College Essay

January 13, 2009
By Jake Griffioen, Hartland, WI

My palms were clammy and my legs were quivering. What if I don’t make it through this? Standing on the wrong side of the guard rail, my whole life seemed somewhat backward. My head kept bobbing up and down glaring at the water forty feet down. I took one step forward letting the rest of my body quickly follow. I fell, so far so fast; I couldn’t keep my eyes open. As I emerged from the water, I thought about a book I read about two mice.
Dr. Martin S from University of Pennsylvania conducted an experiment with two mice. The first mouse, the master mouse, was encouraged to run through obstacles and squeeze into tight spaces. The second mouse lived in an empty cage with nothing to play with. Dr. S held the second mouse for two hours a day, not letting him escape his grasp. Eventually, the mouse learned he was unable to get free. Every day, the mouse would sit still knowing he would eventually be set free.

Then, the two mice were placed in a bath tube. The master mouse was shocked at first, but then swam to the side of the tube and found a ladder to climb out. The second mouse felt the grasp of the water around him and gave up. The mouse was taught to be helpless.

After reading this, I went back and forth trying to decide if I was a mighty mouse or a mouse that would drown from the first uncomfortable situation I faced. My parents never let me play rough with my friends or explore the world around me. I was treated like a little China doll that could never fall. My parent’s protection carried on through my childhood instilling fear of the unknown.

College is like jumping off the bridge. I don’t know how it will feel or if I will make it through. The same rock is sitting in the bottom of my stomach. The rock was there when I started high school and when I took my drivers test. The rock will still be there when I buy my own house or get married. But I know I can face it. I was taught to be cautious, not scared. I am the master mouse that can overcome fear and take the biggest risk of my life. College will help give me the courage to break free and jump off more bridges.

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