Princeton Supplemental Essay: Tell Us About an Event or Experience That Helped You Define One of Your Values or Changed How You Approach the World

In addition to the essay you have written for the Common Application, please write an essay of about 500 words (no more than 650 words and no less than 250 words). Using one of the themes below as a starting point, write about a person, event, or experience that helped you define one of your values or in some way changed how you approach the world. Please do not repeat, in full or in part, the essay you wrote for the Common Application.

  1. Using a favorite quotation from an essay or book you have read in the last three years as a starting 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, title and author at the beginning of your essay.

“You had to live-did live, from habit that became instinct-in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized” -George Orwell, 1984. This quote from the third page essentially grabbed my attention and propelled me through the rest of the book when I started reading it over the summer. And when I took the time-well, several times, actually-I couldn’t dispute the natural truth that was found in these few words. For in 1984 and in 2014, I really started to make the connections on how it seems that the world has the potential to monitor you daily.

This led me to the idea that within the world, people need to become more focused on what they think about themselves, and not what the world thinks about you. Everywhere you turn, it seems like someone is watching you. Edward Snowden revealed to us how the government is spying on us for national security reasons. But it’s not just that. A majority of people are constantly engaged in social media outlets, with their thumbs blistering from many tweets. And thanks to the limitless transfer of information across the internet, people you will never meet could always be monitoring you. While that extreme would likely not be thought about, the cyberbullying resulting from this is all too real. Too many people live in fear of this shadow hanging over their head, so they become trapped liked caged mice. But it’s this exact reason why people need to become re-focused on themselves: If the whole world is watching, your show, shouldn’t you decided what goes on in it?

Another insight that I gained from this quote as it pertains to the world is in relation to the perceived idea of success. According to Orwell, everyone is always watching and judging you. So now I took a reflexive look at how our top students are perceived at my high school. These people (myself included) are constantly judged-sometimes positively, sometimes negatively- by the open successes that we have. So it appears that no matter what the case is, students are continually comparing, criticising, and degrading themselves based on others accomplishments; they don’t feel that their own accomplishments “match up” or are worthy enough. I have seen many other supporting examples from my own life that corroborates my conclusion. The same phenomenon occurred with a few of my college attending friends from listening to their stories. Also, when I would go shopping at local stores, my friends that work there would be agitated by other people getting the employees of the month award, despite their own personal merits. While I try to be mindful of causal proof in these observances, the coincidence repeats too often for me to ignore it.
With these beliefs in my mind, I now choose to approach the world in a more respectful and open manner. I don’t want to be subjected to these criticisms for any negative actions, but it seems that criticism is inevitable. So now I have become more conscious of the world around me, and I want to be more mindful of people. I learned that my privacy is paper thin, and the same goes for other people. Therefore, my metacognition has revolved around being flexible to the world around me. Think before you act; be open-minded of others; give everyone a fair chance. These are a few mottos that I have learned to adopt over time, and I do my best to follow them.

So all in all, my approach to the world has been positively changed by these experiences. Now, I am able to look past the pond surface and into the cool waters beneath them before I make a decision to swim in them.

Published in Successful College Essays, Successful Princeton Essays

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