In response to the common application's short answer question, Doug writes about a lawn-mowing business that he founded:
My freshman year I founded Beat the Joneses, a lawn care company. I was a kid with a hand-pushed mower, a second-hand weed whacker, and a desire to build a successful and profitable company. Three years later, my company has four employees and I’ve used the profits to buy a riding mower, two trimmers, two hand mowers and a trailer. This kind of success comes naturally to me. I’m good at advertising locally and convincing my customers of the value of my services. I hope to use these skills in college as I earn my business degree. Business is my passion, and I hope to be even more financially successful after college.
Critique of Doug's Short Answer Response
What Doug has accomplished is impressive. Most college applicants haven't started their own business and hired employees. A college business program would probably be impressed by Doug's accomplishments.
Doug's short answer response, however, has some problems. The most significant issue is that Doug comes off sounding like a braggart and an egotist. The phrase "this kind of success comes naturally to me" is likely to rub the admissions officers the wrong way. Doug sounds full of himself. While a college wants confident students, it doesn't want obnoxious ones.
Also, Doug comes across as someone who doesn't think he has much to learn in college. Why exactly does he want to go to college if he already thinks he has all the skills he needs to run a business?
The overall message that we get from Doug's essay is that the writer is someone who thinks very highly of himself and likes to make money. If Doug has any ambitions more noble than "profit," he hasn't made those goals clear in his short answer response. Doug does not sound like someone who will be a charitable and contributing member of a campus community.
Colleges hear all too frequently that students want to attend so that they can get a great job and make money. However, if students have no passion for learning and participating in college life, the road to that degree will be fraught with problems. Doug's short answer doesn't succeed in explaining the connection between his lawn care company and his desire to spend four years of his life studying business.