Harvard University Admission Sample Essay on Hobby or Interest

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Harvard University Application Sample Essay on Hobby or Interest

Essay by Christina Xu

Display dagger. Teddy bear. Cheesecake.

I love cheesecake. In fact, a slice of this delicious dessert is on my desk right now, impaled by a pair of chopsticks. These odd juxtapositions of East and West occur frequently at my house; my mother puts peanut butter into her moon cakes, and my dad uses the coffee maker to boil chrysanthemum tea. My two halves, however, have created a greater whole. I am able to think in both Eastern and Western terms, and I am com-fortable with the philosophies of Plato and Lao Tzu alike, though I do admit to dicey moments in The Republic and the Tao te Ching. Raised in two cultures, I am able to connect to many others. I can be at home at a football game, a Chinese karaoke party, a Japanese tea ceremony, or a French soirée. I am capable of shoveling snow with Buddha.

Jade necklace. Post-it notes. School of Athens.

On the other side of my desk lies a copy of A Brief History of Time. When I was younger, my room was littered not with dolls, but with books about every topic. I idolized the versatile Leonardo Da Vinci, who seemed capable of everything. As I've grown older, I've sometimes felt like a penniless artist forced to meet the expectations of a patron rather than work for my own interests and needs. It is difficult to emulate Da Vinci in a society that emphasizes specializa-tion. Artistic creativity, however, is not a thing to be controlled and confined—and neither is my mind.

Dancing vampire doll. Rush Hour. Army Men.

Last summer, I went to an astronomy camp in the hills of North Carolina, even though it had no significant "practical value." There, I saw the Milky Way for the first time. While listening to a profes-sor point out constellations with familiar names and alien shapes, I

marveled anew at the joy of learning for its own sake, with no agenda and no assessment. When I am asked about what I want to do with my life by friends, parents, and college applications, I imagine Da Vinci tinkering with this invention, sketching out that painting, examining yet another plant; choosing a major probably would have driven him insane. I may have been born six centuries too late, but no career can possibly define who I am. I will be the business major who can solder a circuit and paint portraits, the engineer who can recite British poetry and speak in five languages, the artist who knows calculus and can break two boards at once. I will be a Renaissance woman.

Newton's thermometer. Sheet music. CD spool with two discs remaining.

"We Didn't Start the Fire" is a work of genius—each line

corresponds to a year of Billy Joel's life, and the major events of each year are organized with rhythm and rhyme. A good songwriter like Joel weaves together all the disparate tones, beats, and lyrics of the song into a melody that organizes but does not constrain. As I look through my CD collection, full of the delicately beautiful strains of Prokofiev and the head-banging bass beats of Rammstein, I am reminded that my life, too, must have a melody to keep it valid. Each of my tunes is a singular cacophony, but united they make great harmony. I am composed of many passions, many faces, many

reflections, and the Tao teaches me to let my different parts go their own way. I am neither yin nor yang. I will simply stay in the center of the circle and direct the symphony.

Sheets of white paper. Keyboard. Me.

Christina Xu attends Harvard University.

Essay Review

Life as a messy desk

If you can't figure out one angle from which to describe yourself, try three. Or twelve. That's what author Christina Xu does in this essay, which surveys various items on her desk. The fact that she is of Asian descent allows her to explore the relationship of typical American items to those of the East, and thereby delve into her dual identity. She also manages to touch on her interest in philosophy, science, art, and music, with specifics about each that bolster her credibility. Says Christina, "I rewrote this essay probably twenty or more times—an entire month's worth of second-period study halls was spent in my history teacher's office, discussing this essay and how to improve it."

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