“Crime Scene report” by Lauren Sanders - Humor

50 Successful Ivy League Application Essays - Tanabe Gen, Tanabe Kelly 2009

“Crime Scene report” by Lauren Sanders

Duke University

Crime Scene Report

crime: Missing Person

Location: Duke University, 2138 Campus Drive, Box 90586, Durham, north Carolina 27708-0586

Time: October 2, 2008, 11:00 A.M.

Investigated by: Admissions Officers of Duke University

case descrIption:

On the morning of October 2, 2008, at precisely 7:00 A.M., a Miss Lauren Sanders began to worry. Her future-self entered the gates of a prestigious university in the fall of 2009 and had not returned home.

Miss Sanders filed a missing person’s report, hoping someone could help her to locate her future-self in a world of possibilities.

The case began with a grueling interrogation of Miss Lauren Sanders, the person who knew most about her future-self. However, the questioning session yielded little information. Miss Sanders could not fully describe herself in the future. Pressured, she stated that “she has the ambition to fulfill all of her goals, is both stubborn and industrious, and wants to experience University life.” Miss Sanders lacked a photograph of her future-self, but remarked that “she has brown hair, likes to describe herself as vertically-challenged, and is usually smiling.”

nOTE: While unable to describe her future-self, Miss Sanders believed that examination of past experiences could possibly assist the admissions officers in the case. According to Miss Sanders, her future-self has “volunteered in her community and traveled on a global scale.”

Physical evidence collected during a thorough search of Miss Sander’s bedroom included a Dell laptop, a collection of Jane Austin novels, worn textbooks, and an I-pod. Fingerprinting analysis and DnA processing determined that these items belong to both Miss Sanders and her future-self, and that they use these items frequently. Despite biological traces of the future-self found within the home, laboratory analysis concluded that Miss Sanders’ future-self does not reside within her hometown.

With information gathered from the physical search of Miss Sanders’ home and Miss Sanders’ interrogation, a database search was conducted to determine possible universities in which Miss Sanders’ future-self resided. Within minutes, Duke University appeared as a match.

With this lead, authorities conducted numerous searches at Duke University in Durham, north Carolina, probing the dorms, library, and classrooms. All searches yielded nothing, yet the possibility of finding Miss Sanders’ future-self remains strong. Professors and students alike, when questioned about Miss Sanders’ future-self, strongly believe that many individuals like her come to the University to find their potential paths.

Further examination will be needed to complete this investigation, including a thorough inspection of Miss Sanders’ resume and letters of recommendation. Hopefully, the leads that we have will direct us to the whereabouts of her future-self.

nOTE: According to Miss Sanders, the future-self plans to travel on a foreign-exchange student program and hopes to conduct research in one of the many labs available to undergraduates. At present, these areas have not been searched by professionals.

On the morning of October 2, 2009, at precisely 7:04 A.M., the admissions officers found Miss Lauren Sanders’ future-self at Duke University. She had hidden in the incoming student body.


Lauren’s “Crime Scene Report” proves that there is no “standard” format for a college admissions essay. This essay’s creative structure completely breaks the mold. Not only is it written in letter format, it also includes quirky NOTES in the body of the letter. While Lauren takes a big risk in deviating from the standard introduction-body paragraphs-conclusion structure, her essay is undeniably memorable. Lauren successfully pulls off her caper—both in the fictional mystery story she tells, and in her playful writing style.

The creativity of the “Crime Scene Report” probably attests to Lauren’s personality. We see that she is not afraid to take bold risks in her writing and stand out in a crowd. This unabashed attitude can be seen in her audacious and hilarious ending: “She had hidden in the incoming student body.” This is a completely unexpected yet confident way to assert her strong belief that she deserves to be admitted to Duke.

The clever way that Lauren infuses details about her interests throughout her writing helps add more “serious” elements to the mischievous format of her essay. For example, under the guise of an “interrogation,” we learn that she is ambitious, “stubborn and industrious” and curious about university life. Later on, we find more specific data that is relevant to Lauren—that she hopes to study abroad and conduct research in a lab. Perhaps Lauren could narrow the scope of this research by describing the lab she sees in her future, as this lab might be in biology, psychology, robotics, and endless other possibilities. In addition to sharing her goals, Lauren reveals past experiences that have shaped her life, specifically volunteerism and international travel. This note piques our curiosity about these experiences; ideally, Lauren would discuss these in more detail in another essay. Lauren creatively uses this format to present not just her future goals and past experiences, but also her appearance (we envision a “vertically-challenged” smiling brunette) and some of the things around her that hint at her interests (her laptop, Jane Austen novels, textbooks, and I-Pod).

All these details present Lauren from a number of perspectives.

Overall, the specifics provide content to what would otherwise be a fun and humorous, but perhaps not terribly substantial, piece of writing. Lauren may have considered combining the paragraphs that begin “With this lead . . . ” and “Further examination . . . ” Though these two paragraphs help move along the “plot” of the crime scene, they don’t give us substantially more information about Lauren herself. Since space is so precious in college essays, it is important to edit carefully.

Eliminating redundancy creates more space to add enriching and edi-fying details that will more fully present the complex person that you are.