College Essay: Soham Basu to attend Dartmouth College

College Essay: Soham Basu to attend Dartmouth College

Hailey Spaeth

This year, as they are every year, the senior class was given the task of writing an essay for their common application; many colleges use Common App to determine whether the prospective student gets in. This essay can be a deciding factor on admission to a certain university, so naturally many students spend a lot of time on it. With a generalized prompt, the essay can be a bit of a roadblock in the application process. Here is one of nine essays from Country Day Seniors that The Scroll and the college counseling felt knocked their essay out of the park.

Soham Basu:

Rules one and two of fight club: you do not talk about fight club. Or, in this case politics. My family, friends and teachers have always taught me: on first encounters, avoid the controversial and instead consider this week’s forecast (small talk staple). Instead of parsing through what makes us who we are and discussing what we believe in, we talk about the non-essentials. Well, I disagree with this established norm. The founders of this country envisioned us, the virtuous citizenry, continually debating the workings of government, always perfecting the union, and never accepting the status quo.

 Throughout this last summer, I worked on the re-election campaign of Senator Rob Portman. Someone whose views I do not always agree with. I wanted to gain a better understanding of politics on a grassroots level and understand my viewpoints in a contested space to confirm that the positions I hold are truly my own. Working there, I heard opinions I found hard to understand. They were core beliefs, unshakeable and rooted in people’s upbringings, like my own views. There was one person in particular who had a major impact on me: Anna, was a senior at the University of Cincinnati.

Anna hailed from South Carolina, growing up in a very religious household. One Saturday, we were paired up together to drive to Columbus for the Ohio G.O.P dinner. The four hours there and back were some of the most valuable conversations I have ever had with anyone in my life. Our conversation centered on the Confederate flag in Charleston, South Carolina. Our positions were simple: I said take it down and she said keep it up. At the time, the flag’s standing was still in debate throughout the nation. I could not by any means understand why the flag meant so much to her, especially in the wake of a racially motivated mass shooting. It seemed illogical, absurd and plainly offensive. Yet, Anna’s patience and willingness to talk showed me a side of the argument I had previously dismissed. She preached of history, acceptance and toleration: moral tenants that I pride myself on. She reminded me that, in fact, it was South Carolina whose governor was an Indian-American (Nikki Haley) like me, not New York or California. According to her, the flag’s image and true meaning had been muddled by different hate groups. No, I did not agree with her; but we were able to have a constructive conversation on the flag, race relations, religion, and America. Furthermore, one topic never came into debate: the music. After passing the Columbus Gay Men’s Chorus on the street in downtown, Anna and I once again found ourselves embroiled in debate. To her, gay men should not even be recognized yet alone be publicly singing in choruses and community groups. After voicing my opposition, an eerie silence overtook the car. In my attempt to calm the waters and survive the two hour trip home, I asked to play music, defaulting to my favorite group, Passion Pit. To my surprise, by Passion Pit’s chorus we were both singing along. We learned that if not anything, Anna and I shared the same favorite musical group.     

Our strength is in our differences. Only on this planet do we have people so similar yet so different. Humans are 99.5% similar in terms of DNA sequence, yet no two humans are remotely identical. That .5% difference is what makes us successful. We would not be as advanced in so many different disciplines if we all did the same thing. We do not always have to agree, but it is crucial that we always listen. Celebrating, not exacerbating our differences, will lead us to everlasting success. I am a New Deal liberal; Anna is a religious and fiscal conservative. Yet even we were able to find common ground. As long as such uncorrupted politicking exists, a future of democracy is ensured.