This satirical essay — or a version of it — was written in 1990 by high school student Hugh Gallagher, who entered it in the humor category of the Scholastic Writing Awards and won first prize. The text was then published in Literary Cavalcade , a magazine of contemporary student writing, and reprinted in Harper's and The Guardian before taking off as one of the most forwarded viral emails of the 1990s.
Though it was not Gallagher's actual college application essay, he did submit it as a sample of his work to college writing programs and was accepted, with scholarship, to New York University, from which he graduated in 1994. Since then he has worked as a freelance writer. His first novel, Teeth , was published by Pocket Books in March 1998.
In my mind, I could never fancy how ten seconds of life could change a person's view on his whole existence. I experienced the scariest moment in my life. That was the month I faced my very first car accident. It is a moment I will never forget. It was a beautiful hot summer day in May 2013. I was driving from my college to my home. Unfortunately, I did not make it home right after because I was involved a car accident. What happened that evening changed the way I drive, it taught me some valuable lessons and came to the conclusion that life is too short to take things for granted.
First of all, I was coming over a hill when all of a sudden the car in front of me made a sudden stop. I instantly collided with the car. The sick rush of nervousness flowed through my body. I immediately thought to myself, “Oh no, my older sister is going to kill me. Why did this have to happen to me?” And then, I started shuffling though my purse looking for my cell phone, and I found it and instantly called my older sister. I was trying to get the words out through all my tears and I said “Sister! I was just in an accident.” She tried to calm me down with the words of “Are you okay? I respond by saying, “I never want to drive again.” And my sister told me that she would come there as soon as possible. After I hung out the phone, my head started hurt and it was like being punched by a professional boxer.
Although I was shaking uncontrollably, I had to try getting out of my car. The crash had caused the front driver door wasn’t budged an inch and so I was unable to step out. I was forced to walk out through the passenger door and I got out of my car. A guy from the other vehicle ran over to me, and as his voice stuttered and asked “Are you hurt?”. In fear, I responded by saying, “I’m alright, just a little scared.” I sat flat on the sidewalk, and my back leaned against the wall.
In a short distance I begin to see the red and blue...