Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.
When I was in fifth grade, we moved to a new neighborhood. Me being a shy girl and a daughter of a single mother, I did not adjust well to new places at all. We had not ever shifted a house before but I had changed a few schools so I knew that being “the new girl” was not something I could cope up with so easily. I remember waking up in that new house and being incredibly scared. Thank God we shifted in June and I had three months before school opened. On our third night in the new house, one of our neighbors came over with a house warming present. My mom called her inside and I immediately noticed a girl about my age with the young lady who was our neighbor. Being the shy girl that I was I just stood in the corner of the room and said my hellos from the far end. I noticed that the girl did not say anything in return. Too consumed by my own awkwardness I did not pay attention to the fact that the girl did not speak to anyone. Not a single word. My mom knew me well and did not push me out of my comfort zone by telling me to try and talk to the girl or her mom. After they left, my mom told me that the girl could not speak. She was born with some problem in her vocal cords. She had excellent hearing though. Later that week we went to the neighbors’ house. To my surprise the girl was the jolliest person I had ever met. She ran down to greet us and took my hand and led me to her room. In the few minutes I spent with her, I had forgotten all my shyness. How could a person like me with no physical or mental impairment be such an introvert? That one moment changed my life forever. We have since shifted our house five times. Five times I have had to be the new girl but my confidence has never let me down. It has been six years since I met the girl who could not speak, the girl I call my best friend now, the girl who is the reason for my confidence and bravery.
The lessons we take from failure can be fundamental to later success. Recount an incident or time when you have experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
I have always loved playing the piano. From as long as I can remember, I used to watch videos of famous pianist playing the instrument so beautifully. It was something about the sound that each individual key made that made me feel whole. On my thirteenth birthday my mom got me a grand piano. That is the first time I fell in love. I used to play it all day and all night. And eventually I got good at it. I did not have a teacher or an instructor. I looked at videos online and was on a mission to self-educating myself. By the time I was fifteen I played it swiftly. To my own self I was already a world class pianist. Thinking back to that time now, I think I got very over confident and prided myself for being so good. Two months after I turned fifteen there was a local musical competition where children from all over town came to show off their musical skills. I enlisted for the competition too. Judging myself I thought I was quite good at my skill and instead of practicing I basically just wasted all my free time with friends. You know how it is when you are fifteen. You’re young and wild and free. You want to try new things. You forget the importance of things already learned, of the hours sacrificed doing the things you love. You get lazy. That is exactly what I was going through. The night before the competition I just practiced the piece I was going to play once and went to sleep. The next day I was a disaster at the competition. I forgot the notes to my piece mid-way through my performance. I failed miserably. This was perhaps the most embarrassing incident for me. Initially I could not understand what I had done wrong. How could this happen to me? I was defensive. But eventually my mom had a long talk with me, a much needed talk. She made me realize all the things I was doing wrong. I had forgotten the real important things life had given me. She made me understand that over confidence and pride would never take me far. To this day I thank her for making me appreciate the important things in life. I have participated in that music competition twice more and have won it once and stood second the next year.
Candidates respond to all three essay topics. There is a 100-word minimum and a 250-word maximum for each essay.
Samples Short Essays
1. Stanford students possess an intellectual vitality. Reflect on an idea or experience that has been important to your intellectual development.
From my early years I can recall a lot of shouting and screaming in my house. I was the only child of a husband and wife who did not love each other. Some afternoons when the tension in the house grew worse I would sit on the front steps of my house just gazing at the fields outside. It was on one of such rainy days that I sat outside hoping that the fighting would stop. The rain was a light shower and the clouds weren’t thick. Without me really noticing, the sun had come out from somewhere between the clouds giving way to a beautiful rainbow. I was four. I had never seen a rainbow before but I knew what it was. Gazing at something so beautiful, I made up my mind. After every rainstorm there will be a rainbow. After every fight, there will be silence. After every moment of despair, there will be happiness.
2. Virtually all of Stanford's undergraduates live on campus. Write a note to your future roommate that reveals something about you or that will help your roommate—and us—know you better.
Hi future roommate! When you wake up one fine morning, please don’t be surprised to see all your things set in an orderly fashion. I am a kind of obsessed with keeping things in order and organizing my room (our room). I want you to know that I am not a neatness freak. I just like to keep things where we can find them easily. This is a huge advantage for you because I do not mind setting your half of the closet or cleaning your study table. P.s I also love to wake up early so if you ever want breakfast in bed, I am the person you should contact.
3. What matters to you, and why?
This is unarguably the easiest question for me to answer. My mother has been my rock since day one. She has endured a lot of hardships in life and has always made me her number one priority. So the thing that matters most to me is my perfect relationship with my mom. I would not want it any other way. Putting aside all the things that I owe to her and just going back to the basics, I would never want anything in my life to be changed because all our circumstances made me closer to my mom. She is my greatest supporter and believer. I think everyone needs a person like her in their life. It might not be their mom, but it has to be someone.
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