Would anyone be willing to read and comment on my Common App essay?
If there has ever been a more wretched curse upon the race of men than war, let it be known. A maker of widows and orphans, war truly has no good qualities. It is born from the greed of selfish men and dies only by the blood of courageous ones. The United States Army makes these courageous men through constant training in warfare and physical fitness. Perhaps, the most famous taste of Army life is Basic Combat Training also colloquially known as “boot camp.” This essay will describe my significant experience at Basic Combat Training.
During the summer after my junior year in high school, I began the first step of my Army adventure. Unfortunately, this literal step was off an enormous bus into a herd of the loudest, cruelest beings alive; these monsters are known solely as drill sergeants. Thus began the Red Phase of my transformation from civilian to soldier; however, Red Phase was the most physically demanding stage of Basic Combat Training. Everything my platoon and I did was strictly expected to be done perfectly. Since the drill sergeants expected perfection out of our platoon of misfits, we got physically punished several times. If the drill sergeants came in our barracks at night and someone was not “sleeping according to their standards,” they would flip the lights on and make all of us “beat our faces” also known as performing the push up exercise. Oftentimes, we would be woken during the night more than once or twice until we finally learned “how to sleep correctly.” Although this pattern eventually became routine, it was very uplifting to finally graduate to White Phase of Basic Combat Training.
White Phase was the “easiest” section of Basic Combat Training although it was still not by any means “easy.” Most of this time was spent learning Basic Rifle Marksmanship; in fact, everyday was spent at the shooting range. Since my physical fitness scores were one of the highest in the whole company, I was chosen to perform range detail. The reason the most physically fit soldiers were chosen for this job was because they were allowed to skip physical fitness training in the beginning of the day. Thus, much of the strenuous exercises of White Phase were taken off my shoulders. I was also considered one of the “top shots” of my platoon and got to skip some rifle training. After some entertaining training in Advanced Rifle Marksmanship, my platoon and I took the next step into Blue Phase.
Soldiers learn to adapt to Army life in Red Phase and they learn to shoot weapons according to Army standards in White Phase. However, in Blue Phase, soldiers learn to think like true warriors; consequently, my platoon and I learned this lesson through an excessive amount of sweat. Whether we were throwing grenades or clearing rooms filled with insurgents, the hot scorching sun of humid South Carolina was always beating down upon us. Although Blue Phase held many challenges, the most intense obstacle was definitely Victory Forge. The simulated forward operating base, Victory Forge, tested everything we had learned since day one. For five days, we defended and assaulted the base, held off angry “Afghan” mobs, and watched out for improvised explosive devices. It ended with an eleven mile ruck sack march home in the pitch black night. As we finally took our last steps into the barracks, we dawned our black berets with the relieving knowledge that Basic Combat Training was finally over.
In this imperfect world, obstacles are a daily nuisance; life always seems to have another impediment. However, these experiences always hold a lesson to be learned. In conclusion, life is not about falling down, but about getting up again.
I cannot really assess your essay for content, because you didn’t provide the essay prompt. However, it seems to be very well written. Changes I would make:
1. Omit the comma after “Perhaps” in the first paragraph; it is unnecessary.
2. Omit the word “however” after “from civilian to soldier” in the second paragraph. “However” implies contrast, and there is no contrast in this sentence.
3. Omit the word “strictly” before “expected” in the second paragraph.
4. Change “we got physically punished” to “we were physically punished” in the second paragraph.
5. “Also known as the push up exercise” should be put in parentheses in the second paragraph.
6. Insert a comma before the word “although” in the first sentence of the third paragraph.
7. Change “my fitness scores were one of the highest” to either “my fitness score was one of the highest” or “my fitness scores were some of the highest.” Subject-verb agreement.
8. You use quotation marks too frequently. The only necessary ones are around “beat our faces” and “Afghan.” Eliminate all other quotation marks.
9. After reading your essay, it seems like the topic was something about overcoming obstacles. You should reference the topic in your introduction to set a clear path for your essay. Also, include a title that alludes to the content of your essay.
10. I would add one or two more sentences to round out your conclusion. Also, you should change the last sentence because it is too cliche. The essay judges have heard that line about getting up a thousand times; give them something new!
Please remember that I’m being VERY picky here. Overall, it’s a great essay. A few changes will take it from great to outstanding. Best of luck in college, and thank you for your service!