College Essay: Jack Kaplan

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“My Inspiration to Learn”

By Jack Kaplan, Writer

My entire life I felt like I would never be a good learner. Every day in school I would watch my classmates genuinely enjoy internalizing new knowledge, but I never felt like the established curriculum spoke to me like it spoke to my peers. I was in a state of constant internal conflict; if this system got everyone else excited about learning, then why didn’t it for me?  I concluded that I must be the problem. I would complete all my assignments and perform well on tests, but I accepted I would never enjoy learning.   

On September 3rd, 2016, my 17-year-old cousin, Rachel, died. The funeral was an indescribable horror. Seeing my aunt draped over my cousin’s body made me realize she was never coming back. Amidst the tragedy, the only thing that shone a light through the darkness was her writing. I knew that Rachel wanted to be a writer someday, but it wasn’t until after she died that we uncovered just how much she did write during her time.  

We found notebooks full of inspirational quotes, funny stories, streams of consciousness, and insights about the world and herself. This experience changed my outlook on my future. It made me realize that time is precious. I had heard that cliché countless times before, but this was the first time I ever understood it. I was struck with the realization that if I lost my life, I wouldn’t have anything to show for it. She was seventeen and had already written so much because it’s what she loved to do. She didn’t wait to be taught how to write properly–she just went for it. Rachel was the first person I saw passionately pursue learning on her own. Up until this point I assumed all learning was bound to the classroom. I never knew learning could be enjoyable. My new goal was to put my energy towards things I found interesting and not wait for school to teach them to me. I began to start to learn the way Rachel did.  

I dove into anything that piqued my interest. This would often lead me to exciting topics I had never even thought about. For instance, I have always played video games, but never took the time to learn anything about them. Researching them opened my eyes to the world of computers, hardware and technology, topics I never would have known about otherwise. I got into business through fashion and clothing resale, basketball statistics through wanting to learn more about the sports I watched, and health and nutrition through googling why I get migraines. But by far my deepest passion that’s come out of this is psychology. I am intrigued by the chemical components of drugs, their effects on society, and the stigma around addiction. I am fascinated by the human brain, mental illness, and alternative treatment methods. As much as these topics interest me on their own, what really drives me to learn about them is knowing I can help people with this knowledge. I want to use my unique combination of interests to help people in new ways. From aiding those battling addictions to those suffering from chronic pain, from veterans with debilitating PTSD to unjustly imprisoned drug users, my possibilities are endless. In school, I began to pick electives like AP Psychology and Current Health Issues that catered to the psychology topics I was interested in. My work excelled in these courses because my learning was no longer limited to just what was being presented in school. I want to continue studying psychology because it’s the subject that makes me feel driven to succeed. As a writer, Rachel wanted to make life better for the people who read her work. Inspired by her I strive to use my passion to do the same.

Featured Photo: Provided By Jack Kaplan