W4, #3: PG 300 OF YOUR AUTOBIOGRAPHY

Set-Up: Next year — as an 11th grader — you will begin to think about the process of applying to colleges and universities around the United States (or beyond).

Part of the application process requires writing essays to help the university learn something intriguing about you. Not only do they want to learn facts (grades, SATs, etc.), they also want your creativity and attitude.

One of the typical essay questions you may have to answer asks you to write “page 300” of your autobiography. Strange, huh?

This means:

  • you have to decide what would be taking place on page 300
  • you only have one page to write everything
  • you need to figure out how to make your reader interested in the process

Challenge:

  • Creatively begin “page 300” of your life story — aka your autobiography — in such a way that it will catch the attention of a college admissions team
  • Be creative.

Length: 10+ sentences

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13 responses to “W4, #3: PG 300 OF YOUR AUTOBIOGRAPHY

  1. …terrified and thrilled. Thinking about it was like looking into that vast ocean. It was simply an ocean on the surface, but underneath there was so much more to see, to gaze at, and to be terribly frightened of.

    It was the start of a new beginning, something I’d reference my entire life. I didn’t know what it was the start of exactly, but I managed to have a couple of almost-anxiety attacks about who knows what. But that’s what I knew: absolutely nothing.

    Now? Well I would do fine academically, but my other world would be a complete roller coaster. I would watch my best friend’s life fall apart, break out of something old and dive into something new, but then find the new to put me in the most awful place I’ve ever been in. I would have my heart mended, I would lose myself, I would fight and reconcile, and I would take so many lessons from everything I went through.

    As I sat there on that beach with the people I love most, I wondered if I would be okay. I wondered that then and so many times throughout freshman year. I wonder how things would have went if I could go back in time and tell myself that I ultimately…

    (End of page 300)

    ***

    Mr. Long: So pleased to see that you started the top of the page with the end of a sentence from the previous page. A clever/subtle touch, also at the end. So wish I knew what took place on the next page based on the way you ‘end’ it.

    Love the “new beginning” transition from the ocean moment. Works quite well as a metaphor and something quite literal. And you catch the reader off-guard in a really great way, too.

    In terms of your writing style, I appreciate the layering of descriptive phrases. Like the waves, actually.

    Unexpected shift back to the literal water when you end up on the beach.

  2. That summer before sophomore year became the best summer I ever had. I was almost never home so that was hard, but everything I did while I was gone was amazing. I volunteered at a camp for two weeks, and that was one of the best experiences of my life.

    I made 13 wonderful new friendships that I never wanted to let go and grew so much as a person. It was the most tired I had ever been, but I didn’t care. I loved every second of it. We got up at 6:45 A.M., worked all day and then went to bed somewhere between 1:30 and 2:00 A.M., but that didn’t matter. We raked leaves, served food and washed dishes all day but it never got old. I formed close relationships with my fellow Junior Staffers that I never thought possible. I was the youngest of the group (me, an uprising sophomore with 3 uprising juniors, 5 uprising seniors, and 3 uprising college freshman) but age made no difference. We were a family and we all hated having to go home.

    Every person said that they wished they could stay all summer instead of just two weeks. The day after I came home was Fourth of July and I left again the 5th.

    This time I was going on a mission trip to Utah with my church high school youth group. I was ecstatic to learn that one of my friends from Junior Staff was going to the exact same place through the same organization. I got to hang out with her even more, and we grew even closer. While I was on this mission trip I got to build two porches and two sets of stairs for a family who lived in a mobile home. While on this trip I found out that the county I was in is one of the top 30 poorest counties in the United States. Getting to help out just a little made a difference in these people’s lives.

    The home I worked at had two little girls, and everyday we were there they would come out of their house and spend the whole day with us. They wanted to know what we were doing every time we did something new, and they wanted to help us build their porch. They were constantly laughing and having fun which helped us keep going in the heat. They were also the source of many water fights. We were sad to leave them, but our week of service was up. The other 5 people in my crew were amazing and really great to get to know. We were from all over the U.S. but we felt like we were really close by the end of the week.

