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College Essay系列(四十):2023 哈佛成功文书(5-7)

(2024-05-23 11:54:33) 下一个


College Essay系列(三十八):2023 哈佛成功文书(1-2)

College Essay系列(三十九):2023 哈佛成功文书(3-4)

今天接着讲第五、六、七篇Successful Harvard Essays 2023

第五篇,Simar 的《First Haircut at Age 17》

June 2nd, 2019. The birth of the new me, or "Simar 2.0" as mom called me. However, I still felt like "Simar 1.0," perceiving nothing more than the odd new sensation of a liberating breeze fluttering through my hair.

At age seventeen, I got a haircut for the first time in my life.

As a Sikh, I inherited a tradition of unshorn, cloth-bound hair, and, for most of my life, I followed my community in wholeheartedly embracing our religion. Over time, however, I felt my hair weighing me down, both materially and metaphorically.

Sikhism teaches that God is one. I asked mom why then was God cleaved into different religions? If all paths were equal, I asked dad, then why not follow some other religion instead? My unease consistently dismissed by our Sikh community, I decided to follow the religion of God: no religion. My hair, though, remained; if I knew my heart, then cutting my hair served no purpose.

Nevertheless, that unshorn hair represented an unequivocal beacon for a now defunct identity. I visited my calculus teacher's office hours, only to be peppered by incessant questions about Sikhism. He pigeonholed me into being a spokesperson for something I no longer associated with. Flustered, I excused myself to the bathroom, examining this other me in the mirror.

I ransacked my conscience, and it became painfully obvious. Fear. Fear of what my conservative grandparents might think. Fear of what my Sikh family friends might say. Fear of what my peers might ask. This hair had usurped my sense of self.

So off it came.

A few days after crossing my personal Rubicon, I flew to India to meet my grandparents.

Breezing through the airport, I perceived something remarkably different about my experience: the absence of the penetrating surveillance that had consistently accompanied me for seventeen years. It was uncanny; I felt as an anodyne presence.

Apprehensively entering my grandparents' New Delhi home some eighteen hours later, I found myself enveloped in hugs. Savoring the moment, I failed to probe why. I recognize now that, in spite of their intransigent religious views, they appreciated that I had made a decision about my identity based on belief, based on being true to my evolving sense of self. I think my grandparents found that admirable.

A few weeks later, dad confessed, "I regret that you did not cut your hair earlier."

I have no regrets.

My hair made me work harder than everyone else simply because I looked different. Sanctimonious people lecture us on having pride in our differences, rarely considering the difficulties which being different entails. For example, a fake Facebook page created by an unknown schoolmate with my birthday listed as September 11th, 2001. Dealing with attacks fueled by ignorance never becomes easier, but such aggressions bolster my courage to face what other people think. In standing up for myself, I become myself.

On some level, I know appearances should not matter. Yet, in many uncomfortable ways, they still do, and they give birth to many disparities. Through the simple act of cutting my hair, I left the confines of intolerance, but my experience opened my eyes to those whose struggles cannot be resolved so easily. This motivates me to never be a bystander, to always energetically take the side of the persecuted in the fight against the powerful.

Over my years of shadowing, I have seen a healthcare system where patients receive inferior care solely on the basis of perceived race. Exposure to this institutionalized injustice motivates me to volunteer with a free health clinic to provide glucose screenings to the underprivileged. We must lead with personal initiative first, starting on the individual level and building from there. Only then can we bring about systemic change to reform the institutions and practices that perpetuate prejudice within medicine and without.


对于这篇文书,Crimson以“coming of age” narrative,“ideal and enlightening topic”,“intense and moving” clarity的故事发展,展示出aptitude of growth。涉及出生的宗教文化源头的主题往往是沉重的,即使没有一个lighthearted ending,也给作者的Aspiration以最能获得读者同感的方式表现出来。这么好的评语,是以上五篇里最佳的。


凸某的给分,是A。读这篇的时候,我心里想到的benchmark还是Cassandra的《English in our house》。如果能在结尾上稍加修改,也许接都上会更好。比如,头发这个概念,可以在结尾处巧妙安排出场,呼应文首。这需要作者从真实生活经历中提炼,不能画蛇添足。


第六、七篇,Samantha的《Story Telling》和Amy的《The Color of Everything》


Samantha的《Story Telling》

I’ve always been a storyteller, but I’ve only been an alleged fish killer since age five. As a child, my head was so filled up with stories that I might have forgotten to feed Bubbles the class pet just one time too often. Once I pulverized an entire pencil, because I was daydreaming instead of taking it out of the sharpener.

More than anything else, I became an obsessive list-maker. I memorized and wrote down long lists of my stuffed animals, cities around the world, and my favorite historical time periods. I created itineraries and packing lists for my Build-A-Bears, then arranged them in rows on a pretend airplane. I drew family trees for a made-up family during the Industrial Revolution. I wrote lists until the spine of my notebook cracked under the weight of graphite.

For a long time, I thought this was something that I alone did, and that I did alone. Lying on the floor of my bedroom, I spun fantastical stories of mundane events. Each story opened and closed in my head, untold and unsung.

Years later, though—to my amazement—I discovered other people who were interested in the same things I was. Wandering into fanfiction websites and online forums, I was welcomed into a vibrant community of writers—serious, silly, passionate people who wrote hundreds of thousands of words analyzing character dynamics and exploring endless plot threads. When I finally started posting my own thoughts, I didn’t feel like I was taking a risk or venturing into new territory. I had been speaking these words to myself since I was five, preparing myself to finally shout them into the real world. And people responded.

