Successful Brown University Admission Essay About A Moral Dilemma

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Successful Brown University Application Essay,College Application Essay on A Moral Dilemma


Essay by Charles Crichton Shrader

"So, you want this car or not?" Dr. Matt Petrilla asked again, in his simultaneously pushy yet polite manner.

This smart, stocky man, a medical doctor and the father of a friend, had thrown me into a sudden state of blissful surprise: less than a minute before, he had offered me a free car. We set a time for me to test-drive the car, and then he left me astonished and dazed.

Since my early childhood, when I begged my father to let me drive the golf cart at every opportunity, and when I developed a certain fascination with bumper cars, driving has always ranked high on my short list of life's great pleasures. Most of all, it affords the extreme satisfaction of independence, that glorious freedom for which the adolescent heart traditionally yearns. The idea of having my own car floored me.

That night, I told my father about the car. Until then, he had provided me with a car for regular use but not one I could call my own. "That just doesn't happen!" he exclaimed disbelievingly. He spoke in total favor of accepting the car, since he loathes denying what he calls his "thrifty Scottish side"; his mannerisms, however, were not entirely in synch with his words. In my overriding excitement, I did not see what exactly had disheartened him.

A few days later, Dr. Matt handed me the key to my new car: a forest green, 1993 Mazda 626 sedan, fitted with the most comfortable beige leather and a brand-new CD player. Dr. Matt, who thrives on rebuilding wrecked cars and giving them to kids in the community out of sheer generosity, also proved his genius by converting it from automatic to manual transmission, since he knew how much I enjoyed the stick shift. On the way home, I quickly popped in my new CD of Respighi's Pines of Rome and trembled in ecstasy as my car's powerful speakers pummeled my senses with the grand final movement, "The Pines of the Via Appia." I was in love.

Over the next three weeks however, despite my great contentment with the car itself, conflicting emotions beset me. Guilt bothered me most: "Why do I deserve this car? Shouldn't I give this car to someone who needs it more?" I often asked myself. I also felt guilt concerning my father's feelings, for now I understood his initial distress: he had worked diligently to provide an extra car for his family, and he knew how much it meant to me to be able to drive; I felt that I was almost disrespectful of my father by accepting this gift, though he would never mention it. The now-burdensome car caused both my mind and my driveway to become a little too crowded.

I agonized over what to do, since returning such a stunning gift bordered on the unthinkable, but in the end I found clarity. I returned the car to Dr. Matt, who completely understood my dilemma. No decision had ever so thoroughly freed me. Dr. Matt now could give the car to another thrilled kid, and again I could appreciate my father's gift. Never in my life did I think I would turn down a free car, but in this case, nothing could have made better sense.

Charles Crichton Shrader attends Brown University.

Essay Review

Offered a free car, he says, "no thanks"

Author Charlie Shrader has a moral dilemma over an issue that most people would not give a second thought. Should he accept the gift of a car from the father of a friend? Charlie is able to write a 547-word essay about his uncertainty because he develops all the layers of the issue: his longstanding love of cars, his father's mixed feelings, his surge of euphoria upon receiving the car, and the ambivalence that he begins to feel after receiving the car. In one of his best lines, Charlie notes that the gift "caused both my mind and my driveway to become a little too crowded."

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