I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that most students dread writing their college essays.
I fear that the task will become harder for many students beginning in the next admission season. As I mentioned in a previous post, the nonprofit that overseas the Common Application has announced plans to eliminate what many consider to be the best college essay prompt, which allows teenagers to inject creativity into the college application process.
I think nixing Option No. 6 – Topic of Your Choice – is a terrible idea. I’d urge you to read my previous blog post and the many comments that followed to learn more about this blow to creativity:
I promised in my previous post that I would share the college essay written by my nephew Matt McCormick, a freshman at Westminster College. By picking the topic of his choice, Matt was free to write a lovely story that illustrates his love of animals without worrying about providing a canned response.
Can you imagine how Matt’s essay would have been wrecked, if he was forced to answer any of the other options including No. 5:
A range of academic interests, personal perspectives, and life experiences adds much to the educational mix. Given your personal background, describe an experience that illustrates what you would bring to the diversity in a college community, or an encounter that demonstrated the importance of diversity to you.
Okay. I’ve complained enough about the Common Application’s unfortunate decision. Without further ado, here is my nephew’s essay:
By Matthew McCormick
Over the past 1 1/2 years, I have shoveled thousands of pounds of horse manure. A typical day at a rescue farm in Catawissa, MO, starts when I open the first stall door and push the wheelbarrow and scooper inside. The smell of dung and urine stings my nostrils. Before I know it, a half hour has passed, and I’m still cleaning the same stall.
When I’m finished with a stall, I must haul the smelly load out back. I have to step into a colossal pile of horse waste to empty my wheelbarrow, which always gives me the chills. After dumping the wheelbarrow, it’s off to muck out more horse stalls.
“I’ll bring you water in a couple minutes,” I’ll promise a horse as I’m cleaning its stall. The horse does not really say or do anything in reply, but hey, who cares. After giving the horse water and dumping more manure, I grab a curry comb and dandy brush. I start massaging and brushing the thousand pound animal. I grab a hoof pick and scrape out the dirt and debris from its hooves. Now the horse can think, “Aaah, I feel so much better.”
Cleaning out stalls and tending to horses’ needs is not all that I do at Meadowcrest Farm, a large animal rescue facility. I also tend to the needs of rabbits, chickens, goats, and sheep. These animals have been to hell and back with severe abuse and neglect. I am overjoyed supplying chickens with chilled, plain (chicken’s favorite flavor) yogurt, juicy watermelon, sunflower seeds, and toasted oats.
It’s entertaining to see the chickens look inquisitively at the treats that I give them. I toss a shower of toasted oats over the gate and the goats and sheep scramble to find the tasty morsels. I love when the pink noses of the fluffy rabbits twitch as I give them carrots. When the massive, but sweet horses see me putting carrots in their food bin, they go crazy. I am overpowered by the neighs and whinnies that the sixty plus horses produce.
Why do I take almost a whole day out of my week, including a two-hour round trip drive, to help these farm animals? I do this because I love them. Animals and I simply “get each other.” I want to be present for animals, especially ones that have endured a barbaric life. I can make a difference for countless creatures, great and small. These animals need to realize that only a few people are monstrous. In my presence, these underweight, weak, and frail animals are at ease. I am the calm, soothing voice whispering in their ear that they are loved.
Before leaving the farm, I say good-bye to the animals. It’s a good-bye that comes with much satisfaction. You know how they say a picture is worth a thousand words? Well, my smile at the end of the day is worth a thousand neighs, bawks, and baahs.