My horse-themed college application essays! :)
I applied to thirteen colleges this year, running the gamut from Brown to Yale, and several of the (250 million) essays I wrote ended up being distinctly horsey! So I thought I'd share them with you guys, you'll probably appreciate them more than the AdComs haha!
This was my Common App essay, and thus went to all the schools. In the pretty, formatted version I sent, there was a second page with a really horrific picture of the barn in full blaze.
“And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
The cataclysmic crash had thrown me backwards, and I willed my eyes to readjust as I stood. When they did, I couldn’t believe what I saw. Slowly, seductively, a tantalizing finger of thick smoke beckoned to me from the roof, luring me forward as the world stopped turning. This couldn’t be real.
“FIRE!” bellowed a voice, and the world resumed its revolutions, pulling me swiftly back to reality. As if on cue, the sky darkened, and massive hailstones began pounding down, beating like war-drums on the tin roof. The five of us scattered, adrenalized by the sweet, musky odor surrounding us. The smoke had wrapped its devious fingers around the hay now, and the crackle-sssss-POP the flakes made as they ignited punctuated the hale’s persistent beating.
I yanked open the nearest stall door, murmuring softly to the frightened horse inside. As I crept towards his head, he spun and kicked out, squealing in confusion and terror. I stumbled backwards, my pulse pounding throughout my body from the near-miss, and tried again. This time, my fingers slid up his mane and I braced my body against him, throwing a rope around his neck as we rushed out of the barn. I slid down the slick embankment, threw open the gate, and released him. We each galloped in different directions. All around me, horses were screaming, kicking, slipping down the hill as we pulled them, white-eyed, from their stalls.
It was the explosion that abruptly stopped us. The fire had spread to the far side of the barn, where a massive structure housed wood shavings that, when exposed to intense heat, burst into angry, engulfing flames. Soaking wet and filthy, we mentally recounted all the horses, making sure we had gotten them all out of the burning building.
Ice-cold comprehension gripped me as I heard the terrified scream from within the stable, shrilly cutting through the voluptuous rolls of smoke. Nestled in a stall in the center of the barn was a broodmare and her fortnight-old colt – how could we have overlooked them? Hurtling forward, I slipped on the sodden grass, teetered, and righted myself, dashing forward into the inferno. My cracked hands seared from the bullet-like hailstones and embers raining down on me, and I choked on every lungful of ashy air. I felt my way into the stall and grabbed onto the vague horse shape huddled against the back wall. The mare wouldn’t budge, and her baby had no inclination of leaving without her. His small, hard feet struck out disoriented warnings. Time was swiftly running out.
“Grab the mare!” I coughed out. I knew what I had to do – it wouldn’t be easy, but I had no choice. Avoiding his hooves, I wrapped my arms around the writhing colt’s ribcage and hefted his 200-pound bulk off the ground. Staggering backwards, we escaped from the stall, the panicked mare pressing into me and her foal. As we reached the treacherous slope, I dug my heels into mud and tightened my grip on the spindly colt. He gave a terrific buck and my arm cracked, but I held on until we reached the field. I eased my way back up the hill and watched as, with a long, defeated groan, the barn finally collapsed. We said nothing, just stood with our arms around one another’s shoulders, relishing the feeling of being alive, and almost, but not quite, comprehending the magnitude of what we had done.
On that fateful day, I learned to ignore my self-imposed limitations. I discovered that I am capable of more than I could ever have imagined. That ill-placed lightning bolt shaped a part of me, showed me the value of teamwork, proved to me that I can handle whatever life throws my way. Do I dare? Yes, I do.
My Brown supplement essay, for the prompt 'What is the best piece of advice you've ever been given?"
“Pull your head out of your ass and ride that horse!” The words echoed across the arena, resonating at a remarkable volume from the mouth of my notoriously gruff trainer, Phyllis. Since I am neither a gymnast nor a yogi, I had to assume she meant the words figuratively.
I was sitting astride Tejana, my somewhat volatile Thoroughbred mare, and had just jumped a course of fences – badly. Jumping horses is a little bit like building a house of cards; to succeed, you must have every piece in perfect alignment, and then you can only hope no one sneezes. Imperfection is almost inevitable – the rider’s form may be the textbook ideal, but their influence over the horse, minimal. Conversely, they can present the animal to each obstacle with faultless cadence, while sliding around in the saddle like a circus monkey riding a lion. My problem was the former; for all that I looked like the latest Practical Horseman cover, I wasn’t actually telling Tejana anything. Finding the perfect balance of intellect and instinct was to become my mission; my horse’s desire to break the land-speed record temporarily moved to the back burner.