Spurred on by this excitement, I started writing stories for other people to read. I had fallen in love with the community writing had given me, and with writing itself. I wanted to contribute my own small piece to a world much bigger than me. I shouted my stories up to the WiFi signals that caught and carried them, waiting to be found by someone else writing lists in her bedroom alone.

In high school, I also found joy in editing. I loved analyzing, polishing, and curating my classmates’ short stories, poems, and artwork to make them shine for my school’s literary magazine. I spent hours with other editors, passionately arguing the merits and weaknesses of dozens of writing pieces. Editing the school newspaper, meanwhile, became a way to spotlight members of the school community, from profiling new staff and faculty to polling the student body about the stigma surrounding menstruation.

I’ve now had my poems published in a national literary journal and have joined the editorial staff of an international literary magazine for teens. I feel like I’m discovering my power, and with it my ability to create change. Last year, I founded SPEAK, a creative writing program for elementary school students. I wanted to assist younger writers so they could create their own communities. During SPEAK sessions, I taught a group of students how to draw a map of a fantasy wolf kingdom they had designed, helped a girl edit her classmate’s poem about hula hoops, and listened to a third-grader talk faster and faster as we discussed the meaning of soup in The Tale of Despereaux.

I’ve now turned SPEAK into a self-sustaining club at my school, and I’m expanding the program onto an online platform. Writing changed my life, but it only happened when I started sharing my work, putting it out there, and starting conversations—not just responding. Alone, stories used to abstract me from the outside world. Now, stories connect me to the world, creating communities instead of pulling me away from them. For too many of us, our stories are born in our heads, and they die there. I’m going to change that, for myself and for as many people as I can bring with me.

Amy的《The Color of Everything》

There’s a theory that even though each color has a specific wavelength that never changes, how people perceive a specific color may have subtle differences based on small differences in photoreceptors, and the color that one person might consider red might still be red in another’s mind but could look different— a little duller, softer, cooler. Furthermore, how a person’s brain processes the color may also be linked to that person’s environment. Some studies have suggested that color sensitivity could be linked to one’s native languages: for example, people who speak languages that have specific names for eleven colors are able to easily distinguish those eleven colors, but people who speak languages with fewer color specific words may have a harder time distinguishing them.

So it appears that even at the most elementary level of sight, the world is not an objective thing. Instead, what we know and what we remember can influence what and how we see. The color blue may just be the color blue to a three year old, perhaps her favorite color even, but an adult might connect it to so much more—the lake by his childhood home or the eye color of a loved one.

I first consciously became aware of the power that our experiences have to change perception when I went to turn on a light in my house after learning about photons in class. What had previously been a mundane light suddenly became a fascinating application of atomic structure, and I thought that I could almost perceive the electrons jumping up and down from energy level to energy level to produce the photons that I saw. I then realized that my world had steadily been changing throughout my years in school as I learned more and more. I now see oligopolies in the soda aisles of the supermarkets. I see the charges warring with each other in every strike of lightning, and the patterns of old American politics still swaying things today. Knowledge and making connections with that knowledge is the difference between seeing the seven oceans glittering in the sun and merely seeing the color blue. It’s the difference between just seeing red and seeing the scarlet of roses blooming, the burgundy of blood pumping through veins, and crimson of anger so fierce that you could burst. Knowledge is color; it is depth, and it is seeing a whole new world without having to move an inch.

It is knowledge, too, that can bring people together. I love listening to people’s stories and hearing about what they know and love, because if I learn about what they know, I can learn how they see the world; consequently, since behavior is often based upon perception, I can understand why a person behaves the way they do. On a road trip during the summer, my mom kept looking up at the streetlights lining the highways. When I asked why, she told me that whenever she saw lights by a highway she would wonder if her company had made them. She would guess how tall they were, how wide, and what style they were. She told me that ever since she started working for her company, lights no longer were just lights to her. They were a story of people who first had to measure the wind speed to figure out what dimension the lights had to be, and then of engineers, of money passing hands—possibly even under her own supervision as an accountant—and then of transportation, and of the people who had to install them. I might never perceive lights the exact way my mother does or see her “red” but by hearing her describe what she knows, I can understand her world and realize her role in ours.

Beauty and color are in the world, but it is seeking the unknown and making new connections that unlocks them from their greyscale cage.


以AO多是文科生的考虑,《story-telling》无疑会引起更多的读者共鸣,而《color of everything》把中学Science 课的知识,融进日常景物的表达自然会感觉新鲜有趣的。

凸某看这两篇,一个选材较为笼统,另一篇则讲述有些生硬。《Story-telling》的选材是自己的story-telling爱好,尽管文字上看得出作者的功底,但题材仍显得的不够具体。需要读者也有同样的兴趣爱好,这篇才会显出效果来。《Color of everything》,在讲故事上不够生动,仿佛堆砌了很多概念,最后落在妈妈的职业视角上,是个surprise。凸某给这两篇的评分都是B。


= = = 后 续 内 容 提 纲= = = 


*Connor的《Waking Up Early》

*Tony的《Beauty in Complexity》

*Sean的《Butterfly Identity》


Harvard Essays 2023 on Crimson

Georgina| Lemonade with no Lemon (Lebanese 1G Girl)

Abby    | Family at Barnes & Noble (Ethiopian 1G Girl)

Marina  | Backyard Four Corners (Cuban 1G Girl)    

Una     | Seeing Without Looking (Latino 1G Girl)   

Simar   | First Haircut At Age 17 (Sikh 1G Boy)

Samantha| I Am A Storyteller (Poem ECs non-ethnic)

Amy     | The Color of Everything (diversity non-ethnic)

Tony    | Study Wilderness Art (CA URM Boy)

Sean    | Butterfly Identity (MA Queerness Boy)

Connor  | Working Dad & Me (NH 1G Boy)

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