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College Essay Sample - Intellectual Interests

Unauthorized copying or reuse of this essay is strictly prohibited. Plus, this essay has already been submitted, so using it in any form would only create problems for you down the road. Be smart.

Tip: (Intellectual Interests) This student wrote the essay below when colleges asked her to describe what she wants to study in college. She also used it in modified form for such questions as, "Who are your favorite authors?" and "Which of your personal qualities or passions do you value most?" The key is to interpret the questions creatively and apply them to your own personal characteristics.

Words are precious to me, which is why I find writing this essay so challenging and so exhilarating. I take pride in my own words, choosing them with such scrutiny. Words are one of the most potent forms of expression. Their power is sometimes abused and often taken for granted by society and individuals. But in the end, they are what make humanity so special. In fact, the 1452 invention of the mass distribution of words through the printing press led the History Channel to just name Johannes Gutenberg the most influential man in modern history.

I don’t have a favorite word, but I do have favorite phrases. I love certain clichés forbidden in essays but uttered liberally by my mom’s friend Carol, who tells me, “You’re a chip off the old block, dear,” when I repeat my mom’s guacamole recipe by heart. And I feel a deep connection to the more elegant expressions of poets like Robert Frost who in his “Directive” wrote, “And if you’re lost enough to find yourself / By now, pull in your ladder road / And put a sign up CLOSED to all but me.” The words of writers like E.B. White, Harper Lee, J.D. Salinger, and Virginia Woolf also move me. I love White’s tale for all ages dressed up in the children’s book Charlotte’s Web. I love Lee’s simple storytelling technique that subtly weaves important lessons of empathy into To Kill a Mocking Bird. I love Salinger’s informal, blunt style and colloquial dialogue in Catcher in the Rye. And I love Woolf’s personal tone in her controversial ideas of women novelists in A Room of One’s Own. These authors have encouraged me to find my own voice, which I experiment with through creative writing and journaling. My words are passionate, and the catharsis and clarity that writing brings about for me are among the most powerful things I know.

The powerful expression gained from words is easily taken for granted. I did not truly appreciate it until a couple of years ago when the ability to fully explain myself was obstructed by a foreign language barrier. I have always been a linguistic connoisseur. My love of French led me to Corsica in the summer of my freshman year. I simply stared into my friend Philo’s eyes, stuttering to explain the full depth of my sad state after hearing the tragic story she had just told me. I had understood what she’d said in French but could not express to her my feelings. Two days later I realized that I needed to push myself to truly speak French fluently if I ever hoped to penetrate this lingual wall. My passion for this melodious Romance language has left me yearning to learn and absorb Spanish and Italian language and culture, too.

Language and written documents allow us to learn about history, another one of my passions. The words and biases in primary and secondary sources throughout history transfer different information to future generations. History depends on words, the right words. Other subjects like psychology study how words are an external manifestation of our inner beings—after all, the way words translate and sometimes misrepresent our thoughts and feelings is at the essence of our intellectual and emotional nature.

Tip: (Intellectual Interests, plus how these interests will be cultivated by the college's own academic program and any general aspects of the school's non-academic attributes that appeal to you) This student used her Intellectual Interests essay at the top of this page as her foundation for various essays, like the sample below. When a college asks why you want to attend that school, rather than simply recycle a college's brochure, you will find that it is far more advantageous to share your own intellectual interests and show how that college will be able to cultivate those interests. You can then mention anything else about the college that intrigues you, including its social aspects or anything you experienced during a campus visit. The parts highlighted in yellow below were added to the foundational essay above. These parts were later substituted with similar information about other colleges that this student applied to, allowing her to personalize the essay for each college, while minimizing the amount of writing she had to do.

Words are precious to me. After all, words are the medium for conveying my passion for University X, a special place I very much hope to find myself for the next four years.



[Second paragraph removed.]

My own intellectual passions and aspirations have revolved around words and the broader theme of expression, and I find that University X embodies and promotes these interests. When I visited your campus this September, I was struck by the expressiveness of the students. They not only were eagerly socializing with one another, but also were exceptionally excited to share their ideas with me about the school. While the community’s excitement and warmth were infectious, I also loved the Independent Study option, specifically the emphasis on written, oral, and performance requirements.

University X’s diverse student body mirrors my experience growing up in New York City, hearing different manners of speech, unique accents, and colorful words. I don’t have a favorite word, per se, but I do have favorite phrases. I love certain clichés forbidden in essays but uttered liberally by my mom’s friend Carol, who tells me, “You’re a chip off the old block, dear,” when I repeat my mom’s guacamole recipe by heart. And I feel a deep connection to the more elegant expressions of poets like Robert Frost who in his “Directive” wrote, “And if you’re lost enough to find yourself / By now, pull in your ladder road / And put a sign up CLOSED to all but me."

I was so impressed with University X’s English department and believe that the wide range of course options, especially “Literature, Gender, and Sexuality” (which expands upon the ideas discussed in my current English class on 20th century female literature), will foster my developing ideas. The words of writers like E.B. White, Harper Lee, J.D. Salinger, and Virginia Woolf also move me. I love White’s tale for all ages dressed up in the children’s book Charlotte’s Web. I love Lee’s simple storytelling technique that subtly weaves important lessons of empathy into To Kill a Mocking Bird. I love Salinger’s informal, blunt style and colloquial dialogue in Catcher in the Rye. And I love Woolf’s personal tone in her controversial ideas of women novelists in A Room of One’s Own. These authors have encouraged me to find my own voice, which I experiment with through creative writing and journaling. My words are passionate, and the catharsis and clarity that writing brings about for me are among the most powerful things I know. I would love to enhance my skills in University X’s esteemed creative writing program, taking advantage of the study abroad writing opportunity, as well.

Experiencing other cultures, after all, is incredibly important to me. In fact, I did not truly appreciate the powerful expression gained from words until a couple of years ago when the ability to fully explain myself was obstructed by a foreign language barrier. I have always been a linguistic connoisseur. My love of French led me to Corsica in the summer of my freshman year. I simply stared into my friend Philo’s eyes, stuttering to explain the full depth of my sad state after hearing the tragic story she had just told me. I had understood what she’d said in French but could not convey to her my feelings. Two days later I realized that I needed to push myself to truly speak French fluently if I ever hoped to penetrate this lingual wall. My excitement for this melodious Romance language has left me yearning to learn and absorb Spanish and Italian language and culture, and I will have this opportunity through University X’s various abroad options, like the “University X Program in Barcelona,” and the many courses in your French and Italian programs.

Language and written documents also allow us to learn about history, another one of my passions. The words and biases in primary and secondary sources throughout history transfer different information to future generations. History depends on words, the right words. Other fields like psychology study how words are an external manifestation of our inner beings—the way words translate and sometimes misrepresent our thoughts and feelings is in many ways at the essence of our intellectual and emotional nature. University X’s History and Psychology Departments are replete with stimulating courses that address the modern mass media machine and its sweeping global impact on the way we live and perceive ourselves. It’s all about communication, whether intimate or international.



University X’s supportive community and extensive academic offerings would cultivate not just my personal but also my intellectual development. Ironically, despite my commitment to self-expression, I cannot begin to convey how enthusiastic I am about the prospect of joining University X’s incoming class next fall.


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