Academic pentathlon participants are given quotes as prompts to
write their essays. Many involve critical thinking or understanding
a play on words. Here is a sample of this year’s quotes and the
“If your ship doesn’t come in, swim out to it.”
— Comedian Jonathan Winters
Student: Each and every page of a beautifully
written novel reflects an author diving into the water and trying
to swim toward success. J.K. Rowling, a renowned author,
undoubtedly demonstrates this notion. For instance, when Rowling
originally endeavored publishing her first Harry Potter novel in
1995, it was rejected by 12 different publishers; she felt
overpowered by a sea of criticism. Despite being rejected so many
times, Rowling did not give up and swam until she reached the right
“The only job where you start at the top is digging a hole.”
Student: Grab a shovel and get going! The
resplendent quote, “The only job where you start at the top is
digging a hole,” wisely spoken by an anonymous author, is a pun or
play on words that conveys the notion that one must work for their
success. Nobody begins their journey at the finish line and nothing
in life will be given away freely. Creating success is a process,
therefore one should make the effort to grab a shovel and start
digging for their own success.
“It’s always too soon to quit.”
— Norman Vincent Peale
Student: Walt Disney was rejected 302 times
before he got financing for his dream of creating the “Happiest
Place on Earth.” He is one of the millions of examples that prove,
“It’s always too soon to quit.” This quote written by Norman
Vincent Peale emphasizes the importance of perseverance.
“Opportunity may knock only once, but temptation leans on the
Student: Ding Dong! That is the sound of
temptation leaning on the doorbell, trying to get me off of my path
toward success. ...What this personified quote means is that the
temptation to be off task is constantly a part of people’s lives.
Opportunity, on the other hand, comes to your door less often.
Temptation becomes an unwanted visitor.
Student: Once escaping to find her own freedom,
Harriet Tubman must have heard temptation leaning on the doorbell.
That is, the temptation to remain safe and not look back to those
African Americans who remained in bondage. Opportunity knocked and
Harriet had answered, but what makes her admirable is that she
risked her new found freedom to create doors for others. Many
passed through the doors of the Underground Railroad to freedom
thanks to Harriet Tubman.
“If a window of opportunity appears, don’t pull down the
— Tom Peters
Student: This quote can be seen in my life; for
instance, when I was 12 I was a very shy person. I kept my shade
pulled down and did not allow in the light of friendship.
Student: This metaphoric quote can also be seen
in the life of Taylor Swift. ... Her mother was in full support of
Taylor, but she had strict rules about her choice of record label
companies. One was that her mother had jt approve of them before
she signed a deal. Taylor agreed, but what she didn’t realize is
that her mother had just pulled down the shade on her window of
“For attractive lips speak words of kindness.”
— Actress Audrey Hepburn
“A big shot is a little shot that kept shooting.”
“Many a false step was made by standing still.”
— Chinese proverb from a fortune cookie
“A small house will hold a hundred friends.”
— African proverb
“The only way to have a friend is to be one.”
— Writer Ralph Waldo Emerson