I wasn’t the first person to benefit from Phyllis’s favorite piece of advice – nor, I’m sure, will I be the last. The words personify the woman I admire so much – concise, no-nonsense, and tough where toughness is necessary. As an Olympic equestrian turned artist/writer/photographer extraordinaire, she had probably repeated variations of those words to herself countless times during her climb to success. They hold weight outside of merely riding; the idea of banishing any shreds of arrogance, thinking before acting, and accepting and learning from small failures can be applied to every aspect of life.
My own riding career thus far had been somewhat of a roller-coaster ride - my tendency to second-guess myself battled constantly with my natural instincts. Over-thinking led to over-riding, and my nitpicking signals would consequently produce blissful ignorance on the part of my horse. It was a mess, and it was my fault. I had struggled with the fact that perhaps my methods were getting me nowhere fast, but now I had affirmation. Somehow, I had to abandon my ways and become the efficient rider I so wanted to be. So, with a deep breath and a pinch of steely resolve, I pushed all my preconceived notions of my own talent out of my head.
I would be lying if I said I then urged Tejana into a canter and jumped my best course ever, with fourteen flawless jumps that left Phyllis breathless. Instead, I gathered up my reins, did my best to get my muddled thoughts in order, and re-rode my course. It wasn’t a blue-ribbon performance; each jump didn’t come on the ideal stride, and I had a couple of fumbles that I did my best to recover from. It wasn’t amazing, but I had ridden with humility, done my best to analyze the task at hand, and ridden respectably over the three-foot-three fences. As I gave my patient horse a pat, I glanced at Phyllis, happily receiving the satisfied grin she shot me with my head firmly atop my shoulders.
Cornell - What makes you want to pursue a degree within the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences?
I’ve never thought of myself as a “science person,” always choosing, instead, to delve deeply into the arts. But I didn’t need to throw myself into science – it came to me, in such a sly way that I never noticed it was there until I was hooked.
All my life I have ridden horses. I’m far from athletic, but somehow, when I’m working in unison with an animal, I no longer fumble and trip. My passion for all things equine - and my lack of all things monetary – led me to pursue jobs in stables, tending and riding the horses. For years I went from barn to barn, becoming the official “barn rat” at each – the kid who could always be counted on to stay late into the night walking a colicky horse, or sleep in the barn so as to feed the horses before school. In true barn rat fashion, I became the omnipresent shadow of anyone who might have something to teach me. I learned how to properly pull horseshoes, give Banamine injections, and train newly started horses.
When I was seventeen, I was offered an upgrade, and became a full-time, Olympic-level barn rat. At Team Windchase, a 70-horse Olympic facility, I rode constantly, grew some impressive shoveling muscles, and became the constant sidekick of the on-site veterinarian. I helped inseminate mares, birth foals, treat abscesses, remove bone chips, and even became a ‘mother’ when one of the farm’s foals was orphaned. The hands-on experience thrilled and fascinated me, and I always assigned myself the arduous clean-up jobs in exchange for having ultrasounds and genetics explained in great detail.
Then, one day, it dawned on me. As I sat on my bed, sketching out Punnett squares in an attempt to determine the color of a newly-conceived foal, I realized that I was not only using science, I was enjoying it. Rote memorization from a textbook hadn’t installed that passion – using practical knowledge to help animals had. I may never pursue a DVM, but I hope to work with off-the-track Thoroughbreds, rehabilitating and retraining them as riding horses. Learning to look at science in a different light helped me realize its significance to my career goals.
The incredible research opportunities offered in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences will allow me to keep diving into science headfirst, applying classroom-gleaned knowledge to a practical outlet. The freedom to take classes in the Arts is liberating; Cornell gives me the opportunity to pursue all my passions collectively. I don’t know where I’ll end up, but I want the journey to be both challenging and enriching. A Cornell education will give me the preparation I need to go anywhere. Who knows – perhaps I’ll be the one explaining flexor tendons to the next generation of barn rats!
Tufts - 'The Quakers have a saying: "let your life speak." How was the environment in which you were raised contributed to the person you are today?' (Or something to that effect.)
We passed the girls, just as we had last Sunday and the Sunday before that. They were a vital part of our routine, bustling towards us with their large noses and friendly inquiries. We would always stay a while, allowing them to bump us clumsily as they reached deft tongues out to catch a taste of our faces. Their kisses were sloppy. By the time we said our goodbyes and turned to walk down the lane that led home, they had dispersed, their black and white bodies silhouetted against the cerulean sky. Their chorus of moos was audible even after we had long since left them behind.
