Common Application Essay Draft: Prompt #1

1. 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.

Ever since I was 5, I’ve been involved in sports and group activities within my school and my community. I spent 8 years playing soccer, 4 in Girl Scouts, 3 playing volleyball, and a measly one playing basketball (which I quickly learned wasn’t my calling). Growing up, I always thought I understood what it meant to be on a team: that everyone was nice to each other and had good teamwork skills – whatever that means. It wasn’t until I joined the band program at my school that my perspective on what a true team – or community – was meant to feel like.

While my time in middle school band wasn’t as impactful as the program later would become upon my life, the people I met in those two years changed my life. My band directors Mr. and Ms. Peace pushed me to places I never imagined going, and I wound up making 6th chair in the top band my 7th grade year for region band. Although I’d always been one to push myself, I hadn’t ever considered the band hall to be my space to do it.

My school teaching 6-12th grade, I was lucky enough to get to stay within the same band program from middle through high school band. Despite the consistency in the students I played with, new band directors were constantly coming in and out of our program. Once my freshman year had rolled around, I’d had 3 different band directors already, and the new set of directors in charge made us all skeptical.

To think about what would have happened if we hadn’t given those directors a chance is insane, seeing as we went from being a 40 person marching band with 7 colorguard members my freshman year to becoming an 80 person marching band with 40 cologuard members my senior year. While building up an all-girls marching band program practically from scratch, they also managed to create a new community within the band hall – one that I am so thankful for never giving up on.

I think it’s safe to say that my opinion on what it means to be a successful team has changed since I was in elementary school, as it should. Trophies, MVP awards, and ribbons are no longer my greatest sources of pride. Although our band program has grown in numbers and our collection of trophies has swelled, nothing will stand out more in my mind when I think of our group more than the strong community we’ve built. The undying support for and from one another, despite our different backgrounds and motives. Even the most uninvolved band member has a love for and connection to the program, and seeing the attitudes of those who detest band shift into those who appreciate it and enjoy it (or at least tolerate it) is one of the most rewarding feelings out there.

Without my band community – my band team – I don’t know where I would be, or what I’d be passionate about. Never before had anything made me so happy and feel so much pride at the same time as the group of young leaders that enters the band hall every day, working hard towards goals of personal and group success. A truly great team is one in which its members support one another, push one another forward, and provide a safe space for all, and my band program has done just that for me.


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