Do They Let Anyone Into College?

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If you’re thinking about applying to college or brainstorming ideas for personal essays, read the embarrassing mess below that I wrote in 2003, know that it got me into fifteen colleges (one of which was Barnard) and relax.  You can get into college.  Looking back on all the colleges I got into, I now wonder whether the application process is a scam or not.  After all, you pay sixty dollars to a committee of who-knows-who-they-are-people (most likely tired-sad-professors-in-need-of-extra-cash) and all you get back is a letter that tells you whether you’re accepted or not.  Now that I’ve experienced college, I don’t think it was entirely necessary for my own career development, but for those of you that may want to become doctors or engineers, it’s crucial.  I myself was applying to film school.  I guess what they liked about my essay was that they saw I thought visually and had interests other than film, or maybe they were just entertained that I described myself as a “Crayola box” that loved the 1960s, yet ironically was “opposed to drugs, alcohol and free love” and thought that I wanted to become the “Da Vinci of film”.  BARF.  Tell me what you think.  I’m terribly embarrassed to show this to you, but I trust that you won’t make too much fun of me… or, if you feel compelled to do so, quote your favorite lines below…

“Eclectic and Surreal”

“Hear tinkling bells as you walk through the purple beaded curtain guarding my bedroom.  Smell jasmine incense as you see aquamarine walls plastered with posters of Led Zeppelin, The Doors, The Beatles, Bjork, The Rolling Stones and Simon and Garfunkel.  Look up at the ceiling to twelve Chinese lanterns– gold, red, green, orange, and blue.  Christmas lights are strung around every corner of the room.  When they’re lit, aquamarine walls become a glowing fuschia.  Try to look at every trinket in my bedroom and you’ll most likely have to come back for another visit.  Paper maché masks from Mexico, France, and my own hands lure you into the Eastern wall until you notice a bright pink and navy Hawaiian quilt surrounded by license plates from New York, Hawaii, Iowa and Ohio.  Turn to classic ads from the 1920s and two English brass rubbings from the 1800s.  You stop.  You have to take a breather.  It’s overwhelming being thrown into five decades at once.  Try looking at me and not only will you be thrown into a decade, but you’ll have to explore a Crayola box.

I’m a Bohemian– a hippie– and it’s all due to my mother’s interest in antiques.  When I was twelve years old, she dragged me to Topanga Canyon— the treasure trove of American junk.  I waited in the car for two hours as my mother searched for Malibu tiles and Victorian dresses.  Two hours in a hot car with the prospect of jumping into the cool ocean water below the canyon was enough to make me antsy.  I got out of the car to find her and WOW… I walked into an island!  The store was called Hidden Treasures and it reminded me of Peter Pan’s Never Never Land.  Colors splashed the walls and mermainds, skeletons, butterflies, tree branches, and glass bubbles hung from the ceiling.  I felt like a fairy flying through fantasy.  The search was no longer for my mother; it turned into an exploration.  My curiosity and love for new experiences got me lost in a world of the past.

Hidden Treasures (Image from

Touching every piece of clothing, I came across a long purple skirt.  It reminded me of a bird because it was free of restrictions– no zippers, buttons or seams.  My mom came up to me and laughed.  “You want that?  I used to wear those in the 1960s.”  Now I wanted the skirt even more than before.  My first vintage purchase – and I never went back to the 1990s.

Ever since I started wearing vintage clothing, my interests have changed.  Almost everything I listen to or watch comes from the past.  I live for eclectic forms of art that have substance:  classic rock, opera, Afro Cuban, jazz, reggae, Martha Graham, Alvin Ailey, Fosse, Andy Warhol, Van Gogh, Joan Miró, Edgar Allen Poe, Shakespeare, Ibsen and Guare.  I feed my passions by constantly being exposed to local music, theater, art, and dance shows.  My artistic life has no limitations unless I close off avenues of exploration.

It’s ironic that my values stem from the 1960s.  I believe in freedom, taking chances, and pacifism; I am just strongly opposed to drugs, alcohol, and free love (which characterized the flower decade).  The 1960s was also a time of rich political issues that generated creativity, and everyday I wish that I was a part of that.  Film can take me there.

I want to create films that take people on journeys and make them think.  I long for the world to see eras, cultures, and people from different points of view.  Watching a film can change a person’s attitude about life, which is why I want to tell stories that inspire people to pursue dreams, stop abusive habits or even enjoy life for two hours.  Affecting the world with film will require not only abilities to operate a camera, write a script and produce, but also the ability to understand people.  Thus, I am eager to study psychology, history, art, geography and sociology.  I want to become the “Da Vinci of film.”

Me in film school at USC...what is that hairdo?

I ended up going to USC’s film school.  I was definitely interviewed over the phone before they accepted me.  I’m sure they thought this essay was bizarre, so they wanted to know if the writer behind it was okay in the head.  If you’re applying for colleges in the near future, write a better essay than I did.  Just be yourself and don’t work too hard to impress anyone.  That’s my recommendation, at least.  Take it for what it’s worth.  And don’t worry about applying to colleges.  You’re doing GREAT!

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  • Van Huynh

    I thought that was a great essay!

  • Rebecca Prucha

    First off, I think we might be soul sisters. Haha.
    Second, do you really feel like you didn’t need to go to film school? Because I’m having this constant battle with myself. I went to a community college with the intention of getting my gen eds out of the way and then transferring to a university as a film major….but I hated it all so much and it seemed like such a waste of time and money that I dropped out after two semesters.
    I’ve read many articles saying that a film degree is one of the most useless degrees out there and that if you want to go into film you just need the skills (I’m into editing) and I’m constantly reading about college grads with these massive student loans that they’ll be paying off until they’re 40.
    Did I make the right choice? Do you feel like you could be where you are now without your degree? 

    • Alessandra Rizzotti

      You can definitely learn to edit on your own. It helps to take classes. Make a reel and that’s really all you need. A degree won’t hurt you. It can only help. Having a liberal studies background is crucial for your own development, but you can always just take classes at a community college.

  • Alessandra Rizzotti

    I think the connections are invaluable and it really depends on how many projects you work on while there. Make sure you do a ton!

  • Lisa Tiedemann

    Can I show this to my composition class? It’s really an excellent essay.

    • Alessandra Rizzotti

      Sure! Feel free! Thank you for thinking so!

  • Ximena Santillan Guerra

    I loved your essay, I didnt apply for college writing an essay I had a personal interview and I had to explain why I wanted to study communications and why I’d chosen that university, I said almost the same you write about : I want to change other people’s perspectives and create something new for new generations :)

    • Alessandra Rizzotti

      That’s great! I hope it worked out for you!

  • Matty Cardarople

    This iz Awesome!!! Love it

  • Linda Goodman

    I think this is an amazing essay!

  • Hannah Levin

    hidden treasures is seriously amazing! you described it perfectly and beautifully as well. i have been there numerous times, and this essay made me want to go back and explore it again.

  • Skye Tenorio

    I know how you feel about looking back on your own writing and feeling completely embarrassed even if other people think it’s ok! I have a question though. I’m a college student who’s ultimate goal is to write comedy for television. I’ve been doing a lot of research on it and I’ve come to the conclusion that film school (I was thinking about doing an MFA…) is not really the right option. I take classes in the summer at the Second City though.

    So, basically, I’m just wondering how you went about it and if you have any tips. Thanks! :)

  • Pedro Sorto

    Dear Eclectic and Surreal: your essay is awesome!!! and your comments made me laugh out loud!!!! thanks!!!!

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