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Posts by Vulpix
Joined: Oct 11, 2009
Last Post: Mar 31, 2010
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Vulpix   
Mar 31, 2010
Undergraduate / "my first swimming lesson" - answer about extracurricular activity [6]

Your short answer is competent, but fairly bland. I think it could be more interesting if, instead of summing up the benefits of swimming, you focused more on a particular aspect of your exeperience.

"The moment I met the water for my first swimming lesson, I developed a real passion for this sport."
I like the imagery of how you "met" the water, but why did you develop a passion for swimming?

"My coach, really enthusiastic about the way I felt for this sport, helped me use my potential to grow in high levels."
It seems to me like you're missing a pronoun: try "My coach, who was really enthusiastic [...]"

"Moreover, this sport showed me that hard work, motivation and persistence pay off. It also taught me that failure is not always negative and can be a gateway to success."

This sentence is just a chain of cliches. How can failure be a "gateway to success"? Perhaps describe a particular instance where you overcame an obstacle?

"Although, I don't compete anymore, I still practice this sport on regular basis, as a hobby."
For brevity's sake, I would change "practice this sport on a regular basis" to "swim". This would change your sentence to "Although I don't compete anymore, I still swim as a hobby."

"Swimming is a great aerobic exercise, useful to forget everyday's pressures."
While true, this sentence is irrelevant. You should probably get rid of it.
Vulpix   
Mar 31, 2010
Undergraduate / "the relationship between China and Italy" -personal statement for a university [3]

The first half of your essay is emotionally strong, and it gives a lot of insight into your character. However, I was initially confused because it seemed to have nothing to do with the title of your essay: "the relationship between China and Italy." Perhaps you could post the essay prompt? I would like to know exactly what your university is looking for.

The transition from the first half of your essay (your childhood) to the second half (studying in a university) is not as abrupt as it could have been, but still, the two topics are so loosely connected as to be almost non sequiturs in the way they are presented. I would need to see the prompt to know for sure, but my advice would be to focus more on the "why I want to go to this university" side of your essay and cut some of your earlier reminisces.

As for your last paragraph, I felt that it was unnecessary, because although it directly related to the title of your essay, this business about pizzas is not mentioned at all in the rest of your essay. Also, are you asking the university to give you "a chance to do pizza marketing research in Italy"? Because I'm not sure if the university has control over that...?

[Although I agree that Pizza Hut pizza, which I assume is what you're referring to, is pretty terrible. But Yum! Brands already has such a strong presence in China, with KFC as well, that it would be difficult to displace them with a "genuine" Italian pizza, especially since most Chinese people I know neither know or care what the difference between Italian pizza and American pizza is. But I digress...]
Vulpix   
Dec 23, 2009
Undergraduate / Question about UVA "world" prompt [3]

Of course, I'd have to read it to know for certain, but I think the other essay would be fine. Anything that saves you the work of writing an entirely new original essay is a good thing... :) Also, you could add a few short sentences about your community if you had to, right? The most important part of the prompt is "how that world shaped you"- if you address that sufficiently, then your essay is probably good to go.
Vulpix   
Dec 23, 2009
Undergraduate / Rice University is ranked for best quality of life and fifteenth for happiest students. I wonder why [10]

Ah, you're right! I was thinking of the "Why this academic school/major" essay. My apologies.

"According to Princeton Review, Rice University is ranked first for best quality of life. I wonder why."
Sorry, but I'm still a little dubious about this. Quality of life isn't something you really talk about throughout the essay- and also, "I wonder why" needs to be followed by a question mark. It sounds a little sarcastic/passive-aggressive to me... I don't know, maybe that's just me.

"I hope to bring over my organization and collaborate with PAIR since our goals are so similar."
Maybe a Rice administrator would know better than me, but what do you mean by "my organization"? Is this a group that you're part of? Or are you talking about your organizational skills...? Also, what is PAIR?

"Perhaps these are the reasons why Rice is ranked first for best quality of life and the possibility for me to be nurtured at such a place is what motivates me to apply to Rice University."

Again, the "quality of life" tie-in feels rather weak, like an afterthought.
Vulpix   
Dec 23, 2009
Undergraduate / Princeton Supplement - answer to quote on extraordinary things in everyday life [5]

Good work! I have to admit, I was a little put-off by the Jodi Picoult quote (I am not a Jodi Picoult fan), but it fits perfectly with your essay- which was, by the way, very well written. It's fresh, original, and addresses the prompt- I'm very impressed.

"Because life is about the little things. Yard sales are just another one of those that bring people together to socialize and celebrate the beginning of a new season. It's these little things that often bring us joy, that will stay with us a lifetime."

"Because life is about the little things" isn't a complete sentence, which wouldn't be a big deal, but it's at the start of a new paragraph, which kind of bothers me. Why not just "Life is about the little things"? Also, "Yard sales are just another one of those" could be ambiguous (what does "those" refer to? I'm assuming you mean "the little things", but it's rather unclea). Upon re-reading that paragraph, I would probably combine your first sentence with the last sentence: "Life is about the little things that often bring us joy, that will stay with us for a lifetime." Just a thought... it's up to you, of course :)
Vulpix   
Dec 23, 2009
Undergraduate / Rice University is ranked for best quality of life and fifteenth for happiest students. I wonder why [10]

If I remember correctly, the character limit for this essay is 3000 characters. You're only at 1316 characters right now- not even half! You probably want to write a little more, if possible.

"Rice University is ranked for best quality of life and fifteenth for happiest students. I wonder why."
Like Tyler mentioned above, 15th is good but not "great." Also, where did you get this information? You might want to cite it. Start by saying "According to (name of ranking source here), Rice University is [...]"

"People tell me all the time that it is easy to meet others and become involved with the school through school events and clubs."

"All the time"? Hyperbole isn't always a good thing. You could say "I have often heard that it is easy to meet others [...]" instead.

" In fact, I already found clubs that interest me such as the Biological Journal club and the IAESTE Association that coordinates internships for Rice students."

"Already found" should be "have already found". Also, insert a comma between "me" and "such": "[...] clubs that interest me, such as the [...]"

