Feedback for Common App essay?
I know this is kind of last minute, but I’m just trying to figure out if this is a good enough topic with enough info for the common app. Any feedback would be great. Thanks.
The smell of rice cooking, the flash of red envelopes exchanging hands, the distinct sizzle of a wok, and twenty people in a house made for five could only mean one thing: Chinese New Year. Like Christmas and Thanksgiving, Chinese New Year is a time when rarely-seen relatives catch up and share a meal in the comfort of Grandma’s house, the house in which we all grew up. With my parents always working, I lived with my grandmother for the first five years of my life, seeing my parents only once a week. However, surrounded by loving aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents, I was anything but uncared for. Though my cousins and I differed in age by an entire decade, the Easter egg hunts and Halloween Trick-or-Treating remain as some of my most cherished memories.
Outside of this comforting, protective bubble, there were few other places I considered home, save one: Chinatown. I grew up there as much as I did in my grandmother’s house, and it was there that I went to Sunday school, visited my mother at work, and played with other children in the local playground. This was truly the golden age of my life, when I was carefree and when anything was possible, but as I grew older, these comforts disappeared. Aunts and uncles moved away, cousins grew up and went to college, playing in the playground turned to toiling over school work, and these cherished trips to Chinatown became as infrequent as holiday gatherings.
With the hustle and bustle of high school life, all the treasures of my childhood faded away into memory, but a small part of it resurfaced again in the middle of my sophomore year. I came across an opportunity to volunteer with the Chinatown Community Development Center, an organization advocating social justice in Chinatown. I am not sure if it was because of an altruistic passion to help people or because of a more personal desire to reconnect with a cherished part of my past, but I joined and fell in love with the program and the people I met there. It did not matter if I was sweeping dirty alleyways or playing with rambunctious kids, removing graffiti or cooking with seniors, planning an event or facilitating a meeting; all I knew was that I was back where I belonged, in the heart of Chinatown.
Going to a Jesuit high school, I could not go anywhere without hearing about “social justice,” yet those two words held little meaning for me until I could see it with my own two eyes and enact it with my own two hands. This was not some distant place in a documentary or brochure; this was home, where I grew up, and where people needed help. Life may have pulled me away from my home once, but it also brought me back, and this time, I am committed to stay and make a difference, not only in Chinatown but in all of San Francisco and beyond.
I would leave the “and beyond” out of the last sentence….. you aren’t buzz lightyear, and it doesn’t fit right with the whole feeling of your essay.
I like how you chose something unique about you, not many people have had the whole chinatown as a home experience. However, there is one thing, you don’t really emphasize how you have changed. You use too much discription on chinatown and how it is and how it made you feel, but this isnt the setting of a personal autobiography, you only have 250-500 words to show the admissions counselor how you are unique as a person, and why you are who you are. I would say emphasize more on how you changed, how you grew from this experience.
good luck on your essay, I am applying to colleges this year too >< my essay is ALMOST done, so i know how you feel about it being last minute, but you're not alone. You're essay has a good base, but you jneed to delve in to it deeper, find yourself.