Essay on a Person of Influence

In an effort for colleges to better understand you as a person beyond grades and test scores, they may invite students to write about important influences in their lives. Below is a student's response when asked to describe a person who influenced him in a meaningful way.

Sometimes you find your inspiration where you least expect it. I found mine in Mr. Glick, my high school’s long-time vocal teacher. Given my love of math and science, I certainly did not walk into his class in seventh grade expecting anything more than a few hours a week listening to and learning about music. Instead, I found a new passion, singing, and a teacher who, through the zeal and energy he brought to each moment in class, served as a standard against which I could measure my own efforts.

My growing love for singing has led me to audition and become a part of Mr. Glick’s most selective choir group, the A Cappella singers. Singing without the aid of any instruments, turning our combined voices into the instruments themselves, is difficult work. It requires trust, teamwork, and the willingness to take risks, because any one person out of tune will ruin the sound. When everyone works together, though, the sound that is produced is simply amazing.

Through his boundless enthusiasm for music and tireless zest for teaching, Mr. Glick has been an indirect inspiration to me since seventh grade. As my vocal teacher and my advisor (a title similar to that of homeroom teacher), he has also directly encouraged me to seek out the camaraderie, solidarity, and shared passion I experience in choir through other activities. Sports turned out to be a natural outlet for me, and I was amazed to find the same sense of intuitive and collaborative bond with my school football and basketball teams as I did in choir.

The pleasure of being part of a community defines much of my time spent in high school. This feeling of connectedness to others, of having learned from and supported others in our common path toward a shared goal, is largely the result of finding myself in Mr. Glick’s music class five years ago. Now, as a senior in the A Capella choir who is also on the varsity football and basketball teams, I am fortunate to be part of such a wonderful high school family that I helped create.

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College Application Process Timeline for Juniors

What should you be doing now to stay ahead of the curve?

Juniors may be starting to wonder more and more about the application process ahead, and what they should be doing now to stay ahead of the curve. The New York Times Choice Blog has posted a new series called Counselor’s Calendar in which two counselors from independent schools, Amy Wintermeyer and Mark Moody, offer advice on how to prepare for the application process and beyond.

Juniors need to start getting focused on the road ahead. This not only includes starting to research and visit colleges, but also thinking about what students will need to create outstanding applications. This involves creating a timeline for standardized testing (subject tests as well as the SAT or ACT), evaluating your relationships with teachers for the needed recommendations, and discussing important issues with your parents and counselors regarding finances and safety schools.

For seniors who are mostly over the application hurdle, it’s more of a waiting game at this point, as well as a concerted effort to not fall into the senior slump. For more tips on what seniors should be doing to enable their transition to college, see this posting.

The Season of Senior Slump Begins

You may want to avoid this type of behavior.

As we near spring, and the pressures of the college admission process relents, seniors may finally find themselves starting to relax, but how far should they let their responsibilities slide? In a recently posted New York Times Choice blog, Martha Merrill, dean of admission and financial aid at Connecticut College, warns students not to enter a senior slump: "We expect the students we admit will continue to demonstrate the traits that distinguished them during the admission process — throughout senior year and during the years spent on our campus. If you can’t maintain that level of success during your senior year, you cast doubt on your ability to succeed in college."

Not only will lowered performance raise red flags among admissions officers, but offers of acceptance could also be revoked, and the dean herself has admitted to revoking several over her years with the university. While this can sound a bit harsh, especially to parents who see how hard their kids have been working, this is more about wanting students to make a successful transition to college, rather than encouraging students to maintain high levels of stress. As Merrill puts it, "With applications in, seniors should take time to savor their final months of high school and enjoy family and friends. But they should also be using this important time in their lives to practice balancing academics with other commitments, and not fall victim to the "senior slack.""