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09/04/2019

college essay application?

QUESTION
college essay application?
on who influences me the most. not done, but just a start.

Somewhere along the way, we forget the value of encounters. Every action, every discussion, every mistake, every serendipity has an effect on someone, and then by default, the whole world. As children, we know that little things matter, and that every rock dropped into a lake creates bigger rings around it, but adulthood has us all convinced that the big picture is the only picture. Suddenly the gentle waves of rain no longer have us mesmerized and we can only find beauty in the form of green paper and plastic sliders, but I refuse.
As much as the main characters in my life have influenced me, so have the random people that I maybe only pass on any given day down the street. I see every day as an opportunity and every flaw as an area for change. A peer of mine in 9th grade tripped a blind student, one who I was very much unfamiliar with, and yelled at him to watch where he was going; she continued walking with her friends, laughter engulfing the hallway. She has no idea how she has influenced me, this teenager I do not even know. She will never know that I spent nights worrying about this blind man, who may or may not have gone home pending thought towards what had occurred-if he had to tell his parents what happened, or if he was too filled with unnecessary and misplaced shame to admit the occurrence. This random stranger influenced me to consider other people and to take action against those who do not.
When I was on my way to school junior year from my father‘s house, I pulled into a McDonald’s Drive Thru for a orange juice and a breakfast burrito. When I pulled up to the window, money in hand, the woman nodded her head and pushed the money towards me. Excited and confused all the same, I reluctantly asked why. “The woman in front of you paid for you. Did you know her?” I had no idea who this woman was, but a sense of overwhelming satisfaction came over me, not because I didn’t have to pay for my breakfast (that was just an added bonus!) but because my faith in humanity had been reassured by her. Immediately I knew that there were genuine humans among us, some who shout it to the world, and others who anonymously buy other’s people’s meals at a Drive Thru.

ANSWER
I’m guessing you want some opinions on you essay, so that is what I will give. First off, you do a good job of descriptive writing. So that is good. However, there are a few significant issues I would suggest you address. Please don’t take this personally, but I will spend more time on the criticism, simply because that will probably be more helpful.

First off, the flow is a bit weird. The first paragraph has nothing to do with the question and I was wondering where this was going and why you were telling me this. It did not seem relevant. And though you tie it in (sort of), the damage has already been done. You see, admissions folk are busy and they don’t like to have their time wasted, so as soon as they are wondering why they are reading something, you have started to make a bad impression. I would strongly suggest that you make it clear that what you are saying is relevant to the prompt before anyone can question that.

Your essay is composed of 3 paragraphs, and they really are not that strongly tied together. It’s almost like three separate parts, and none of those parts go into much detail. I would spend some effort making it more cohesive and perhaps delving into more detail. Obviously, given length restrictions, you can’t go into too much detail, but perhaps it would be better if you spent your space contrasting the two encounters and exploring their differences, rather than trying to explain each individually. Also, the essay simply ends. Tie it together at the end. This should be one cohesive piece. It is CRITICAL that you have a message and you convey it clearly. If your piece is not cohesive, then you must be failing on one of those two counts.

You use the word ‘I’ too much. Try rephrasing every sentence with an I in it, and see if you can cut down the I’s to a minimum. There is really no problem with the word I, but sentences that avoid them generally sound more intelligent (and less self-centered). (And, no, I’m not trying to avoid the word “I” in this answer, but if I were trying to get you to accept me to your college, then I certainly would be.) Also, don’t make any spelling or grammatical errors.

Finally, I think my biggest issue is with your tone. There are two issues here. First, you are very presumptive in the first paragraph. You claim that we forget the value of encounters. You say that as adults we only see the big picture. You say that rain has us mesmerized as children. That would be all fine and good, if the reader agreed with you. But if the reader does not agree with you, it comes across as a bit pompous. Who are you to tell me that I have forgotten the details? Why would you think I was ever interested in rain? Be careful how you phrase this type of stuff. It turns people off when you tell them how to think or assume they agree with you. If you want to convince me that you are right, fine, do that. But that is not what you have done, all you did was assert your statements and the fact that they apply to me.

The second tone issue is with the entire essay. You pick a subject that is a bit simplistic and then sort of treat it as if you have made some profound insight. If I had to paraphrase, it would be:

“I see a girl trip a blind person… that is very bad. I see a lady pay for a stranger… that is very good.”

Well, yes, obviously the first thing is bad, the second thing is good. Don’t fool yourself into thinking either observation is profound. They aren’t. There are obvious. I think it would be better if you focused on a more intellectual subject. I’m not saying you need a different topic, but perhaps you could consider a more interesting analysis. As it stands right now, I would say the conversation is simple and a bit boring. You would do better to show the admissions staff that you can critically evaluate something in a non-obvious manner.

Remember, admissions folk are looking to see how smart you are and how well you can use words to convey a message. I’m not saying you need a thesis on social issues, but something more interesting than “this good, that bad” would be helpful. Also, make sure that there is no way someone can read you words and come away with the feeling that you are pompous, self-centered, arrogant, or any other form of unpleasant. Since it will be people who decide you fate in admissions, you would do well to make sure they don’t dislike you personally. And it is not always the content of your essay that gives off ‘bad vibes’; usually it is tone.

I hope that helps. To be honest, your essay is decent. But if you are looking to really nail the essay, you might want to consider what I said. Best of luck!