A Great Arizona State Essay Example
Arizona State University Barrett Honors College provides a smaller community within the large research university with increased access to benefits like faculty mentorships and unique research and internship opportunities. In this post, we’ll go over an essay a real student submitted to Barrett Honors College, and we’ll discuss the strengths and areas of improvement. (Names and identifying information have been changed, but all other details are preserved)
Alexandra Johnson, an expert advisor from CollegeVine advising, provided commentary on this post. Advisors offer one-on-one guidance on everything from essays to test prep to financial aid. If you want help writing your essays or feedback on drafts, check out CollegeVine advising to book a consultation with Alexandra Johnson or any of our skilled advisors.
Please note: Looking at examples of real essays students have submitted to colleges can be very beneficial to get inspiration for your essays. You should never copy or plagiarize from these examples when writing your own essays. Colleges can tell when an essay isn’t genuine and will not view students favorably if they plagiarized.
Prompt: Discuss how a piece of art (painting, literature, photograph, etc.) or popular culture (song, comic book, etc.) helped you realize something new about yourself or the world. What was that realization, and how did the piece of art or pop culture bring about this change in your thinking? Do not simply describe the piece of art or pop culture; instead, focus on its effect on you. (300-500 words)
Perching up from my lounging position in the recliner, I watched intensely as Bruce Willis dreadfully observed his wife drop his wedding band, revealing that his character had been dead for the entirety of the film, unbeknownst to the audience and himself. Instinctively, I reached for my phone, as I often did after movies, to discover what had just happened on the screen before me. I was met with videos, articles, and all forms of media dissecting the film. As it explained, the director, M. Knight Shyamalan, hinted at the character’s supernatural status throughout the entire film. In fact, Bruce Willis’s character is not acknowledged by any characters in the film other than the little boy who can “see dead people”, and I never thought twice about it. To put it simply, I was fooled. In what may have been the most well-executed plot twist of all time, The Sixth Sense revealed that sometimes the simplest answers are the hardest to uncover.
Everyone has experienced it before, the “aha” moment in which they make a significant realization. For me, this instance was never more prevalent than after watching The Sixth Sense. The entire film, the director was providing me with the clues and information necessary to uncover the answer, but I, along with virtually all other viewers of the film, missed it. As I look to begin a career in business after completing my education, I find that reading between the lines and uncovering these answers is paramount. Take for example, Mark Zuckerberg starting Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg had no insider information or knowledge that was kept from the rest of the world. Everyone knew that computers and technology were the way of the future; everyone knew that kids loved their cell phones and social interaction. The difference is that Mark Zuckerberg recognized these needs and started one of the largest enterprises in the world. The concepts seem simple once they are presented, but the ability to discover them is what is important.
Information is something that is available to everyone, they just have to seek it out. With the significant research funding provided by Barrett through The Bidstrup and Barrett Research Fellowship and other programs, I know that I will have the ability to uncover this information. One specific project I would like to get involved with is the fight against the climate crisis. Just like The Sixth Sense, the writing is on the wall. The evidence is clear and the need to combat this crisis is evident. As an aspiring marketing major, I hope to utilize the information gained through my research to discover the most effective way to persuade citizens to act with environmental integrity. The unique close-knit nature of the Barrett students and faculty will aid me in my effort to achieve this goal. For me, it is not about “seeing dead people” but about seeing the answers to complex problems in business.
What the Essay Did Well
This essay does a wonderful job of answering the prompt. The writer shares a piece of popular culture, The Sixth Sense, and focuses their analysis on the part of the film relevant to their realization. They then expand on this realization before tying it to their life. This personal connection to their life and the Honors College is key to the success of this essay.
The writer starts with great imagery and instead of just talking about the film, they discuss their reaction to it. From the first sentence, the writer is a part of the story when they say, “Perching up from my lounging position in the recliner, I watch intensely…” They continue by writing about their “aha” moment and how they came to it. The end of the first paragraph leaves the reader with an idea of the essay’s message: “sometimes the simplest answers are the hardest to uncover.” Having a sentence like this at the end of your first paragraph serves both to excite the reader about the rest of the essay and ensure that the realization part of the prompt is clearly answered.
An example about Mark Zuckerberg serves as a transition from how the writer’s realization played out in a movie to why it’s relevant in everyday life. This flows well into the last paragraph where the writer talks about how they want to use Barrett Honors College’s resources to achieve their goals.
The last paragraph is strong because of how personal it is to the writer. The reader learns that the writer wants to major in marketing and conduct research about environmental issues. The essay comes full circle by relating the writer’s research goals with the movie. Doing this gives the reader closure and shows that all the information in the essay was significant.
What Could Be Improved
While writing about Mark Zuckerberg in the second paragraph does connect the film to real life, it doesn’t provide any insight about the writer. This space would be better served by elaborating on ideas in the third paragraph about what the writer wants to research, or by providing an example of a time that the writer discovered a simple answer.
The last paragraph could also benefit from even more specific details. These could include what the writer wants to research with the school funding, what professors the writers want to work with, and how the “unique close-knit nature of the Barrett students and faculty” will help the writer with their research. As a general rule, the more details you can provide when talking about why you want to go to a school, the better!
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