Oberlin College Admission Essay Sample on A Significant Experience

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Oberlin College Admission Essay Sample on A Significant Experience

Essay by Daria Taback

On May 30, 2004, I woke up to bloodcurdling screaming that I'donly heard in horror movies. The haziness of the deep sleep fromwhich I emerged was still fading when I realized that the piercingcries were coming from my mother. I rubbed my eyes as she stoodover me, frantically sputtering that I needed to get up, that therewas a fire. We ran down the stairs in the dark, because the lightswere no longer working. I opened the front door, grabbed my old,senile dog by the collar, and ran across the street to my neighbor'shouse. As I stood, facing my home, I saw for the first time the firein its full blazing glory. The black night lit up with hot, menacingflames that were eating away my room, my journals, my sketchbooks, my stories, my watercolor paintings, my music, my piano,and my home.

As I stood watching in a daze, my parents went to wake up ourneighbors because the fire was raging and their lives were in danger.Meanwhile, I was motionless, unaware of my surroundings, utterlynumb and disbelieving. Twenty minutes later, the fire departmentcame. By then, most of the house was in ruins. After a couple ofhours, the last of the flames and billowing smoke was out. Theverdict was that nothing was salvageable.

Neighbors across the street, who had woken to the sound ofthe fire trucks, gave us chairs to sit in, sweaters and blankets. Theycomforted us immeasurably. Strangers showed us their compassionand goodwill by going around the neighborhood and collectingclothes for us to wear, since we no longer had any. One family let usstay in their house for three weeks. Another couple went to buy usour medications, while others gave us toiletries and other supplies.These were mostly individuals whom we had never seen or spokento before in our lives.

This experience was a turningpoint in my life. I have always been abit of a critic and skeptical of humannature, but this experience gave mea new perspective on the capacityfor human generosity. When I feltmost vulnerable and scared, thefriendly smile of a passing neighbor, the strong hug of a family friend, the warmth of nourishing foodbrought endlessly to sustain us by parents of my mother's school wasa lifeline to recovery.

I don't know if a person ever completely recovers from anexperience like this. But, ironically, I do feel that the fire hasgiven me several remarkable gifts. I feel a deep connection to mycommunity and a great need to give to others the help and caringthat I experienced. Interacting with many new people has helpedme grow from a more timid, self-involved person, to a more matureindividual who cares deeply about the needs of others. Most of all, Ihave gained a vivid appreciation of life, flames and all.

Daria Taback attends Oberlin College.

Essay Review

rising from the ashes

A dramatic experience is not necessary for a good essay, but if you'vehad one, there is no reason not to write about it. Author Daria Tabackdidn't need to look far to find an engaging anecdote. Her house burneddown less than a year before she wrote her essay, and the drama ofthat experience guarantees that the reader will be drawn in. But afterthe opening, then what? This essay shines because of Daria's heartfeltdescription of acts of kindness from friends, neighbors, and strangers.Most stories about a personal transformation sound phony, but thisone is believable because of the circumstances and Daria's concretedescriptions.

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