Rhodes College Application Essay Sample on Personal Growth

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Rhodes College Application Essay Sample on Personal Growth


Essay by Jennifer Gaffney

"You know that time in your life when you realize the house you live in isn't really your home anymore? That idea of home is gone. Maybe that's all family really is. A group of people who miss the same imaginary place."

—Garden State, Andrew Largeman

My greatest fear is leaving home. Reaching a place where I do not know that there are exactly six minutes and forty-two seconds left until math is over. It is a place where I cannot talk about the Red Sox game with the dean of students or play hangman with my college advisor. My greatest fear lies in a place where my teacher's voice does not escalate with excitement because I ask a question. It is a place without student artwork hanging on the walls or "Johnny B. Goode" blasting through a radio in the corner of the English room at eight in the morning. My greatest fear is knowing that even though my knuckles are white from trying to hang on to this place for a few more laughs, I will have to let go and walk away. My greatest fear is reaching the day when "that idea of home is gone."

The first morning of my sophomore year I walked onto the St. Andrew's campus wearing wrinkled khakis and a white T-shirt. My stomach collapsed when I realized that everyone else was dressed in their best outfits, carefully picked out for the first day of school. As I searched for a sign that said, "lost and confused new students," I caught the eye of an extremely hairy man who stood just short of 9'9".

"Are you looking for your locker? Whose advisory are you in? Do you know where you need to be?" He's like a machine gun, I thought as I stared at him with my mouth open. Having trouble making sense of what he was saying due to the violent, nervous thumps in my stomach, I mumbled something and hustled away.

Trying my best to get as far away from him as I could, I noticed a group of students clumped together near the flagpole. They seemed to have a bubble around them and I could not figure out how to pop it. I stood there in my rumpled clothing, watching them throw their heads back with laughter as one rehashed a story. The discomfort was similar to that of a wool sweater in July. I gazed with envy at the group, feeling my stomach sink lower into my intestinal tract. As the nagging voice in the back of my head whispered to forget about friends, a recognizable sound drifted into my ear.

"Jen!" someone yelled. I peeped my head out of the puddle of self-pity I was sitting in to see where it came from.

"Jen, what are you doing? Come over here!" The voice came from a blonde girl who I recognized from the week before. She was standing in the group near the flagpole so I scuffed towards them hesitantly, trying to remember her name. As I walked with my head down, horrible images flashed through my mind. I imagined them spitting scowls and the grunts, repelling me away from the perfectly crafted pyramid of people that seemed to have taken years to construct. I was instantly ashamed when the looming faces I dreaded wore gentle, warm expressions.

"Hey! So you're from Connecticut? How do you like Texas so far?" a slender black-eyed girl asked with bouncing enthusiasm. As I opened my mouth to answer, a stout girl standing closest to the flagpole interrupted with, "Yeah, is it different? Do you miss the cold?" It was like that for the next fifteen minutes. As they pelted me with questions, the knot that sat in the pit of my stomach began to loosen. A smile eventually cracked my sullen face, leaving me completely vulnerable to the friendships I had resisted only moments before.

This was the first of many wet-bathing-suit-in-a-cold-movie-theatre-like experiences I found myself in. They were the kind of problems that every awkward adolescent confronts, not only in the beginning of the high school adventure, but through the entirety of their four years as an overgrown child and an undergrown adult.

The oddity of my situation, however, lies in the people who have allowed me to convert that discomfort into drive. The ape-man I met on the first day came to be my physics teacher. After a trimester of brutally painful work and emaciated grades, I yelled, "This is impossible!" He replied calmly, "Nothing's impossible. Just difficult," and proceeded to transform my frustration into an appreciation for a subject I saw no hope in. The seemingly simple blonde girl I had boxed up in a stereotype blew the walls of the box away and opened my eyes to the potential people have to change you. These people have become my family and helped me to understand that there is no limit to what you can discover by allowing momentary pain to pass. They have made St. Andrew's my home.

This place will be gone in eight months. It will slip away quietly even if I dig my fingernails into whatever I can hold onto for a few more moments. However, I have learned that fear and discomfort make up the first knot at the bottom of the rope you climb in gym class. Once you have hoisted yourself over it, you realize that there is an amazing height to be reached. You are able to see a beautiful world of crisscrossing rafters and filtered patterns of light that wait for you at the top. As you lean forward to ring the little bell, you catch a glimpse of how high up you are and realize that even though you have found a new world, you have a perfect view of what you have left behind.

Jennifer Gaffney attends Rhodes College.

Essay Review

No place like home

The typical high school student moans about wanting to get the heck out of high school; a proud few are not ashamed to say that they like it and will hate to leave. Great idea for an essay. There is no better essay topic than an affectionate description of your world. Admissions officers know that students who are successful in one place are likely to be successful in the next. In this essay, author Jennifer Gaffney offers an honest and vivid description of a slice of her school's life, showing how she was transformed from a shy girl to a confident (if slightly wistful) young woman. Her essay reveals her as a sure bet to do the same in college.

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