Successful Admission Essays
When you first learned to drive, it was one thing to sit in driver’s education class to learn the theory of driving, but it was another thing entirely to sit behind the wheel and actually drive. Like learning to drive, essay writing is best learned by experience. From reading these essays, you’ll see that there is no absolute “right” or “wrong” way to write an essay. In fact, there are an unlimited number of topics to write about and ways to approach the essay. And contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be a professional writer to write a great essay.
What we hope you’ll learn from these essays is that to write the strongest essay possible, you just need to be you. Present where you are and what you’d like to achieve by furthering your education. This is what these students did, and they are all well on their way to their goals. Important note: Please remember that these essays are only examples of ways that some students have successfully written their admission essays. Your essays will naturally be your own.
Dominican Republic native and former stay-at-home mom, Ana left high school early and earned her GED. Shortly afterward, she enrolled in college courses but became discouraged because English was her second language, and she was taking a lot of remedial English courses. “I did not accomplish my goals,” she says. “My high school and the college counselors utterly failed me even though I had the burning desire to make it.”
Ana enrolled in a non-accredited, three-year theology program and later raised her children at home for 10 years but still had a desire to go back to school to earn her bachelor’s degree. She says that there was a difference between applying to college as a young adult and applying as an adult student later in life. “I did not possess the necessary support that a 16-year-old girl needs. I did not have any kind of orientation or a sense of direction. I just knew that I wanted a college education. As the years went by, the more evident it became as to what to pursue in school.”
Being a single parent, Ana admits that balancing school and family can be challenging. “I had to accept that I could not do it all,” she says. To help make sure her children get additional individual attention, she got involved with the Big Brother and Big Sister Association. Her son has a “big brother” and her daughter has a “big sister” who give them individual attention and get them involved in fun activities. Of course, as a good parent, Ana also makes what she calls “Mama time” to ensure her children spend time with her even with a demanding school and work schedule.
Currently, Ana works as a program director at Citizens for Adequate Housing, a homeless shelter in Peabody, Massachusetts. She eventually wants to earn a master’s degree in social work to continue helping others.
Since an early age I have dreamed of getting a college education though no one in my family or extended family had done so. The part that was not clear was when, how, where, as well as what course of study to pursue, but time and life experience have shed some light on that matter.
I was born to a family that was very giving and community oriented. My grandparents raised 12 children, eight grandchildren and other children from the community whose parents could not afford to provide for them. I was among the eight grandchildren. Our home, which sat in a small valley surrounded by hills in the Dominican Republic, was the center of the community. Don Coro y Dona Casilda, as everyone addressed my grandparents, donated the land where the chapel was built. The one-room school which provided education up to third grade, the highest grade most of the people in the community acquired, if that, sat on our yard.
Besides raising a big family, my grandparents also provided medical attention to many. No, they had no medical training, but they had learned to survive in that semi-remote part of the country. I remember several elderly people who were regulars. When they were feeling poorly, they would come to be nursed back to health. When someone had no food, Mama and Papa would somehow come up with something to help out.
Hard times came to the family, and a window of opportunity opened for my oldest uncle to come to the United States. By the early eighties the whole family had migrated, but through the years Mama and Papa’s legacy continued. Whenever a member of the family returned for a visit to the farm, he or she would go through a lot of trouble to bring goods to the community.
Migrating into this new industrial and prosperous land brought many blessings but also much pain and many hardships. The family structure that once brought comfort and security was suddenly gone, and nobody was really in charge. The younger ones who still needed parenting and much attention were forced to fend for themselves and learn to survive on their own, as the adults worked long hours in hard labor. I was one of those younger ones, lost in a turbulent sea and with no one to point the way. Life was very difficult and painful; it still hurts to think back.
My schooling, which was so important to me, was disrupted over and over again. I went from school to school and in the process missed out on a good and solid education. I fell through the cracks. How I wished for a good student counselor or a teacher who would take interest in me, but they failed me. I was just one more in the middle of a decaying school of an impoverished and needy Hispanic community. At age 16, out of profound frustration and panic, I left school, took the GED and ventured into college that same year. Due to poor and uninformed choices as well as to uninvited cards that life played me, I did not accomplish my career goals and shame set in. Since then I have accomplished many things of which I am proud. I completed a three-year diploma program at a theology school, I took random courses here and there, I hiked the Appalachian Trail and I produced two wonderful children, but I never got the education I so much longed for.
Through the years I contacted many colleges and universities and cried in many school offices, but no school would accept the credits from an unaccredited school except those that my school had made a prior agreement with and which were no longer options for me.
In 1998, during the second most turbulent time of my life, the end of my marriage, I did another round of meetings with schools in New England, and after many tears, I came to terms with the fact that there was no way around it. I needed to start almost from square one.
After being a stay-at-home mom, which was an enjoyable and valued experience, I was forced to enter the job market to support my family. For a couple of years I worked at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary as a research assistant and registrar assistant. At the seminary I worked among scholars who were concerned about issues regarding life and community. Here my mind was greatly stimulated, and the desire to pursue higher education burned within my heart. My second job was working for the Association for Retarded Citizens as a family resources coordinator. This was my first official job working with families in need. Here I got my feet wet. It was a very rewarding job. I learned to love and respect my families, and they were very affirming. By now I had a clearer picture of the route I wanted to take.
Presently I am the program director for a homeless shelter. It is a very good fit for me. I have the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives in a way that is most rewarding. I am able to work on empowering families and individuals to rebuild their lives and move forward. I have found that the hardships that I have been exposed to or that I have personally endured have prepared me to relate to a lot of the issues and struggles that many of the families that come to us have.
It did not take me long, however, to realize that I needed further training in many key areas to be successful at what I do, but what about the barriers that so firmly stood in the way?
I am a survivor of a 12-year, emotionally abusive marriage. It has been a very long and painful journey. I have emerged but not alone. It took a lot of support, encouragement and confrontations from an army of family, friends and professionals that rallied around me. It took their objective words and their genuine care to give me the strength and the courage to take some very hard steps. Though the road was hard and most undesirable, I would not trade all that I have learned and how I was enriched. I have felt the despair, the feeling of being trapped with no way out or no easy way out. It is my desire to continue to be part of that army who rallies around people in need. I am bilingual as well as bi-cultural, attributes that have greatly helped me in working with my clients. These skills will also be a great asset for my future goals as I carry on the legacy of my grandparents.
The turbulence died and the sea leveled: it was time to pursue my dream. This is where Lesley came in. The program in human services with specialization in management combines my life passion with the necessary skills needed to put it into practice.
So far the “Lesley Experience” has been a wonderful, enriching and hope-imparting one. The shame that had been so entrenched is slowly eroding away and pride is taking its place. I don’t think the school has or will ever have a more enthusiastic and grateful student than I am. With its adult program, Lesley has broken down the barriers that blocked me from moving forward. Being part of a cohort enhances the experience as it renders the opportunity to develop lifelong friendships with colleagues who have a heart for the same line of work I possess.
It is my goal to ultimately get a master’s in social work. I see myself speaking to groups of people, especially women, and offering training to help empower individuals and to inspire them not to give up but to move forward in life. It is my desire to instill hope in people by pointing them to resources and by sharing my story and the stories of those who have succeeded. There is also in me the remote dream of helping establish an orphanage and a library in my hometown in the Dominican Republic. The role I wish to play is in the area of public relations, public education and fund raising. Lesley offers in my program of choice the tools and skills I need to make my dreams and goals a reality by laying a good and solid foundation, preparing the way for the next steps in my professional and educational journey.