    After my week in Utah, I got to come home and relax for a week, before leaving again. So I was home for a few days, but the Saturday after I got home I left again, this time to be a junior leader on the junior high mission trip for my church. I got to help keep the crazy Jr. High kids under control for the long 10 hour van ride to Minneapolis, Minnesota. I heard some of the oddest things I had ever heard, but it was a fun experience. We camped out on the way up there and I got to listen to the 6th, 7th, and 8th grade girls freak out when they learned they wouldn’t get to shower that night. I assured them that it was alright, all they had done that day was ride in vans. They were not ‘happy campers’ to say the least.

    When we finally arrived in Minneapolis the next day, we met all the other youth groups we would be working with that week, and it was really cool to see all the kids forming new friendships. I was really proud of how they included everyone, and how fearless they were to just be themselves. I realized how different they are from high school kids in that respect.

    Anyway that night I learned I was going to be working at Pillsbury House for their summer arts program. I was excited to get to work with kids, but didn’t really know what to expect. The kids were crazy but awesome. The Pillsbury House has an emphasis on fitness, so everyday the kids start off stretching and then go play at local parks, or on rainy days in the basement for at least two hours. It is really fun to play dodge ball with those kids. Even the 5 year olds could throw ridiculously hard. That week the younger kids (ages 4 to 8) were starting swim lessons. I got to help with them and had a blast. They enjoyed the

    ***

    Mr. Long: After having spent many, many years as a camp counselor/division leader, I can’t tell you enough how much I enjoyed the reminder. Very cool that you were in a position to be a Junior Staff member at your age. I was invited to be a full-time counselor at a camp for handicapped children when I was between 9th and 10th grades…and can tell you that it only gets better the older you get. Hopefully you’ll stick with it, even in college (and perhaps beyond?).

    The rest of the entry is fascinating. I’m assuming that it’s all true…and if so, wow, what a wonderful summer you had! No wonder you thought to have it be part of your bio.

  3. It had been one year. A whole entire year had flown by without warning and in 365 short days my life was completely different. I was a sophomore, starting drivers ed, and just moving on with my life.

    I didn’t even realize when that day rolled around until my dad mentioned it that morning. I felt so guilty for not remembering but really I was just amazed. It’s funny how when something tragic happens you can’t even imagine how you are going to adjust and continue.

    However I am here to tell you that slowly but surely, you find a new routine. You find a way to mold your life into a new shape and before you know it the way things were is just a distant memory.

    We went to her grave on that Saturday, a place where 12 months of high school, friends, and summer vacation were not enough to untie the knot in my stomach. Still, I came to find that even if just a little, being there didn’t hurt quite as much. I was sad more for the elderly woman putting twelve white roses on her husband’s headstone than I was for myself. I still had my entire life of ahead of me, but her partner for life, her companion in sickness and in health, was gone forever.

    Every day I find small signs that I’m slowly healing. Anything that triggers a memory doesn’t make me tense and upset, it just makes me smile. In an ironic way, I have a daily reminder of just how extremely lucky I truly am. When I needed it the most, I had friends who cried, laughed, and sometimes just sat with me in complete silence because even if not a single word was said, they were there. They would always be there.

    ***

    Mr. Long: Really appreciated how you wove in a life lesson mid-way through (rather than a ‘thesis’ at the beginning, since this is a ‘creative’ story that allows you to make up the rules). Well said: “However I am here to tell you that slowly but surely, you find a new routine. You find a way to mold your life into a new shape and before you know it the way things were is just a distant memory.”

    Powerful line (short but dramatic): “Every day I find small signs that I’m slowly healing.”

  4. …of April 8th, 2008, the hardest thing I have ever gone through as a young adult, really hardly more than a kid.

