Hello everyone! I just finished writing my Common App essay and would love some suggestions, edits, critiques, and minor errors I might have missed. I'm answering the first prompt (background/story central to your identity). Thanks in advance!
I'm not really sure why I did it. I always liked colors, despite my admittedly monochromatic wardrobe. I guess this was my way of compensating. "It's only hair," I told myself. If things went terribly wrong, I could dye it black again, or even shave it all off. No big deal. Surely there is no better time to make a fool of oneself than during high school, and I had wanted some change for a while, anyway. So, struck by a particularly strong summertime surge of boredom and boldness, I finally decided would dye my long locks neon pink.
At first I questioned my sanity, but this didn't last long; I was in love. My friends loved my hair. My siblings loved my hair. Even my grandmother loved my hair. Sure, maybe it was a little impulsive, but I felt like it was the best rash decision of my life. Or maybe the peroxide fumes were getting to my head. Too satisfied to care and ready to face the world with my rosy mane, I stepped outside, and reality rather unceremoniously slapped me in the face. Nothing could have prepared me for the entirely different life I had brought upon myself. For someone who previously reveled in the pleasant privacy granted by looking perfectly ordinary, I was a little startled. I knew I would get some looks, but I was certainly not prepared to deal with some of the direct responses I experienced.
Walking through town garnered plenty of inquisitive glances. Some whispers were so loud I wondered if they were even trying. Mall employees endlessly rambled about how much they loved my hair. Please just ring up my purchase so I can go home. Children of all ages grabbed their mothers and pointed at "the girl with the princess hair." Cute, I'll admit; their dagger-eyed mothers judging me, a little less so. I suppose I should appreciate the numerous positive reactions as well, but it's difficult to be thankful after all the less-than-favorable treatment I received. Complete strangers often touched my hair with no permission of any kind; and whether I wanted to hear them or not, I was given uncalled-for criticisms from adults and children alike. Being told I was a "crazy kid" or that my hair "looked terrible" was a little jarring, to say the least. What was it about my hair that gave people the right to so blatantly offer their opinions on my appearance? And why did my natural hair color never earn any such comments? I certainly never asked for this advice on how to "fix my life."
I was indignant. How dare these perfect strangers treat me like some delinquent for my pleasure in superficial cosmetic indulgences! And yet through my irritation I grew pensive. What does it all say about a society that encourages their youth to be unique while ridiculing those who dared to be different? How can we strive for something as large as racial or gender equality when we cannot even accept a change of hair color? For once I felt inclined to stand up against ignorance, and it took my adventure from black to magenta to make it happen.
Fast forward two years, and my hair is a dark blonde. Blonde hair undoubtedly turns less heads, and leaves far fewer white shirts stained cerise. But tomorrow I may feel turquoise suits me better. Perhaps in a month I'll go back to my favorite pink. Whatever shade my hair adopts, for now I patiently accept any comments I receive, of my hair or otherwise, correcting the more vulgar when necessary. Yes, I could always go back to my natural hair color and spare myself the trouble, but inspiring people to be more tolerant is but a small price I pay for what I feel is creating a more accepting and colorful world. Having awesome hair is just a bonus.
I think this is a very well done essay, however, make sure you are really answering the prompt as to how it is so central to your identity. Make sure you include how having pink hair for two years really changed your life, not just how other people viewed you. Also, elaborate on how it makes you a better person since this is what colleges are really looking for. At the end of the second to last paragraph where you claim, "i felt inclined to stand up against ignorance," elaborate more on this. As my English teacher always says, "don't just tell the reader, show the reader." Provide an example as to how you took up a stand, this will really make for a better essay and you can qualify how it is so central to your identity. Spend more of the 650 words discussing how it makes you a better person, less about how people responded to your pink hair or the descriptiveness about your hair.
Other than that, you have great potential at writing essays. your vocabulary and word choice is quite profound. But maybe take out repetitive and wordy diction.
"My friends loved my hair. My siblings loved my hair. Even my grandmother loved my hair." use commas here.
I really like the idea of this essay, it's definitely different and describes a time of your life that you saw first hand just how judgmental people can be. Besides a few grammar issues, I definitely agree with the poster above me. You gotta answer the prompt! I didn't think you addressed the prompt really at all, this essay is supposed to be about something that is central to YOU and your IDENTITY. How is that experience connected to the person you are now, how did it change you, what did you gain from it, lose? etc. You've got 650 words to write, if you can use em' all, USE EM'. Write what you want to right about and what feels right at the end of the day, just make sure it addresses who you are as a person now.