shieldMany colleges require supplemental essays based on a quotation; Princeton allows students to write about a quotation of their choice. This student did an excellent job of turning a quotation on its head, letting his intelligence and personality shine through.

[hr]Prompt: Using a favorite quotation from an essay or book you have read in the last three years as a jumping off point, tell us about an event or experience that helped you define one of your values or changed how you approach the world. Please write the quotation at the beginning of your essay. 


“[Theodore Roosevelt] wanted three antitrust weapons: a Department of Commerce with an investigatory Bureau of Corporations, a bill banning railroad rebates to large industrial companies, and an “Expedition Act” that would provide special funds to speed up the Justice Department’s prosecution of illegal combinations.

“These requests, written in English, were passed to Philander Knox, who translated them into language convoluted enough for Congressmen to understand.”

-from Theodore Rex by Edmund Morris


The tennis ball came off my racquet with that perfect pop. It bounced between the two players, leaving them frozen. I let loose a primal growl, bared my teeth, puffed out my chest and pounded it a couple of times for good measure. We all laughed. Somehow this animalistic celebration communicated an idea completely human: I had won the point.

I pranced around the court feeling suave, but more likely looking ridiculous. I got in position to receive the next serve, and imagining myself a sinewy jaguar I crouched, eager to pounce on the ball. Right before the toss was thrown I leaned slightly back and forward again in a motion which said to my opponent, “I’m messing around, but I still intend on winning.”

That’s the beauty of communication. The simplest gestures convey the most meaning. I didn’t say a word, but the message was clear.

President Roosevelt understood what I would soon find out: a clear message takes little explanation (unless you’re dealing with Congress).

My opponent served.

Still filled with adrenaline, and feeling unstoppable I became determined to hit every shot, lunging to get to the ball.

I smashed three straight balls into the net.

The next day at practice I resolved to improve my stroke. I found a partner and started to hit forehands over and over again. I was determined to practice until I was hitting every ball over the net. Seeing my struggle Coach Brad decided to help. After watching a couple of strokes Brad was confident he had the answer.

“Your axis is too low” Brad said. He started to walk away, certain the problem had been solved.

“Wait coach” I replied, “I don’t get it.”

“Get what?”

“What does that mean? How do I fix it?”

Brad tried to explain it. “When you hit a tennis ball, the power comes from your legs, with the hips being the axis of the body. The angle your hips take when you approach the ball creates a downward force across the surface of your racquet, overspinning the ball, and pulling it into the net.”

Seeing the puzzled look on my face, Coach Jerry intervened.

“You’re stepping too early” he dryly remarked.

I got it.