Haverford College Admission Essay Sample: Alfred and Bill: Role Models for Life

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College Application Essay on Camp Counseling and Community Service

"Alfred and Bill: Role Models for Life" by John Ivey Eagles

I have spent the past four summers working as a volunteer and counselor at a summer camp for kids ages four to ten. Each week presents new challenges, opportunities, and surprises and I am often amazed at the wit, intelligence, and confidence that elementary schoolers can display. This year, it was the bright faces of two campers, Alfred and Bill, that provided the most humor, challenge, and surprise to me and the rest of the staff. While no child consistently behaves in a manner appropriate for adults, they often offer interesting and unconventional insights that have inspired me to try to redefine how I view the world.

Bill's father wore NASCAR T-shirts, hats, and socks, and he spoke with a thick southern accent; despite Bill's short hair, one could not look at him without seeing (imagining?) the faintest hint of a mullet peeking out from underneath his cap. Upon being asked his name, Bill would reply, his boyish, drawling voice raised to a yell, "I'm Bill who doesn't play by the rules," and in a much softer tone, as if beginning an unrelated sentence, add, "too much." It clearly articulated a desire for freedom, while not creating an inconvenient commitment to rebellion. I support questioning authority, finding your own path, and civil disobedience. However, occasionally the status quo deserves credence. Thus I am striving to be "John Ivey who doesn't play by the rules…too much."

Like Bill, Alfred was not one to be hemmed in by society's expectations. With amazing consistency, he would come in to camp with his pants or shirt on backwards, and sometimes he would return from the bathroom missing one, the other, or both. He spoke with an astonishing vocabulary and a voice that sounded like he had just learned to talk. The incident with Alfred that I found most inspiring followed his biting another camper's ear. The camp director was talking to Alfred, who was in time-out, explaining that he would have to call Alfred's mom. "No! No! Dat would be tewible…Can't you call my dad's fwiend? He knows our famiwy vewy well." Alfred knew he was beaten, but he never gave up. After his dad's friend, he suggested two grandmothers before the director ended the conversation. His persistence was impressive. No matter how far out an idea might have seemed, he was ready to suggest it as an alternative to something he found disagreeable. I have found that too many people are willing to give up too quickly on issues that are important to them. Like Alfred, I believe we should always suggest even that which seems impossible or laughable. The effort might turn into a compromise, or even be the best idea in its own right.

Alfred and Bill each demonstrated admirable qualities. Their behavior showed that kids often approach problems and questions from angles older people cannot imagine. The way children absorb and react to life can provide others with interesting ideas on how they can take the best and most unusual notions of children and apply them to make their lives more interesting and fulfilling.

John Ivey Eagles attends Haverford College.

Essay Review

wisdom in unexpected places

Colleges love applicants who can learn from those who are different from them. By highlighting lessons from the mindset of elementary schoolers, author John Ivey Eagles finds an ingenious way of showing that he can learn from anyone. This sort of openness is solid gold to institutions that place a high value on diversity. Direct quotes from his "teachers," a couple of wayward kids, add the concrete detail (and humor) that make this essay sing. Says Eagles, "I found it very helpful to put out a draft that I felt pretty good about and then leave it alone for three or four days and come back to it as a reader, rather than as an editor, to see what I thought."

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