I finally finished my college admissions essay for Columbia University in New York City. (the college, not the engineering school) I have to have it delivered by November 1, the Early Decision deadline. Very nail-biting time. Of course if I don't get in I'll apply to Union, but I want more of the city.

Here, in unchanged form is my essay. If you think it needs a touchup somewhere, I'd be very grateful for a /msg. (and how about more than a dumb softlink to something serious)

Write an essay that gives the reader a sense of who you are. Preferably one page.

I want to excel at something and be someone people can always consult and count on. I’m sure I feel this way because of the boundless possibilities of youth, but I’m determined not to let my ambition fade. If there’s one person I don’t want to be it is Holden Caulfield.

Let me take you on a tour of my dream job. In downtown Manhattan, in Soho, there is a glass storefront with white walls and wooden floors on the inside. The sign is a large, illuminated apple with a bite taken out of it. Looking into the store from the sidewalk you can see a large, stylish, silver, curved PC in the window, under a banner with the word “Create.” Behind that you see shelves filled with assorted cameras, stereos, printers, monitors, and software boxes. On the left you see some people trying a new camcorder next to a silver PC with two screens; on the right you see somebody standing next to a translucent red computer screen, wearing oversized headphones. If you walk in, you’ll probably be greeted by somebody wearing a black turtleneck shirt and dark khakis, the standard employee attire. I imagine it must be an easy job, similar to that of a maitre d’ in that they are helping those who walk in and answering questions with a kind and friendly smile.

As you make your way to the back of the store, you pass the children’s section. There’s another employee talking to both the parent and the child about the new “Rugrats” game. All too frequently a salesman addresses the parents only, as they are the ones making the purchase. No, if I had this job I’d be courteously showing both the parent and child how to run the new program, encouraging them to try it out in the store before they bought it.

Deeper into the store, another employee shows a couple how to use a digital camera, step by step. There are other people quietly standing by, eyeing the prices, but this person is devoting his time (and commission) to demonstrating how to turn on the camera, take a snapshot, and print the resulting image. I have respect for people who have a gift for teaching like that.

On the back wall of the store, on the right side, is a small bar. There are three or four “patrons” seated, and the man working there politely answers any questions they have about the use of a computer, no matter how trivial. Above his head are the words “Genius Bar.” Here is where you wanted to be as you gazed from the storefront. You realize that this man must be some sort of computer “Answer Man.” You sit down and the man behind the counter smiles, and offers you bottled water. “It’s free,” he says beaming. After answering your third question about the steps to watching a DVD and recording movies, he gives you a clear, concise answer without the slightest hint of impatience, even offering to demonstrate it on the laptop in your satchel. I wish we had more trustworthy people like that, who would answer any question without trying to steer the consumer towards any new merchandise. Even though one of your questions reveals you to be a novice, he treats you with respect, courtesy and, most of all, patience.

You’re probably wondering which job I consider to be ideal. The answer is all of them. I would really love to work in a place like this, alternating between the various departments, trying to make each person’s day a little easier as I cheerfully assist someone. In fact, it’s not the job I want, it is the opportunity to include friendliness, kindness, helpfulness, and trustworthiness into my work. It’s that special combination of qualities that I intend to keep as an essential part of my persona, whether I become a film editor, researcher, or doctor.