The Key to Success?

Hugh Gallagher was eighteen when his college application essay won first place in Scholastic Inc.’s high school writing contest in 1990.

Raised in Philadephia, Gallagher, 25, currently lives in New York City, and his college application essay – reprinted regularly and in constant circulation on the Internet – remains a classic to this day.”


In order for the admissions staff of our university to get to know you – the applicant – better, we ask that you answer the following question:

Question:  Are there any significant experiences you have had, or accomplishments you have realised, that have helped define you as a person?

Answer:  “I am a dynamic figure, often seen scaling walls and crushing ice.

I have been known to remodel train stations on my lunch breaks, making them
more effective in the area of heat retention.

I translate ethnic slurs for Kenyan refugees, I write award winning operas, and manage time efficiently.  Occasionally I tread water for three days in a row.

I woo women with my sensuous and godlike trombone playing.  I can pilot bicycles up severe inclines with unflagging speed, and I cook thirty minute Brownies in twenty minutes.

I am an expert in stucco, a veteran in love, and an outlaw in Peru.  Using only a hoe and a large glass of water, I once single-handedly defended a small village in the Amazon basin from a horde of ferocious army ants.

I play bluegrass cello, I had trials for Manchester United, I am the subject of numerous documentaries.  When I am bored, I build large suspension bridges in my garden.

I enjoy urban hang gliding. On Wednesdays, after school, I repair electrical
appliances free of charge.

I am an abstract artist, a concrete analyst, and a ruthless bookie.
Critics worldwide swoon over my original line of corduroy evening wear.
I don’t perspire, I am a private citizen, yet I receive fan mail.

I have appeared on Through the Keyhole and won the gold plaque.  Last Summer I toured Eastern Europe with a travelling centrifugal-force demonstration.

I run the 100m in 9.65 secs.  My deft floral arrangements have earned me fame in international botany circles.

Children trust me.

I can hurl tennis rackets at small moving objects with deadly accuracy.
I once read Paradise Lost, Moby Dick, and David Copperfield in one day and still had time to refurbish an entire dining room that evening.

I know the exact location of every food item in the supermarket.  I have
performed several covert operations for the CIA.

I sleep once a week; when I do sleep, I sleep in a chair.

While on vacation in Canada, I successfully negotiated with a group of terrorists who had seized a small bakery.

The laws of Physics do not apply to me.

I balance, I weave, I dodge, I frolic, and my bills are all paid.  On weekends, to let off steam, I participate in full contact Origami.

Years ago I discovered the meaning of life but forgot to write it down.

I have made extraordinary four course meals using only some vegetables
and a Breville sandwich toaster.  I breed prize winning clams.

I have won bull fights in Madrid, cliff diving competitions in Sri Lanka, and chess competitions at the Kremlin.  I have played Hamlet, I have performed open-heart surgery, I have spoken with Elvis…..

But I have not yet gone to this University.”