"I hope to bring over my organization and collaborate with PAIR since our goals are so similar! What an exciting possibility!"
I adore your enthusiasm, but keep in mind that in formal writing, exclamation points should be used only very sparingly, if at all. "What an exciting possibility!" probably deserves an exclamation point, but the sentence preceding it does not.

"Being a leading research university, Rice is a haven!"
"Being" should be "As". Once more, the exclamation point makes your writing look unnecessarily juvenile, which it certainly is not.

"The chances for me to receive an outstanding education and research opportunities as well as to experience the acclaimed school life motivates me to apply to Rice University."

This sentence seems totally redundant, like you're trying to sum up the rest of your essay- which is fine, but try to bring something fresh to your conclusion, too. Also, "motivates" should be "motivate" because "chances" is plural.
Vulpix   
Dec 23, 2009
Undergraduate / Stanford Roommate essay---Being a nerd and a jock isn't necessarily a bad thing [2]

"It seems to be hard to use such a short amount of space to truly describe who I am as a person. When forced to condense who I am into a short paragraph, simply, I am a nerd and a jock."

1800 characters certainly isn't a lot, so please, don't waste any of your precious character limit by complaining about how small the character limit is! Cut all of the redundancy and just start with "I am a nerd and a jock."

" I love to spend weekends playing video games or messing around on the computer. Yet, I can never go too long without playing some backyard football or shooting some hoops."

Combine these into a single sentence: "[...] messing around on the computer, yet I can never go too long without [...]".

"There is a very little chance that my roommate and I are not friends, no matter who they are."
You don't currently have a roommate (at least I would assume not), so you need to use future tense. Also, you will only have one roommate, singular, unless you're unfortunate enough to draw a triple, and your roommate will most assuredly be the same gender as you, so instead of "they" you need to say "he". Also, double negatives confuse me, so I would just simplify your sentence: "No matter who my roommate is, chances are that he and I will become close friends."

"I want my future roommate to know that I am very exciting to meet him and certainly become friends."
"Exciting" should be "excited." Plus, I'm getting a major sense of deja vu, since I already read and edited a sentence very similar to this just a paragraph ago...

Mostly, I feel like your essay is rather redundant and very "tell-not-show." You tell the reader that you're a great friend, but you never give any examples of that- couldn't you describe a time when you helped one of your friends out? Also, keep in mind that being "extremely good at arguing" might not always be a good thing. You might want to consider focusing on one specific aspect of yourself- either your diverse interests, or your friendliness- instead of trying to lump everything into one long and disjointed paragraph. I hope this helps- good luck with your application!
Vulpix   
Dec 23, 2009
Undergraduate / UIUC: Extracurricular activity (Designing Costume) [5]

" However, when I showed designs to Ms. Cain, she said doubtfully, "I don't know how you will make them. You, however, are the designer." "

"Designs" should be "the designs."

"Reminded that all the responsibilities rest on me, I became hesitant about whether to keep the designs or to make them less complex."

Change the first part to "Reminded that all the responsibility rested on me [...]".

"After days of working, I found myself watching the thirteen conspicuous, completed costumes on the stage."
It only took "days of working"? From the difficulties you described, I thought that making the costumes would take months- or weeks, at least! Also, change the rest of the sentence to "I watched thirteen meticulously completed costumes on the stage." "Conspicuous" has a lot of negative connotations- your costumes could have been conspicuous because they were badly made, for example.

"By reaching for this bigger dream, instead of settling down and avoiding risk, I could pull out all my potential and complete the project that nobody believed I was capable of at first."

Get rid of "By reaching for this bigger dream", since it's redundant with your preceding sentence. Begin with "Instead of settling down [...]", and say "I demonstrated my potential and completed the project that nobody believed I was capable of." The project is already completed at this point, so you want to use past tense. I also tried to shave a couple of words from your word count by condensing "pull out all of my potential."
Vulpix   
Dec 23, 2009
Undergraduate / Honors UW essay. a curiosity worth satiating. [2]

You talk about what you ponder or wonder about (ooh, I wonder if that eye rhyme was intentional on the adcom's part?) successfully, but you fail to address the second part of the prompt in clear and definitive terms: "Would you ever be willing to put everything else on hold to satisfy your curiosity?" You sort of talk about this in your very last paragraph, but because I don't know if art history is your intended major or not, you don't really have a clear yes or no answer. You're nearing the limits of your word count, so you're going to have to cut a little in order to fit that in. I suggest eliminating the paragraph about your grandfather- it's a nice touch, but it's not particularly necessary to the rest of your essay.

"A bead of sweat dripping down my face, my heart beating fast as glossy pages and neon colors surround me."
I'm glad that you're fond of gerunds, but this sentence cannot function successfully without any active verbs. How about saying "A bead of sweat drips down my face. My heart beats faster as the gloss pages and neon colors surround me."?

"Whether I have the time to hone my mechanical artistic skills or not I find that art is a part of my life."

You need to insert a comma between "not" and "I" ("[...] artistic skills or not, I find that art [...]").
Vulpix   
Dec 23, 2009
Undergraduate / stanford supplement: what makes stanford a good fit for you? [9]

"Not much has changed for me since then."
You want to watch out for that sentence. The way it's phrased definitely comes off as a little boastful, even if that wasn't your intention.

Try restating it: "Not much has changed since then." "I haven't changed much since then." "In a lot of ways, the same has held true ever since."

Keep on rewording it and see what you're happy with. Read it to someone else, too, just to see if they see the same things that you do.

"I can see myself several months from now reading in the Meyer Library, searching the stacks with the same curiosity as a jungle gym."

Careful- you just compared your curiosity to a jungle gym! I think you meant to say "searching the stacks with the same curiosity I once felt on the jungle gym", or something like that.

"Wandering the gorgeous Mediterranean architecture, I will find my new hang out spot for the next four years."
To be totally accurate, Stanford's architecture would be better described as "Spanish colonial", since it was inspired by the missionary-style architecture prevalent in California at the time. It's not quite "Mediterranean", although I know what you're trying to say...

