Applying to colleges can reduce students to test scores and GPAs. This student used his application essay to tell his story in his own words.
Oliverian is a one-of-a-kind experience for students, making it an equally unique topic for college application essays. By discussing the personal journey that brought them to Oliverian and the ways in which our community has shaped them, Oli’s seniors can help admissions officers understand who they are as a three-dimensional human — not just a collection of numbers, extracurriculars, and accolades. Oliverian student Jonathan Pines had that same idea when putting together his college applications. The result? An essay that shows readers where he’s been and where he hopes to go.
“When I first saw the equation for the pressure-temperature path, I wanted to cry because it looked so complicated. But, I kept reading about igneous petrology because I wanted to see the challenge all the way to the end. When I toured The Oliverian School two years ago, there was another path that stood out. That one was a dirt walkway that went from the dorm to the school building, and I thought, “I will never come back here,” but as a senior, I am nearing the end of that challenge too. Now, I frequently walk that path, as I give tours to parents and incoming students.
I saw myself change from a depressed teenager to a young adult with goals and ambitions after finishing my first semester at Oliverian, an alternative school. At Oliverian, I was given the autonomy that allowed me to strive, find my inner strength, and succeed. I took control of my academic career and pushed on to become a consistent straight-A student with a passion to help others.
During the end of 7th grade, I felt lost and struggled to manage my emptiness. I was bullied during an outdoor adventure trip to Colorado. Throughout the next year, I began to lose sleep and avoid school. I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety and prescribed medication. The medication “worked” for a short time, allowing me to attend school and feel back on track, but then old habits returned. This happened many times throughout 8th and 9th grade. I would rapidly change medications or schools, do well for about a month or two, then suffer a relapse. Between just attending school and keeping my grades up, those two years were a struggle.
I attended 9th grade in multiple schools, and my parents started to look at therapeutic boarding schools. That’s when they found The Oliverian School. They enrolled me in Oliverian’s summer program, but at that point I was avoiding school and refused to like anyone or anything. I was ill-tempered and not ready for any positive change.
Through counseling and help from peers, I slowly began to adapt. During the first quarter, I started going to all my classes and bonding with other students. By the end of the second quarter, I had earned straight A’s and began to work out and live a healthier lifestyle. I found that I enjoyed learning, and recently I took my interests even further. Most of my classes are honors courses, and I have maintained my grades and social life. I’ve also found my academic niche– geology. I am actively teaching myself about geology, petrology, and mineralogy. My particular interest is igneous petrology. I have studied the mineralogy in New Hampshire, and I want to know more about how minerals form from a liquid melt. By the end of my senior year, I hope to publish a journal article that discusses pieces of garnet I found in New Hampshire. It’s an interesting story because the elements involved in the mineral are rare in this part of New Hampshire.
As I look forward to college, I hope that the life experiences I have had will help me connect to others who may have doubts and struggles. I had to learn how to cope and appreciate people in new ways, which helped me learn to love everyone. I believe that loving people for who they are is one of the most important life lessons. I love people because it guides me to accept them and helps me understand who they are. I want people to know that hard times can be overcome. I, along with the help of many others in my life, have pieced myself back together into someone who is much stronger than I once could have hoped to be.”