Common app essay so there really isnt a prompt... I guess it would fall under the "meaningful experience" one though.
When I was three years old, I crafted a rattle for my baby sister using two laundry detergent scoops, a bouncy ball and duct tape. My parents immediately proclaimed me a visionary engineering genius. Attempting to foster the inventor inside of me, they filled my room with Legos, Lincoln Logs, and model airplanes. While I was a kid, the possibilities were limitless – as long as I was motivated and had a little imagination. As I grew older, I realized that I would never invent a functioning jetpack or dig a tunnel from the playground to China. However, my innovative spirit remains. When I don't have the materials or tools I need, I make do with what I am given. This outlook has not only enabled me to better appreciate the opportunities I do have, but it has also brought me to make opportunities where they might not have previously existed.
By high school my passion switched from inventing devices to devising arguments. Debate has taught me how to operate the mechanics of logic and rhetoric to produce a convincing line of reasoning – not unlike how I once used a piece of plywood, two large fans and a Radio Flyer wagon to make a wind-powered car.
Furthermore, debate has challenged my capabilities as an inventor. When I started doing policy debate as a junior, I began to utilize these skills more than ever. At first, I set my expectations low. I had never considered trying to compete on the national circuit. But, after one year of competing locally, my partner and I had exhausted the competition. My enthusiasm for debate began to stagnate. I realized that in order to retain my passion for debate I needed to compete on another level. Last summer, I attended a seven week debate institute at the University of Michigan, where I studied with some of the brightest debaters in the country. When I compared myself to some of these debaters – the skills and the resources they possessed – I felt like David facing Goliath, but without a slingshot. Most teams succeed on the national level by attending challenging tournaments almost every weekend, benefiting from the advice of multiple coaches, and sharing the research burden among a large team. Our resources were paltry by comparison.
Still with the mindset of an inventor, I assessed our situation by looking at what we could do, not at what we couldn't. Accordingly, we were able to come up with ways to circumvent some structural barriers. Our school has the only policy debate program for about two-hundred miles in all directions. In order to gain experience debating nationally ranked teams, I am working with my Spanish teacher (and school technology guru) to set up a video-conferencing system so we can debate anyone in the country. To get advice and feedback, we have found a coach in Idaho who is willing to work with us from a distance over e-mail and the phone. With the support of the school principal and some generous donations, we now have the opportunity to travel to some of the most competitive national tournaments.
Though I sometimes find myself envious of teams with large budgets and coaching staffs, I would not change my high school debate experience. It is possible that if my school had a more competitive, established program, I might have achieved more individual success. But I don't think I would have learned as much. Being the underdog has led me to be more diligent and independent; it has taught me that hard work, a little bit of ingenuity and – when appropriate – a roll of duct tape can help me overcome almost any obstacle.