Also, I would be a little hesitant about committing to the main point you're trying to make- that you like Stanford primarily because it's "a research university." That is one of many great qualities about Stanford, but there are also a lot of other research universities out there! What about Berkeley? What about Harvard, or Yale, or Columbia? Those are all renowned "research universities"... so why did you choose Stanford, instead of one of those schools?

I hope that helps- good work, and good luck on your application!
Vulpix   
Dec 21, 2009
Undergraduate / "a very diversified lifestyle" - Stanford's "Letter to roommate" [5]

"People like honesty like bees like honey."
Like Jeannie has already mentioned, this is a rather awkward structure- three "like"s in one sentence is a few too many! Personally, I think this simile is pretty unnecessary- bees don't really relate to any other part of your essay, after all, and it's weird that you throw them in here. You could just say "Honesty is a trait that most people respect", or something like that.

"The first one is flexibility. This sounds strange, but I like people who adapt"
If you're saying that "flexibility" is one of your traits, then it would be better to discuss your own flexibility- not other people's. For example, talk about a situation where you had to adjust your habits or routine to accomodate someone else.

"I worship simpleness and concision."
First of all, "simpleness" is not a word. The noun form of "simple" is "simplicity." Also, although "concision" is a word, most people would say "conciseness" instead of "concision"- I don't, I suppose it's more a matter of personal preference, but "concision" makes me think of incisions.

" I lead a very diversified lifestyle."
It would be better to say either "I lead a very diverse lifestyle", or "My lifestyle is highly diversified."

"from the pain of Airsoft to the dizziness coming from parachuting."
"Dizziness coming from parachuting" should be "dizziness that comes from parachuting."

Lastly, I would recommend that you find a better concluding sentence for your essay. Try to wrap all of the aspects of your personality together as a way of summing up the disparate traits you mentioned earlier.
Vulpix   
Dec 21, 2009
Undergraduate / About drugs, essay cornell [4]

You've raised some interesting points about drug trafficking in Colombia, but I'm not sure how this relates to your major. In fact, you never even mention what you plan on majoring in! So, although you've answered the first part of the prompt ("interests and related experiences"), you have yet to address the second part ("influenced your selection of major").

Also, I'm not sure if English is your native language, but there are many grammatical errors in your essay. I'm not going to point them all out, but you should definitely take some time to read through your essay, preferably with someone else who is well-trained in the English language, and just make sure that all of your wording and sentence structures are correct.

You have a good start here. Keep working at it!
Vulpix   
Dec 20, 2009
Undergraduate / 'The scent of chamomile' Amherst essay on kindness [7]

I'm so glad I could help! And don't worry, I have my own moments of pretentiousness too- I couldn't stop laughing after reading one of my older essays, in which I used the word "quotidian" just a little too often. I think your revised ending is much stronger, but I'm also concerned about its relevance to the prompt, as you said yourself. From what I can infer, the prompt has stronger connotations to "service" than to "kindness", and although the two are certainly not mutually exclusive, right now you're not really addressing your "responsibility to the public interest", as the prompt states.

Hmm, I just read your third revision, and it helps a lot. However, instead of trying to extrapolate kindness over a global scale (note the pretentious and possibly erroneous use of "extrapolate"), I think it might be better if you focused on your effect on your community. I mean, think of all the people that you've helped, just by listening to their troubles and offerring comfort and advice- that certainly shows your "responsibility to the public interest." And of course, address your major if possible- do you want to go into a career that would allow you to better the lives of more people?
Vulpix   
Dec 20, 2009
Undergraduate / Stanford Roommate Essay (I'll bring pictures and many priceless memories) [24]

Yes, I think your new approach is better, but I still don't get a strong sense of who you are. I mean, I learn a little about your house and your family and your interests, but what about your personality? All I have are inferences: you're Irish, you like Broadway musicals, you're "light and cheery" and possibly a fracophile, just like your room. It feels a little like putting a 1000-piece puzzle together without the edge pieces. It would be better if you could focus more specifically on just one of your quirks and how that makes you a unique and special person.

Also, I would advise you to change your first sentence:
"If I were to describe myself to you in the briefest way possible, I would tell you this: I'm a Taurus."
That sentence is unnecessarily verbose, which wouldn't be awful except you say that you're trying to be brief. Irony is seldom a good thing unless it's intentional.
Vulpix   
Dec 20, 2009
Undergraduate / Common Application Short Answer (Seeds of Peace) [4]

This is an interesting experience, and there's definitely a lot of symbolism with learning to trust others, especially given the ethnic tensions you discussed. However, my concern is that you're talking about an event that occurred in 2001, which was a long time ago. If you're submitting this as part of a college application, you probably want to tie this experience into something else that happened more recently. Also, it would be helpful to know what prompt you're writing for- your word count leads me to infer that it's the Common Application's "extraccuricular activity" prompt?

"Seeds of Peace Summer Camp 2001: Eleven teenagers from Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia criss-crossed their arms while I was climbing the ladder."
I don't see the purpose your unorthodox sentence structure really serves. It seems like you're beginning a list of events, but you only describe one event in your essay. Or perhaps you're trying to scrimp for the word count? If you still have room, change this to "At the Seeds of Peace Summer Camp [...] criss-crossed their arms as I climbed the ladder." I would change "while I was climbing" to "as I climbed" because it sounds better, and it also saves you a word on the word count.

"Although I was born in a mixed marriage of Bosnian Serb mum and Bosniak dad, pictures of war didn't let me trust these people and I was petrified of what is going to happen."

Instead of "pictures of war", you might say "memories of war" or "stories I had heard about the war" or something like that. Also, watch your verb tenses: "I was petrified" is past tense, but "what is going to happen" is present tense. The same goes for your next sentences: "Are they really my friends" is present tense, but "I decided" is past tense.

"I decided to take the risk unaware that it is going to be one of the life-changing moments. "
Aww, don't give it away! If you were unaware that it was going to be a life-changing moment, then let the epiphany occur naturally- you don't need to foreshadow it for the reader.

