Nikola Vaptsarov Foreign Language High School, Shumen
Successful Common Application Essay
The essay demonstrates your ability to write clearly and concisely on a selected topic and helps you distinguish yourself in your own voice. What do you want the readers of your application to know about you apart from courses, grades, and test scores? Choose the option that best helps you answer that question and write an essay of no more than 650 words, using the prompt to inspire and structure your response. Remember: 650 words is your limit, not your goal. Use the full range if you need it, but don't feel obligated to do so. (The application won't accept a response shorter than 250 words.)
A Story Worth Listening to
Just like every Monday, I went through my mail and amongst the usual envelopes I noticed something peculiar. It was a small greeting card with dried violets glued to its front cover. Excitement pulsing through my veins, I opened the card and smiled as I read: “Thank you so much! Knowing that you are always there, willing to help and listen, makes our lives happier.”
*4 weeks earlier*
“You’ll see. Everything will be fine,” said my dad as he got ready for work.
“But what if I’m just not fit for the job or if I accidentally switch someone’s medicines, or maybe the elderly people will find me plain boring? After all, I don’t know how to knit or do anything like that,” I protested.
My father just laughed, patted me on the back and said goodbye. Soon enough, I was on my way. The weather was lovely for early July: the sun was shining and it was warm. The town was alive with people heading to their workplaces and children playing outside. Everything was absolutely perfect, apart from the fact that I was so anxious. A week earlier when I’d asked my parents for a place where I could help people in need, they suggested the local nursing home and I felt really happy, but now the anxiety was catching up with me. But there was no going back. Soon, I found myself in front of the nursing home. I climbed the stairs, opened the door and there she was—the nurse I was going to help over the next 4 weeks.
At the beginning, it wasn’t easy. I would occasionally mistake someone’s name, and some of the patients wouldn’t stop calling me their grandson. I also had to memorize the different rehabilitation programs, how to assist the residents when they needed help and the medicines they had to take, but there was no chance I was going to give up because it was all worth it. Seeing their happy faces made me happy, too, so I tried to do my best and help them in all the ways I could.
I soon realized that what they needed the most was someone to listen, so I decided to do just that. I would spend long hours listening to stories about their childhoods, families and the wars they had fought. I soon became attached to each and every one of them. These women and men could tell me stories that I’d never find in any book. In return, the only thing they really wanted was to know that someone cared about them, someone who was interested in what they had to say.
As time passed, I got used to my job and really enjoyed doing it. I realized I was good at helping others and that when you are kind and tolerant, people respond with the same attitude towards you. The time to leave came too quickly, and although I had to say goodbye to my new friends, I’ll never forget the lessons I learned as a volunteer at the nursing home. This experience taught me that a simple act of kindness can make someone happier, a smile can change a life, and that helping others costs you nothing but is very rewarding. You get to know new people who soon become your friends and teach you many new things.
Those 4 weeks went by incredibly fast, and although I was sad that I didn’t have the opportunity to visit the nursing home anymore, I went back to my routine. It was just another Monday, and while my mom prepared breakfast I decided to go and check the mail. That was the moment when I found a beautiful greeting card with the dried violets, and when I read the text inside, I smiled because the feeling was mutual. Their stories were worth listening to.
The text is published in its original and unedited version.