The actual news value of James Holmes' rejected University of Iowa application is questionable, but one thing it does provide is the first real look at the writing of the man accused of opening fire on a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, and that's fascinating. The application, which administrators denied emphatically, ("Do NOT offer admission under any circumstances," one wrote), includes a couple of essays from the accused shooter. Holmes was applying for graduate school in neuroscience, which he eventually attended at the University of Colorado in Denver. The Denver Post obtained the documents and posted a PDF, which Reuters' Matthew Keys also posted to Scribd. The essays are so fascinating because of the personal details they share, and the picture Holmes paints of a hopeful, curious student keen on self-improvement.
One essay in particular includes some lines that sound haunting in hindsight, as Holmes described his childhood in the Salinas Valley, California town of Castroville, and his work as a camp counselor. "Looking back, my life could have gone in a completely different direction had I not possessed the foresight to choose the path of knowledge," he wrote. Later he pledged to "bring my past, specifically my strong moral upbringing." Holmes touted his "resolution and clairvoyance in problem solving" and his experience with children with learning disabilities:
You can read that essay and the rest of Holmes's rejected application online at Scribd.