May 25, 2014

Successful Sample College Admissions Essay

This college admissions essay resulted in an acceptance to the Honors program at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Prompt #2

“Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.”― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Describe a recent experiment of your own.


In my junior year AP English Language class, my teacher assigned us an essay to read titled, The Ways We Lie, by Stephanie Ericsson. In it, Ericsson detailed 10 different types of lies, from simple white lies to lying by omission, and explored the motivations and consequences of why we lie. For weeks after reading it, I continued to think about Ericsson’s theories about lying. It was a bit frightening to realize how many different types of lies there are and how often people try to rationalize their lies. I was also relieved to read Ericsson’s words. Finally, someone stated the truth and said what people needed to hear. Rather than saying that it was okay to lie since everyone did, Ericsson instead proposed that while we lie and will not stop lying, we should still not attempt to justify lying. Instead, we should tell the truth when possible; otherwise, our lives will be built upon lies. Because of this, I decided to embark on a weeklong experiment of only telling the truth.

The first few days were easy, with no situations in which I might be tempted to lie. The rest of the week proved to be slightly more difficult. Luckily, I didn’t encounter a situation in which I had to tell a truth that would hurt someone’s feelings. The only situations in which I might be tempted to lie were situations with my parents, such as them asking if I had cleaned my room yet or if I had folded laundry (I honestly answered no to both questions.). In all, the week proved to be uneventful and not as nerve-wracking as I thought it would be, but I was satisfied with myself for following through with my experiment. The implications and reason for conducting the experiment were of the most importance, not the results.

The Ways We Lie weighed heavily on me both as a student journalist and as a person with self-proclaimed “good morals.” My favorite journalist, Edward Murrow, once said, “To be persuasive, we must be believable, to be believable, we must be credible, to be credible, we must be truthful.” Journalists must deliver the news objectively to the public so they can be well informed about current events and make an opinion based on facts, not rumor. Murrow’s quote also applies to situations other than journalism; truth is of the utmost importance in everyday interactions. If people never told the truth, people would lose respect and trust for each other.

It is human nature to lie, in order to spare people’s feelings and try to be free of negative consequences. However, by being aware of the lies I tell and not allowing lies to consume me, I would ultimately be doing my part to help the world stay safe from, as Ericsson put it, “a cultural cancer” that a web of lies creates. My experiment helped me to become more aware of when I am tempted to lie and better understand the importance of truth.

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