not the two strings are of one accord. One note remains the same while the other adjusts. Upon agreement, the unsettling tone turns to one of peace. In order to be in tune with the ordinances of the gospel, one must adjust their habits and hearts to live in harmony. Unlike other schools, athletes are held to the same standards. I was more than impressed with BYUs decision last spring. They did not adjust their policy for any reason or anyone. I couldnt imagine the unhappiness I would feel if I was surrounded by such filth at some of the schools I had considered applying to. BYU is an oasis in a desert of worldly pleasure. I am hopeful that I can further my education in such a place that will prepare myself for a mission, temple marriage, and all aspects of the gospel. Im prepared and eager to do just as the final button on the application says and SUBMIT. With the Lord as my director, my strings are ready to be played.

Tavish Smith Accepted: MIT,Princeton,NYU, and BYU Attending: MIT My favorite book when I was five was How Things are Made. I read it cover to cover countless times, intrigued by the complex creations. When I wasnt reading, I sat for hours and watched construction machinery, enthralled by the hydraulics and roar of engines. But, my favorite pastime, Ill admit, was interrogating my father about the places we visited. But how did they build this? Why did they put that wall there or these stairs here? What makes it work? I would ask. And every time he had an answer: Well, they used scaffolding, and that wall there is a supporting wall. Those doors work because they are on hinges. Despite the fact that he knew that putting a curious word like hinges in one of his answers would only elicit more questions from my eager mind, he continuously supported my curiosity. In addition to my father, who continues supporting my inquisitiveness, my mothers career as a professional opera singer has given me an advantage in soaking up the marvels of the foreign world. Through my travels abroad with my family I have seen and experienced diversity in the arts and technology, ranging from Gaudis fascinating Sagrada Famlia Cathedral in Barcelona, to mesmerizing sports cars in Milano. Just when I began to think I would never see something more spectacular, a new country would surprise me with its striking machines and designs. Though now I have begun to surpass my fathers knowledge in certain areas of technology and engineering, my hunger for innovation and the explanations of how the latest technology is made and why it works has yet to be sated, and will not be sated until the day when my father asks me why he should upgrade his computer, and I can tell him that my companys cutting-edge quantum processor is the best in the world. The day when I can tell him to just wait until he sees the one my team and I are designing for next quarter. The day when I dont need a book to see how things are made because I am the one making them, the one turning groundbreaking ideas into reality. Alyssa C. Accepted: MIT, Yale, Columbia, Brown, University of California Berkeley, University of California Los Angeles, University of California San Diego, University of California Davis Attending: Harvard I sit on a low, black bench, shifting and rustling about settling in. Eighty-eight black and white keys stretch before me, filling the whole of my gaze. I look up to see my face reflected and distorted in the shiny, over-glossed black surface of the piano. I shift my eyes to the white pages in front of me, with their thin, dark, horizontal lines. Notes sit on these lines complacently in a manner that seems incongruous with their fluttering lightness when played. I raise my hands, fingers poised, and I am startled by the profoundness of this moment, knowing that at any instant I can press my fingers down on these keys and produce something from nothing; beauty from emptiness. It is often said that to be able to create music is one of the greatest joys in life. I agree; there is little I have experienced that can compare to the swell of notes forming rolling waves of melody, the current sweeping raw emotions out into the open and transforming them, making beautiful everything along the way. But, to me, this joy is and will always be second to something greater: the glory of that moment before a single note is played, when I sit before the piano, fingers outstretched in anticipation. There are so many of these moments in life, small and unassuming, but all-consuming at the same time; little pieces of our parents telling us anything is possible, slivers of dreams in which we can do anything. We often look past this moment before, diving right into the action;

