That Dreaded, Cringe-inducing College Admission Essay | Teen Ink

That Dreaded, Cringe-inducing College Admission Essay

April 15, 2009
By Sana Riaz BRONZE, Bayonne, New Jersey
Sana Riaz BRONZE, Bayonne, New Jersey
2 articles 0 photos 0 comments

The point of a college admission essay is to impress the application reviewers. That is what I have been told anyway. Yet, I have to believe that there is more to it than that. I have to believe that the college of my dreams wants to dissect every fiber of my being. I have to believe that the college of my dreams wants to know who in the world they are providing an education to. I have to believe that someone out there actually cares in order to remain sane. The line between sanity and insanity is a very fine one indeed. Anyway, I am going to write this “dreaded, cringe-inducing” essay in a way that will open up a portal into my soul. I give my permission for you to peek in.
On the ninth of September 2005, I glided down the gothic halls of Bayonne High School steadfast in my belief that I would hate every fiber of every being within its ancient walls. I had graduated from a minuscule grammar school, a literal box, with merely twenty kids in its graduating class. I ruled the people in that kingdom. As valedictorian, I sat upon a gold-plated throne with what I thought was the world at my feet. I felt as if I bore the very weight of the entire universe upon my shoulders. That whole “I am totally going to change the world single-handedly” attitude was epitomized by every dramatic step that echoed off the street from my holey Vans. Self-absorbed? Yes, I agree, but do not worry—reality came knocking on my door soon enough. The only word that can defend me is naivety. I walked into my freshman orientation so sure of myself, but then I saw the masses. People were smarter than me, people were prettier than me, people were more eloquent than me, and people were most definitely more this and that than me. So, I became a little cynical, but who would not? I am a teenager after all. That is what happens when you are raised in a theoretical bubble.

