Northwood University Admissions Essay
*Topic A: The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience? (Word Count: 644)
I never thought I was a bad person, but something in my life was wrong. I was depressed and frequently wondered why I couldn’t find happiness. I would reason that it was society’s fault or my wife’s fault — anybody’s fault except mine. It never occurred to me that I was standing in the way of my own success and happiness. It wasn’t until after I came to prison that I realized I am in control of my own life and happiness.
In May of 2017, my life completely changed. When I was 21, I was sentenced to serve 40 months in prison. I realized my biggest fears when all of my aspirations were destroyed. I felt like a victim: my wife later divorced me, I separated from my family, and I was placed on the sex offender registry.
I did not give up because I believe that I will always persevere. I take pride in open-mindedness and the perpetual pursuit of the truth. I have always strived for self-improvement, so I signed up for several self-help classes and gained an entirely new perspective on the world around me. The self-help classes taught me a myriad of different soft skills such as setting boundaries, being assertive, accepting personal responsibility, gaining emotional intelligence, feeling empathy and so on. However, the biggest change in my mindset was made when I read Honoring the Self by Nathaniel Branden.
In his book, Branden discusses how to develop self-esteem. Self-esteem is about accepting and loving oneself despite one’s faults, regardless of others’ views. I have made many mistakes, but at the time of my crime, I never wondered how I could ever begin to forgive myself. I never intended to hurt anyone, so when I finally realized that I contributed to the world’s negativity, I had a difficult time accepting myself.
Branden also mentions that the best way of learning to accept oneself is to know one’s own values and to live out those values consistently. Branden helped me to realize that I can choose the type of person I want to be. I soon figured out what I stood for: truth, self-responsibility, and utilitarianism. I made conscious choices to fulfill my values and live a life of integrity. For the first time, I was truly happy and at peace with myself.
My economics professor, Mr. Ensley, also helped me on my journey to improvement. Mr. Ensley studied at Northwood University and gave me a booklet by Lawrence Reed titled “Are We Good Enough for Liberty?” The booklet helped me to embrace my own values. For example, I have always been passionate about original American values and supporting a free and prosperous society. In his booklet, Reed discusses that in order to have a free society, individuals must have good character. I realized that not only do I need good character to be truly happy, but most importantly, society needs it in order to be free and prosperous. Possessing good character became my mission.
I’ve also spent many months attending Jackson College and showing my friends and family what I’ve learned and how I’ve improved. I maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout my studies and I realized I am capable of much more than I ever believed. My path is now clear; no matter how difficult life may be, I will settle for no less than to pursue a career in economics. By doing so, I can do my part to bring about a more free and prosperous society, while also putting more positivity into the world than the negativity I already contributed. I am in control of my own life and happiness, and I’m confident I can reach my goals. I came to prison with my dreams destroyed but through my self-help classes and education, I am confident I am leaving prison with more ambitious dreams than I ever knew was possible.
*My dear friend Jessica reviewed my draft not once, but twice. I am extremely appreciative of all the support she has given me, especially because it worked; I was accepted into Northwood University!