College Essays

We’re supposed to start writing our essays for college applications, but I’m a little stuck. The issue is, I have an essay that I really like, that is probably the best thing I’ve ever written, but there’s a limit to how many words our essay is. The limit is 650 words. Want to guess how many my essay is? 1371 words. One thousand three hundred and seventy-one. That is over double the maximum amount of words allowed for an essay. This means I either have to start from scratch or somehow trim down the essay until it’s only 650 words, both of which would be very difficult. And of course, these essays are going to be really important to my applications because, for the UCs at least, colleges won’t look at my SAT score which was actually pretty good and which I will probably improve upon. They only look at GPA, extracurriculars, and essays, so my essays have to be good. Anyway wish me luck, I’m gonna need it.

How to Format a College Admissions Essay - Wordvice
photo cred- wordvice blog


As I look towards the AP English Literature Exam, I find that my favorite book can be applied to almost any prompt.

When you truly admire a work of literature, you can find obscure concepts within it. The Great Gatsby has been my favorite book to analyze and read. Once you finish a class, you can feel the literature being put behind you as you close each of the books. However, AP English Literature class has given me an opportunity to revisit old stories and use my newer skills to analyze these works further.

I look forward to using my personal collection of stories I’ve read to answer prompts on the AP exam, as it will allow me to reflect on my academic highlights from school. As I recall each story, I can remember the class conversations I’ve participated in and the numerous essays I’ve written. I hope to remember these stories into my older years and apply them to my own life.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Art by Francis Cugat


For much longer than I am willing to admit I have been obsessed with flags. My trusty yellow legal pad was covered with tiny drawings of real and imagined flags, and I talked extensively about the tackiness of specific flags to anyone who would listen, and, perhaps most embarrassingly, I referred to my study of flags as vexillology. I love the way the perfect geometry of a good flag looks when it is billowing freely in the wind, and a flag at half mast brings my world down with it. A flag is noble and monolithic and is ideally the distillation of a place, but there is also massive weight in the symbolism of a flag. Flags can tell the story of oppression, and they can symbolize a history fraught with complications. I love Los Angeles, but I hate its flag (it is just undeniably ugly). For centuries, a black flag with a skull and crossbones made grown men quiver, and now it is reserved for children’s games. The black, red, green, and white of the Arab flags unite those ancient, bickering states, and the stars and stripes tear through the wind on diesel pickups as they roar down highway 33. 

The American flag is also the focus of the first section of Arthur Grace’s America 101. The photobook describes the way Grace sees this glorious and hypocritical paradise of oddity. I spent so much time reading this book that it changed the way I take photos. But it has also changed the way I see the American flag in general. Grace juxtaposes the immense pride Americans have for the flag with the mundane usage that it receives in advertising or on smokestacks. These two parts of Arthur Grace’s America, one, comically capitalistic, and the other, powerfully patriotic, have become the lens through which I look at my own nation. 

When flying, a flag can be seen on two sides. From the perspective of my Latino heritage, I see those stars and stripes representing employment and the opportunity to support a big family. With entirely different circumstances, my Jewish point of view is focused on the underpinnings of the American beliefs in freedom and expression. The symbolism of the flag is different for everyone who views it, and that is one of its strongest powers: being something everyone can relate to.

As much as I love the American flag for personal reasons, from a design perspective, it is flawed in one way: it cannot be drawn by a child with a box of crayons. This one simple test is the true mark of a perfect flag, and the American flag falls short. There are simply too many stars for it to be crayon-able. But many great flags are similarly afflicted. The Union Jack, for example, is almost stellar, but what child knows that it is not horizontally symmetrical. Or the Mexican flag—beautiful, bold, and impossible to scribble. There are, in fact, perfect flags, unmistakable even in chicken scratch like the elegant Swiss flag and the simple beauty of the Japanese hinomaru. 

To me a flag is a poem. At first it presents as simply beautiful, but with time and knowledge of its history, a flag unfurls the silky layers of its meaning, its true power. A flag can be glossed over, or it can be analyzed and decoded and still maintain its original beauty. Flags tell a story, a history of a place, and that is why I am still fascinated by them. 

What A Month.


And I’m already feeling the symptoms of senioritis.

A stress-packed conglomeration of college applications, standardized testing, school, cross country meets, and more college applications.

The first day of October commenced with a good early morning dosage of standardized testing. Yes, the SAT’s. However, I don’t remember ever sleeping so long (9 hours) during my five-year stay at Ojai Valley School.

I was also assigned four reading journals and an essay this week for AP Literature. How I am going to finish those assignments, I have yet to figure out but I will get it done.

My next big event is this upcoming Wednesday. At Thacher, I am running in a cross country meet. As well as on the Wednesday after that and (surprise surprise) the Wednesday after that. This is my first time running cross country and I am nervous. I don’t know what to expect. All I know is that the course will be three miles but I guess I will find out in three days exactly how it will be.

On October 22, I will be taking the ACT…in Oxnard. Which means that I will be waking up at five o’ clock, getting breakfast somehow, driving down to make it by 7:45 a.m. to register and take the test.

Two days before that, I will have figured out my SAT score from the test I took yesterday.

One day before, October 21, I would have found out whether or not I have become a finalist in the Questbridge National College Match program. This is my most important deadline and I expect myself to be checking every moment of the day for a notification from the program telling me whether or not I have made it. If I do make the program, I will be able to be offered a four-year full scholarship at the schools of my dreams, Williams College and Amherst College. I am anxious. I had been working on my essay for months. With the help of my mentor, Fred Alvarez, and my college counselor, Dave Edwards, I turned in my final product. Hopefully, my work has paid off.

The last weekend of October is also Parent’s Weekend here at OVS. I will be very busy having conferences with my teachers and having a seminar on that Sunday.

The UC Application is also up online as of yesterday. I need to get started on that soon because I will not have the time to work on them on the upcoming weekends.

As overwhelming as this month seems to me, I know that I need to take things one step at a time. If I bombard myself with all of these events at once, I know the quality of my work will be compromised. I just need to pray to the man up above for a break, big or small, so that my college stresses could be relieved soon. My senioritis isn’t helping either. 249 days until graduation!