Well, I’m merely a seventeen-year-old high school student who truly has no knowledge on the expansive nature of psychology. However, I will attempt to apply it to my personal life. I have grown up in the midst of a traditional Pakistani Muslim family. My parents were both raised and married in Pakistan and there, they had both my older sister and older brother. Later, they moved to the United States of America to provide a better life for their children and I was born about a year after this move. Though I was exposed to a completely American culture, my parents have always stressed the importance of my Pakistani cultural background upon me. Most teenagers today recall how their parents used to set limitations on their clothes and relationships. However, as a Pakistani youngster, I have been raised with a far more reserved nature. Also, my religion forbids drinking, substance abuse, revealing clothing, and inappropriate pre-marital relations. Both my culture and religion advocate homage of God and homage of parents. I abide by these rules without objection. For example, I do not wear sleeveless shirts, shorts, bathing suits, and clothing of that nature. I am strongly against alcohol, drugs, and pre-marital relations. Furthermore, my older sister followed through with an arranged marriage my parents had proposed and I plan to do the same. Many of my friends find it absurd that I plan to never date and that I will agree to the arranged marriage my parents will propose for me. Yet, these things do not at all seem absurd to me because I have been brought up with that cultural mindstand and I abide by my cultural rules instinctively. However, American culture has also influenced the way I act. For example, feminism is something not very well known in Pakistan, but here in the United States I do express my sense of feminism under my parents and they do understand where I am coming from when I do very “un-femininely” things like play video games, listen to rock, have long drawn out political debates—or debates on any subject actually, and stubbornly insist on dorming for college.
I had entered the Honors/Advanced Placement Program without any of my old minions so I was left alone to wallow in the dust. I sat alone in the corner of every class. Lectures in English, Creative Writing, and Biology were my only oasis—and a giant Harry Potter novel shoved into my obese, Rolling-Stones backpack of course. My affinity to read, write, listen to punk rock, and watch the Discovery channel helped numb away the time. Tick-tock, tick-tock.
My high school experience was…something. I could not remain a reclusive Emily Dickinson forever—my overbearing, gullible stance was bound to bubble out one way or another. I became friends with the kind of people Disney stories portray as the evil, bad guys—the kind of people I will look back upon and say, “What the heck was I thinking?” So, next time momma gives me a warning, I will try to keep those auditory, ear canals ready to receive. I was a literal homework machine for these beloved friends of mine. You see, in Bayonne High School, students are ranked according to their academic standing at the end of their senior year. For three years of my own high school career, I was friends with people who did not care what would become of me a couple of years from now. The only reason they had befriended the weirdo, nerd in the corner was to climb “rank ladder”. Though I realized this a little too late, I was glad I did. My hardships in high school have taught me that I do not need anyone to lean on. Even though I was a bit full of myself in grammar school, I learned that I should not completely degrade myself to pitiful nobody either. On a brighter note, I believe that I am far less gullible and more independent. Whether this is true or not is another story, but at least I have defined myself for myself. Thus, though people may jeer and cringe at the thought of adversity, it is an essential key to the portrait we paint of ourselves—for us and for the world.
Yet, my high school experience was more than just the key that unlocked the uglier side of the world to me. I received an amazingly difficult education from amazingly difficult teachers. Though I may have cried and moaned at the amount of homework that came with Honors/Advanced Placement courses, they have taken a pitiful freshman and molded a dominant senior. (So what if I get Alzheimer’s due to the ridiculous amount of nights I have stayed up doing essays and studying for exams? It will pay off eventually, right?) Within these courses, I was given the tools to break out of that traditional, brick box people have built around our minds since the day we are born. I threw myself into a plethora of outrageously diverse after school activities that have taught me how to hone my skills and function in society and the world. Now, I can think, I can reason, I can argue, I can formulate, I can write, I can apply science, I can apply mathematics—I can be a Renaissance woman.
Another important part of me was added in the summer of 2008. I was given a full Diversity Scholarship to the AFS Panama Summer Exchange Program. My fervently Pakistani mom has always shielded me from the world and has basically kept me under house arrest in her house and under her rules. Yet, I do not blame her. It was very hard for her to let me go to another country for a program she did not even consider very educational, but I needed to pop the bubble she had raised me in—I needed to lift that cultural veil she had shrouded upon my head. Once I entered Panama, I saw poverty, prostitution, greed, and disease with my very own eyes. I would want to protect my kids from the horrors of the world too. High school is merely a stepping-stone compared to the real world! I want to help the world in any shape or form that I can. As of now, I want become a doctor and/or writer because I know I can help people through medicine and writing. This life is not mine to live…it is mine to give. I would rather live for people than for myself. Sometimes, it disgusts me to the point of vomiting at how teenagers nowadays take their lives for granted. They mess around, impregnate or get pregnant, complain about zits, need way too much, spend way too much, drive like idiots, get drunk, smoke, get high, curse, flunk out of school, and act like overall horrible people. All I know is that I definitely want to utilize the tremendous amount of resources being offered me to do my part for the betterment of mankind.
I am a miniature Holden Caulfield, America’s beloved troubled child. I bear the world upon my shoulders. I am definitely not worthy enough to do that, but I told you I am a bit full of myself at times. I try too much. I am an overachiever. I think I can infect everyone with my Peter Pan Syndrome. I am gullible and naïve at times. I will always remain a child at heart. The world’s ugliness scares me too much and I aim to annihilate this aspect of it. I like facing my fears—actually, I like destroying my fears. I love living in the world of books and movies, except I hate that feeling you get, when you finish a book and are left staring at that little misprint on the back cover or when the lights flick on after a movie and all you are left with is a theater room with a sticky floor and a blank, white screen. I am going to make the line between fantasy and reality very fine with my writing someday. I am weird and I have poured my soul into this personal statement. Bored? Do not worry I am most definitely not offended. Like Holden, I am going to do what I can for the world. Though we are both screwed up, we try and we are both going to be “catchers in the rye”. The only aspect I disagree with my fraternal, literary twin on is when he says, “Don't ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.” I am very open-minded and cannot shut up at all. I am going to speak my mind and make people miss me. That is what people should live for. If what you say or do affects one person in a positive way, you have done well and will be remembered. That is all I want. That is all Holden wants. That is all anyone has and will ever want. This university will supply me with the tools I need to achieve my outrageous goals. This university will help me hone my skills and personality. This university will prepare me for the real world. If I have impressed you then shout hooray. If I have not, I am truly sorry for wasting your time and killing trees. Shame on me!

The author's comments:
I think the essay says it all.

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