Triple Play

The following essay was submitted to highly selective colleges and universities in response to this Common Application prompt:

Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.


I’m a triplet.

I’m a triplet with an older-by-a-minute brother and a younger-by-a-minute brother.

I’m a triplet with an older brother who took AP Calculus BC as a high school freshman and a younger brother who is diagnosed with autism.

So naturally, the oldest-middle-youngest sibling dynamic is greatly intensified in the my household.

Derek, the oldest one, infuriatingly acts like a mini parent. He loves nothing more than to lecture me and my younger brother, and he will never cover for you (“Derek, if Mom asks if I practiced piano today, say I did it for thirty minutes.” “But you didn’t.” “I know, but when she asks you just say I did.” “But you didn’t.” “DEREK!”). It doesn’t help that he could pass as an adult being 6'2 and 220 lb, a complete foot taller and 100 lb heavier than my 5'2, 120 lb frame. And he has a big head. A big head that houses a big brain-I asked him once, “How are you so good at math?” “I’m not sure. I just see the numbers forming in my head.” he said. How infuriating is that?!

My younger brother Richard is just as infuriating in his own special way-the tantrums that blast out of his wretched, little mouth rivals that of a five-year-old’s. And even though he wails about the most trivial things (“Why are you looking at me like that?!), he still manages to enchant you with his sincere and innocent smile. He guilt trips you-you just can’t help but love all 5'10 and 200 lb of him.

With these two hulking beasts as my brothers, I’ve come to truly appreciate the trait of being compassionate. People view Derek as a golden child, the best big brother out there.

But they don’t see him cracking down at home.

They don’t see the oldest child burdened with the role of being a fatherly figure since the real father is emotionally incompetent. How can’t they see how pressured he is to be this perfect child, son, brother, father, man?

People view Richard as aloof, awkward, even anti-social; my friends have asked me why he looks angry all the time. They don’t see the desperation and frustration that weighs his face down when he asks me why he can’t make friends. How can’t they see the endearing, utterly sweet and naive side of him who laughs when a squirrel skitters by or cries as he passes by a homeless person on the street?

All you have to do is pay attention-open your eyes to the struggles of others and think about the struggles you have had to face. We all have our triumphs and failures, moments of happiness and disappointment.

Because I noticed other students similar to Richard-friendly individuals unable to make friends due to their inability to comprehend complex social cues-I fore-fronted the VolunTeens club, a place where students with special needs can meet to socialize and work on community projects together.

Because I remember my first hideous day of high school as a freshman in a new school district (I had spent my lunch period that day sitting in the halls by myself) I realized just how overwhelming and confusing the transitioning process can be for new students. I worked with school administrators on the (Name of town edited out) Connect committee to help new students and their families assimilate to (name of town edited out).

Because I’ll never forget Courtnie’s mother clutching my hand as she relentlessly thanked me for helping her daughter improve her test scores, especially since Courtinie had ADHD, I was compelled to further improve the Peer Tutoring Club once I became President. The tutors are friends, mentors, role models, confidants-there’s much more to it than just getting volunteer hours.

Because I am compassionate, because I am able to hear everyone’s story and focus on everyone’s best traits, I never miss out on the opportunity of bettering myself and those who meet me.



Rate this essay from 1–5 with 5 being the highest mark. What rating did you give it and why?

Does the writer’s unconventional use of punctuation and dialogue help convey the student’s voice?

What words come to mind that you would use to describe the writer?

Do you think the writer’s background as a triplet would add diversity to the class? If yes, how much should the writer’s background be used within the admission decision? Is this form of diversity as important as other form of diversity (geographical background, socio-economic background etc.?

Is the writer male or female? Does this make a difference? Should it?

What ethnic/racial background is this student? Should this make a difference in how you would evaluate this essay? Why or why not?

How would you describe this writer’s voice?

Does what the writer talks about convince you that the student will get involved in outside activities that benefit others? If yes, what parts of the essay convince you of this? If no, why not?

Is this student a leader? Defend your answer.

Should the write have left out the comment about the father’s emotional limitations?

Would you want this writer as a roommate?

Does this essay make you think this student would do well academically in a highly selective college or university? If no, what are the factors that should be used to determine academic success?

Would you be willing to argue that this student would add so much to the class that another student with higher test scores and slightly higher grades should not get in? Defend your answer.