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Common App Essay Example #8

Prompt #4: Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma-anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.

Immigration is an enormous issue in America, with people arguing about every possible angle to the challenges facing successful policy reform. The recent ISIS attacks in Paris helped to fuel anti-refugee sentiments throughout the U.S., despite there being no evidence that accepting Syrian refugees would pose any real threat to our nation. Even the majority of my own classmates debated the merits of blocking assistance to refugees from abroad. While I don’t have an answer to the national crisis, I wanted to do something to educate those in my own school about the realities facing Syrian refugees and their actual impact on our country.

My first step was to pull together compelling research aimed at myth-busting the refugee crisis. I presented the information to my school librarian and asked if I could create a display to be shown in the library. She agreed after reading my notes, so I set out to make something that would grab the attention of students and teachers walking by.

I created a tri-fold poster communicating three key messages: the stringent process through which political refugees are accepted into the United States; the amount of refugees in the U.S. compared to our total population; and finally, the percentage of refugees here compared to those in other countries. At the time, the U.S. actually ranked among the lowest both in actual numbers of refugees and the percentage of total population.

My poster display certainly didn’t solve the Syrian refugee crisis or lead to sweeping immigration reform. But the librarian reported that several people stopped and read my poster each day during the two weeks it was up. I even had a few classmates and teachers approach me for a more in-depth conversation on what’s happening in Syria. While change might not always be sweeping, discussion is certainly a great first step.