we marvel at the splendor of a concert, overlooking the startling beauty and harmony of an orchestra tuning; we are so transfixed by the sunrise that we forget about the incredible promise of the dull morning gray. But it is in these instants of anticipation, the moments before, that we unexpectedly glimpse what is possible without the interference of fear or reality. I know that the dreams of these moments do not always come true; many hopeful beginnings end with disappointment and failure. I know also that as I grow up, experience may persuade me to not believe in fairytale endings. But I hope that I retain some of my idealism, if only in these small fragments. I strive to carry a sense of optimism forward with me, holding onto the momentary feelings of radiant innocence that allow me to believe in endless possibilities. My seventeen years have been spent preparing for now; the melody of the rest of my life is about to begin. I hope that one day Ill look back on this time and reflect on the anticipation, the brilliance that had yet to emerge. As I sit here writing this, I realize that this is the moment beforeand I cant wait. Nan H. Accepted: University of California Santa Barbara, University of California Davis, Loyola Marymount University, University of San Diego Attending: University of California Berkeley The Back-Up Laugh There is nothing funnier than cat calendars. Their marble eyes hung on walls of countless cubicles glare condescendingly at all who ogle as they pass by. There is also nothing funnier than the classic mix-up when you ask a foreigner if they've seen Pirates of the Caribbean and they think you are sincerely asking them if they are a pirate. It never gets old. Unfortunately, such humor is unseen by many and completely under-appreciated; but not by me. Maybe that is why I have been dubbed the back-up laugh. It is exactly what it sounds like: the person giggling contently while all other heads in the room whip around to see who could have possibly been entertained by such a comment. While this may appear as though I have no discretion or am simply amused by the mundane, I think I have the best sense of humor of all. Like many psychologists, I am torn over whether I was born with my natural contentment or whether it was cultivated. My deciduous family tree is rooted in the first. Originally sowed with the infamous Grand Ali and her seductive Christmas snake dance and later branching out to Momma Marg and her benign enjoyment in Fridays, our amusement with the commonplace has ripened into the Nan that is accurately accused by yearbook signatures from her teachers that smirk, You were such a pleasure to work with. You always laughed at my comments especially when they weren't really that humorous. I suppose one could conclude that laughter pulses in the merry roots of the Farley family. However, I recently re-explored the butt of my natural high and have concluded that external factors have also been major contributors. Over the past four years, my understanding of my family, once shallow and nave, has been broadened to show the tragedies and many obstacles that comprise the complicated backgrounds of both my mother and grandmother. With their experiences in mind, I reflect on my own encounters with heartache; the most poignant of which was the hospitalization of my older brother George after he attempted suicide and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Now I know why the Farley women laugh. Essentially a coping technique, our eyes crinkle to counter-act the tears and our lips tighten around our teeth to remember those that time prevents us from kissing. It only comes off as excessive because we always release that small bubble of air before it compresses inward. I now view my distinguishable giggle as a unique imprint onto my personality. Although the product of my heritage and upbringing, my appreciation for humor seems to run a bit

deeper. Laughing like a restrained child in a terribly silent waiting room, I grow louder while dagger eyes search for the source because, little do they know, I have a reason.

-Noah H. Accepted to: University of Oregon, Point Loma Nazarene University, AZUSA Pacific University, University of Arizona, Arizona State University, University of California Fresno Attending: San Diego State University It is midnight on a Los Angeles city street, its a frosty 50 degrees out and I am in street clothes under the 5 freeway. There are no cars on these back streets, however it feels like there should be. Im not alone though. Many other teenagers surround me and young adults all here for The Hundreds warehouse sale that will be taking place the next morning. As I look down at the crowd of people, some with their own fires and some fast asleep in personal sleeping arrangements, I think to myself: why am I here? The sale doesnt start until 10:00 am the next morning and there are at least 200 people sleeping in the street the night before. This truly is insanity. Then I think of the owners of my favorite clothing company, The Hundreds, and I grasp the insanity. I seize the fact that these two law students have created something extraordinary, something that people can wear as a tee shirt that expresses them and shows their emotions and thoughts on life. And that is when I knew what I wanted to do with my life. That one event spurred me to put my dream into reality and partner up with a good buddy of mine and create our own insanity. And we did. FTS, Free Thinkers Society. We are just a small little clothing company that captures the aspects of local life and California customs. We design tee shirts, sweatshirts, fitted hats, tank tops, you name it, and we want the whole world to take part in our little mission. And there is only room to keep expanding, to keep up with my dream, and to make an impact in this world. And I know that I can achieve this dream by studying at the Lundquist College of Business. Just the idea that people will sleep on the back streets of LA just to get a cheaper price of my clothes would be the most amazing feeling in the world. I want that sentiment, I want people to go more than out of their way to take part in my clothing line or my product, whatever it may be. I want to change one persons outlook on life through my brand. That is all I want, and if I can do that with just a logo tee that they are wearing on their back, I have achieved my dream. Nik G. Accepted:University of Virginia, University of California Berkeley, University of California Los Angeles, University of California Santa Barbara, University of Southern California Attending: University of California Berkeley Food of Gods I have eaten Mutter Paneer in 3 countries, 5 states, and countless restaurants. Its familiar taste has greeted my tongue under the incandescent city lights of Seattle, along the serene cobblestone streets of Versailles, amidst the raucous London nightlife, and through the

