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Tyler came to me late in the admissions season. He had written an essay which no one – his family, his guidance counselor, even Tyler himself – liked very much. Tyler was a recruited baseball player who had loads of interest from D1 schools. He had the grades, he had the test scores, he was a great candidate. The only thing he didn’t have was an extraordinary essay. The family came to me with a ticking clock – the admissions deadline for his school was only four or five days away.

Tyler wasn’t only an athlete, he also played the oboe. An athlete who is also an accomplished musician is highly unusual. And since many athletes typically write about the sports they play, or sports in general, I thought this would be a good topic for him. But writing about playing an instrument isn’t enough, there needed to be more. I asked Tyler to explain to me the role of the oboe in an orchestra. “It’s sort of the pacemaker,” meaning: it keeps the tempo while the instruments around him, the percussion, the strings, the horn section, get all the attention. While he was telling me this, I heard yelling in the background. “What is all that?” I asked. Tyler has a younger and older sister. “They’re kind of loud.” Tyler then went on to explain how, as a middle child, he sort of gets lost in the family while his sisters get all the attention. His role as a sibling seemed to mirror his role in the orchestra. Bingo!

Tyler’s essay drew a parallel between being a middle child and being a sort of “middle child” in the orchestra. In his essay, he discussed how he liked it this way – how in life, in sports, in the orchestra, he eschews attention and avoids the spotlight, it’s where he feels he does his best. The essay was a thoughtful piece of work which I felt admissions officers would never expect from a recruited athlete. Tyler, his family, everyone loved this essay! (And I did too!)

Tyler, Johns Hopkins, Class of 2024!