Throughout my high school career, I had high aspirations for myself. I could picture myself attending an Ivy League school post-graduation, or at least have the option to. In my senior year, I decided to apply to four Ivy League schools, one of which was Princeton. Frankly, I did not know much about Princeton aside from the fact that it was prestigious, could give me an incredible education, and, consequently, was very selective. My AP Literature teacher gave us time in class to work on college application essays, providing examples of exceptional essays that got students into Ivy Leagues and other selective schools. That was where I got the idea to submit the essay I did. The 2016-2017 Princeton application contained the prompt: "Please tell us how you have spent the last two summers (or vacations between school years), including any jobs you have held. (About 150 words)"

I remember this being one of the later essays I wrote, and I struggled for an idea of what to write. My friend then gave me the first line and I wrote:


The La Croix cans pile up around me until it feels as though I am buried alive. I told myself I would clean my room today. I told myself I would start my summer reading. But alas, The Scarlet Letter lays unopened beneath the shiny blue cans, and my wardrobe is strewn across the carpet.

The familiar "Hey everyone! Welcome back to my channel" of yet another YouTube makeup video is like a lullaby to my exhausted ears. The glow from my phone screen is a beacon of hope to my bloodshot eyes.

I soon decide that soda water is not cutting it. I need something stronger, something to take the edge off. A McDonald's sweet tea.

"That'll be $1.08 at your first window."

Shoot. No wallet. Inching the car forward, I scramble to collect the three quarters, one dime, two nickels, and thirteen pennies necessary to quench my thirst.

The drive back is hazy. All I remember is the first taste of that sweet, sweet liquid hitting my tongue, and the rest is a contented blur.

"One more video," I croak out, intoxicated by the sugar and the makeup. But before the advertisement ends, my body gives out. I fall into a deep slumber.

I wake the next morning. The half-full sweet tea at my side is like mother's milk to my fragile body. The day starts anew, and yet the cycle continues.

Thus are the summers of Grace Janosik.


While certainly a unique submission, I don't think it's surprising to anyone that this did not get me into Princeton that year. However, it is fun to go back and be able to laugh at yourself. I was told by all of my teachers to stand out, and at least I can say I probably stood out to whoever ended up reading that essay. Furthermore, I'm glad I didn't get into Princeton because I could not picture being anywhere else, and maybe I have this silly essay to thank for that.