I Wrote My Common App Essay on Chipotle and Got Into My Dream School

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Everyone goes through that awkward phase of high school where your parents and their friends try to treat you like an adult, but you can tell that they still see you as a child. It’s uncomfortable, but you manage to politely laugh off everything they say and pray that they leave. As a sophomore or junior, you encounter the occasional awkward conversation with your neighbor’s mom who still grills you about how big you’ve gotten or with your uncle at his barbecue where he offers you a sip of beer because “he’s one of the cool adults.” It’s weird, but you manage. But senior year is a whole different ball game… it’s college application season.

For an entire year, you answer the same question from hundreds of adults you’ve never seen before in your life.

“Where are you going to school next year?”

Most kids crumble under the pressure, but not me. I always had my eyes set on Boston College, the golden city on a hill. I bought into all of it: the holistic, well-rounded career that includes not only academic, but also spiritual success. The pack of Jesuits running around making the world a better place. The products of suburban America, 2.5 kids and a white picket fence. I was all in. Every time my friends nervously scratched their heads and rambled on about still looking for the right fit, I obnoxiously interjected, “I’m going to BC.”

The plan was in place and I was ready to strike the second the application was released. All until I met with my guidance counselor (probably to brag about my college dreams) who told me that my application wasn’t good enough to get into Boston College. My SAT scores and GPA were below their average for accepted students. I had to find another way to stand out with an otherwise underwhelming application. I decided to call an audible and write an essay so outrageous that it might impress an admissions officer. I was clickbaiting before it was cool. After days of trying to come up with an essay topic that would grab someone’s attention without making me seem insane, I started thinking about the things I loved most in life. It hit me immediately… Chipotle.

I wrote an elaborate essay about how much Chipotle meant to me, all the great times I had crushing burritos and how Chipotle was there every step of the way as I developed into the man I am today. I thought BC would eat it up.

However, I got deferred and eventually waitlisted… on Christmas Day… in front of 50 family members… at Disney World.

I had given up. For months, I told myself that a Chipotle-centric college application essay was the dumbest idea I ever had. I put a deposit down for FSU (Go Noles!) and put my dreams of BC in the rear view mirror. Then I got a phone call from a 617 number that said Chestnut Hill, MA. I literally answered the phone in the middle of my statistics class and walked across the classroom and left in front of my teacher—it was worth the detention.

It was an admissions officer from Boston College who told me I was accepted for the fall and that he usually emails students who get off the waitlist, but wanted to personally compliment me for my essay. I enrolled on the spot and the rest is history. It wasn’t all happily ever after though. I procrastinated writing a speech for my public speaking class two years later and simply read aloud my common app essay. Turns out my 83 year old professor didn’t know what Chipotle was, but still “knew a bad story when she saw one.” Hopefully, this article takes me to two out of three attempts at success with Chipotle.

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