    I had been so depressed lately, though I wasn’t sure why. My mother was there to help me and comfort me, but she understood it even less than I did. It lasted for days. I kept telling myself that tomorrow would be better, tomorrow would be better, but it never was. It was as if I was going through my midlife crisis – at age fifteen. I felt worthless. Everything I did was stupid and a waste of time. I would never be anyone. I felt ugly and depressing to other people, and I was certain that I would be alone for my entire life. There was nothing I could give to the world. According to my journal entry April 6th, “only the tiniest fraction of the world will even know I existed,” and according to my entry on April 7th, I was just “another body taking up food and putting carbon dioxide into the air.”

    But then, the next day, something happened. Slowly. I was in the car on the way to school, and I picked up a magazine with a section about Dinotopia. It was just some silly line of children’s books about dinosaurs, but for some reason one of the illustrations stuck with me. It struck a spark of inspiration in my head, an idea for my novel. I forgot all about the fact that my novel was worthless and that I would never finish it, and all throughout geometry I doodled ideas on the back of my homework. It wasn’t until study hall that it hit me. For the first time in what seemed like the longest, most despairing days of my entire life, I was feeling happy. I enjoyed drawing and working on my novel. So what if no one else cares? I enjoyed it! Right there, in that squeaky little desk, in that cold and stuffy little classroom, in the middle of that tedious little day, life had meaning again. I realized then, at age fifteen, the most important thing that any person ever needs to grasp:
    -Life has meaning when you decide it does.-

    I will always remember and cherish that day, April 8th of 2008. No matter how small it was, and no matter how small I am, life has always had meaning ever since.

    To this day that novel remains unfinished, but right now maybe I’m just happy to keep working on it. I’m sure that someday I’ll…

    ***

    Mr. Long: One can’t help but be frozen in their tracks reading these lines: “According to my journal entry April 6th, “only the tiniest fraction of the world will even know I existed,” and according to my entry on April 7th, I was just “another body taking up food and putting carbon dioxide into the air.” Been there. And definitely felt that way myself through chunks of HS. Time is a powerful healer, but no doubt those feeling seem to hijack every other thought/instinct you have at the same time.

    Made me smile on many levels: “It was just some silly line of children’s books about dinosaurs, but for some reason one of the illustrations stuck with me. It struck a spark of inspiration in my head, an idea for my novel. I forgot all about the fact that my novel was worthless and that I would never finish it, and all throughout geometry I doodled ideas on the back of my homework.”

    Should be immortalized in stone somewhere: “I realized then, at age fifteen, the most important thing that any person ever needs to grasp: -Life has meaning when you decide it does.-“

  5. Student #4 (follow-up)

    (P.S. I tore off that doodling from my geometry homework and pinned it above my desk. The storyline for my novel has changed since then, and I can draw better now, but still I keep it up there. It’s only a scrap of notebook paper, but for me it’s the most valuable thing I own.)

    ***

    Mr. Long: Hopefully one day you’ll put that ‘doodle’ in a frame…and put it on your mantel, on your office desk, in the middle of your studio. Or in your wallet so it’ll be with you everywhere you go.

    Powerful. Truly.

    BTW, if you have a chance, come ask me about a book called Spilling Open: The Art of Becoming Yourself” (and one that followed it). One of my prized possessions. And it’s in the classroom, ready to be ‘adopted’ for a few weeks if you (or anyone else) would like to hang out with it at home. One of the great visual soul discoveries I’ve ever run into.

    Here’s what Amazon will tell you about it: http://www.amazon.com/Spilling-Open-Art-Becoming-Yourself/dp/0375756485

  6. So there I was, standing in front of my brother’s old car wondering where I should go to first. Having just got my license, I was so excited to just drive around. Sadly I now had to experience the horror known as incredibly high gas prices. I expected to be in at-least one-hundred dollars of debt by the end of the school year.

