I advise students to read plenty of examples of strong essays in advance of beginning any brainstorming or writing. There are a number of books on the market and websites to help. Then I like to choose a couple of those sample essays and have the student identify three things or traits that were revealed about the writer/applicant. For example, family is important as revealed by the catchy beginning that showed the writer/applicant having a deep discussion with an older sibling. Or the writer is profoundly interested in studying French and is willing to take on challenges outside her comfort zone as revealed by the reference to studying abroad in a full-immersion exchange program. Or the writer values community as revealed by the eloquent description of her role within the corps d’ ballet, and how she provides support to and draws on the strength of her fellow dancers. Then I ask, “what do you want to reveal about yourself that’s important to you?”
I will illustrate these statements for the case of an electric charge, using a two-dimensional analogy. Imagine a two-dimensional closed universe, which we can picture as a surface of a globe. Suppose we place a positive charge at the north pole of this universe. Then the lines of the electrical field emanating from the charge will wrap around the sphere and converge at the south pole. This means that a negative charge of equal magnitude should be present there. Thus, we cannot add a positive charge to a closed universe without adding an equal negative charge at the same time. The total charge of a closed universe must therefore be equal to zero.
In the course of this enquiry I found that much more had been done than I had been aware of, when I first published the Essay. The poverty and misery arising from a too rapid increase of population had been distinctly seen, and the most violent remedies proposed, so long ago as the times of Plato and Aristotle. And of late years the subject has been treated in such a manner by some of the French Economists; occasionally by Montesquieu, and, among our own writers, by Dr. Franklin, Sir James Stewart, Mr. Arthur Young, and Mr. Townsend, as to create a natural surprise that it had not excited more of the public attention.