Common App Background/Interest Sample 1

Essay Prompt

Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

Sample Essay

My home swaddles me in the history of my family. My ancestor's loopy cursive traverses the old documents hanging in our living room and each night I dive into the bed onto which my great-grandmother etched little notes when she was my age. After my nightly study of the CIA World Factbook I turn off the lamp that my grandfather brought back from his honeymoon. Lined in maps of hiking trails, cities, and the world, my room has transformed into my own museum, one that preserves endangered and quirky tidbits of information. While my home, in general, feels like a museum of interests to those who live within it, the carefully curated contents of my room help me understand the passions and interests of those who live outside of it.

I have always had an interest in the lonesome facts that never found a home on the glossy pages of a school textbook. As the "Queen of Neglected Facts," atlases, DK Eyewitness books, and my dad's foreign periodicals are my royal court.

In elementary school, Saturday mornings were spent scrutinizing the fantastically graphic pictures of the digestive tract that were strewn across the pages of my human body diagram books. The mundaneness of my morning commute to first grade was eased by the excitement of medieval cavalry formations. As I matured into a fourth grader, the annual Guinness Book of World Records became a favorite site to mine for nuggets of information. I would dig past the layers of records that captivated my classmates and unearth the true gems, such as the world's coldest capital (Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia) or the highest award for animal gallantry (the Dickin Medal). My posse of information was not the kind that was popular at the lunch table, but rather quieter facts that I found to be quaint company.

Come middle school, I became acquainted with the inviting charm of a blank journal. Initially, I preserved the purity of the blank pages, but then I realized the lines offered a station into which I could deploy my troop of facts for safekeeping. Each night I would corral the homeless facts that I had collected throughout the day and plant them on the pages of my journal.

Once in high school, other activities started to veer into what was previously my fact hunting time, so I had to be more directed with my search and rescue missions. Listening to NPR's Morning Edition on the way to school, bargaining with my family to watch documentaries during our Sunday movie nights, and even thumbing through my dad's travel guides all contributed to my fleet of facts.

I started to assemble my brigade of facts to fulfill my hungry curiosity, but as my journals grew fatter, I became more skilled at using my facts to initiate conversations revolving around the quirky passions of others. I have since had to expand my records into multiple journals, but each one maintains the legacy of offering shelter to a ragtag band of facts that add order and value to my daily interactions. When cataloging a fact, I flag it with the memory of how I acquired it so it serves both as a memoir to a previous interaction and as the seed of a potential encounter.

While I do not know exactly what I want from the future, I do know that I want to continue gathering the misfit facts that I have so often used when connecting with others. My home has taught me the value of preserving family keepsakes, and from my own collection I have discovered how to find and use new facts to shape my understanding of the world.

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