    I ended up driving to guitar center, which was a good fifteen miles away. Going there is pretty close to every guitar players dream. I spent a good three hours there arriving home just in time for dinner.

    The next morning i had the great pleasure of driving around eighteen miles to school. School ended up being your average day, then afterwards tennis practice with our school’s team. Our team this year was not expected to be good, losing our 5 best players, but however we had a fun group of guys. After tennis, I drive home somewhat sweaty from the mid-april heat of North Texas.

    My parents had given me some money so i was pretty happy to pick up some Chipotle, which is nearly everyones favorite Mexican restaurant. Getting home around seven, I tried to start my homework but i ended up just spacing off about my day, but, eventually i finished most of it, and the rest would be finished in the morning. I went to bed early that night to get a good rest and maybe have an interesting dream.

  7. Here I am almost in a time blur. Time has flown right past me and I feel like I’m watching my life through a lens watching my every move, mistake, and success. Each day goes by slowly but as a whole I don’t know where each day goes.

    It’s the first day of high school and from everywhere I’m hearing about how fast life in high school blows by and to cherish the freedom and the smooth life of high school. That was more than 365 days ago but yet I remember that one moment. I’m laughing and always try to enjoy every moment I can because one day it will be the last. Today is a special day; I finally realize that I don’t have to worry about the life after high school (college life) and how the relationships with the people in high school will change once graduation. I’m walking down the hallway and I’m with my closest friends all in a circle talking about stuff that really doesn’t matter but what matters is that we can all laugh at the same things and talk about the most random things with no problems.

    The point is, is that at this moment looking from outside, almost a lens, I’m on-looking at the sight of happiness that will always be with me. The friends I have will be with me forever. For now, I live life to the fullest and enjoy the moments as they occur and remember the ones that are long gone…..

  8. I wasn’t that much of a loser, but in those first few days of fifth grade, I was pressured to play a game where we pretended to pants people, and a horrible girl, who wasn’t discovered to be so until the next year, told me to go pants one of the other girls because we were still playing the game. We weren’t of course, so this poor girl got pantsed in front of the co-ed PE class. By consequence, I was shunned by this girl and her friends, which included all but two of our class. These two were outcasts also, so I spent my days with 2 girls as “the pantser”. The next two years, I gained and lost no friends.

    Two of the girls in the grade were always picking on everyone. One of them lived in the suburb next to mine, so she began to take the bus halfway through sixth grade. She pretty much is the reason I no longer have only two friends. She was horrible to me on the bus as well as at school for the first few months, but began to soften after seeing that she had no one else to talk to. We became great friends, and I began my climb out of the misfit pit.

    By the beginning of the next year, both of them were my best friends, along with many others, and the original girl eventually forgave me for pantsing her and we were friends too. The world decided to let me have people in my life, and I was grateful. I began to grow a brain, learning, however slowly, how to handle myself in public.

  9. Now here I am, writing about why you should choose me among thousands of others. I never would have believed that I could write 300 pages about myself. I have written about my grades and how well I’ve done on my PSAT but now comes the writing from the inside. I attended one school for 11 years of my life, ready to begin my high school career at my alma mater. One month before school started my school closed. I was forced to attend a new school where I knew no one. After attending a year and a half at The Oakridge School, my school closing turned out for the better. Now, in the beginning of my sophomore year, I am surrounded by wonderful teachers(wink) who only want the best for me. And although I sometimes believe that I can’t juggle life and school work, I think about my dreams of attending Harvard……

  10. I could see our friendship fall, and for the first time, I almost knew that was it. I stood up and left them, my best friend Thery, Franzi and Julia. I left them with Kati, who I used to stand between her and Thery. I normally didn’t get in fights with her. Never with Thery. But every since I moved again, it’s been a rollercoaster ride.

