Sample Essay – Unknown Author. Prompt: What Motivates You?

For as long as I can remember, I have dreamed of science. Where others see the engineering, experimentation, and presentation of science as a chore, I only see excitement.

Even as a child I constantly sought it out, first on television with Bill Nye and The Mythbusters, then later in person in every museum exhibit I could find. Science in all its forms fascinated me, but science projects in particular were a category all to themselves.

To me, science projects were a special joy that only grew with time. In fact, it was this continued fascination for hands-on science that brought me years later to the sauna that is the University of Alabama in mid-June. Participating in the Student Science Training Program and working in their lab made me feel like a kid in a candy store.

Just the thought of participating in a project at this level of scientific rigor made me forget that this was supposed to be my summer break and I spent the first day eagerly examining every piece of equipment. Even at first, when the whole research group sat there doing rote calculations and others felt like they were staring down the barrel of defeated purpose, I remained enthusiastic. Time and time again I reminded myself of that famous phrase “great effort leads to great rewards,” and sure enough, soon my aspirations began to be met.

This shift in attitude also coincided with a shift in location: from the
computer desk to the laser lab. It was finally time to get my hands dirty.

Now things began to get really interesting. During the experimentation phase of the project, I spent the majority of my waking hours in the lab – and I enjoyed every minute of it. From debriefing with my coordinator in the morning to checking and rechecking results well into the afternoon, I was on cloud nine all day, every day. I even loved the electric feeling of anxiety as I waited for the results.

Most of all, though, I loved the pursuit of science itself. Before I knew it,
I was well into the seventh week and had completed my first long-term
research experiment.

In the end, although the days were long and hard, my work that summer filled me with pride. That pride has confirmed and reinvigorated my love for science. I felt more alive, more engaged, in that lab than I have anywhere else, and I am committed to returning.

I have always dreamed of science but since that summer, since my
experiment, I have dreamed only of the future. To me, medical science
is the future and through it I seek another, permanent, opportunity to
follow my passion.

After all, to follow your passion is, literally, a dream come true.

Why It Worked:

“In addition to its use of clear, demonstrative language,
there is one thing that makes this an effective essay:
focus. Indeed, notice that, although the question is
broad, the answer is narrow. This is crucial. It can be
easy to wax poetic on a topic and, in the process, take
on too much. Instead, by highlighting one specific
aspect of his personality, the author is able to give the
reader a taste of his who he is without overwhelming
him or simply reproducing his résumé. This emphasis
gives the reader the opportunity to learn who the
writer is on his terms and makes it a truly compelling
application essay.”