sweltering heat of Dallas. Its coalition of flavors confounds me; a voluptuous symphony of spices orchestrated to the utmost precision, a concerto for the senses. Yet, sadly, I am perhaps one of the only students at my school who was ever savored its piquancy. It was upon my introduction to Indian food as a mere toddler of two that I came across this exquisite North Indian recipe. Composed of a thick orange curry complemented by peas and, of course, paneer (compact cheese-like cubes), Mutter Paneer has remained a long time favorite of mine. But Mutter Paneer is perhaps more than just a food to me. It is a tradition, a symbol of my family loyalty, and a reminder of all the priceless memories that I have shared with them over the years. My family, unlike most, is entirely vegetarian. I was brought up that way and am somewhat proud to say that I have never eaten meat. Naturally, our options for available food choices are very limited, which is why we tend to eat out at many Indian restaurants whose menus are predominantly vegetarian. Every Sunday after church, my family goes out to eat at an Indian restaurant; sometimes in little India off Black Mountain Road, or other times at our favorite restaurant, Indian Tandoor, and every weekend everyone knows what I will order Mutter Paneer. I have gotten used to being one of the only white families at such restaurants and find my comprehensive knowledge of the recipes served there to be quite comical. The waiters are always amazed at our astonishing familiarity with the menu items, and in fact on one occasion, one even said to me, You know what Mutter Paneer is? It has become somewhat of a tradition in my family for us to try an Indian restaurant everywhere we go and so I have sampled Mutter Paneer from across the globe on every vacation we have taken. Sharing similar tastes in unique food choices has helped me to grow closer to my family, and being an only child, I have developed a strong association with my parents and believe that I will grow up to value family connections with just as great importance as my parents do with me. To me, Mutter Paneer is more than just a trivial buffet item or starter course, it is a bond to the people I love and the memories Ive shared with them. Wherever I go, I need not a picture or souvenir to remember them by, but merely to walk into the nearest Indian cuisine and savor a few delicious bites of my favorite dish Mutter Paneer. Anonymous Attending: Palomar Community College I am a "Yerd. I didnt mean to become one; it kind of just happened. Kind of like how Alice in Wonderland fell down a rabbit hole. Do you know that story? Where Alice meets all kinds of characters and has the time of her life? But hers was just a dream. Last year I started the most important experience Ive ever had in my life; yearbook. As soon as I stepped into room 900, I knew I belonged there. Multiple rows of brand new iMacs filled the classroom and technical terms relating to yearbook plastered the walls; a new car smell filled the air. I was engulfed into a domain of photography, design and copy. I was placed into the unfamiliar world of design my for my rookie year. I learned a substantial amount that year: like how to remain calm when being scorned by my editor, what a pica is, and how to take charge. Staying late on school days for deadlines, taking over a fellow photographers job, and learning consistency with all my designs got me to where I am today: the Editor in Chief of the 2012 yearbook. Being editor of The Book was always a dream of mine since working on my junior year book, but I never thought it was possible with only one year of experience under my belt. I used to be the girl that sat in the very far corner, isolated from all classmate conversations, but because of yearbook, I now sit in the front where all the action happens. I am the person that fifty other students look to for direction. Im sitting at the head of a table at the tea party.

