Apr 15, 2016

Seniors with stories to tell

Columbia University

Throughout the month, MTV News will be publishing college essays on its website in a project designed to support their partnership with First Lady Michelle Obama’s Better Make Room initiative—a campaign to celebrate education and engage students in college, careers and the future.

“It’s about valuing success in the classroom instead of just on the big screen or the basketball court,” Obama told those gathered to celebrate the launch. “And, it’s about turning the culture of celebrity upside-down so that we don’t just have kids worshipping celebrities, but we also have celebrities honoring kids who are working hard and achieving their goals.”

For MTV, it’s about sharing “awesome college admissions essays,” or the some of the totally inspiring writing that helped students reach their college goals this year.

The first essay selected published on the MTV News site was submitted by Diego Garcia, a Florida teen with quite a story to tell. 

“I saw how poorly people were living,” writes Garcia, who grew up commuting between Florida and Texas in communities surrounded by poverty and violence. “I saw how poorly we were living. That’s when I realized I had to do whatever it took to not end up there.”

Garcia’s eloquence together with a message underscoring hope and persistence leaves the reader with no doubt why he is currently deciding among offers from Columbia, FSU, Hofstra and NYU. 

BUT MTV isn’t the only major media outlet interested in admissions essays and the way college-bound seniors told their stories. The New York Times is also looking for college application essays for publication. 

In each of the last three years, the Times has invited students to submit essays about “what it’s like to have less or more,” including observations about inequality and socioeconomic class or lessons from the workplace.  A handful will be published in May (winners from 2013, 2014 and 2015 are available on the website and make for riveting reading).

If you have a story to share, you can submit your essay to mtvfounders@gmail.com with your full name and age or paste a copy of your essay in space provided on the NYTs website, and include full name, hometown, phone number and the school or schools you sent the essay to. The deadline for the New York Times contest is May 1, 2016.

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