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The writing supplement (essays) for Tufts University has three short-answer essays. One of them is entitled: “Let Your Life Speak.” In other words, Tufts wants you to tell them something about yourself and your life that is important about who you are. Some version of this question, asking you about your background and the places you have lived, is quite common to many colleges.

 

Here is the essay by Ben Hescott, Assistant Professor of Computer Science from December 2013 in response to “Let Your Life Speak.”

 

My hometown in rural Michigan is famous for its blueberry festival. To be honest, I am not sure why—by my count, this town of 6,336 people has fewer than 20 blueberry bushes. Sandwiched between Flint and Saginaw, it is a place that has evolved from farms to factories in such a short amount of time that the growing pains are obvious. “The Shop,” as General Motors is called, employs most of my extended family and my friends’ parents. Working at The Shop is considered a great job. Everyone in town thinks going to college is for eggheads.

 

Wanting to go to college is not the only thing that makes me stand out. I am one of three people taking AP calculus and the only one to ever take the AP Literature exam. I am probably the only student to be called into the principal’s office because of concerns about my lack of faith. I hope that I am the only one that’s been called a “pinko-commie-faggot” by his psychology teacher in class. Now, calling our football coach who reads directly from the textbook a “teacher” is a bit of a stretch, the story is true. No one is surprised that I want to go away to college. What may surprise them is why. I am not trying to find people like me, quite the opposite, I want to find people different than me.

 

 

Note:

 

  1. Note the first line – simple, straight and intriguing. ….we don’t know the name of the town but we know what it’s famous for.
  2. The second line continues with an absurdity – you are sucked into the story – why would this town be famous for its blueberry festival when there are hardly any blueberry plants.
  3. The next two sentences continue to draw a picture of the hometown. We know its exact geographic location (between Flint and Saginaw), and we know it has lot’s of GM factories that employ the author’s big family. Most people in town have not gone to college and don’t think too highly of the proposition.
  4. Then we learn in a few sentences a lot about the author. He stands out because he wants to go to college and he’s already taken advanced classes which make him “weird” in town.
  5. He builds up with very personal references by describing what other people say of him and how others treat him. Notice the examples of the “lack of faith” and the comment by the psycholog teacher.
  6. The last sentence has a logical but original twist. He wants to go to college to find people different from him, with backgrounds and histories different from his.
January 22, 2015

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