Yearbook journalism opened my eyes to a place I felt comfortable and could express myself while not being ridiculed for doing so. A big class room environment; like yearbook can build self esteem. The definition of a yerd is anyone that lives, breathes and cares about the yearbook world, and I just happen to be one. I have given a new image to the yearbook staff member. I love yearbook, but Im still the typical California girl. I love to shop. I surf and have a tan through winter. I spend a sufficient amount of time with my family and curling up on the beach with a pile of magazines as the hot sun warms my skin. While some just skim through the many glossy pages of a magazine, I analyze them. I look for new design elements, layouts, and photos that grace the pages of magazines. I started analyzing magazines as soon as I started yearbook. Thats a major part of creating a great book: absorb your surroundings. Im Alice; but wearing sunglasses and a tan. Picas. End sheets. Grids. These words might sound like a foreign language to some, but they are currently what I eat with my tea and pastries. From being in yearbook, I was able to learn the printing language of a graphic designer and get a real taste for what it would be like to be a real Editor in Chief. With only a few weeks as the EIC of The Stampede, I have being able to command, as the queen of hearts a small army of students by delegating tasks accordingly, and making rash decisions with budget, and diffusing situations with a Mad Hatter run amok. The La Costa Canyon Yearbook made me realize my own dream. A dream of what I am capable of; a dream of being an Editor in Chief. Alice never had it so good. Daniel O. Accepted:Butler University, Purdue University, Arizona State University, and Northern Arizona University. Attending: Butler University. What Led to my Success After owning O. Inc., which has been a successful company for over forty years, I have decided to write an autobiography about my life and accomplishments. My success came from someone whom I looked up to when I was much younger and before I got into business. I attribute my life story to an average visit from my grandparents almost fifty years ago. On this day, my grandfather Opa Dick told me, Daniel, I see tremendous leadership potential in you. In fact I think you could one day be the Commandant of the United States Coast Guard. I was surprised to hear these words because I never before had thought of myself as a leader. His observations and complement helped me realize not that I necessarily wanted to join the Coast Guard, but that charismatic leadership qualities rested within me. My grandfather backed up his bold statement by saying, I have always seen you as a good listener. It takes a good listener to be a great leader. One who leads without listening is simply a manager. One who is a manager can organize and manage but cannot lead. Because my grandfather has always been an important role model in my life, I paid careful attention to what he said. My grandfather is merely an average person who successfully commanded people as a captain in the United States Coast Guard. I felt honored that my grandfather would think that a pimple-faced teenager could eventually assume a position higher than he ever attained during his thirty-one-year career in the Coast Guard. Of course, I went on to start my own company instead of joining the military. As the founder of a highly successful business, I was provided the opportunity to share my leadership skills with my management team and employees. These skills have prepared them to continue my legacy and successfully run the company following my retirement. Their success will be the result of the strong leadership and management skills they accumulated

during my tenure and how effective they are at developing the next generation of leaders and managers to address future growth and challenges. The following chapters of this autobiography will address the challenges I faced during my career, and how my Opas words of wisdom and my leadership skills allowed me to adapt and change with the various economic factors that affected the growth of my company. I hope that my readers will benefit from my experiences and apply them to their own lifes challenges.

Nicole D. Accepted: UC San Marcos, UC Merced, University of Arizona, Sonoma State, University of San Diego. Attending: University of San Diego I whipped my head around at the sound of the buzzing line. Fish on, I yelled as I weaved through the rods on the boat. My dad tugged his line out of the water and threw the fighting belt to me. I fastened it around my waist and grabbed my rod. Every muscle in my arms immediately grew tense as I fought against the pull of the fish. I let out a sigh. This was going to be a fight; a long, difficult fight. 6:00 am: It was still dark outside, yet I found myself standing on a cold beach watching the tiny waves lap against the hulls of the beached boats. We boarded the fishing panga and braced ourselves for the rough start. We were jolted backwards as an old truck pushed the boat into the shallows of the Sea of Cortez. Our captain started the engine and we made our way out to the shark buoys where hopefully plenty of fish awaited us. After hours of cruising around the buoys without a single bite, I started to get impatient. My dad was convinced that there was a monster of a fish in the depths waiting to be hooked. Whatever Dad, I muttered to myself as I turned my back to the rods. But before I had time to take a step, the line started ripping out of the reel. A fish! It was as if a lightning bolt struck the boat; everything was in motion. I grabbed the rod. This fish was mine and I wasnt about to let it get away. 45 minutes later, my arms were shaking, and the fish was still in the water. My dad offered to take the rod to give me some rest. No way, I yelled, Im doing this! After a while longer, my dad leaned over the side of the boat. Color, he exclaimed, its a Doradoa big one! I was exhausted, but bringing in this fish would definitely give me the days bragging rights. I mustered all that I had left, closed my eyes, and reeled in. Before I knew it, a 40-pound Dorado that measured up to be roughly my height was in the boat. The satisfaction of winning that fight and the smile on my dads face as he took a picture of the fish and me will stay with me forever. I didnt give up and my hard work paid off. Fishing has taught me many life lessons. Life, like fishing, is about being alert to opportunities that arise, and sometimes making your own opportunities by using the experience and knowledge you have gained. You have to put yourself into a position to succeed and be willing to struggle in order to overcome challenges that you will encounter. When I spend time deep-sea fishing with my dad, these lessons are reinforced. Although not every fishing trip is a great success, Ive learned that if I stay

confident and prepared, eventually good things will happen.

