So what does the admission essay of a superstar who landed four Ivy League acceptances look like? Below is the essay Tso submitted to Princeton University that landed her the nod.
Here was the prompt from Princeton:
Using this theme as a starting point, write about a person, event, or experience that helped you define one of your values or in some way changed how you approach the world. Please do not repeat, in full or in part, the essay you wrote for the Common Application.
"Princeton in the Nation's Service" was the title of a speech given by Woodrow Wilson on the 150th anniversary of the University. It became the unofficial Princeton motto and was expanded for the University's 250th anniversary to "Princeton in the nation's service and in the service of all nations." Woodrow Wilson, Princeton Class of 1879, served on the faculty and was Princeton's president from 1902-1910.
Here is the response from Tso:As Woodrow Wilson noted in Princeton's 150th anniversary address, the university's history is a story that is still being written today through education and political service. I resonate with this on a personal level as my own story to date begins and ends with the act of public service.
There is a Quaker saying that states, "Let your life speak." If my life could speak for itself, it would speak in vehement tones and a passionate voice. It would speak about the story of a girl who was born into a dream, a dream which she took and turned into a reality through the act of service that Woodrow Wilson spoke so fondly of.
On November 15, I was sitting in the Oklahoma State Department of Education awaiting my turn to interview for the United States Senate Youth Program. Four short months later, I found myself sitting in the White House as one of the two selected delegates from Oklahoma, awaiting the arrival of President Obama. There I was, sitting in the historic home of the presidents who had worked to define the American Dream. Interestingly enough, the American Dream is the means by which I have made my own dreams come true. It's the magnetic pull that compels me to pursue public service as a career. It's the testimony that my life speaks of in abundance.
Without a doubt, being raised by immigrant parents taught me about the importance of public service. Both my parents were born into poverty, and were only given the bare necessity to make a living: an education. My grandparents told my parents not to pay them back, but to pay it forward by using their education to change the world for the goodwill of others. That's how my parents' American Dream began, and how it continues to exist through me. Despite having much more than my parents had at my age, my parents continue to instill in me this same mindset. The American Dream is about working hard to ensure not only your own prosperity, but the affluence of society as a whole. They taught me that community service - the act of making the world a better place - is the best way to utilize the skills and education that I've been given. As a result, my life now speaks to the success story of public service and says plenty about the dedicated and compassionate leader I am.
Through the dreams of my parents, I managed to find my own. Because of them, I have learned to approach the world selflessly. Largely due in part to their never-ending support, my early interest in service blossomed into a passion, that has now transformed into a calling - a calling to protect the American Dream, the one that makes individual dreams possible, for everyone. Surely this is the dream that Woodrow Wilson spoke of in Princeton's famed 150th anniversary address.
If my life could speak for itself, it would attest to the durability, longevity and reliability of hard work, the importance of service and how they all add up as a sum of my character. I share Princeton's sentiments, as I too have lived out my life story in this great nation's service, and in the service of all nations. My life has truly been an American Dream, built from the ground up, fortified through aspiration, diligence and toil. Woodrow Wilson believed that the pathway to a better world could only be found through service and I could not agree more; I can only hope that I am already well on my way down that path.
The American dream is something common to all people, but it is something that everyone views in different ways. The American dream is different for everyone, but they share some of the same aspects of it. The dream is dependent mainly on the setting of where one lives and one‘s social status. For example, The Declaration of Independence was by Thomas Jefferson, who was an upper class white male. He wanted freedom, but freedom for people like himself that were white landowning males. Martin Luther King, in his I Have a Dream speech, also called for freedom, but mostly for African Americans like himself. F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote in his book The Great Gatsby, that he would have liked to eliminate the idle rich, which he was a part of. Every American dream is somewhat different, but they all relate to the times that one lives in.