"In that symbolic game I gained enormous self confidence and even more important I rebuilt my trust in people."
You rebuilt your trust in people, in general? My initial impression was that your essay was about overcoming ethnic tensions. Or were you just mistrustful of all people? YOu might want to clarify. Also, don't say "enormous" self-confidence, especially since you don't mention self-confidence very much before. Were you ever doubtful of yourself? Once more, I was under the impression that you were doubtful of others, but never of yourself. Again, clarify.
Vulpix   
Dec 19, 2009
Undergraduate / "You're not going to college!" - CNR application essay [15]

"Those same words" refers to "her elusive words" (sentence 2) and "her words" (sentence 3). You used almost the same expression in your original sentence: "However, it was the same words that held my fingers together", so I was trying to preserve some of your writing style. I just changed "the" to "those" because it sounded more natural to me- but if it doesn't sound natural to you, then by all means don't use it! This is your essay, after all, and all of my suggestions are only suggestions :)
Vulpix   
Dec 19, 2009
Undergraduate / What does this essay need?! (an experience and its impact) [2]

"It was four years ago that my dad came up with the idea of biking our way through NYC."
"That" should be "when." Or, alternately, you could shorten this sentence by saying "Four years ago, my dad came up with the idea of biking through NYC."

"[...] persuaded my dad and, like most other times, I accepted his challenge."
"Persuaded my dad" is the wrong expression. The way your sentence is structured, it sounds like your dad was persuaded by the sentence in quotes, while I think you're trying to say that your dad said the sentence in quotes in order to persuade you. Simply "said my dad" is fine- sometimes the most common verbs are the best ones to use.

"We were up and out early that spring morning, we got our rusty bikes in the car, and drove to Battery Park."
It is grammatically incorrect to connect two independent clauses with a comma. Split this into two sentences: "We were up out and early that spring morning. We put our rusty bikes in the car, and drove to Battery Park."

"With the crowd of bikes and helmets, we were as ready as we could be for the challenge."
Be careful- sometimes the arrangement of a dependent clause can hide flaws in grammar, which is the case with this sentence. If you were to restate it so that the dependent clause follows the independent clause, then the sentence would be "We were as ready as we could be for the challenge with the crowd of bikes and helmets." Obviously, that doesn't make any sense, since you do not possess a crowd of bikes and helmets, so you need to rewrite this sentence.

On a side note: were you doing this as part of an organized event? If so, which event? That would be a good thing to include in the essay.

To answer your questions, I think this essay is indeed "personal" enough, and it certainly is going somewhere. Most of your errors are grammatical and therefore fairly easy to fix, so the essay is definitely a keeper. I would also emphasize more of the "struggle" that you went through, if you want to expand on the perseverance theme. Describe in greater detail how arduous the latter half of the journey was, how you felt like giving up, how exhausted you became. That way, your triumph will be all the more powerful in the end.
Vulpix   
Dec 19, 2009
Undergraduate / "You're not going to college!" - CNR application essay [15]

Oh, I see what you're trying to say now! Perhaps you could restate it as "But as the sky darkened outside, the clock approached 2am, and I struggled to finish my Pre-Calc homework, those same words gave me the motivation to persevere."
Vulpix   
Dec 19, 2009
Undergraduate / "You're not going to college!" - CNR application essay [15]

The basic premise of your essay is very strong. Overcoming challenges in order to go to college- now there's a theme that adcoms adore! However, your execution is a little shaky. You rely a little too much of figurative language that doesn't serve a definitive purpose except to distract the reader- at least, that's the effect that it gives me. You don't need to try to impress people with fancy words or expressions. The best thing you can do is to just write with simplicity and clarity- your ideas will be all the more powerful for it.

"I thought I lost eternal hope that day."
The fact you begin with "I thought" makes the entire statement weaker, since it gives the reader an impression of diffidence, and "eternal hope" is just the wrong expression for this statement. Is your hope always eternal? Just because "eternal" is a common modifier for "hope" doesn't mean that you have to describe it that way. Personally, I would reduce the awkwardness of this sentence by saing "I nearly lost hope that day", which seems cleaner and more direct to me. I don't know- it's your choice.

"It was the yelling of her elusive words that made the emotions of antagonism and astonishment shower my body."
Consider me bemused- why are her words elusive? And why are your emotions showering you? Since you also talk about soup in the next sentence, it seems like you're mixing a few too many metaphors here (my brain immediately makes the leap to showering with soup). Also, simplify your syntax! "I was engulfed by antagonism and astonishment as she engulfed me in hurtful (or elusive, if you will) words" gets rid of your gerund and the redundancy of "emotions", since it's already that implied that "antagonism and astonishment" are emotions.

"However, it was the same words that held my fingers together to answer all the math problems in my Pre-Calculus textbook at 2 a.m. Regardless, the black sky did not stop me from sleeping."

At this point, my bemusement is bordering on befuddlement- how are the words holding your fingers together? I'm assuming you're using the expression figuratively, but why would your fingers need to be together (I'm picturing a clenched fist here) to answer math problems? And if the black sky "did not stop" you from sleeping, then how did you do the math problems? Perhaps you used the wrong negation there?

Go through the process I just used there for all of your sentences. Read each sentence individually out loud, and consider all of the possible ways it could be misconstrued. Read it to someone else if possible, just to double check. Then, rewrite the sentence to make it sound exactly the way you want it to. I find that reading out loud in particular really helps- it's amazing how ridiculous certain things sound when you actually say the words. Good luck with your essay, and the rest of your application!
Vulpix   
Dec 19, 2009
Undergraduate / I was born in Yale-New Haven Hospital, and my father got his PhD from Yale. [6]