    I got up out of my and went up a couple rows, in the large subway and sat down on an empty bench, across from a stranger who just stared at me weirdly. People looked at me. Is this the first time you have seen a fight between two adolescent brats? I sank down and tried to calm down. But that’s slightly difficult when you are still boiling with anger. How dare she? Shouldn’t she have just been glad that I even got her a ride home? My mom has three other children, and its night, and we’re here on vacation. We’re not a cab service. “Call her now! I don’t want to wait in the cold!” she said. I don’t have a phone here, nor did my mom pick up the first time. She knew when to pick us up! This is Germany it is always cold! Get used to it! I slid down in my seat. Thery appeared from the aisle, looked around, saw me and sat down next to me.

    “Thanks”, I said to her. Now that’s a friend. She came after me, even though I was the one who blew up. And I wasn’t ready to cool off, just yet.

    Franzi appeared next to us. She stood and in her “goody-two shoes” voice she said: “Why did you say that? She is crying now.” I said that because my family is not a pickup service, because she should be happy we aren’t walking home, because the car isn’t even large enough for my own family and because we are still in a huge jet lag! But I kept quiet and stared back. “The two of you are her best friends!” she went on. Great guilt trip line, did they come up with that all by themselves?

    Kati used that line a lot against me. In eighth grade, where we had our first and worst fight ever, she made Anna Maria come up to me and give me that line: You are her best friend. Whoa, as far as I remember, Thery has been my best friend since first grade! Since always!

    Franzi left. Thery and I discussed the situation in a whisper and as a best friend, she agreed with me. Julia came up to us. Reminding us Kati was crying, we were her best friends and that she was going to get driven home by Julia’s mom. Good, I thought, more space for me and a person who actually cares.

    When we arrived at Markt Schwaben, somehow Julia came to the same door with us, to get out. She gave us the same words as before and I replied the same way. Kati said herself she wanted to go home with you because her Bavarian rear didn’t want to wait in the cold. It hurts when a close friend since fourth grade, says something like that. As though she was trying to make me feel bad for moving to Texas. Get over it! I moved, not the first time in my life! When we got out of the subway, it was chilly. Chilly for German winter standards, not freezing.

    Kati’s new ride was already waiting. Franzi and Julia said, bye. Kati didn’t even turn around.

  11. Chill. Finally I was relaxed and away from stressful [school name removed], I was on my chosen path to greatness. I didn’t have to eat the catering service lunch any longer, I could go get a Which Wich sandwich and not have to sign out.

    I was finally free, to speak my mind and not have to worry about the image my parents wanted me to keep. Now don’t think this meant i went crazy, even though I did. I could hang out with friends hours on end and never even have to go home i could crash on the couch or in a lawn chair on the balcony if i wanted to. High School was great but I was ready to live my life and use my education that I had received after four long years.

    Enough of what I could do, now for what I did.

    My first day alone away from home was quite eventful. I rushed (the fraternity of my choice) and was awaiting the outcome. I couldn’t wait to have that select group of friends that I could count on. I thought it was really important to get involved in such a socially oriented group to have the most memorable college experience I could.

  12. …..first day of high school. As always being very nervous on first days but especially because it was high school. Where everyone had always something to say about you or behind your back. The place where you love to see your friends and hate to see your enemies. My friends and I had alot of classes together so I was very happy not having to walk around the whole building alone trying to find one class. It also helps knowing some of the upper classmen beforehand during pre-season. So that day meeting everybody was alot of fun, but a big blur too anxious about the whole day of actually being in high school. It was then that I realized everything was going to change from now on for the better and for the worse at times. After school I remember going to practice and everybody asking “how was your first day of high school?” Of course I would respond “It was good” or “Sort of over whelming”. Then they would say “Yeah that’s high school”. After practice, I got home and got asked the same question and gave the same answer. Then the next day is what I remember most….

  13. Mr. Long: content falls well short of the expectations. No credit given.

    “bbbbbrrrriiiinggg” “bbbrrrrinnngg”

    “Aww man, mom just five more minutes please!!”

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