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Growing Up Organic. Columbia Essay & Short Answers.

peacelovesarah 5 / 11  
Mar 14, 2010   #1
Hi everyone...

Write an essay that conveys to the reader a sense of who you are. Possible topics may include, but are not limited to, experiences that have shaped your life, the circumstances of your upbringing, your most meaningful intellectual achievement, the way you see the world-the people in it, events great and small, everyday life-or any personal theme that appeals to your imagination. Please remember that we are concerned not only with the substance of your prose but with your writing style as well. We prefer that you limit yourself to 250-500 words.

I grew up organic. It may sound strange, but there is no other way to summarize in one statement the circumstances of my upbringing. Every so often, I am reminded of the day in nursery school when everyone was indulging in cupcakes for someone's birthday. Of course to any four year old, a cupcake with pink frosting and colorful sprinkles in a silver lining is captivating. My first instinct: I have to have it! But I was reminded by a teacher that I was not allowed to have cupcakes and that my mom packed me a banana for snack. As I sat around the circular table, envious of my friends enjoying their cupcakes, I was furious that my mom would make me miss out on the treat. I am not sure why I have such a vivid memory of that day from so long ago, but I still use it against my mom.

I resented the fact that my parents forced me to always eat healthy and whenever I got the chance, I would snag a glass of Coca-Cola or a Twinkie; whatever I could get my hands on, really, I was not picky. And once I was out of my parent's control, I went into my own unhealthy food utopia! My parents would remind me that I should be making healthy choices, but I was too happy eating snacks all the time. But by the time I got to high school, I started to become more realistic and more accepting of the food values my parents tried to instill in me. And perhaps having a nutritionist at home was something I could use to my advantage. When there are snacks as delicious as Oreos and Friendly's ice cream sundaes, it is challenging to fight the temptation.

As an 18-year-old now, growing up organic has taught me a lot more than making healthy food choices. Perhaps that day in nursery school would be a segue to the day in high school when I watched as my friends engaged in drinking alcohol but I decided not to engage myself. I grew up differently than many other people, if only in such a minor way, but being different is not a bad thing. In fact, eating consciously has to be one of the greatest differences to have. Fighting temptation pays off, as does being the odd one out sometimes. Okay, so maybe it is still hard to choose a banana over a cupcake, but at least I try to make the healthy choice most of the time. Now, I head full force into college life not only with a healthy lifestyle and clean diet, but with the recognition that differences are not always bad, and sometimes it is a good thing to sit on the sidelines, as challenging as it may be.

While I think the essay above is most important, here are my short answers if you can look them over :-) Didn't really know what they were looking for with the books & performances, but tried to put forward the best...

Limiting yourself to the space provided, briefly describe which single activity/interest listed represents your most meaningful commitment and why. (600 characters)

My most meaningful commitment is my role as President of my current college's Psychology Club. My fascination of psychology united with my hope to form a small community amongst a disconnected commuter campus has developed my commitment to the Psychology Club. It seems that all of the students who are part of the club came together for the same reasons as I, and we have formed lifelong friendships and learned more about psychology than we could have in any classroom. Not only have we met professionals in the field of psychology, but we have volunteered and fundraised for local organizations. Through my role in the Psychology Club, I have become a successful leader and have accomplished more than I had ever dreamt of.

How and why is your present school not meeting your needs? Please limit yourself to 250 words (1 page).

The current school I attend gives me bittersweet feelings; in some ways, I am extremely satisfied, yet in other ways, I feel myself hoping and reaching for more than it can provide. I hope to transfer to Columbia to attain all that I have at my current school, but with the additional aspects that I feel are critical to reach my potential as a student and an individual. I am grateful for some of the wonderful professors that I have had; without them, I would have never had the confidence and will to apply to a school of such high caliber as Columbia and I would have never uncovered some of my interests such as William Blake's artwork and poetry. The clearest indicator that I need to transfer is that my school does not have a Political Science Department or offer a degree in anything nearly similar. I know that by transferring, I will not only be able to study my passion, but also meet others who share that same passion. Beyond my area of study, my school is completely disconnected and lacks the feel of a community because it is made up of mainly commuters. Although New York City is one of the largest in the country, Columbia College is a relatively small, close-knit community that I yearn to be a part of. Living away from home will allow me to grow as an individual, more independent than the person I am now. A political science department, a close-knit community, and on-campus housing are only three of the many reasons transferring is the best way for me to develop as a scholar. I expect to come out of Columbia as a well-rounded student who has been involved in many groups and activities, participated in research, and became an intern in the wonderful city of New York.

