A collection of essays, outdoor adventure stories, ruminations, wordplay, parental angst, and blatant omphaloskepsis, generated in all seasons and for many reasons at 64.8 degrees north latitude

Saturday, February 3, 2024

Harvard College Essay Prompt Responses by Characters from Dystopian YA Fiction

Briefly describe any of your extracurricular activities, employment experience, travel, or family responsibilities that have shaped who you are. (200 words)

Growing up in District 12, my extracurricular activities included caring for my delicate and sensitive little sister, desperately trekking through the woods in hopes of shooting some form of sustenance, and begging for burnt bread.  But my travel experience expanded greatly when I had the opportunity, at the age of 16, to make a trip to the Capitol! 

This experience definitely shaped who I am today.  I learned so much from spending several days in the company of a couple of dozen specially selected kids from all over the country -- all of whom were hoping to systematically murder me and everyone else.

I made some great friends during this trip, including Rue (who died, but in a meaningful way) and Peeta, who is just so incredibly sweet, and maybe also cute.  Can the nice guy also be the cute one?  I’m still not sure. I guess “shaping who I am” is still a work in progress.  I can’t wait to see how this works out -- in the sequels, or at Harvard, whichever comes first!

Harvard has long recognized the importance of enrolling a diverse student body. How will the life experiences that shape who you are today enable you to contribute to Harvard? (200 words)

Like all other teenagers from post-apocalyptic Chicago, I am not diverse, or in any way divergent.  Not divergent at all!  Please don’t kill me. 

I grew up in Abdignation -- a word that everyone knows, obviously  – and at age sixteen was identified as Dauntless.  Which is what I am. Just dauntless, I swear!  I’m massively brave, and I have no other qualities whatsoever.

In particular, I’m definitely not still part of Abdignation.  Nope, I’m totally selfish now!  Also, I’m very clearly not Erudite -- even though I want to go to Harvard.  Just roll with this logic, okay?  I’m also not Candid, so maybe you think I’m lying here.  Totally not lying!  But also totally not candid! I’d flat-out beg you not to kill me, but of course I wouldn’t do that, being so entirely dauntless in every way. 

I will contribute to Harvard by being massively, humongously dauntless.

Briefly describe an intellectual experience that was important to you. (200 words)

At the age of fifteen, I had a crucial intellectual experience that involved having a non-bubbly conversation with another fifteen-year-old.  This was important because it was the first time it dawned on me that the entire adult population of the world had been surgically altered to make them beautiful, pliant, incurious air-heads.

This intellectual conversation led me to make a bunch of weird outcast friends in the derelict rubble of the destroyed post-petroleum landscape, which was super rewarding – like a camping trip with trust-games and bonding, but extremely dangerous.  Also, it helped us save the world, although that required three whole books, a love triangle, and the defeat of the creepy, horrific Dr. Cable. Despite the fact that the one character who is always referred to by an intellectual title is irredeemably evil, I think being intellectual is a good idea overall.

How do you hope to use your Harvard education in the future? (200 words)

An education from Harvard will act like an amplifier of my knowledge, skills, and talent – maybe not as powerful an amplifier as one made from the bones of a slain mythical beast and molded into my own flesh, but I’ll still take this opportunity very seriously.

I plan to use the power and influence of my Harvard education to eradicate a world-swallowing abyss of pure evil – even if it means hiding in catacombs, suffering through years of battle and bloodshed, mind-melding with a thousand-year-old undead megalomaniac who dresses all in black, and ultimately sacrificing myself and those I love.

In the long run, assuming the world-saving career works out, I’d also really like to get married, settle down in relative obscurity, and co-manage an orphanage.

Top 3 things your roommates might like to know about you. (200 words)

1)      I know absolutely nothing about myself, given that like the rest of you, my memory was wiped clean right before I was dumped into this terrifying and seemingly inescapable labyrinth full of moving walls and vicious monsters.  Nonetheless, I am sure I need to save the day in a dramatic and heroic manner.

2)      There’s only one girl in the known universe, and I can communicate with her telepathically.

3)      Oh, wait, I think my name is Thomas?