Democracy Prep College Acceptance Essays

In narrowing them down from among the best dozen or so that we received, Mr. Johnson said he put himself back in the mind-set of the gatekeeper role he once held at Brown, when there were so many essays to read that he felt guilty being in a house of worship without a pile of paper in front of him.

What he looked for then is the same thing he encourages his students to strive for now. “Some kind of spark,” he said. It needs to be something that isn’t in their transcript or test scores and give admissions officers something to talk about when they’re in the meeting room deciding on that candidate.

For more students than you might think, writing about money is how they seek to stand out. Of the 4,809 complete personal statements in the database at AdmitSee, a service that allows people to make money by renting access to their own essays and applications, 5 percent are about overcoming financial obstacles. A further 20 percent used words like “tuition,” “loan” and “income” in essays about career aspirations, diversity and family background.

The single best piece of pure writing we received this year came from Sarah Benson of Lorton, Va., the author of the essay set in New Mexico. “When I am 6 years old, the Sunday school teacher asks me what my father does for a living,” she wrote. “I tell her he is an artist like Georgia O’Keeffe. I do not know that I am lying. I do not know that he hasn’t sold a piece in months.”

When she was small, her father showed her Native American pottery shards in the arroyo near their former home. When they return years later, he tells her that they have all washed away. “Suddenly comes to me the vague image of my father in ripped jeans, pressing a pottery shard into my palm,” she wrote. “I wonder if he, too, has washed far away.”

Her father, whom I interviewed on Facebook Live this past week, was surprised that his daughter had thought so hard about his feelings about his career and livelihood. But perhaps he should not have been, given the depth that his daughter, who will attend Virginia Tech in the fall, displayed in the essay.

“Every time I read it, I pulled something different from it,” Mr. Johnson said. “It is a very unconventional story about economic struggle.”

When Shawn L. Abbott, assistant vice president and dean of admissions in the office of undergraduate admissions at New York University, read the essay that Isabella DeSimone submitted to the university about frugality, he said he worried that it might be too conventional. “She took a topic that is by all traditional accounting measures pretty banal or pedestrian and really brought her life circumstances to life, talking about something that a lot of us can relate to,” Mr. Abbott said. Ms. DeSimone will go to N.Y.U. in the fall.

“Why buy 99-cent storage containers when the products we buy already provide them for free?” Ms DeSimone wrote. “These lessons came in Spanish with the speed of a bull in a bullring.” In her family, it was like a game. “The act of conserving money, the audacity to solve problems no one has thought of before, is what set my family apart,” she wrote.

Nowhere in the essay does Ms. DeSimone say where her family falls on the social class spectrum, and after hearing Mr. Johnson’s take on her essay, I chose not to ask. “She is frugal not necessarily because she’s poor but because that’s part of her value system,” he said. “That was such a unique take on this type of essay. This is part of a tradition that she holds dear.”

Mr. Johnson’s favorite essay came from Joseph Liggio, who lives in Suffern, N.Y. When Mr. Liggio starts school at Manhattan College in the fall, he will be the first person in his family to attend college. Mr. Johnson said he always roots for those applicants and counsels many like them in his current job, though Mr. Liggio, who is white, stood out to him in part because he seemed different from many of the first-generation, inner-city, students of color he usually encounters.

Mr. Liggio’s essay is also notable for his courage in admitting his confusion about what sort of goals he ought to set. He feels pressure to achieve things that no one in his family ever has, but to what end? “The thing is, I don’t know where I want to go from here,” he wrote. His grandparents worked where they worked because they had to make money wherever they found opportunity. Had anyone asked them what they actually wanted to do, they would have found the question baffling. “They couldn’t answer because they had no other options,” he wrote. “I can’t answer because I have too many.”

According to William Bisset, vice president for enrollment management at Manhattan College, admissions officials can be skeptical of essays that seem too polished or overwritten. “A lot of these essays sound like a Ph.D. student wrote them,” he said. “Joe’s was very genuine. It was well written, but you can tell that a kid wrote it.”

He also had a message for other applicants who are afraid to show weakness or write about their own confusion: Other than the incoming engineers at Manhattan, the most popular expression of academic interest among incoming students is “undecided.”

Erica Meister took several risks in her essay. Every year, we receive at least one essay that picks apart an affluent suburb, but we’ve never seen one quite as blunt as her take on Northville, Mich., which was recently named the snobbiest place in the state.

“I prefer to describe Northville as reckless,” she wrote. “The more enterprising students of Northville High School specialize in the selling of three goods: marijuana, Adderall and test answers, all goods many of my peers don’t think twice about using.” If trouble ensues, she added, “our fathers can cover us with cash and connections.”

Her essay could have easily read as snobby itself in its anti-snobbery, but she does not spare herself. She blithely inquires after a classmate’s Advanced Placement testing plans without realizing that some people in her school come from families that can’t pay even the reduced fees to take the tests.

“I found myself victim to the disease that infiltrates Northville, the same carelessness I despise,” Ms. Meister wrote in the essay, which she submitted to the University of California, Berkeley.

Like many former admissions officers, Mr. Johnson has strong memories of seeing piles of essays about what he described as “designer service projects,” where teenagers do volunteer work outside the United States, at their parents’ expense, and then return home and appreciate their privilege all the more. “She stayed close to home and came to a similar realization about herself and the world that she comes from,” he said. “I thought it was striking that she would talk about that.”

Her bold approach to the college application process generally seems to have worked out pretty well. Ms. Meister will attend Stanford in the fall. “I aspire,” she concluded in her essay for Berkeley, “to prepare myself by being more thoughtful, informed and, most of all, careful.”

