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Common App Essay Example #11

Topic #1: Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

I would have loved to be on the high school yearbook staff, work on the school paper, run for student government, play a sport, or have enough time to devote to my studies.  But my high school experience was much different.   I worked twenty to thirty hours a week from the time I was fourteen to help support my family and save for college.  My father died when I was ten leaving my mother with three children to support and so, as the oldest, I tried my best to help.  I am not complaining and I would do it again – the experiences and my family were worth it.  But I am particularly excited to go to college because, with a scholarship I received from a group of civic organizations and the money I saved, I will not have to get a job during my first few semesters of college and instead be able to have the experiences I have always dreamed about.     

I held two jobs for most of high school.  Each morning I woke up at 4:30 am to assemble and deliver newspapers.  My paper route took about two hours to complete and so there was not much room for error if I wanted to get to school on time.  I also worked at a local bookstore two days after school and on the weekend.  They allowed me to read when there were not any customers in the store, and I loved being able to dive into the latest and greatest fantasy novel.  However, it was not uncommon for me to get home after 9 pm – with homework left to do and a paper route the next morning.

On the other days, I frequently watched my younger siblings and helped around the house.  For example, I toilet trained my youngest brother and eventually taught him how to read.  My mother tried the best she could to take on the burdens of two parents, but it is impossible for one person to do everything.

While challenging, I learned a lot from these experiences, such as the value of work and self-mastery.  It would have been easy to hit the snooze button instead of getting up to deliver newspapers, but my family and long-term goals were more important.  I also grew closer to my siblings and mother, and we have developed a unique bond.  In addition, I came to truly cherish the time I had to learn and gain new experiences, both because I never had quite enough time and because, in observing many people I worked with, I saw a difference between those who prioritized education and bettering themselves.

Really, this last point is why I am so excited to go to college.  Thanks to the generosity of others and my hard work, I will not have to get a job during my first few semesters of college and can finally focus on my education and gaining the experiences I have always wanted.  I have dreams of joining book clubs and study groups, working on student service projects and political issues, going to college football games, studying about different cultures, and meeting people from around the world.  While I am sure that my dreams are a little overboard and unrealistic, that also is just fine with me because I will get to choose what I pursue even if the end number of things is less than the plethora I can currently imagine.   

I am grateful for my unique high school experience, but I am equally grateful for next chapter of my life and the possibilities that stand before me.