Essential Information for the College Bound -- Fall 2005

In this issue

The Perfect Essay

Essay Excerpts


Taking The Next Step
12904 Mizner Way
Wellington, FL 33414
(561) 790-5462
Robin Abedon
web site: TakingThe NextStep

Which School?

You will live with the answer
the rest of your life.

It is that time of year – personal essay time. All of my students are in search of writing the perfect personal essay. What is it?

The perfect essay is not something that fits in one neatly labeled box. It is a varied as a snowflake. No two are alike.

It is not taught in English class. It is not formulaic. It does not evolve from a set of instructions. It is not mimicry of other essays.

It is a communication of self! It is a conversation with the reader. A good conversation goes beyond superficial chatter. The speaker and the listener become engaged with one another. A good conversation is a time of discovery for both. Many admissions officers use the essay as a way to unzip the top of a student’s head, look inside, and find something they can not find anywhere else in the application.

The perfect application essay allows just that! It goes beyond grades, test scores, résumés and recommendations. It is a snapshot in words of some aspect of a student and his or her experience. It can grow out of any moment in a life.

The perfect essay comes in all shapes and sizes. It is produced by the best and by the least successful students. It reveals thoughts and feelings and the skill to draw them out.

If it is a conversation in words, then it must begin with a conversation. The aspect of my work I love best is brainstorming with students. Sometimes the ideas emerge easily. Sometimes it takes repeated conversations. Often the ideas are focused on daily lives. At times they reflect observations and concerns about the surrounding world. Every now and then an impromptu thought will slip out that I can probe and help nurture as the seed of communication.

Often students are writing about themselves for the first time. They are facing a new challenge at a critical juncture in their lives. The perfect essay becomes an enduring reality when both the writer and the reader have gained an insight that is valued.

Yes, “that time of year” presents a significant opportunity!

Occasionally, I share snippets of essays that I have collected with current students to help them see the variety of “snowflakes” I have observed. Let me offer a few now.

  • Essay Excerpts
  • Waiting

       Traveling through Australia was a series of natural wonders with none of the distractions of everyday life. This atmosphere brought out the best in all of us. I loved the time we spent in the Botanical Gardens. Walking around with no shoes, lying on the grass, looking up at wise old trees is my kind of thing. But what I really loved best was waiting with my friends for the flying foxes to wake up and fly. They never did, but the waiting was special in itself. During the hour that went by, the sun was setting; we had no place we had to be; we could just enjoy the moment. It felt like time stood still for us and the sleeping bats.

    Indefinable Sweetness

    Blake and I were neighbors. Our houses were identical, and we were both six years old; still, Blake and I seemed different. Initially, I saw a child with slanted eyes, a flat nose, and a small head; but as I carefully approached Blake, my intuition kicked in. I knew there was something about him that distinguished him from other small children I had met. It wasn’t his features that announced his Down Syndrome that drew me to him; it was a certain indefinable sweetness. From the first time we linked hands, Blake’s features faded from my mind. I became a big brother to him. As we spent more and more time together, I recognized the rare quality that he possessed: unconditional kindness.

    Tree Hugger

       I am a tree hugger, a tie-myself- to-a-tree-before-cutting-it-down, hard-core tree hugger. In order to save animals, I have tried to sell my family on the idea that veggie meat is the way to go. So far, I have at least been able to convince them to consume organic products. I urge my parents to reuse because it’s more beneficial to the environment to reuse than to recycle. Whether it’s cleaning the beach, picking up turtles in the middle of the road, or relocating exotics, I’m always trying to protect the environment...

    I just want to help in some way, and preserving resources and the environment is a good place to start. I hope I won’t have to tie myself to a tree in order to teach others. Nevertheless, I am willing to do whatever it takes.


         My fingers flew across the frets. I feverishly grabbed each string with the tips of my fingers. It was two in the morning, and the rest of the world was asleep. Outside of my door, nothing was happening. The only noise I could hear was my guitar. And that night, it began to speak to me.

     Somewhere between D and G falls C, the first note of Kansas’s “Dust in the Wind.” Over and over, I dedicated my entire being to playing that C. In my mind I counted off, “1, 2… 1, 2, 3, 4.” With less than intricate finger-picking abilities, I somehow hit the six strings like a hurricane. A sudden beauty emerged from the awful scratches and squeals that composed my first attempts at “Dust in the Wind.” Harmony himself arose from my strings. I was finally strumming with my soul…

    Time caught up with itself that night. My guitar had smoothed the turbulence and removed the clutter that had precipitated my restiveness. Stillness and clarity engulfed me as I unloaded my subconscious onto my guitar. I was at peace.

    A Long Way

       My mother has come a long way from milking goats as a child, to living in Pennsylvania. At times she still thinks it is unreal that she came across the border illegally with her four year old daughter – me – and later, again, with her son. I agree with her, it is astounding…

    Still the ties to Mexico, our family there, and our native culture are strong. Visits to Mexico each summer have kept that special world alive. Some moments during these visits are deeply imbedded in my soul…

    I love to be in the kitchen when the family is there. I don’t say much at all. I just listen. I love to hear my family laugh at the stories I now know by heart. My abuelito enters the storytelling with a joke everybody has already heard. My abuelita’s face and body seem to strengthen by watching her sons and daughters, her grandchildren and great-grand children. As time wears on and the kitchen fire gets less luminous, I feel myself getting tired. I kiss my family goodnight and make my way across to the room that I share with my aunt and abuelita.

    Sometimes this tiny three-room house is filled with as many as sixteen family members during our summer visits. I look up at the stars. The air is cooler now, the breeze slightly blowing. And as I climb into bed, I am thankful I have my life in Mexico, as well as my life in America.

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    Taking The Next Step | (561) 790-5462 | 12904 Mizner Way | Wellington | FL | 33414