I would advise you to reconsider the prompt: "What in particular about Yale has influenced your decision to apply?"
You talk about your legacy and your familiarity with the college and its campus, but the fact that you grew up in New Haven and are well-acquainted with Yale is not something "in particular about Yale", as the prompt suggests. Furthermore, what about Yale made it the "best experience" of your father's life? Was it the residential college system? The networking and prestige of a Yale degree? The excellent faculty and academic facilities? I feel that your last sentence about Yale's focus on sustainability is the closest you come to addressing the prompt, and yet even that sentence feels like an afterthought. I know that the 600 (or was it 500?) character count is a serious pain in the... well, neck, since I applied to Yale a couple of weeks ago, so it would be better to focus on one particular, detailed aspect of the school and build your response around that.
Vulpix   
Dec 19, 2009
Undergraduate / Stanford Roommate Essay (I'll bring pictures and many priceless memories) [24]

"I actually like the direction you have taken. Hundreds of students are going to write the classic boring way. By writing a letter, you separate yourself from the masses. its unique and may boost your chances. Stick with this format in my opinion and continue to refine the essay"

I would just like to point out that having read at least 20 essays on this prompt, and having written my own response to this prompt earlier this year, a large fraction (about half) of Stanford applicants interpret this as "write a letter to your roommate." I am personally not a fan of the letter format, but it's extremely common- so, if you're trying to be "creative" in your response, just be aware that you are not the first person to write a letter, nor will you be the last.
Vulpix   
Dec 19, 2009
Undergraduate / 'The scent of chamomile' Amherst essay on kindness [7]

On the contrary, I don't think your diction is excessively elevated, nor is your lexicon overtly exaggerated (I think I should get pretentiousness bonus points for managing to make that rhyme). You use "big words", certainly, but the words you choose happen to be the words that fit. You come off as precise, not pretentious- for the most part. The caveat: I agree with JS2010 that "minutiae of advice" is a rather awkward phrase. How about "[...] so willing to provide everyday advice, but equally [...]"? That sounds more natural to me.

Your first two paragraphs are the strongest part of this essay. I kept waiting for you to explain the situation- were you working as a peer counselor, or something?- but that explanation was not forthcoming. The last paragraph confused me a great deal. Greater compassion is the solution to ... to what? I don't see a strong connection between being more environmentally responsible and culturally understanding and the earlier portion of your essay, besides the very last sentence, which is questionable itself:

"As for me, I will strive to close in on the emotional roots of humanity by encouraging understanding of ones feelings before prescribing advice."

Whoa there, Freud Jr.! You're closing in? On the "emotional roots of humanity"? What does that even mean? And by "one's feelings", are you referring to your own feelings or the feelings of the person you are (presumably) counseling? The "one" is ambiguous.

"Reading Anne Fadiman's The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down will push one to strive for greater understanding of cultures different from our own."

By the way, you have a pronoun inconsistency here- "will push one" and "different from our own" switches from third person singular to first person plural.

Overall, an interesting essay with a lot of potential. I think you should narrow your focus to find the moral in the one particular incident that you first described. Otherwise, good work!
Vulpix   
Dec 19, 2009
Undergraduate / Rice Perspective Essay - elderly tennis stars. [6]

"His cheeky grin seems to tell me, no, this is not a game to take lightly."
The syntax is a little awkward, because it sounds like you're trying to insert a quotation, but it's not a quote, exactly... I would change this to "His cheeky grin seems to tell me that no, this is not a game to take lightly."

I wrote an essay to this same prompt not long ago, and although I focused more onthe "cultural traditions" aspect, I think your essay is just about perfect. Susan definitely nailed it- you're amazing!
Vulpix   
Dec 15, 2009
Undergraduate / Spend a day, Poem, 2050 Movie, The program - nyu supplement [11]

I have some questions in regard to your truffle comparison.
Having not been fortunate enough to eat truffles with anything approaching a regular frequency, my knowledge of truffles ( and I'm assuming you mean the gourmet fungi, not the chocolate) is severely limited. However, your truffle analogy has severely confused me.

"A hard nut floating in this complicated world
A companion for your hard times"
First of all, truffles are not "nuts"- they're fungi. Also, why would they be a companion for hard times? Haha, if anything, I'd be able to afford them even less in hard times.

Also, do truffles have layers? Being unfamiliar with truffle anatomy, I'm not sure. But when you say "layers", I picture onion-like layers, and I am pretty sure that truffles are not like that at all. Wikipedia tells me that truffles do have a skin, so I suppose you could call that a layer, but even so that would only be one singular layer.

Anyway, I could be wrong, since I am certainly not an expert on truffles.

"hold on to your inner child, because the moments during childhood are the happiest ones and has the qualities those similar to a shooting star. Fleeting, brilliant and spectacular"

"Has the qualities" should refer to "moments", in which case "has" should be "have". Also, replace the period with a colon ("similar to a shooting star: fleeting, brilliant, and spectacular").

So you love writing- that's great! But what do you like about it? What books in particular have inspired you? This is a good chance to show off, since adcoms love to hear about the time you read War and Peace in seventh grade. Elaborate, please!

"It will expose me to a wonderful city which is intriguing, inspiring and more fascinating then anything I have ever come across."
I know that the usage of "which" and "that" can always be debated, but I believe in this instance "that" would be a better fit than "which". Also, the latter half of your sentence lacks parallelism- it would sound better as "more intriguing, more inspiring, and more fascinating".
Vulpix   
Dec 15, 2009
Undergraduate / Personal Essay- Carmen, a person of significant influence [5]

Very nice work! You write extremely well, and your sense of humor and personality really comes through as well. I think your work fits the prompt passably well- it's an unconventional connection, but not an unsuitable one.

Speaking of Freudian slips, I called my teacher "Mom" by accident today. This resulted in a very awkward pause, followed by equally awkward laughter. Note to self: never do that again.

Stray comments to possibly improve your already-good essay:

I thought the ending was rather disappointing. I mean, I know the bridge symbolism is just too convenient to resist, but all of this metaphorical bridge-building brings to mind the motivation posters on my guidance counselor's wall. "What?!" you're probably thinking. "There's such thing as a too-cliche college essay? Nonsense!" But really, I don't think it would be too difficult for you to be a little more creative with the ending.

Your descriptive writing is the highlight of your essay, especially as you describe the ravine. The lowlight for me would be the aforementioned conclusion, and also the dialogue with your friend Carmen the Cynic. I am most definitely nit-picking at this point, but her conversation detracts from the meditative tone and humor of the rest of your essay.

