Describe an experience that helped you learn something about yourself.
I never imagined leaving home for college would be difficult. I have been away from home many times before. When I was 12, I started going to church camp every summer for a week. When I was sixteen, I started going as a counselor. By then I was staying three weeks. When I was a sophomore, I went to Nebraska for three weeks with my best friend and her family. Last year, I went to Mexico for a month on a mission trip and helped build two houses.
I thought going to college would be a snap, but problems started about a week before I left. My mom helped me start packing. The clothes were no problem, but the keepsakes I had to leave behind were. One of my boyfriends won me a bear at the Warren County Fair two years ago. We are still friends, but we donít go out anymore. I would be stupid to take that bear to college. It doesnít mean that much to me. Or at least I didnít think it did, but the thought of leaving it behind hurt. It was like leaving part of me behind.
I also have a small lamp that was my grandmotherís. Itís very old and delicate. My grandmother had an artificial leg and was nearly blind for several years before she died. By her bedside, she had this lamp that turned on if you touched it. If you touched it again, it went off. It was very handy for my grandmother because she couldnít see well enough to turn a knob or push a button. As a little girl, I used to love to touch the lamp and see it come on. It was like magic to me. When my grandmother died five years ago, she left the lamp to me, knowing how much I had enjoyed it as a little girl. I hadnít given that lamp any thought in a long time, but it was too fragile to take to college and yet leaving it behind was like leaving behind my past.
The most difficult part of saying good-bye, however, was not the packing. The most difficult part was actually leaving. I only live in Warren, so itís not like I was going a long distance. My mom and dad had already made two trips to Titusville and helped me move in gradually. They had attended orientation events with me, and in some ways, it seemed like I had already started school. But there was one thing. I always knew I was going home at the end of the day. And then on the last Sunday in August, after lunch, it was time for me to leave for good. It wasnít that I would never be back, but I would never be back permanently. I would always "live" somewhere else. When I left for Nebraska with my friend, I bolted out of the kitchen without even a look back. But I knew in three weeks I would come home--and that I had a home to come to. Going to college was so difficult because "home" would never be the same. I would be a wanderer in the world until one day I could my own home. It might take years. And it was scary.
I am an only child, and I know my mom and dad were as emotional as I was the day I left. I was determined not to cry. I know it would have made them feel worse. After lunch, I grabbed a few last minute items and bounced out the door telling them I would be in touch. I didnít even kiss them because I knew Iíd break down if I did. I pulled out of the driveway, gave them a big smile and a wave and drove off. But I broke down in tears before I had gone 200 yards yards. I had a long, long cry on the way to Titusville that day.
Of course things are better now. I still have a wave of homesickness come over me at times. And I still have plenty of days when I wish I could be the little girl I once was. But since I canít, Iím trying to become someone better.
Note the strengths of this paper:
First, the writer focuses on one thing--the difficulties of leaving for college.
Second, the writer develops a single, central impression (i.e., leaving home for college was a lot harder than she thought it would be).
Third, the writer provides lots of specific, relevant detail to help us understand why it was more difficult than she thought it would be.
Fourth, the paper has very good voice. The personality of the writer comes through well because she writes about something she cares about, and she writes about it in a way that is natural for her.
Finally, the mechanics are good.
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