Maintain a Running List for Your Essay
by Chino Baluyut


RL1It was summer. Mid July. Height of noon. Beatrice and her family were at Disneyland, hoping for a magical day.  However, their enchanted journey started to feel like a descent into the kingdom of Hades.

“I want to ride the teacups,” whined Bea’s third grade sister. They saw that the queue outmeasured Rapunzel’s golden locks.

“Star Tours for me,” demanded her twin brother. They looked at the Tomorrowland billboard; the next shuttle launch was at 5 pm.

Mom added, “I want to see the Michael Jackson 3D show,” as she adjusted her shoulder pads.

“I want one of those turkey legs. I’m hungry,” added her dad, contributing to the verbal melee.

“Teacups! Star Tours! Michael Jackson! Turkey leg!”  Her family began to bicker like Snow White’s dwarves.

Finally, Bea put her foot down.  “Ok. This is what we’ll do. First, we’ll get Fast Passes for the teacup ride because the line is just too long right now. Next, we’ll have lunch at the pizza place. It’s near Star Tours and the Michael Jackson show. Dad, I saw a turkey leg cart on the way there.  Next, we’ll get Fast Passes for Star Tours because an hour will have elapsed, and we can get a new set of passes. We’ll then redeem our teacup Fast Passes, go watch the MJ show, then redeem the Star Tours Fast Passes. By then it will be evening and we can all find a nice spot to watch the parade, which is what I want to see.”

Dumbstruck, everyone just nodded, mouths agape. Mom, mindful of this spontaneous burst of leadership, whipped out her iPhone, tapped Notes, opened the page for future essay topics, and quickly typed line #3:



The happiest place on earth can easily become a venue for young Woodies or Mike Wazowskis.  Though the importance of this event may not seem as significant as Captain America leading the Avengers against a bunch of aliens, don’t discount it.  Bea’s act, when described colorfully, can be the kernel of a paragraph that answers this high school application essay question:

Describe how you once used your initiative and found a solution to a problem.

How do you make sure that a significant event like this doesn’t escape you? Keep a running list. Most of us have smartphones or tablets. As soon as you catch yourself (or your child) doing something remarkable, open your preferred note taking application. It will only take seconds to type “Disneyland Queen!” on

By the end of summer, you will be pleasantly surprised at the fun topics that you can write about in your high school application essay.


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