I’m Already in College but I Answered a College App Essay Question Anyway…

A friend of mine contacted me asking for help writing a college essay for an esteemed university. Eager to use my love of writing to help out a friend while enhancing my skills, I found myself stumped to answer the simple essay question.

As I lay in bed at 1:00 in the morning, I found myself still concocting an answer to the question. And the answer to it is something you will find below.

Coming up with an answer to describe a community I belong to and how that’s influenced me, may seem like an easy task. But, as any good writer knows, it’s not the easy answers that get at people’s hearts or act as a stepping stone on the path towards finding the meaning of life. It’s not the over-thought ones that get you there either, though. Rather, to answer this sort of question, one needs to look towards no other place than the heart which, despite its complete and total cheese, actually leads towards some interesting answers.

My first instinct in tackling this question was to say something I’ve been involved in, the personal stuff. I started with a community of my faith and moved onto some of my hobbies after I realized that using faith would probably be a common answer among applicants.  After I explored the options of my plethora of hobbies, I realized that none of them defined me well enough to say that I truly belonged to any of them. So I moved past the concrete and into the abstract. I belong to a community of morals, of thought-provokers, of innovators. Yet none of those seemed to scratch the itch that had been bugging me since 10:00 that evening. So I pulled what I knew from philosophy class and questioned the idea of a community in general. What is a community? Do we ever actually belong to anything? Aren’t we all just a group of cells living alone in a world full of others who are equally as uncertain as we are as to what category we belong? Does one have to be labeled in a community in order to be considered successful? Why do communities exist? Would I even want to attend a university that required me to label myself in a manner that I didn’t think deserved labeling?

Then I came to a series of conclusions:

  1. Taking an existential route wouldn’t answer the question, which after all was the task I was given. It also, on a separate note, would cause me to end up in the likes of Meursault in The Stranger. Side note: it doesn’t end well.
  2. This wasn’t for my personal application and I didn’t have any desire to attend the university who desired an answer to the question.
  3. It was pushing 2:00, I couldn’t sleep, and I knew I had to get my thoughts down on paper.

So I wrote. And this is what I came up with:

I belong to a lot of communities. Everyday, I become a part of a different community. Sometimes I add new communities in and sometimes I decide that the community would be better off without me.  To say that one specific community has shaped me in a way that is more impactful or significant than another, and therefore worthy of being chosen to answer an essay question, is nothing but complete ridiculousness. I cannot type out an answer to this question without saying that it’s my belief that I don’t belong to any communities at all. How can a person who’s 19 years old have the ability or power to say that he/she really “belongs” to a community at all? In this world, what defines a community is a very broad definition. Biologically, we belong to communities based on our sex and race. But even those communities are individually determined and being born into them doesn’t necessarily equate admission. It’s my personal opinion that one doesn’t need to be a part of a community in order to answer this question. Rather, one needs to recognize that as individuals, we influence each other. We are each our own unique communities, pulling together to create a world where we can all live as one. I suppose the only real community any of us belong to is the human race. It’s what we choose to create individually that affects us with the greatest impact and makes the togetherness we use to define a community, truly exist.

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