You know what would make an awesome job: writing people’s college essays. College essays are the perfect length plus you can write about anything you want and in the style of how you actually speak. Also I love knowing what one trait or event/moment people choose to define themselves. However, colleges would probably not be too pleased if I wrote everyone’s college essay for them. It might slightly defeat the purpose. Anyway, here is mine:


Eyelevel with the end of the base buret, my eyes, slightly blurred by the fog forming on my AP Chem goggles, remain glued to the dangling drop of basic sodium hydroxide solution that is hanging on by its last thread. Quickly, I take a glance at the clock above the door: ten minutes left in the period with two trials to complete. “The pressure’s on!” I think to myself, embracing the chance for a challenge with a smile. I cautiously turn the valve of the buret ever so slightly forward and then quickly spin it back, allowing only a molecule of solution to escape. With the extra added weight, the drop slowly descends into the Erlenmeyer flask below. Splash! Unconsciously, I hold my breath and brace myself for the result as I give the flask a final swirl to mix in the newly added sodium hydroxide. And then…

“Noooooo!” I cry out, shaking my head in disgust as a feeling of great sadness and defeat overcomes my body. “But it was onlyonedrop!”

It’s true. One drop of base can cause the solution to significantly exceed the pH 8.3 to pH 10.0 end point of the phenolphthalein indicator, turning the color of the solution from a pleasant clear to the dark hot pink that is dreaded by titrating chemists everywhere. But although the dark pink color would seem to indicate failure, student chemists still consider the data very accurate as the volume of a drop is minute and dispensing partial drops is impossible. I, on the other hand, strive to achieve transparency.

I am competitive. And while I will go all out in an intense game of family Pictionary, my true competitions are the ones against myself. As Maya Angelou proclaimed, “One is not only capable of excellence, but one is responsible for excellence.”  Like Ms. Angelou, I believe that I will attain success though constant effort and hard work. Therefore, by competing against myself, I really am striving to better myself, to become the best person that I can. That includes even the small self-competitions, like chemistry lab titrations, because- as my coaches say- the way one works during practice is the way one plays in the game. If I do not give my best effort in every little thing that I do, how can I be prepared to succeed when it really counts? I know that it is not possible to reach perfection, but striving for anything less would not be me.

Back in the classroom, my lab partner laughs, giving me a reassuring pat on the shoulder. “It’s okay, Katie. You’ll get it the next time.”

I smile back with gratitude, recovering from the minor disappointment. Casting my dark hot pink blemish to the side with the rest of the finished flasks ranging in shades of pink from transparent cherry blossom to cotton candy to fuchsia, I grab another empty container and set off to begin the long procedure again, seeking clarity in a flask.

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