Those four-mile Sunday walks shaped my childhood, and laid the framework for the person I would become. I always begged for riding lessons, and my mother managed to scrape together the money for me to have one a week. We couldn’t afford to ride the bus home from my lessons, so we walked. At six-years-old, four miles seemed like a hundred, but it was worth it, and not just for the rare opportunity to receive a kiss from a cow. Sometimes I have rued the fact that I have never had the money to compete on a national level or own several fantastic horses. But in the long run, I’m glad I’ve always had to work for the ability to do what I love. That has made me all the more appreciative of the opportunities – both small and monumental – that have come my way, and it has instilled in me a drive and determination I may not otherwise have. Growing up with extremely limited means has been a gift I would never trade.
Tufts Optional Essay, choice 4 (I think). 'Kermit the frog once famously lamented that it's not easy being green. Do you agree?'
In equestrianism, “greenness” does not represent the color, or a penchant for environmental awareness. It is a state of learning; the state in which the subject can be considered a blank slate, primed and ready for the first layers of education. It is this quality that I find most compelling in a horse, because it offers nothing but untapped potential.
So, is it easy being green? If you asked one of my project horses, Abigail, she’d probably offer you an emphatic “no!” and an indignant head-toss, for good measure. She’s never liked learning much, always preferring to stand knee-high in lush grass or sleep next to her best friend Theodora. As gently as I try to persuade her, she is sure that nothing good can come of being educated. Abigail is Huck Finn in equine form; as she gallops away from me in the field, I can almost hear her complaining about being ‘sivilized.’
“I can’t stand it!” she seems to cry out to her placid friends, “I been there before!”
My strapping gelding, Dante, would tell you that being green isn’t that bad. After all, you’re never asked to do anything very difficult, and you’re always forgiven for your “green moments.” Dante likes to use this as an excuse to occasionally cavort and gallop off as I cling to his back. When he stops, he feigns sheepishness.
“But mom,” he explains, “it was just a learning moment. I just didn’t know what you were asking!”
To Dante, greenness is wonderful fun – in fact, he may stay green forever!
There have been a few sensible souls who have struck a fine balance in their approach to being green. I’m sure these individuals are mocked mercilessly by the wild-at-heart and the ‘evergreens’ in the field, but I appreciate them. One memorable mount was Black Racehorse #1, who listened carefully, gave his best effort, and then waited to see whether he’d done it right. I’m sure he was relatively ambiguous to the idea of being green, viewing it as a necessary step to bigger things. I can’t be sure, because he wasn’t quite as vocal in his opinions as Abigail and Dante. He ended up moving up the training scale quite quickly, and may even have a name by now.
The consensus? If greenness is a state of learning, then its ease is determined by the approach you take to it. An open mind and a hunger for knowledge make it very easy to be green, because it is not a permanent state, but rather a natural progression. Just ask Black Racehorse #1!
Williams College - something about the view outside your window being something significant to you, blah blah ;)
BEEP. BEEP. BEEEEEEEP.
Groaning, I opened a bleary eye. Five AM. Some days it felt as though I never slept, just closed my eyes for a moment and then got back to work. Pulling myself out of bed, I was grateful that I’d fallen asleep in my breeches and wouldn’t have to change. I paused to glance out my window – a daily routine since I’d been in Virginia.
It was June, and rich, almost tangible rays of sunlight were sneaking past the formidable bulk of the Blue Ridge Mountains, like children sneaking past a babysitter. Soon they would come in force, overpowering everything around them, but for now they tiptoed into view, painting gold streaks on the trees. The horses barely noticed the gallivanting sunlight, choosing instead to enjoy the dew-soaked grass. A thick, sultry mist cast them all as dramatic silhouettes; black against white, statuesque except for a tail-flick here, or a hoof stamping away an insect there. It was going to be a hot day; the fog was a visible embodiment of what would later be stifling humidity.
Sunlight spilled over the mountains, and the valley was suddenly blindingly lit. The silhouettes became flesh, and bone, and sinew, clad in velvet coats of mahogany, silver, and burnished copper. They came to life, cavorting and whirling, their muscles rippling as they galloped the fence-line. Later, they would perform ballet-like dance-steps for their rider, or leap boldly over solid obstacles but for now, they answered to no one. They danced only for themselves.
The smell of coffee permeated the air, and I slid my boots on. The horses would want breakfast soon, and there was a lot of work to be done before the rest of the world arose. They had no idea what they were missing.
Oops, posted the last one twice. My bad ;)
They are all quite good, well done :)
Question tho; I've never experienced the whole college essays but from what I've been taught (Australia) all those pieces would be creative writing pieces rather than essays? An essay would be an argumentive piece with a thesis and supporting arguments. Is it a case of different words same meanings?
They're all college application essays, which are supposed to be creative and reflect upon the writer as a person, so the admissions people can get an idea of who the applicant is beyond their numerical statistics.
Ohh okay. That makes alot of sense :)
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