Stanford Admissions Essays

What Matters


What matters to you, and why?

What matters.

It's one of those riddles a kindergartner knows they can sincerely answer and adults think they can logically answer. I, however, am a teenager, stuck awkwardly between that simplicity and heightened logic, and my dilemma is evident: is it my actions or feelings that really matter? Is it what I do for others or what others do for me that matters? The question has been a dim lantern down a path of reflection on my past twelve years of high school and eighteen years of life, traversed in order to find what has, does, and will matter to me.

As I trekked through the depths of my heart, mind, and adolescence, I found a common thread that united the three fundamental pieces of my life: my family, my country, and my faith. The string that sewed them all together was a unique crafting of my mind through experience: more simply stated, my education.

Socrates defined education as "the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel."

I agree.

My flame is what matters to me.

My flame blazes with the tinder piled on by others: my brother's burning passion for music is an inspiration for me in pursuing my dreams with confidence; while my calves and quads physically burn, my cross country coach lights the candles of discipline and determination that structure me mentally; my grandmother's lesson of undying faith as an orphan in Chicago burns in my heart and teaches me the importance of taking advantage of opportunities; and the patriotism, innovation, and diversity of my country ignite my sense of duty in all that I do.

The flame is tall enough now to reach the why; selfishly this flame matters because I matter, and I matter because I will matter. What I can teach--through instruction and continued exploration--will change someone's world. It matters to me because it will matter to someone else.

It matters to you because the single greatest lesson that my collective experiences have taught me is that no action or word goes without impact.

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How to cite this essay (MLA)

Anonymous Student. "What Matters" Study Notes, LLC., 18 Nov. 2015. Web. 13 Jul. 2024. <>.