Read My Essay

This is a sample reading response essay to an article titled “Cell Phones are Dangerous" by Mary Johnson, agreeing with the article and extending one of the ideas.

Intro:

Paragraph 1: Dramatic re-telling of a personal story of picking up my cell phone and then realizing that I am going to crash into another car. Stop the story right before the crash.

Paragraph 2: Like most people, I thought I was a good enough driver to handle using a cell phone while driving. I found out I was wrong. It turns out I’m not unusual. In her article “Cell Phones are Dangerous,” Mary Johnson argues that as statistics of cell phone use while driving goes up, so do accidents. According to Johnson, we should not use our phones while driving and should educate others not to use them either. Johnson cites statistics showing that talking on a cell phone is as dangerous as driving drunk. Moreover, she points out the increasing number of accidents caused by cell phone use. Her conclusion is that we need to personally decide not to use a cell phone while driving and that we need to educate our friends and family to give up using cell phones while driving too. I agree with Jones that cell phones are dangerous and that we should personally choose to not use one while driving; however, I’d go further than Jones by adding that we need to have laws that prohibit anyone from using cell phones in cars.

Body:

Each of these statements would be the topic sentence of one of the body paragraphs. For the first one, I also give examples of the type of arguments and support I would use to write that paragraph and prove my point.

1. Laws make people realize that cell phone driving is dangerous. (Below is an example of some support I could use to back up this idea—you can use ideas from the article but do not repeat the article.)

  • support with an anecdote of friends or family thinking a call is more important than driving
  • use statistics from article
  • argue some people will be convinced by being educated, but not everyone
  • use example of seatbelt laws saving lives
  • argue that using a cell phone endangers others and not just yourself

2. New technology requires changes in public policy.

3. People in my generation feel obligated to take a call, but if it is illegal to call while driving, they won’t feel that pressure.

4. Using hands-free headsets won’t work because it is the call which is distracting, not holding the phone.

5. This law will save a lot of lives.

Conclusion:

I would return to my personal story and pick it up where I left off. I do crash and there is a lot of damage to my car, but no one is hurt. I can explain my great relief that my cell phone use did not end more tragically, and my personal decision to put my cell phone where I can’t reach it while driving. End with an appeal to the reader to do the same, but to also support legislation to prohibit cell phone use while driving.

Luke Kenworthy, 17, was nervous on Ivy Day — the last Thursday in March, when all eight schools drop their admissions decisions.

He had already received a rejection from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was wait-listed by the University of Chicago and Carnegie Mellon University, and was deferred at Harvard University after applying early.

"I legitimately was convinced I wasn't going to get into any Ivy League schools," Kenworthy told Business Insider.

But his incredulity turned to shock and then excitement as he opened his decision letters and saw he'd been accepted nearly all of them — Harvard, Princeton, Brown, Cornell, Columbia, Dartmouth, and the University of Pennsylvania. He also received a wait-list spot from Yale.

The Ivy League is notoriously hard to get into, as the hundreds of thousands of other applicants to the eight elite schools are well aware. At Harvard, 5.2% of the nearly 40,000 applicants — about 2,000 — were accepted this year.

These schools look for the right mix of academic achievement and participation in extracurricular activities. Kenworthy, a senior at Mercer Island High School, near Seattle, has taken all the advanced-placement courses available at his school. (He favors his physics and comparative government AP coursework.) He also is heavily involved in student government and has taken mission trips to Serbia, Turkey, and Guatemala.

For Kenworthy, nailing his admissions essay was also important. After he was deferred from early action at Harvard, he felt compelled to change his essay topic. He worked with a mentor at CollegeVine— a junior at Duke University majoring in biochemical engineering — to improve his essay.

Kenworthy chose to write about a deeply personal childhood experience.

"To write an essay like that was a little bit weird for me, but also was very important to me, too," Kenworthy said. "The events that happened in my life very much shaped who I am."

Kenworthy graciously shared his Common Application admissions essay with Business Insider. It's reprinted verbatim below.

"The soft thumping of my dad's heart provided a small degree of solace as I cried with my head on his chest. I was in fifth grade. He had just told me that my mom, having been attacked by her boyfriend, was in the hospital. I remember being surprised with myself, surprised that I would be sad after all she had done. This was the same person who, when I was eight, threw a drunken party at our house for teens younger than I am now. This was the same person who would disappear after spending nights at the bar, the person who went to jail for trying to strangle my dad in an inebriated stupor. She had not been a part of my life for over a year since my dad received sole custody; I thought I had closure, that I was ready to move on. Yet, hot tears still ran down my cheek as I imagined her swollen face and the bruises on her arms.

"I had always been shy as a kid and the absence of my mom exacerbated this problem as I tried to unhealthily suppress my insecurities and fill her absence with others' approval. In sixth grade, I constantly sought the attention of a group of kids who, in turn, bullied me. Consequently, when I switched schools going into seventh grade, I was shy and timid, afraid to engage with new people. I pictured myself near the bottom of a rigid social hierarchy. The next year, I started to branch out more, but inside, I remained obsessed with how others perceived me.

"Entering high school, I would spend hours at a time thinking about my insecurity and talking through memories of my mom with my dad. During this time, I would always remember how I had stared numbly into the ripples of my dad's shirt as a fifth grader. I could never forget that feeling of helplessness, but with repeated reflection, I began to understand this moment in a different way. Given her circumstances — raised by an abusive, alcoholic father and a neglectful mother; involved in several dysfunctional relationships with controlling men; drinking to numb the injustices of life, but then realizing it was too late to stop — I have no way of knowing if my life would be any different from hers.

"For the first time, I began to understand an idea that has since granted me freedom: I cannot walk in my mom's shoes, and thus, no one else can truly walk in mine. The way others perceive me is inherently inaccurate, so I do not need to concern myself with what others think. This realization provided me the freedom to become untethered from the approval of others, finally at ease with myself.

"I started to open up. Throughout high school, I began talking to others about ideas that fascinated me, like space travel and philosophy, rather than frantically searching for common ground. I quit football, realizing that I largely participated for the status it brought me, and joined cross country, because I genuinely enjoy running. I started holding the door open for my classmates almost every morning, greeting them as they arrived at school, hoping to brighten their day. I became engaged in my role on student council, which paid off when I was elected student body president. Even then, it wasn't the role itself that I found meaningful, but the way I could use it to help others. The basis of my friendships shifted from validation seeking to mutual, genuine respect.

"As I listened to my dad's heartbeat that night, my mind filled with anger and sorrow. However, in hindsight, I am thankful for the lessons I learned from my mother; the pain I felt was a necessary step in the process of becoming the person I am today, someone who is unafraid to express himself."

If you have something to share about your college-admissions experience, email ajackson@businessinsider.com.

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