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By our guest writers EssayEdge. The Harvard educated admissions essay editors.

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Lesson Three: Cause and Effect Sample Essay

Note: The below essay was not edited by EssayEdge Editors. It appears as it was initially reviewed by admissions officers.

Sample Essay 1: Columbia, Musician (cello)

For some reason, my parents felt the necessity to inundate me at a young age with extracurricular activities. After school, I was always being driven from tennis to violin to swimming to cello to baseball to piano to karate to near craziness! I could have been called the world’s busiest kid at the time. From two of the activities, I have reaped the most benefits. Although my cello has been used less frequently than my tennis racquet, the musical instrument creates the most meaningful ideas in my life.

However, my appreciation for playing the cello did not come immediately. From the time I was nine years old until I left for prep school, I detested Sunday. The first day of the week was torturous “cello day”: I practiced all morning, had a lesson during the afternoon, and came home in the evening exhausted. But today, I thank austere old Professor [teacher’s name] for forcing me to learn the art in music.

With the hectic schedule I have year round, being overwhelmed is not a difficult task. Therefore, I consider playing the cello one of the most rewarding aspects of my life. Very few people have the luxury of being able to absolutely enjoying themselves in the middle of a workday. I can bomb a physics test, and then five minutes later be in heaven. Totally relaxed, I sway back and forth to the rhythm created by my bow and my fingers; both of my arms work in harmony. Eyes closed, I reach the final note and my left hand creates a slow, soothing vibrato-mediocre cello playing at its perfection.

The cello reigns as the supreme instrument in my mind. Whether blusteringly chaotic or lovingly sweet, good cello playing, with its deep, rich tones and fantastically broad range is the epitome of expression. I also have ample opportunity for the other half of art-interpretation. I feel a delight beyond description when listening to Pablo Casals or Yo-Yo Ma. I am able to just sit there and think about my life, and their masterful music can make me feel ebullience or rage. Most importantly, whether I listen to music or play it, I can reflect upon and enjoy life as one special being.

I wish the venerable Professor [teacher’s name] could be alive today to hear me play the cello. “With feeling,” he would always say. Whenever I played a note out of tune, Mr. [teacher’s name] would yell at me until I cried. But now, with my newfound love for the cello, even if he screamed in my ear, I would continue to relish my playing and let him go until he became hoarse.

Comments:

This essayist does a clever job of combining his focus on the cello with gentle reminders that he is involved in much more as well. He does this by beginning with brief mention of “tennis . . . violin . . . swimming . . . cello . . . baseball . . . piano . . . karate . . ..” in the second sentence. Then he quickly hones in on the cello alone, making only one additional indirect mention of the “hectic schedule I have year round.” He wisely does not go into more detail about the other activities. This single reference is enough, since the admissions officers can easily refer to the rest of the application for more detail on his other involvements. This writer also does a good job of showing his love for the cello by painting a picture of himself playing: “totally relaxed, I sway back and forth to the rhythm created by my bow and my fingers; both of my arms work in harmony. Eyes closed, I reach the final note and my left hand creates a slow, soothing vibrato…” This image is likely to be the one that sticks in admissions officers minds, making him more memorable.

Back to Example Essay Structures

From Essays that will get you into College, by Amy Burnham, Daniel Kaufman, and Chris Dowhan. Copyright 1998 by Dan Kaufman. Reprinted by arrangement with Barron's Educational Series, Inc.

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