Also: "What use was there in grumbling about the lethargy of my generation, while ignoring the potential everyone has to make a difference?"

I don't see what this sentence has to do with anything else. Did you mention lethargy earlier?
Vulpix   
Dec 13, 2009
Undergraduate / [Application essay]Dream to study abroad ... [10]

"As there is only limited space (2000 characters), you are encouraged to present your ideas in focused and thoughtful manner."
I'm not sure if you thoroughly read the prompt, but your essay is currently about 7000 characters, which is more than 3 times the character limit. That, needless to say, is a severe issue, and right now you either need to scrap this essay and write a new one, or severely cut it down. For me, it's actually more difficult to cut than it is to write, so I would just start over- but of course, it's a matter of personal working preference.

Instead of describing your entire life story, I would focus on a specific incident. For example- how your childhood affected your work ethic. Or the reasons you became interested in helping the environment. Or how you were inspired by the cultures of foreign overseas nations. You don't need to cover everything, and it would be impossible to do so in the character count. Just give a sense of yourself through one particular event or interest of yours! That's all the university is looking for.
Vulpix   
Dec 12, 2009
Undergraduate / Research and independence essay- include an abstract or summary of your work [3]

Since this prompt is asking you to describe research that you have done, I am assuming that the committee is looking for some specific data- not another essay. Therefore, you should be writing this in more scientific terms. If you have an abstract, that would be the best thing to submit, but if not, then just summarize your experiment. It's nice to give a little bit of background about your exposure to city life, but it would be better to state the purpose of your experiment, a hypothesis, perhaps a brief summary of the procedure, the data collected, your conclusion, possibilities for error, and possibilities for further research or experimentation.
Vulpix   
Dec 12, 2009
Undergraduate / Being the captain for my school's soccer team - elaborate on one of your activities [4]

"I am not involved in every club in my school; however, I have great passion in soccer team I participate in."
I agree with Yang; the adcom already knows that you're not involved in every club. Also, I think "great passion in soccer team" should be "a great passion for the soccer team"- sometimes, articles are rather necessary. Or, if you want another option, you could say "I am very passionate about the soccer team I participate in."

"Being the captain for my school's soccer team for two years, I have had the opportunity to challenge myself."
Change "Being the captain" to "As the captain."

"Every time when the team went out for competitions, I had the most important responsibility. I had to encourage my team and make sure that everyone was concentrating on the game."

These two sentences are the perfect opportunity to demonstrate the versatility of your syntax and use a colon: "[...] I had the most important responsibility: I had to encourage my team [...]". Additionally, you can start the sentence as "Every time the team went out" or "When the team went out", but it's redundant to use "Every time" and "when" at the beginning of the same sentence.

"Because I didn't want to lose, I would sometimes yell at the members for the mistakes they make, but also compliment them for the nice plays they create. The team was becoming stronger and indomitable as I trusted everyone in the team."

Again, I agree with Yang. Not wanting to lose and sometimes yelling at your teammates could possibly be construed as a bad thing. Also, your last sentence could be restated to provide a stronger finish for your paragraph. First of all, "was becoming" should be "became"; secondly, you never mention how this trust develops. Did you not trust them in the beginning? Why not?

Your response is perfectly adequate for the prompt, but it doesn't give me much of a sense of who you are as a person. Perhaps it would be more effective to give a specific example of a time when you demonstrated your leadership as team captain, maybe by encouraging the younger members and helping the improve their skills, or a time when you demonstrated good sportsmanship despite adversity. In any case, I feel like your essay is rather heavy on platitudes and light on personality.
Vulpix   
Dec 12, 2009
Undergraduate / Common App Essay: More Than a Game (baseball) [8]

"thanks for the suggestion...what do you think i should cut out to talk more about this?"
^ In my opinion, paragraphs 6-11 ("While attending [...] Carribean World Series") can be severely condensed into one 6-10 sentence paragraph. You do a great job of describing the atmosphere of a game, but it's overkill, since it detracts from what the focus of your essay should be (see my previous posts).
Vulpix   
Dec 12, 2009
Undergraduate / Common App Essay: More Than a Game (baseball) [8]

A lot of people dont really understand my introduction. Its an attempt to show that major league baseball considers itself the best baseball in the world. (WORLD Series)...and then I say that I disagree with that.

^ Oh, I see. But still, I would say that the location of the best baseball in the world is somewhat irrelevant- I mean, I know you're trying to emphasize your international experiences, but again, the essay is not about baseball- it's about you. (For more about that, see below)

"I'm not the most extroverted person in the world, but baseball gave me a way for me to connect with others. Amongst other things it taught me the importance of communication, a skill vital for success. Sports help to connect and bring together different types of people. Because of the DR and my experiences there, I'm a more well rounded person and communicate better when talking sports or otherwise."

This, to me, is the most important part of your essay. I like hearing about the baseball game that you attended, but I would rather hear about what baseball means to you. Remember, this is a college essay, so the committee wants to find out more about you to see how you will fit into their school, and what your goals for the future are. How do you connect with others through baseball- as a fan, by interacting with your fellow fans? Or do you play the sport as well, and interact with your team? What do you mean by "communication", and "communication" with whom? If you want to manage a sports franchise, what experience have you had with game management? Those are all points you should considering developing, while cutting some of the versimilitude about the baseball game.
Vulpix   
Dec 12, 2009
Undergraduate / Commonapp: Jack Sparrow vs Personal Experience [4]

I agree with keilinger- go with the second essay. It's stronger, more recent (few colleges want you to describe an experience you had when you were nine), and says more about you as a person.

Here are some grammar corrections to your second essay:

"I relished the thought of juggling with homeworks, extracurricular activities and increased responsibilities in my everyday life."
I'm not sure if "homeworks" is deliberate, but "homework" is usually singular.

"Although one might believe he is a lying eccentric pariah, he has certain deeply buried qualities which are visible in his small actions."

