A high school senior in Oklahoma named Gloria Tso got the shock, and delight, of her life last week. She got into into four Ivy League schools: Princeton, Columbia, UPenn, and Dartmouth.
So what does the admission essay of a superstar who landed four Ivy League acceptances look like? Below is Tso’s essay she submitted to Princeton University that landed her the nod.
Using this theme as a starting point, write about a person, event, or experience that helped you define one of your values or in some way changed how you approach the world. Please do not repeat, in full or in part, the essay you wrote for the Common Application.
“Princeton in the Nation’s Service” was the title of a speech given by Woodrow Wilson on the 150th anniversary of the University. It became the unofficial Princeton motto and was expanded for the University’s 250th anniversary to “Princeton in the nation’s service and in the service of all nations.” Woodrow Wilson, Princeton Class of 1879, served on the faculty and was Princeton’s president from 1902 — 1910.
Here is the response from Tso: As Woodrow Wilson noted in Princeton’s 150th anniversary address, the university’s history is a story that is still being written today through education and political service. I resonate with this on a personal level as my own story to date begins and ends with the act of public service.
There is a Quaker saying that states, “Let your life speak.” If my life could speak for itself, it would speak in vehement tones and a passionate voice. It would speak about the story of a girl who was born into a dream, a dream which she took and turned into a reality through the act of service that Woodrow Wilson spoke so fondly of.
On November 15, I was sitting in the Oklahoma State Department of Education awaiting my turn to interview for the United States Senate Youth Program. Four short months later, I found myself sitting in the White House as one of the two selected delegates from Oklahoma, awaiting the arrival of President Obama. There I was, sitting in the historic home of the presidents who had worked to define the American Dream. Interestingly enough, the American Dream is the means by which I have made my own dreams come true. It’s the magnetic pull that compels me to pursue public service as a career. It’s the testimony that my life speaks of in abundance.
Through the dreams of my parents, I managed to find my own. Because of them, I have learned to approach the world selflessly. Largely due in part to their never-ending support, my early interest in service blossomed into a passion, that has now transformed into a calling – a calling to protect the American Dream, the one that makes individual dreams possible, for everyone. Surely this is the dream that Woodrow Wilson spoke of in Princeton’s famed 150th anniversary address.
If my life could speak for itself, it would attest to the durability, longevity and reliability of hard work, the importance of service and how they all add up as a sum of my character. I share Princeton’s sentiments, as I too have lived out my life story in this great nation’s service, and in the service of all nations. My life has truly been an American Dream, built from the ground up, fortified through aspiration, diligence and toil. Woodrow Wilson believed that the pathway to a better world could only be found through service and I could not agree more; I can only hope that I am already well on my way down that path.
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