College Essay: Margaret Hodson to attend Georgetown University

College Essay: Margaret Hodson to attend Georgetown University

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.


Margaret Hodson:

Every year when up at net, my tennis strategy is that of an unlicensed 15-year-old in a game of chicken with a NASCAR driver. Every year I resolve to abandon this tactic: I will adopt a continental grip, firmly volleying the ball back but not swinging; I will cross left-foot-over-right for a forehand, right-over-left for a backhand; I will not have to worry about being pummeled by a yellow sphere of doom. I will save myself from tennis-ball-sized welts and near-death experiences.

Instead, I run to net and panic. My pupils dilate, my palms sweat, and my eastern forehand grip I stubbornly maintain. Ready position not assumed, I am unprepared to deflect the blurry yellow bullet headed for my body. My opponent, invariably a skilled tennis player, faces several unfavorable options. 1. KILL THE BALL, mercilessly pummeling the imbecile at net (me). 2. KILL THE BALL, hoping the girl at net is bluffing and can actually volley. 3. Hit the ball into the net out of shock, losing the point but sparing the girl’s teeth and nose.

Scenario #3 most frequently plays out. Most girls have never engaged in a game of tennis chicken and are emotionally unprepared to decide my fate in a matter of seconds. I survive—nay, win the point—precisely because I’m less skilled.

This extreme disparity in skill level has led my coach to fear for my physical safety. I take issue with the Athletic Department’s contention that tennis is a “no contact” sport and therefore does not merit a mandatory concussion baseline test for its players. I cannot count the number of times I have made painful contact with the net, the court, or even my own racket. My opponents are routinely shocked when I end points by colliding full-speed with the net or skidding on the hard court. I’m the type of girl you don’t expect to be playing second singles on varsity. For this reason, my opponents miscalculate when it comes to analyzing my tennis game and analyzing me. They write me off, but I refuse to underestimate myself.

I’m fast: so fast, my white shoes have blue streaks from the hard court. My experiences battling anxiety and stress at a high-pressure school have led to a sense of calm on the court. My struggles have made me gritty but also oddly positive, with a sense of perspective. Should my opponents attempt to engage me in psychological warfare, I’ll win. I use my smarts, ruthlessly targeting my opponents’ weak spots.

These are the things I love about my tennis game, but they are also the things most opponents at first don’t see about me. They are how I should be, and how I should play. For these girls, my ranking as second singles player is something they can’t reconcile with my seemingly abysmal skill level. My opponents often see in me confusing contradictions, but I recognize my own complex humanity. I am a multi-layered, multi-faceted girl that defies simple categorization. My opponents may not expect or understand me or my tennis strategy, but I am at peace with myself. So what if I can’t hit a volley?