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Essay on 'Why My Undergraduate Academic Performance Is A Poor Indication of Potential'

chazoko 1 / 1  
Feb 25, 2020   #1
Hello, could I please get some feedback on this essay? Not just grammar, but also coherence and if it is a suitable answer to the question. Thanks

Do you feel that your academic performance so far gives an accurate indication of your potential for success on the programme? If so, why? If not, why not?

My undergraduate academic performance, especially in the years before my 16-month internship, serves as a poor proxy for my potential to succeed in a Masters in Finance programme. The results I attained in that period were well deserved given my mindset at the time; but I believe any comparison between the immature person I was then and the person I am now, would be like comparing apples to oranges. More details about who I was may provide some context.

I will start at the beginning.

There has always been a high bar for academic performance in my family, no matter the obstacles. My father, dirt poor and starting his education late, eventually graduating top of his Mechanical Engineering class with the help of numerous merit-based scholarships along the way. My mother, from the same background, getting a PhD while raising three children. The common themes, persistence and a hunger for learning, were values that were instilled in me from an early age. These drove me through primary school, into a boarding secondary school renowned for its academic rigour. It said a lot that while my school mates regaled each other with tales of parties, cinemas, and concerts, my perennial answer to "So what did you do over the summer?" was "I read." I loved reading, but I never had the typical teenage summers instead. The city I lived in during school breaks was remote, and for security reasons I had to spend most of my time indoors (from 2004 - early 2010s, workers in the oil industry, such as my father, and their families, were key targets for kidnappings in my region). Reading was my only refuge for the time being.

Arriving at McMaster University was a forced choice. I had already accepted an offer from Duke University. For me, Duke represented a reward for all my hard work so far: doing brilliantly in school, excelling in the SATs. It was as close to an Ivy League education as I would get. For family reasons, I had to backtrack and accept McMaster's offer - a school I had never heard of until I picked it as my safety school. Frankly, with that choice I grew disenchanted with education. Couple that with the freedom to be a 'teenager' for the first time, I lost myself. Every wrong decision I could have made, I did - skipping classes for some hours or days of fun, ignoring assignments, canceling courses past the cancellation deadline (resulting in an automatic 'F' grade). How did I justify this? I told myself, "Life is short. Grades don't matter. I'm a smart kid, once people see that, they will ignore the grades." But I am convinced that nature abhors wasted talent. In the summer of 2015, four months into my 16-month internship, three serious troubles developed simultaneously, bringing my long-running folly to a head.

One was ethical, involving my university. The others were a personal finance issue, and a serious charge of excessive speeding while driving. The consequences of my actions now forced me to re-evaluate myself, where I was headed, and how to turn it all around. With the help of family, close friends, and mentors I began a process of dismantling and rebuilding. Top priority was to salvage what I could of my university experience. I set my mind on graduating by 2018 instead of 2019. I badgered the dean and professors to let me register for more courses than the maximum allowed per semester for those two years; a privilege reserved for only the best-performing students. That meant extra course-load added to what was already an intensive dual-degree programme, course scheduling conflicts on my timetable, and having to take some courses before I had the prerequisites. In addition, I had to build up my extra-curriculars: founding and leading an Energy Club, volunteering; as well as fall in love with personal reading and learning again. Stretched thin as I was, and diving into courses in which I had a shaky foundation, my grades post-internship while still mediocre were better than my pre-internship period. It was not pretty, but I did what I set out to do.

This is not a sob story. If there is one trite dictum my siblings and I have heard far too many times, it is this: "Do not give excuses.". I accept full responsibility for the poor decisions I made. The right opportunities were there for me, but I made hurdles out of them as though life needed to be any harder. As a result, my academic performance suffered, and I must live with that. To judge the potential of my success in a graduate programme by my undergraduate academic performance alone would paint a very muddy picture. But throw in other factors such as my response in the face of setbacks (despite of my own making), persistence/grit, GMAT (as a proxy for intellect), and clarity of purpose, and one can begin to see past that mud. Would I succeed as a Masters of Finance candidate? Without a doubt. It is non-negotiable for me, and I hope to show everyone just how so.

***For reference: Undergrad GPA: 2.3/4, GMAT 740 (Q49, V42)

Holt [Contributor] - / 9,514 2957  
Feb 26, 2020   #2
Your first paragraph is not as strong as your concluding paragraph. Use the concluding paragraph as your introduction instead. It just has a better hook to it that would better illustrate why the reviewer should disregard your poor academic performance in relation to your possible performance as a masters student. Delete the current first paragraph is just doesn't carry enough important and relevant information to warrant being in the essay.

It is imperative that you explain to the reviewer how you ended up in your back up university. Since one of the main reasons that you lost interest in studying was because you had to reject your first choice and go to your back up choice, there needs to be an acceptable reason for it. The reason will help explain why you under performed during that time.

The 3 events that happened which led you to fail will be a better reason than simply you losing interest in your studies. Why? If the reviewer knows that you lost interest in your studies because you were in a back up school, then it will take very little for you to lose interest in your masters studies, even if you are in your primary choice university. If you explain the 3 reasons as the source of your failed grades, it will be better accepted by the reviewer.

This essay will close better on the repentant note regarding how you turned your studies around. It is clear evidence that your grades cannot be used as the basis of your academic assessment.

Don't worry about the grammar and cohesiveness for now. Revise the content first, then worry about the other 2 sections. First things first. Prioritize the content. That is what the reviewer will be looking at immediately.
Ulaai 3 / 40 25  
Feb 26, 2020   #3
I set my mind on graduating by 2018 instead of 2019.
So, did you managed to do that in the end? How did it go? Don't forget to talk about the result of your hardwork and make sure it shows your potential as a good student.

I badgered the dean and professors to let me ... a privilege reserved for only the best-performing students.
This came across as rude and forceful. Also, like I said before, show your result to prove that you were desperate to succeed.

I think it would be better to conclude with something like: "as long you are motivated, the place you're studying doesn't matter, university doesn't define success but hardwork does" or something along that idea. That would made your writing a bit more reflective, showing that you have learned something from your past experiences.

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