In The Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson asked for equality for white landowning males. His American dream was to be free from Britain and to be treated equally. This dream only included people like himself, that were white men who owned land. The people that signed the document were all part of that class. They were the people leading the revolution, so Jefferson thought they should be the ones reaping the benefits. In the text, it talks about “the merciless Indian Savages.” Obviously they were not included as being equal. Jefferson also wrote “We…the Representatives of the united States of America…” He was referring to himself and everyone who signed The Declaration of Independence, none of whom were women or black. Jefferson also wrote “…that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men…” He specifically used the word “men,” when he could have said “all people” instead. This also shows how his dream was for all men to be treated equally. Jefferson’s dream is different from Martin Luther King’s dream in the specifics, but in the whole they are the same dream. Both want equality for their people, the people that are in the same class and race they are in. Jefferson’s dream is fairly different than F. Scott Fitzgerald’s dream in principal, but the dreams are similar in that they both want change for the better. Their dreams also focused on the social class they belonged to.
Martin Luther King’s American dream is to have equality for everyone, but namely African Americans. In his I Have a Dream speech, he said, “…we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still not free.” He was saying that even though America is supposed to be a free country, African Americans were really not free and treated equally. King said, “…the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity.” African Americans were not given good job opportunities. They were isolated and it was hard for them to live comfortably when all the families with white males could have high paying jobs and affords the comforts of life. He also said, “This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned.” King was referring to The Declaration of Independence, which had been aimed to gain equality for white males. Colored citizens were not included in it, and this was wrong. King was saying how the document was supposed to promise freedom for all people, but that this was not true at all. African Americans were not free, and they had to live a hard life full of segregation and discrimination. He did not really ask for equality of all people though, like Asian or Hispanic people, but mainly black people like himself. This makes King’s American dream very similar to Jefferson’s American dream because they both wanted equality for their people. The dream is different from Fitzgerald’s dream, but they are similar because they both demanded positive change and they focused on their specific social classes.
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s American dream was to eliminate the idle rich. In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald showed his distaste for them. One character, Tom, had an affair with another women. Tom brushed it off as nothing when talking about it. He lied to his wife Daisy quite often, so he could get away from her for a weekend. Fitzgerald showed how this was wrong, and that it should be stopped. Gatsby, another character, would throw parties all of the time. Anyone would come, even if they didn’t know Gatsby. The partiers made a lot of noise at late hours of the night and left big messes for the maids to clean up in the morning. Fitzgerald was showing how the rich are careless. They have no respect for anyone and only think of themselves. Also, when Gatsby died, no one attended his funeral. This showed how all his rich “friends” didn’t even care enough to come to his funeral. Fitzgerald was a part of the idle rich. He had a good amount of money, drank a lot, partied often, and had affairs. His American dream related to the class that he was a part of, just like Jefferson and King. All of their dreams dealt with the part of society they belonged to. Fitzgerald wanted change like the others too, but he wanted to change who he was. Jefferson and King wanted to change other people’s perspective of them.
Jefferson, King, and Fitzgerald’s American dreams shared similarities. All of their dreams had to deal with the social class they belonged to. Jefferson’s dream dealt with white landowning males, King’s dream dealt with African Americans, and Fitzgerald’s dream dealt with the idle rich. All of their dreams also dealt with change for the better. My American dream is to go to college, have an enjoyable job, get married, have kids, and have a nice house. My dream is probably what most upper-middle class people aspire for. This makes my dream similar in that it deals with my social class. It is also a change for the better. I don’t want to live in my parents’ house all my life. The American dream is universal in that everyone hopes for positive change and that the change deals with their place in society. The American dream something that everyone aspires for, even if it is hard to accomplish. It is the thing that keeps people going.
This academia was first published 28 Mar 2005 and last revised 15 Feb 2016.Adam Cap is a sometimes raconteur, rare dingus collector, and webmaster probably best known for SixPrizes (serving as “El Capitan”) and PkmnCards (read: fine art purveyor). He scrapbooks yonder every minute or three.