04/21/2006 06:15 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

My First-Choice School

"A generation ago, high school seniors applied to three, four or five colleges. But now students aiming for the most selective universities frequently apply to as many as 10 or 12; a significant number of students... apply to many, many more.... Sometimes they apply to a vast range of colleges..." --The New York Times

Explain why you wish to attend the Colorado School of Mines.

From an early age, I have been attracted to dark, cramped spaces and shiny, valuable objects. When I was ten I dug a hole in the dirt floor of our root cellar and struck something hard and metallic, which turned out to be the box containing my brother's Penthouse magazines. Since that day my interest in mining has continued to grow. Indeed, a glance at my electives and extracurricular activities shows that it has been the shaping force in my high school career.

Thus, I chose French as my foreign language (including AP this year) so that I could study the work of the great 18th-century poet and mining engineer Novalis. (While I later discovered that Novalis wrote in German, I am sure that my knowledge of the French poets who influenced him, such as Homer, will give me an edge in understanding his work.) Similarly, I chose to learn the tuba because it is made of brass, an alloy of copper and zinc. In the same way, I am taking AP Calculus in order to better understand the theory of extraction pioneered by James Watt, and refined by Gale Norton, in which the protected portion of a nation's natural heritage can become infinitely small yet never entirely disappear.

While I believe my grades, SATs and other qualifications speak for themselves, I hope the single-minded enthusiasm I will bring to my studies at the Colorado School of Mines will also be a factor in your decision.

Explain why you wish to attend the United States Naval College.

From an early age, I have dreamed of going to sea. Since I live in Nebraska, my experience with actual vessels has been limited to the bumper boats at the Fun Plex in Omaha, yet despite this handicap I have done everything in my power to prepare for a career with the U.S. Navy.

For instance, I joined my school's chess team in order to gain insight into military strategy and tactics; after all, not for nothing was chess called The Game of Kings when invented by the Indians of Kings County (now Brooklyn) in the sixth century A.D. The wrestling team attracted me for much the same reason, as well as because I felt that the pretzel-like configurations assumed by my and my opponents' limbs would give me a "leg up" in making bowline knots, anchorbend knots, Turk's head three-bead four-bight knots, and the like. Similarly, I chose French as my foreign language (including AP this year) so that I could read the diaries of Napoleon's naval officers, in which they recount in detail how they were soundly beaten by the superior seamanship of Admiral (later Lord) Ricky Nelson. In short, in the words of Isaiah Berlin, I am ready, willing and able to "join the Navy and see the sea."

Explain why you wish to attend Yeshiva University.

From a very early age, it has been my ambition to study the word of G-d as revealed in the Torah and analyzed ad nauseam by the Rabbis, may their memory be for a blessing. As a Presbyterian, I have been at a bit of a disadvantage, but it should be clear from my choice of electives and extracurricular activities that, against all odds, my thirst for the Holy Word has remained as strong as ever.

Thus, I chose French as my foreign language (including the AP course this year) so that I could study the works of the great eleventh-century French commentator Rashi in the original. (Though I later learned that he wrote in Hebrew, I have no doubt that my grasp of the Gallic milieu in which he lived will ultimately give me a better handle on his work.) Similarly, it was my fascination with the story of our father Jacob's encounter with the angel at the Ford dealership on the Jabbok River that inspired me to join the wrestling team. I joined the school band because I felt this would bring me closer to the many great musicians of Jewish history, such as Jascha Heifetz, Yehudi Menuhin, and Neil Sedaka. Likewise, I joined the chess team because of my admiration for Jewish chess masters such as Samuel Reshevsky, Gary Kasparov, and Bobby Fischer.

May the Holy One, Blessed be He, grant you the wisdom to make the right decision about my application.

Explain why you wish to attend Kepler College of Astrological Arts and Sciences.

From an early age, humankind has gazed at the star-spangled night sky and wondered: what does that have to do with me? I am no exception. When I learned that in 2004, for the first time in 400 years, Kepler College had granted bachelor's degrees in Astrological Arts and Sciences, I vowed that, if the stars allowed, I would be among the fortunate few to earn one.

Fortunately, my entire high school career has been shaped, as if by fate, to bring about that end. Thus, I am doing Calculus this year (AP) for the same reason 17th-century alchemist Isaac Newton did: in order better to predict the motions of the planets. French (including AP this year) was my choice among foreign languages because I wished to read in the original the works of the great 16th century astrologer Michel de Notre Dame, a.k.a. Nostradamus. (As you know, Nostradamus wrote in a mixture of Old French, French Provincial, Latin, Greek, Italian, Yinglish, and Esperanto, but many words, such as "sept," are definitely recognizable.) Similarly, I joined the school band because of my interest in Kepler's theory of the Music of the Spheres (unfortunately, the spherical instruments were all taken). The links between astrology and chess, another of my extracurricular activities, are well known: for example, the number of possible games of chess exceeds the number of stars in the known universe, including some whose light may not reach us until after all my application materials have been received.

While I am not yet adept enough in astrology to predict whether you will accept me into Kepler College's Class of 2011, as a Sagitarius I am optimistic that you will!

Explain why you wish to attend Ringling Bros. & Barnum and Bailey Clown College.

From a very early age, my one ambition has been to make people laugh. Often I have been able to do this without even trying! Seriously, though, a glance at my electives and extracurricular activities will give you some idea of the strength of my passion for the art and science of clowning.

For instance, I joined the wrestling team because (given that Tekamah Senior High does not have a clowning team) I felt this would be the best way to learn how to fall on my face, buttocks, and other body parts without injury. Likewise, I am taking AP Calculus because it is all about approaching closer and closer to something without ever quite getting there, which is the basis of many classic routines by such giants of the clown pantheon as Chaplin, Keaton, Jacobs, Griebling, and Bush. The chess club gives me the opportunity to practice making funny faces at my opponents when it is their turn to move, while my chosen instrument, the tuba, plays a key role in such famous works of circus music as The Flying Dutchman. Finally, I chose French as my foreign language (including AP this year) because I wanted to study the films and videos of the man I consider the greatest living clown, Marcel Marceau.

In conclusion, let me go out on a limb (without a saw!) and admit that some of my classmates think I am crazy to be applying to Clown College. This reflects, I believe, a prejudice against clowns that is, sadly, widespread in our society. To which I can only respond, in the words of the motto of the French royal family: "Honi soit qui mal y pense!"

I look forward eagerly to your response.