"Eccentric lying pariah" sounds better to me than "lying eccentric pariah"- just a thought. Also, "small" should be "smallest", since not all of Jack Sparrow's actions are small.

"I no more hesitate to go all-in with nothing in hand, a bluff which has paid off one out of two occasions."
"No more" should be "no longer". And if you've only bluffed that way twice, and only succeeded once, then it's hardly representative of the habitual risk-taking that you seem to imply you are now engaging in, post-Jack Sparrow. Perhaps you could consider using a more drastic example?

"He is can be cupid, selfish and untrue"
Get rid of the word "is". Also, I am mystified by "cupid"- are you trying to compare him to a small, cherubic angel of love? Or was it merely a typo for "stupid"?
Vulpix   
Dec 12, 2009
Undergraduate / 'an orthopedic surgeon' - CORNELL College of Agriculture and Life Sciences [2]

"Throughout my childhood I have been fascinated on how things worked which has grown immensely over the years. From school subjects such as chemistry and anatomy, to everyday life such as sports has drawn my attention."

These two sentences are basically irrelevant to the rest of your essay. Either get rid of them, or find a way to tie your "sports injury" story in.

"I love to help people. That is a fact. I know with these two factors of selflessness and curiosity that life sciences would be the perfect fit for me. Within life sciences, I want to pursue a career in the physician assistant career."

This section is choppy and rather redundant. With a bit of rephrasing and condensing, it could be much smoother: "I love to help people, and my selflessness and curiosity have led me to aim for a career as a physican assistant."

"As I sat there, scared of what really might be wrong with my arm as I saw the foot long needle injected into my, the comfort the physician had calmed me down. They were so graceful and seemed so intrigued into their job that I asked, "Do you ever get tired of doing the same thing ma'am?""

First of all, you have some grammar errors that need to be fixed; change "my" into "me" or "my arm", and change "the comfort the physician had calmed me down" to "the physician's calm attitude gave me a sense of comfort." Also, you refer to "the physician" (or do you mean physician's assitant?) as "they", but later on you only mention one woman. If that is the case, then "they" should be changed to "she".

This essay has some potential, but you need to expand on your themes a lot more. I also noticed that you mention that your injury occurred in the summer of 2008, which would be considered two summers ago, not "last summer". Instead of relying on your description of a single incident, perhaps add some more examples- you say that you're "selfless" and "curious", for example, but there is no apparent proof of your selflessness or curiosity in your essay. You could also mention some additional steps you've taken to reach your goal- have you taken AP classes in chemistry or biology, for example? Have you volunteered at a hospital or a research lab? Your essay is a good start, but it needs a lot more information to best represent your interests and goals.
Vulpix   
Dec 12, 2009
Undergraduate / Common App Essay: More Than a Game (baseball) [8]

I know that this is for the Common Application, and there is technically no limit, but your essay is rather long- almost 900 words, I believe. There's nothing wrong with that, necessarily, but I think that if you cut some of the description of baseball and narrowed the focus of your writing to be more about you and what you've learned, your essay would be much stronger.

For example, your very first paragraph is both strange and unnecessary:
"Baseball is known as America's national pastime. America's major leagues attract the best talent in the world. Major league baseball's finals are known as the "World" Series. Despite all of this, I discovered that the true experience of baseball in the Dominican Republic."

Considering that adcom members are usually American and know perfectly well the high caliber of major league baseball, and the name of the MLB finals, all of this background information is redundant. Also, your last sentence is a bit of a non sequitur- you've suddenly shifted the focus from American baseball to the Dominical Republic, without any transition.

You don't need to describe the baseball game in such detail- just give the reader enough of an idea of what it was like, and then go directly to how baseball affected you, personally. Even if your admissions officer is a baseball fan, ultimately the essay is supposed to be about you and why you should be admitted to a certain college- not about baseball.
Vulpix   
Dec 11, 2009
Undergraduate / Essay for Agriculture and Life Science College in Cornell University [3]

" This striking question jumped out at me when I was scanning an issue of National Geographic."
Change "when I was scanning" to "as I scanned"- it's more consistent with "jumped".

"presented several set pictures that shocked me."
This should be "sets of pictures".

Also, you could easily combine that sentence with the fthree sentences following it:
""Feeding the World," a food report in that magazine, presented several sets of pictures that shocked me: Ethiopian women whose growth had been stunted due to starvation, a baby boy born with three arms because his mother had ingested pesticides when pregnant,the Amazon rainforest burning to make way for a cocoa plantation."

"With a growing population, the magazine argued we are killing the means we have to feed ourselves."
Your syntax is rather ambiguous here- what is the subject of "with a growing population"? Your sentence seems to imply that it is "the magazine", which is incorrect. Restate it to say "Population growth, the magazine argued, was destroying our means of feeding ourselves."

"I found that article mirroring many of my experiences growing up in China."
"Mirroring" should be "mirrored", and "article" should be "the article".

The second half of your essay, once you move past the National Geographic article, is much stronger than the first half. I get a clear sense of why you want to study agriculture, and it's obviously a very personal subject to you. I think you should focus on that personal aspect more, instead of writing so much about the National Geographic article. Although you use the article to prove a point, the second half of your essay is really much more important.
Vulpix   
Dec 11, 2009
Undergraduate / 'African-American men swayed' - UW Cultural Difference Essay [8]

"Whether it was the general size of the city, the hoards of the teeming population, or the discrete interaction I shared with a speechless taxi driver, the thoughts and emotions of New York appeared unvoiced."

First of all, "hoards" should be "hordes"- wrong homonyms can be a rather embarrassing mistake. You could just get rid of "hoards/hordes" entirely and say "the teeming population" instead, which might fit better. Also, "discrete" is generally spelled as "discreet", although you might be able to get away with your unorthodox spelling if you're British or Canadian ("It's not a misspelling, it's just a regional preference! At least we're on the metric system!" I get that all the time). And I'm not exactly sure if discreet is the right word- is this some under-the-table transaction with a taxi driver that requires your discretion? And to me, "speechless" implies a feeling of surprise or astonishment. Even if you mean "speechless" as in "mute", was the taxi driver really mute? Or just unwilling to speak to you? Or simply brusque? Try refining your diction throughout to give a better sense of what you're trying to convey.