Please tell us what you find most appealing about Columbia and why. (600 characters)

Columbia, right in the heart of New York City, has so much to offer me as both a student and an individual. The simple fact that Columbia has been affiliated with more Nobel Prize winners than any other institution illustrates that I will be intellectually challenged by both my professors and fellow classmates. At Columbia, I can study my passion of Political Science by taking fascinating course such as "Weapons, Strategy, and War" and "Logic of Collective Choice." I am intrigued by the diversity at Columbia-the diversity of race, religion, ethnicity, passion, and ideas. At Columbia, no academic or career dream is too big-after two years, I will have the confidence and means to go after all that I want to achieve.

List the books you read for pleasure in the past year:

Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Half the Sky by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, and Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.

List the required readings you enjoyed most in the past year:

Pocho by Jose Antonio Villarreal, A Midsummer Night's Dream by Shakespeare, The Taming of the Shrew by Shakespeare, Dreaming in Cuban by Cristina Garcia, and poetry by Lord Byron and William Blake.

List the print and/or electronic publications you read regularly:

The New York Times, TIME Magazine, The Wall Street Journal.

List the films, performances, exhibits, concerts, shows, etc. you enjoyed most in the past year:

William Blake exhibit at the Morgan Library and Museum, Lady Gaga concert, "Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire," La Bohème at the Metropolitan Opera, President Obama's speech on health care in NYC in October of 2009, and "Food, Inc."

I know there's a lot here, but any suggestions or insight you may have would be SO helpful!!!!
ivyeyesediting - / 85  
Mar 14, 2010   #2
Hi Sarah!

I so enjoyed reading your essays for Columbia. Regarding the 'organic' essay, I wonder if you could push your analysis further. You paint a wonderful picture, but as a reader I found myself seeking even more depth than you have achieved in this draft.

-Did you express to your mom that you were furious with her? What was the reasoning behind your parents' choice?
-If you are not sure why you have a vivid memory of that particular day, why are you mentioning it? Ask yourself why that memory is so vivid for you? What feelings, concepts and values does it involve? How is this integral to who you are and how you exist in the world? There should be a clear-cut reason why the memory is vivid.

-How did your food utopia work out? Did you enjoy the freedom? Did you abuse it and feel sick? What did you learn from exploring the boundaries of freedom? What do you think of structure versus choice?

-Is eating consciously only about avoiding temptation? What are the other components of this practice that have informed your life and worldview?

As for your short answers, my thoughts are as follows. Why are you fascinated by psychology? Where is the root of this interest? How have you learned more about psychology than you could have in any classroom? What do you do as president? Are there meetings? What types of organizations have you worked with? I understand that you are limited to 600 characters here, but I would urge you to push your analysis. Rather than just capturing the factual data and writing in broad strokes, bring your answer into sharper focus. Specificity will set your answer apart from the rest.

What school are you currently attending? What is bitter? What is sweet? What additional aspects do you seek at Columbia? The first few sentences of this answer are very vague. I might start with a mention of the Political Science department, if that is indeed your primary reason for wanting to transfer. Why is that your passion? What attracts you to this field of study? Living away from home and in a close-knit community of non-commuters is a good reason to include here -- but keep in mind: this could be true of ANY university that would require you to live away from home. Why Columbia in particular? What kind of Columbia student would you be? How would you fit into the social fabric, undergraduate community, political science department, etc? Illustrate how and why you should be part of this academic environment.

Keep up the good work. Best of luck!

Ivy Eyes Editor
OP peacelovesarah 5 / 11  
Mar 26, 2010   #3
I know this is late, but thanks so much Brooke for all of your help. I changed all of my essays based on your suggestions, and I was truly confident in submitting my application after that. I wish I had known about IveEyes before submitting my Brown application (Brown's my dream school!) but I will definitely suggest IvyEyes to friends.

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