If this whole Miss Marm thing falls through, I'm going to start a new career as a college admissions officer. It's so fun to read intensely personal essays, like this one by Stefanie.
Dad's the One She Loves the Most
My mom lifted me out of the backseat of the car. She made sure to cover the crown of my head with her hand so that I would not hit it on the outline of the door. She placed me on the ground and asked me, “You aren’t going to cry when I leave right?” I was three years old and always cried when she left. “No mommy I won’t cry.” I promised her. She stepped into the sunlight, and it made her look like an angel the way the rays of sun hugged her tight. I turned and saw my dad waving at us from the living room window. “Hi daddy!” I yelled. My mom retrieved my overnight bag from the trunk of the car and my dad joined us in the driveway. I ran and hugged him around the hips. “Hey baby.” He said to me. My mom bent down and engulfed me in the sea of her arms. “I love you Stefanie.” She said. “I love you too mommy.” She walked back to the car and got in. As I held my dad’s hand, I watched her drive right out of my life. That was 1997 and it is now 2010.
Growing up with my dad as a single parent was hard for both of us. On my behalf, I had to deal with growing up without a mother. I had to learn how to wear makeup, how to deal with personal issues, and learn about boys from my grandma, and my auntie. It is just natural order to learn those life lessons from your mother. I did not have a mother to confide in and to love. On my dad’s behalf, he had to struggle with being without her too because he was a single parent with only one income. Even I can tell you it costs a lot of money to raise a child, because I am the one who asked for the money. He had to pay everything from doctor’s bills to school lunches and that causes stress plus all of the other expenses of living. My dad always had a weak spot for alcohol, and that’s what he used to “relieve” his stress. I really needed him in those awkward preteen and teenage years, and he was not there when I needed him the most. Consequently, I had to grow up fast and learn to fend for myself. I cooked dinner most nights for myself, I had to take care of our two cats, and be a house keeper at the age of 12. I was the rock for him that I needed him to be for me. To make matters worse, when the economy crashed my dad’s business was barley crawling so he could not afford out condo anymore. As a result of that, we had to move back to my grandparents, his parents. That was the last thing he wanted to do because he had lived with them his whole life until he was 35, and it had only been four years since we moved out.
While at my grandparents house my dad really cleaned up his act and constantly kept applying to jobs. After six months of endless waiting he finally got hired for a maintenance position at Gilbert and Company. The only downfall to this exciting news was that he had to move to [redacted, New Hampshire which is a half an hour away from our hometown of [redacted]. I see him once a week on a good week and twice a week on a super good week. I have never been without my dad, and I guess it’s a good thing to get me prepared for going off to college and being on my own but I miss him so much it hurts and it’s not fair that both of my parents have been taken away.
Growing up with a single parent has made me the independent, self achieving, and confident young woman I am today. I still think about my mom every once and a while but it’s my dad who I think about every single day. He is the one who fought for me, and raised me with the help of my wonderful family. My growing up was different from a lot of my friends because I lived with my grandparents and my dad, but to me it was the most normal way of living because it was the only way I knew. I am so proud of my father for being one of the few men who fight for their children and he gets the praise he deserves for being a man. My dad always says that I am a piece of his heart and a piece of his soul, and I always answer him “Daddy, you are my heart, and you are my soul.”
What a touching essay! I do have a few suggestions for how to make it even more effective as an application essay.
1. Include more details about how you've grown and become strong because of what you've experienced. In this draft, there's really only one moment when you explain how your childhood has made you a strong candidate for college ("Growing up with a single parent has made me the independent, self achieving, and confident young woman I am today."). You need more sentences like this to show how you've turned heartache into independence, and become someone who would thrive at a university.
2. Make sure your language is precise. Look for phrases that don't quite make sense or aren't idiomatic in context ("self achieving," "he gets the praise he deserves for being a man," "on my behalf"/"on his behalf"), and rewrite them.
3. Punctuate dialogue correctly. "Hey baby." He said to me should be, "Hey baby," he said to me. You have a lot of compelling dialogue in your first paragraph. Let it shine by getting the grammar right, so that your readers aren't distracted by periods that should be commas, and can instead focus on the power of the scene.
Sparklers, how else would you advise Stefanie to improve her essay?
Read more application essays here.