Stanford University Admission Essay Sample on Camp Counseling and Community Service

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College Application Essay on Camp Counseling and Community Service

Essay by Lauren Mamer

"Hey, Nickelback, I know that band. You like them?" I ask, leaning over Chipu's shoulder to look at the stickers and pictures she has all over the front matter of her binder.

"Yeah," she looks up at me with her big brown eyes and smiles, clearly as relieved as I am to find something in common. It's my first day tutoring at Webster Middle School. I'm working with Team Prime Time, an organization that provides a place for children to go after school where their parents can pick them up after work. It is housed in a large, dimly lit classroom, where tables are arranged in haphazard circles around the room. Students are spread out, either in small groups or alone, around the tables, backpacks thrown down next to them, hunched over homework sheets or sharing textbooks. The linoleum floors in the big room make every whisper echo, so with twenty-five students trying to avoid doing their homework at the same time, quiet moments are few and far between.

"Oh that's cool," I say. "I listen to Nickelback all the time. What's your favorite song?" The conversation moves haltingly on from there as we both become more comfortable. Who knew it could be this hard to introduce myself to a ten-year-old? When I walked into Team Prime Time, I had no idea what to expect. I had not tutored young kids before, but I assumed there couldn't be much that I wouldn't be able to explain to a sixth grader. I later realized just how wrong that assumption had been. The coordinator, Mark, helped me get started by pointing out Chipu, a small, shy-looking girl with curly, dark hark hair tamed into braids, peeking out of a navy-blue hooded sweatshirt.

I walked over as she was doing her math homework. Actually, she had her book open to the correct page and was staring at her math homework (oh how well I know that feeling). "Hi, I'm Lauren," I said, as I discovered that 'I'm here to tutor you' can be an awkward idea to try and convey in a first conversation. After chatting about music for a bit, we got to work.

"So...what is your assignment?"

Chipu pointed to the required problems on the page. There were faded pencil check marks in the margin next to them from a former student who evidently had done the same assignment. Looking down at the page I quickly read the problem.

"Okay, it looks like they're asking you to find which of these numbers in the list is a prime number," I said. "Right," I immediately thought to myself, "read the directions back to her; clearly that's not the problem." Luckily for me, she let it slide.

"So," my valiant second attempt began, "did your teacher go over how to do anything like this in class?"

Chipu shook her head.

"Okay, well a prime number is a number whose only factors are one and itself," I said. She looked at me blankly. "Does that make sense?" She shook her head no.

"Do you know what a factor is?"

"No," she answered simply.

"Oh, okay. Well a factor is a number that divides evenly into another number with nothing left over. So let's try 4. 2 is a factor of 4 because it goes into 4 exactly twice with nothing left over, see?"

"Sure," she said, nodding.

"So a prime number is a number like 5 where only the numbers that are factors are 1 and itself, 5."

She nodded.

"So is 6 a prime number?"

"Yes," she said decisively.

"Are you sure?"

"No," she responded. Clearly if yes made me second guess her response then no must be the correct answer. I remember so clearly using that trick when I was younger. I tried to explain it a different way to little Chipu but received a similar response. Clearly the concept of prime numbers was a bit beyond the Chipu-Lauren team, so back to factoring for now.

"So those factor things. Do you know how to find them?"

"No," she shook her head emphatically.

"Okay, you divide the number whose factors you want to find by the numbers below it and see if they go in evenly with no remainder. So if you have the number 8, you divide it by 1, then by two..." Eventually we made it all the way up to 8 this way. "So, 1, 2, 4, and 8 are factors of 8, see?"

Chipu nodded seriously. During the following pause we looked at each other and I realized my teaching skills were going to take a lot more practice before I made much sense to listen to.

"That didn't make any sense at all did it," I asked her.

"Nope," she responds honestly.

"Okay, let's try again," I said, trying to think of a better way to explain something so abstract and wondering how I had ever been able to grasp it.

By the end of "homework time," although we hadn't quite finished the math homework, she'd managed to get enough of a grasp of factoring, so she knew how to do the assignment. I, on the other hand, found myself a good deal humbled with a new ten-year-old friend who has great music taste.

Lauren Mamer attends Stanford University.

Essay Review

asked to tutor, she becomes the learner

The following essay provides an excellent example of how to begin with a quote from the middle of a conversation and then loop back to the beginning of it to fill in the details. Author Lauren Mamer opens with the high point of the conversation with her ten-year-old pupil—a discussion of Nickelback. She then fills in necessary background information, goes back once more to Nickelback to begin the third paragraph, and then reaches all the way back to the beginning of the conversation in the fourth paragraph. The conclusion is also worth noting. Instead of waxing eloquent about what she learns from her experience, Lauren leaves herself "a good deal humbled" with no pat answers for next time.

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