College Sample Essay
Yale University: Accepted
My friends dream about playing in the National Football League. It is a dream my more down-to-earth parents choose to eschew and I prefer to embrace. For it is my dream as well. My parents and the other doubting Thomases may be correct, but I refuse to listen lest I break down and cry. Hence, my friends and I retreat into our own world of street football where, with a little creativity, our most chimerical dreams come true.
Street football will probably not end poverty, restore the ozone layer, or cure cancer, but for me and about nine others, it does much for the spirit. It is full of zeal, pride, and camaraderie. Nowhere else can a person run around a mailbox three times, dash to a garbage can, catch a ball, and be heralded a hero for it. It is far more than a simple game. When that street turns into a stadium, those houses become eighty thousand screaming fans, the kid in the torn sweats changes to Jerry Rice and I into future Hall of Famer Jason "The Missile" Myers; dreams come true. It is undoubtedly the closest I have ever come to greatness. All it takes is a Nerf football and an imagination.
I think I love street football because I love to dream. It is imagination that brings street football to a new and higher level. For imagination keeps the soul alive and the heart beating. And so it is street football that teaches me to think, to wonder, to imagine. That is probably why all my ideas come to me when I have a football in hand. Even for this essay, I stepped out to play a quick game for inspiration.
Sometimes I wonder about a football being the "Linus's blanket" of my creativity. Will I be incapable without it? But deep down I know it is imagination that is my security blanket, and there is no way I can lose it. Imagination is pretty powerful stuff. It is the source of all innovation and progress. It is what motivates people to see and discover. It is what frees us from limitations and boundaries. It is what causes change. It is what enabled Galileo and Copernicus to start an intellectual revolution and change reality forever. It is what sent the man to the moon.
So although street football may not save the world, it teaches me something that can. And it is this: Imagination will end poverty, restore the ozone layer, and cure cancer. Each is an achievable goal, though it may be tougher than throwing a spiral.
In the beginning, this essay does not seem to be heading anywhere worthwhile. By the end, however, the reader probably has a smile on his face and is genuinely drawn to the writer's personality. This essay humanizes the writer by using humor, a useful technique that, if not overdone or used flippantly, can make a student's essay charming and memorable. Midway through, the essay makes a nice turn-it shifts from a seemingly inconsequential discussion of street football and delusions of grandeur, to a reflection on the personal importance and global power of imagination.
The essay is not beautifully written, but it is solid, and the writer firmly establishes a distinct, consistent narrative voice. Though he tends to tell more than he shows-informing the reader outright, for example, that "it is street football that teaches [him] to think, to wonder, to imagine"-in the end, his whimsy is engaging and his idealism inspiring.