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Its a very good school mainly because they push you to be your best, but it does have some faults through my eyes as a student which they can improve on.
Strong educational system influenced by Korean school systems. The level of disciplined required from scholars ensures successful futures not only in the workforce, but also with the community. Strongly community driven as well as academic and culturally.
I like the fact that teachers set high expectations for the students. I also like the support that Democracy Prep students and teachers offer to one another. The curriculum is rigorous and students at the school are really determined to make a change in the world. They are also very smart.
Democracy Prep Charter High School pushes students to work hard and achieve their goals. They make sure that every one goes to a college of there choice and successes in life. We also go on many trips to Paris, Korean, Africa and many others to make sure experience many different things that no one else as the opportunity to do. However I will like to see my school create a change in more student voice and opportunities.
Democracy Prep has a lot of good expectations that set students up for academic success. There are also incentives to make them keep up their grades and teachers who will require tutoring to make you succeed.
I graduated from Democracy Prep Harlem Charter High School as the founding graduating class of 2017. I loved being able to grow in an environment that is small but where my classmates and I treated each other as a family. I was able to attend 3 international trips through DPHHS: Rome, Ecuador, and South Korea. These experiences were life changing. Not a lot of schools offer these amazing trips, and it just made me love this school even more. The help you get for college is awesome! You have a college team just focused on the juniors and seniors in the preparation for college. It's honestly an amazing school in all aspects and I would definitely place my kids in this school when I have them!
Democracy Prep Charter School was specifically designed to enforce a "college mindset". Within the school, students (at first) find it difficult to conform to the work load that is bestowed upon them. However, the heavy amounts of work the student is given prepares the student for college. In the school, students are faced with at least 8-10 pieces of homework and are expected to complete each piece. Because of the exorbitant amount of work students are given, alumni students return to the campus and explain that college life is easier for them; they are able to complete large projects and papers without feeling intimidated. The school also encourages a friendly environment; this includes pro-LGBTQ and anti-racism. The school teaches students how to apply their moral skills to the world, in which students learn how to adapt and communicate with others in the environment.
Democracy Prep took over my school when I was a freshman going into a sophomore.When the came my work load increased which was a positive looking back at it. Democracy Prep showed me that my school was very lenient with us . I grew up and matured much faster work wise with Democracy Prep.
I'm currently a sophomore in this school and the only thing I need to say is there needs to be change. We're treated like prisoners and nothing seems to be changing. scholars are forced to learn Korean and get summer school if they don't understand the language. children with behavioral issues are forced to sit in a room in which they are taken away from a proper learning environment and if they earn in school suspension, they are forced to do work that is taught that day without any help and if they finish, they are forced to stare at a blank wall for hours. they make education seem like torture
Democracy Prep is a school that gives everybody opportunities. I was given to go to South Korea and South Africa.
What I liked about Democracy Prep was the determination and the goals set for the scholars. The teachers pushed and helped us to get in to the colleges that we wanted. I really appreciate everything about this school. However, the only thing that I wish that would change about this school is the location, for they are in need of their own building.
Democracy Prep is one of the best schools academically, with caring teachers, and plans for each and every student. Located in Harlem, this school has taken students like me to Korea, Rome, London, Ecuador, South Africa and many more places, opening an eye for kids who might have only seen the tri-state area. Each teacher and faculty member strive to teach every student something new as well as encourage them to engage in civil activities. Although the curriculum is hard, every effort is placed into making sure the students are able to excel their peers in college,
Democracy Prep Charter Highschool has very rigorous academic program. The teacher, for the most part, genuinely care about he ducation of the students and go through extreme lenths to make the time spent there a memerable one. One thing that is unique to Democracy Prep is the change the world project. It is a project manditory for all seniors. This project requires student to think extensively on one thing that they want to change in the world and take the first step to making that change. This looks exceptional to colleges. While this schools excelle in academics the sports team do not get alot of love this is partially because the schools have to share a building so there is not enough space.
This school does an excellent job of stressing the importance of going to and through college and helping to instill a level of academic integrity n scholars that is unique to this school. It shows in scholars' willingness to get "gritty" and "nerdy" about academics.
In DP, I have gotten so prepared for the rigor that life brings me. They taught me to push my own limits and to advocate for myself.Now being a senior, I feel prepared for college, and I've been accepted to colleges I never thought I never had a chance at.
At Democracy Prep Harlem High I like the fact that it is centered around making sure that each scholar graduates with a goal of "Working hard, Going to College and Changing the world", that our schools motto. The strict rules and expectations at DP may seem very rigorous and unnecessary at first but you see the long term effects for all things at this school. Everything we do from freshman year to senior year is all to transition to college and adulthood. The staff and teachers all encourage each scholar to D.R.E.A.M. B.I.G., while ensuring we display Discipline, Respect, Enthusiasm, Accountability, Maturity, Bravery, Initiative and Grit. Everyone here truly embodies these values and uses them inside and outside of school. We are a small school sharing a building with a adult learning center.I love my school but to have our own building would be great.
This school excels in preparing students for the rigor of a college classroom. However, as a result of strict regulations enforced on students to keep them focused on their academics, Democracy Prep fails to properly prepare students to be independent and resourceful without expecting guidance, as can be observed in the world outside of the classroom.
My school, Democracy Prep Harlem High School, prepares us by getting us involved in our community, taking us on international trips, and giving us the best education possible so we can be active citizens of our country.

Democracy Prep Charter High School Reviews

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