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"My Hero: Robinson Crusoe" Personalized College Admissions Essay

Updated on January 12, 2011

The Prompt

Frequently the common application will require an essay that demonstrates the student's ability to personalize a popular text or political movement.  in this particular prompt, the application asked for students to write about how they were influenced by a character from a book or movie, and how that character taught them something about themselves.

This type of hyper-personal essay can be difficult to write, but I have built a successful business out of helping clients with admissions essay writing

I always start out by sending the client a brief questionnaire so I can get an idea of their experiences and their personality.  This allows me to draft an essay that is relevant to their own lives, and that they can further change and personalize to produce a document that will impress any college admissions counselor.

The following is an example of an essay that is both personal and intellectual, demonstrating a degree of vulnerability but also showing the ability to overcome adversity and to recognize one's own faults.

Robinson Crusoe is a classic piece of literature, and one that the admissions officer is sure to be familiar with.
Robinson Crusoe is a classic piece of literature, and one that the admissions officer is sure to be familiar with. | Source

Custom Admissions Essay

I have always wanted to be Robinson Crusoe, although maybe without the threat of being eaten by cannibals. Something about the danger and mystery of being marooned far from home has always appealed to me. I first read the book on a family fishing trip, surrounded by the cold blue ocean, and my imagination led me to a far off land where I would be able to indulge my independence in a way that would be heroic and solitary.

Crusoe managed to be a hero without being unrealistic or flashy Unlike other epic heroes , there was nothing about his personality that made him seem too lofty or out of reach for a young kid like myself. I was no natural born hero, I was an academic in the making, my talents ranged from the ability to do math in my head to the ability to read quickly, hardly the makings of a superhero. Reading the story of his shipwreck and his perseverance in the face of danger showed me that despite harsh conditions, with enough work it was possible to overcome anything.

Robinson Crusoe never lost his will to fight against his surroundings and he always had the ideal of rescue in mind. In much the same way, as a child I tried to channel Crusoe in my daily life. No matter how tough of a time I was having at school or at home, I thought to myself that it hardly compared to a shipwreck, and with a little hard work I could improve my situation greatly. During Middle School the Physical Education requirements were quite taxing for me, I was the least coordinated kid on the court, and always picked last for teams. I realized that if I wanted to change the way others perceived me, I would have to work on my own, and I spent hours after school practicing my free throws.

Crusoe's morality also stuck with me.  He was a cultural relativist, which I see a lot of value in now that I am older. At first, reading the novel, I was disgusted with Crusoe's seeming tolerance of cannibalism. I later realized that Crusoe believes that it is not his place to judge culturally ingrained practices, and I am now inclined to agree with him.  After coming in contact with so many different religions and ethnic groups in the diverse public school system, I understand that the world gets its strength partially from its great diversity.  To criticize an aspect of one culture based on my own frame of reference seems ridiculous when you consider that those very people are thinking the same thing of my own practices and beliefs.

            Most poignantly, I felt a great deal of camaraderie with Robinson Crusoe because of his feelings of isolation and loneliness brought about by his marooning.  Growing up, I tried to channel Crusoe in my daily life. I felt a great deal of camaraderie because of the feelings of isolation and loneliness brought about by Crusoe’s marooning.  As a child, there were a number of situations in which I felt socially uncomfortable, and it was difficult for me to make new friends. My interests never tended towards the athletic, and I was far more content burying myself in books rather than in schoolyard games. I always felt like an outsider among large groups of people, and I could sympathize with Crusoe in his mistrust of the natives on the island. I was used to playing by myself, experiencing my own little world through my active imagination.  When other kids banded together to play soccer or Frisbee, I was happy enough to read fanciful stories and to imagine myself as the hero of my own epic adventure. 

            Eventually I was able to make a friend.  Much as Crusoe sees Friday as a redeemable savage, I realized that there was some value in companionship.  My new friend shared many of my interest in reading and games, and he was my liaison between my private world and that of the greater schoolyard.  I think Robinson Crusoe showed me that it wasn't always bad to need other people, and that even if you saw no connection between yourself and a group there was always someone in that group who would accept you. 

            Many children adopt fantastic characters as their heroes.  They aspire to be like Batman or  King Arthur, but I was content to set my sights on something simultaneously lower and loftier.  Sure, Robinson Crusoe had no super powers or fancy costume, but his accomplishments have all the more weight.  He relied on his own work ethic and wit, and he survived a harrowing experience while becoming the “king” of his own island.  I read Robinson Crusoe a few days ago, preparing to write this essay, and it struck me as to how relevant that story still is in my life.  I have certainly changed a great deal as I have grown older, but I will still take the lessons I learned from that book with me into the college experience.  College is an academic island, and it is easy to get stranded on that lonely island with nothing but books for company.  However, I know now that it is just as important to reach out to the natives, perhaps find another Friday to help me get by.

A Good Admissions Essay is the First Step to College Success


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