College Sample Essay

Essay 5

Harvard University: Denied

   My favorite academic subjects are ones to which I have had no exposure in high school. The passion I feel for both international politics and philosophy must be fulfilled extracurricularly, usually through personal reading. I have amassed a respectable library for both subjects and spend many hours studying them. I enjoy each for the same reason. Each discipline is based on conflict; international politics is a conflict of polities, economies, and societies, while philosophy is a conflict of ideas and systems of thought.

   In international politics I consider myself a globalist; that is, I believe that the nation-state should no longer be the central actor in the politics of this planet. I not only read about world politics, I write on the subject as well. I have written several poems with subjects ranging from the Yugoslavian debacle to world unity that have been published and won awards. I have also used the National Peace Essay Contest to expound my theories. I won first place for the state of New Jersey in last year's contest sponsored by the United States Institute for Peace. I continue to write on the subject for my own enjoyment.

   I was introduced to philosophy while reading a book about international politics. Francis Fukuyama's controversial tome, The End of History and the Last Man, interwove the two subjects brilliantly and by examining the philosophers mentioned in the book and others as well, I have grown to love many works by Plato, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Kant and others. My favorite philosophers are the often misunderstood modern German writers, Hegel and Nietzsche. The attempt by Hegel to personally comprehend the entire progress of History in his tripartite dialectic and Nietzsche's argumentative objectivism both intrigue me. Hegel's twentieth-century interpreter, Alexandre Kojeve, is incredibly brilliant. I also enjoy Eastern philosophy with equal vigor.

   My career plans are found somewhere in the broad field of international relations, but I currently have no choice of specialization whether it be government foreign service, private consultation, international law, non-governmental organizations, or intergovernmental organizations. I do know that I would eventually like to end up in academia after some personal experience. I dream of unifying several current theories in the philosophy of international relations, including the End of History and Clash of Civilizations, along with some of my own ideas in a true blend of international relations, comparative government, comparative religion, philosophy, ideological studies, and comparative civilizations. I find great pleasure in discovering cultural, political, and philosophical similarities in civilizations around the globe. In the end, even differences prove to be similarities in disguise. Small excavations that I have already done in this area have shown me many examples of a similarity in the basic precepts of different civilizations. The conclusions of Western philosophy echo the foundations of Chinese thought, for example. These archetypes of human civilization fascinate me. The unity of humanity can be found by simply progressing past current Cartesian-dualistic thinking and by utilizing dialectical analysis (a synthesis of Hegelian and Nietzschean logic). I do not seek a universal morality to enslave mankind in dogma; rather, I am trying to unearth the omnipresent common ground hidden under centuries of false dualism which I intend to use as the basis for a post-dualistic, even post-dialectic paradigm. This would in effect be the foundation of a global legal order which humanity in the twenty-first century so desperately needs to combat the planetary crises twentieth century humans have left it. It is my intention to focus on this goal in my studies ahead.


This writer is trying much too hard to sound intellectual. An applicant's intellect is exhibited in other areas of the application; the essay should be seen as an opportunity to reveal the real, flesh-and-blood person behind the brain. One should certainly strive to sound intelligent and articulate; and if a particular academic discipline is indeed your passion, by all means write about it. But it is more important to convey, in sincere terms, a sense of your passion for that subject rather than your knowledge of it. When this writer discusses Hegel, Nietzsche, and other schools of thought, the statements read like paraphrased passages from textbooks rather than real insights into their theories or reflections on what makes these theories so fascinating.

The writer also makes the mistake of providing a laundry list of accomplishments (in the second paragraph). One should not waste this space with information included in other parts of the application. And while it is fine to appear driven, at times the essay is quite overwhelmed by this writer's ambition; once we learn of the applicant's aspiration to initiate "the foundation of a global legal order," he or she barely seems like a real person.