University of Chicago: Spanish poet Antonio Machado wrote, Between living and dreaming there is a third thing. Guess it. Give us your guess. Accepted: University of Utah, Brigham Young University, University of California- Davis, University of California- Santa Cruz Attending: Brigham Young University Forgiveness Between living and dreaming, there is a third thing: moving forward. Like most children, I had difficulty learning to ride a bike. Eventually, with my fathers help, I got up, and proudly road up and down my neighborhood flaunting my skills. However, stopping wasnt as easy, so my joy ride ended when I tumbled to the ground. Before I could call out for help, my father came to my side, picked me up, and put me back on my bike, helping me move forward. Many years later, my father picked me up from piano lessons in his little white Tacoma, which alarmed me because usually my mom did that job. As I climbed into the truck, he asked me with a calm voice, "Wanna get an ice cream cone?" On the drive over, my only concern was the choice between Oreo Cookie Surprise and Double Brownie Blast. It never crossed my mind that my father had much more life-changing issues on his mind. In my excitement I eagerly glanced up at him, expecting to see the same giddy anticipation reflected in his eyes. But suddenly, he wasnt the same father. I noticed his playful face forming wrinkles, especially at the corners of his eyes. His eyes looked worn and tired. It almost shocked me; for a split second, he turned into a different man: older, and clearly more stressed. Thankfully, this ghostly version of my father trailed away as quickly as he had appeared, and the familiar flicker in his eye reassured me that I was his pride and joy. As we neared the ice cream shop, he swerved to the side of the road, and for the first time in my life, I saw my father cry. I didn't know what to do, so I sat in stunned silence. The whole time my mind raced. But for whatever reason, all that came to mind was some Goo Goo Dolls song. When he finally composed himself, he shot me a look that paralyzed me. My already aching heart leaped out of my chest onto the pavement, committing suicide in front of traffic. "Tailor, I did something very wrong. Ive had an affair with a lady for a long time now. It's not your mom's fault and I cannot justify it. I just wanted to let you know why I won't be around as much anymore and why things are changing." "Its okay dad, everybody makes mistakes. I forgive you." My immediate reply shocked me. But as I said them, I knew I had never spoken truer words. I knew that my father and I had traded positions. Instead of him helping me, like the time when I fell off my bike, it was my turn to help him get on the right path to enable him to move forward. He was the one who needed help. He needed my forgiveness. My dad had to humble himself like a child, and I had to grow up for him. I had to move forward. At first, I believed that I forgave my father to save him from the despair and chains of his actions. I didnt want him to be bound to the thought of his daughter losing all respect for him. I realize now the real reason I forgave my dad so quickly is that it was time for me to grow up. Through this moment not only did I gain maturity, but also a new perspective. I can now look at a situation, past all the hardships of the present, and see a bigger picture in the future. I see different paths of choices, and contemplate which choice will end up with the best results. I knew that if I didnt forgive him, my family would be more broken apart. The most significant thing I learned, is that no one is going to push me to reach my goals. Its something I have to do myself. Only I can hop back up on my bike, and move forward.

