College Admissions Revisited

I mentioned in an earlier post (Lackspiration) that I was considering transferring schools and struggling to write a quality college essay. I also promised to keep you in the loop regarding the outcome of my efforts, which I promptly forgot to do. So I thought I’d take this opportunity to fill you in on how things went down. I decided in the end to apply to Ithaca, for the beautiful surroundings and five-year Masters education program, University of New Hampshire for the low cost (as a New Hampshire resident) and, also, the five-year program, and American University just because I really like it a lot. To be honest I was pretty sure I’d get in, seeing as they’re all schools that accepted me the first go-round, and my suppositions were validated when I received all three letters of admission (in relatively close succession) a few weeks ago.

We’re now approaching the deposit deadline so I’m left with a rapidly-dwindling number of days to decide A, which school to choose and B, if I really want to transfer at all.

But all that’s really neither here nor there; the real reason I’m writing was to share with you the college essay I finally decided on! My list of drafts included an essay on a friend regarding rhetoric versus action, a piece on an old family acquaintance citing the importance of tolerance and understanding, a collection of musings regarding my search for self, and the stereotypical ‘Why I Hate College Essays’ essay (ironically originally met with much acclaim for breaking the college essay mould, only to quickly become an admissions trope), until I finally settled on: peanut butter and jelly.

That’s right, the essay I used to gain admission into Ithaca, UNH and American was a composition centered around my favorite lunchtime fare. So without further ado, here is the contents of my final submission. 🙂

My Life As a Sandwich

If I could could sum up my outlook on life in a simple, singular metaphor, I think I could present it most succinctly and accurately with the image of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I’ve always had what some might refer to as an ‘unhealthy addiction’ to peanut butter. Personally, I prefer the term ‘rapturous love’, but tomay-to tomaw-to, I suppose.

It started somewhere in that hazy time period that is my early childhood, when my mother started sending me to daycare with meticulously-packaged PB & J’s. Fastidious toddler that I was, it always had to be made the same way: smooth Skippy peanut butter, Smucker’s strawberry jelly, white bread, cut vertically down the middle. Deviations were unacceptable.

With time I grew a little more adventurous. What began as a freak and highly-traumatizing grocery store mix-up, during which my father purchased grape jelly in lieu of strawberry, turned into a happy accident when I realized, ohmygosh, grape jelly is superior to strawberry jelly in every conceivable way. It was an eye-opening experience leading to various other ground-breaking innovations, such as the existence of bread, not of the Wonder Bread variety, that tasted like something other than bleached cotton. Then of course was the monumental shift from Skippy peanut butter to Jif; I consider that a major transition point into adulthood.

Elementary-school me would be absolutely stupefied to see the sandwich connoisseur I have become, so worldly and knowledgeable in the ways of breads, nut butters and fillings, so bold and daring in my tastes. Why, just last week I made my lunch of cinnamon raisin bread, SunButter and sliced apple. Yesterday I feasted upon honey-swirled peanut butter and mango slices ‘twixt a multi-grain sandwich thin.

I swear there’s a point to this, that it’s not just the ramblings of a peanut butter-obsessed collegiate, and that point is this: With every year and every experience, I’ve come to understand and appreciate things I never even noticed as a child. What began as a white bread, Skippy and strawberry world has rapidly expanded into a universe of vibrance, of color and taste, of sights, sounds, people and cultures, all waiting to be discovered and explored. School-age me was perfectly content with old, unchanging patterns and defined routines. While I still hold the same love for the things I loved back then, I’ve become an adult far more open to change, adventure, and occasionally disappointment (like that almond-butter-guava sandwich from this weekend, that was a bad call).

As I press onwards in life, I want to continue to be as open and accepting, to ‘broaden my horizons’, ‘push my comfortable limits’, and any other cliché you can think of that describes a desire to explore and challenge both an ever-changing world and an ever-changing self. I love my PB & J, but a world of raspberry tahini, cashew pear, walnut fig, and innumerable other opportunities awaits, and I can’t wait to continue taste-testing all this life has to offer.

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