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Common App: College Admission Essay Sample

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As I sat there, a wave of apprehension rolled over me. I don’t have to do this. Nobody is forcing me to. In fact, there would be a score of people happy to see me give up. I drew a heavy sigh as I crumpled the paper in front of me and tossed it, letting it join the host of incomplete thoughts in the waste bin. A glance at the calendar told me I had three days until the band passes judgment on my ability to serve as the next drum major. Spurred by the approaching deadline, I retrieved the paper from the bin and headed to the mirror to rehearse my speech. Standing tall, I pretended to gaze around my audience.

“Hello, I’m trying out…” my voice faltered as I caught sight of my reflection. I paused, taking a moment to reassess myself. I am a freshman, yet the girl in the mirror looked older. If I was indeed older, perhaps I would’ve been met with less opposition from the senior class. To try out for drum major as a freshman was taboo, and many doubted that I could succeed due to my “lack of experience” in the marching band. Rather than being discouraged, their opposition propelled me to dedicate hours into preparing for the audition. In the days leading up to the audition, I convinced myself that if I studied the music score hard enough, if I practiced conducting enough, I could change the opinion of the band. It was due to this work ethic that I was able to win the majority of the band’s vote. Little did I know that I had also received the highest rating for conducting as well as approval from the staff panel. The call that I received Monday morning changed my life, as I took on the position of drum major.

As I attended leadership camps, I realized that being drum major required more than just a loud command voice and the ability to conduct (or as I like to call it, interpretive hand dancing). Being the drum major required that I set good examples, assist others with technique, mediate conflicts between section leaders, and simply support the band. Attending camp broadened my knowledge about the technicalities of leadership, yet conversing with the other drum majors led me to realize that leadership cannot be taught, but must be developed through experience. The term “drum major” became redefined as I learned that I must be prepared to serve others, putting their needs before my own. As a naive freshman, I pictured the prestige and glory associated with the position. After three years of drum majoring, I now understand that drum major is not a title, but a role, akin to how leadership is not a position, but an action. As my disposition towards leadership improved, I began to apply myself to school, wanting to become more involved as I had with the band. No longer afraid of failure, I ran for club positions, shared my thoughts in class, and entered science fairs. While I ran the risk of embarrassment or espousing a failed hypothesis, I learned the value of failure. Even in failure, there is experience that will lend itself to future endeavors.

While I occasionally joke to my friends about losing my band childhood, I do not regret auditioning for drum major. The process itself taught me the value of perseverance and discipline. By transferring criticism into motivation for self-improvement, I have been able to succeed. In the past, the girl in the mirror may have looked unsure of her place, uncertain in the face of opposition. If she were to step in front of the mirror today, she would see a confident drum major, a leader unlimited by the bounds of society.

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Common App: College Admission Essay Sample. (2018, April 25). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 7, 2023, from
“Common App: College Admission Essay Sample.” GradesFixer, 25 Apr. 2018,
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Common App: College Admission Essay Sample [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2018 Apr 25 [cited 2023 Jun 7]. Available from:
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