Tips for writing Essays Dont miss the deadline Be yourself Dont forget to answer prompt Dont procrastinate Revise, revise, revise! Evidence Spend time in the summer for ideas Have different people edit your essays Make it personal If you are writing about an experience, include in your essay how it will affect you in the future in addition to how it affected you in the past. Dont put in big words just to sound smart. Be descriptive. Dont be afraid to ask for help Write an essay no one else could. Its YOUR essay. Tips from Miss Monahan After ten years of reading personal statements, here is what Ive seen too much of A lack of evidence. In first drafts, the main problem I see is that many students just ramble on makingclaims without specific evidence to prove their answers. Dont just tell me that you want to be a doctor because you love health and helping people. You need to provide an example of when you have show cased a love of health and helping others so you have something to analyze.Many students opt to provide a brief anecdotal story as their evidence. The best ones blend strong story-telling technique and solid analytical skills. This as in isthis was a pivotal change for me or this helped me what did? Was it the lack of creature comforts that forced you to re-consider what is important? Wasit the understanding that some things are harder for you than for other people?Im incredibly suspicious of your writing ability as soon as you use thiswhen you ought to be more specific. Not answering the question. While your evidence for answering the question may come in storyform, you still need to provide a concrete answer to the question, and all of your evidence should be explained in terms of how it proves your point. Avoiding the how.If a question asks how something has affected you, dont just give the event and the result. Explain the process. Step by step. The analysis here may provide insight into how you process life and make decisions. Dont short change it for a shorter word count. Waking up/Taking off on a plane/Landing on a plane/Walking into a new room. Over half of the first drafts I see begin here. If you want to stand out, avoid clich, and provide a more dynamic read,jump right to the heart of the event that typifies the answer to your question. Truly as inthis truly changed my life. Have you been lying to me the rest of the time?Only this is true? Same goes for honestly. Weak verbs. Use the following sparingly: is, was, are, were, have been, been, to be, etc. In revisions, youll probably have to change around the structure of the sentence to use a more powerful verb, but you wont regret it, and neither will your reader.

First-world problems.There are kids applying who are dumpster-diving to eat, or who have survived war. Their essays may be read before and/or after yours. Keep that in mind when you talk about the horror of being cut from the soccer team. Hyperbole. Was going fishing really the greatest day mankind has ever known? Did you really feel like the people you met were going to be your best friends for life after an hour? Was it the most spectacular sunset known to mankind? Really? Any use of the superlative (best, most, etc.) should be used with extreme caution. Oversharing out of context. While I do love to see someone who has wrestled with something personal and challenging, I want to see the wrestling. Each year I receive essays where students are very candid, but sometimes I cant figure out why Im being told the story. Often theyll use the essay to complain about how they were given a lousy hand in life. Sometimes its even true, but remember that this is an admissions essay. We need to see HOW the event has shaped you or been an obstacle that you are working to overcome.

After ten years of reading personal statements, here is what I havent seen enough of What youre thinking along the way. Twenty people will see the same event, but not one of them will process it exactly the same way. Pepper the event with these observations.In the revision process, strive to make them more specific each time, and attemptto make them sound like you. If you are a very sincere humanitarian, the things you notice, how you process them, and the words you use to convey them will take on a very different voice than if you are a sarcastic budding businessman. Smells. Its an under-used sense. A quick way to make a scene more memorable is to provide an incredibly specific smell that is unique to that situation. Be warned, though, that one good smell goes a long way. More specific imagery.If you are going to describe your room, I want 2-3 details that sum up the vibe of how you have chosen to decorate your living space. In that short sentence,you can tell me a lot about who you are. Are you the kind of person who has an alphabetized collection of 70s rock vinyl, four pairs of customized Nike sneakers, and a poster of Martin Luther King Jr. (20 words)? Do you have all white walls with no posters to clutter up the room, an open window to let the smell of jasmine, and a pair of flip-flops by the door (30 words)? It often takes the same number of words to bore me telling me the tone of your room as it does for you to show it to me. Varied syntax. Change up your sentence lengths and styles. Please use a compound-complex sentence to detail the horror of cleaning out the popcorn machine at work, and then punctuate that lengthy butter-slimed description with a quick bite of a sentence like, I don't eat much popcorn anymore. Evidence of Revision. Many of the best essays in this collection were revised easily more than a dozen times. I had a few students who would come to me each day with a new version, and we would cut away anything vague, pump up the verbs, consider what a single action really meant, take every image and make it more and more specific. A first or second draft essay almost never catches my attention after reading so many thousand.

Sincerity. Show Who you are in a positive light, but show who you really are. Carefully Consider the question you've been asked for a while before you begin to write.Think a lot about the "how's" of the question. If you don't come up with several new realizations in that process, you may not be giving it enough time. It's tough to know who you are at seventeen. We know that. But my most memorable essays are ones where there is evidence of a fair amount of sincere reflection.