Otherwise, despite the aforementioned flaws in diction (it's not a huge deal, it just makes your writing sound awkward and unnatural at times) and occasional structural issues, as has been mentioned above regarding your first sentence, your essay addresses the prompt fairly well. I think it's an adequate submission for UW, although it could be much improved with just a little bit more work.
Vulpix   
Dec 10, 2009
Undergraduate / 'love for my country' - Stanford essay: intellectually engaging idea. [5]

Grammar edits:
Change your first sentence to begin with "As I looked at the blue and white [...]" Otherwise, "Looking at" refers to "my mind", and that doesn't really make sense- I mean, minds can't see anything, it's your eyes that see things.

"children selling candies or cleaning cars in traffic lights"
This should be "at traffic lights", since the children are not actually inside the traffic light.

"I thought why our country can't compete in other aspects as lowest level of poverty, or violence, good level of economy or tourism or other things that make other countries better than ours."

This phrase doesn't make very much sense to me- perhaps you should say "I wondered why our country didn't have the low poverty and violence levels, economic vitality, and tourism industry that would allow it to compete with its better-off neightbors", or something like that.

"Maybe I am not able yet to answer these questions fully, but after long meditation, I reached some conclusions: It is us, the new generation, who have the big challenge to transform our country, to make it a better place to live."

"Some conclusions" should be "a conclusion", singular, since you only mention one conclusion. Also, "It is us" doesn't need to be capitalized.

"In order to do that, one word came to my mind: LOVE. Whatever we want to do, we must to do it with love."

I like the emphasis, but I don't think "LOVE" needs to be in all caps. It seems a little, I don't know, abrupt? Also, you could combine those two sentences, because they basically say the same thing.

Overall, your essay is fairly well written and has a lot of potential. I think you could be a little more specific about your "conclusion", since just "love" is rather vague and reminiscent of the Beatles- all you need is love, love, love is all you need... don't get me started. How will love help- are you talking about philanthropy? Fighting corruption in the government? Encouraging entrepreneurship? There is definitely room for more detail.
Vulpix   
Dec 7, 2009
Undergraduate / "I am reminded of how unique my life is" - Common App Essay--Seeking Feedback [8]

Haha, no- I play the violin! How long have you been playing the flute?

And, so I don't get suspended for making "futile or meaningless answers", here are some more grammar edits (in case you can't tell, I can get obsessive with details):

"I wondered what my friends would think about fried eggs and ketchup. I can just see then scrunching up their noses in disgust."

I think you have a bit of an inconsistency in verb tenses here: "wondered" is past, and "can" is present.

"I had wished that he would let me cut my own food with the help of a fork, and that he wouldn't send me off to school with a box of pungent cabbage dumplings he loved to make."

"I wished" is fine, you don't need the "had". Also, change "with the help of a fork" to just "with a fork", otherwise I start wondering what other utensil the fork is "helping", since you don't specifically mention a knife. Unless the fork is helping you? But without the fork, you wouldn't be able to cut your food anyway... suffice it to say that I was slightly confused by your phrasing.
Vulpix   
Dec 7, 2009
Undergraduate / An uncultured person is nonexistant[ University of Wash. Transfer Application] [5]

I agree completely with EF_Kevin. Although they make your organization very clear, the section headings break the continuity of your essay and instead make it read like a series of short answers.

Also, when you're addressing the "Why move?" section, I think you could be a little less convoluted and a little more straightforward in your answer- it took me a couple of read-throughs to fully understand what you were trying to say. Make sure you capitalize everything you need to capitalize, and try to mention a little more of your enthusiasm for the University of Washington business school beyond the fact that it's less competitive than the business school at Washington State University. (My mother is a professor at the UW Business School, and I may be a little bit biased, but Foster has a lot of great programs).

Good luck with your application!
Vulpix   
Dec 7, 2009
Undergraduate / "I am reminded of how unique my life is" - Common App Essay--Seeking Feedback [8]

Great essay! It's well-written, thoughtful, and engaging, and as a fellow Chinese-American girl who identifies with both cultures but does not fully belong to either, it definitely resonated with me. I swear, this is somewhat creepy, but I play in orchestra on Saturdays and read Time and listen to indie bands too... as it turns out, stereotyping can be pretty reliable sometimes.

Anyway, before I have an identity crisis, let's move on. Here are some grammar edits:

" Each bite is a collision of east meets west"
Either change it to "a meeting of east and west", or "a collision of east and west."

"I found it amusing yet disappointing that most of my formal documents had the words "alien" written on what I thought were the most conspicuous areas,"

Change "words" to "word", since alien is singular.

" I found myself sticking out like a sore thumb even when I visited relatives in China."
"I stuck out like a sore thumb" would make your verbs more active.

"Because of that same detachment, not a single bone in my body could register the smell of my coal-mining hometown, the shabby fu sign on our weatherworn double doors, or the row upon row of clay shingles with any signs of familiarity or home."

I'm sorry, this is probably a really trivial complaint, but you're sort of mixing your metaphors here- bones by nature are unable to register things like scent or smell or clay shingles. Furthermore, "familiarity or home" seems redundant, because it is assumed that a home is familiar, and you already have too many clauses in the sentence. I would probably change this sentence to "Because of that same detachment, neither the smell of my coal-mining hometown nor the sight of the shabby fu sign on our weatherworn double doors gave me any sense of home."

Your first three paragraphs seem very strong to me, but the fourth was somewhat disappointing. Instead of briefly mentioning an epiphany (eating eggs makes for a rather anticlimactic epiphany, anyway), I would jump right into the point developed in the rest of the paragraph by saying "I realize now that, like bland eggs and tart ketchup, my two cultures are not opposites but complements. Instead of assimilating a single culture, I walk the middle ground [...]" This is just a suggestion, of course- everything is completely up to you.
Vulpix   
Dec 7, 2009
Undergraduate / Common App Essay "Shower Dreams" [10]

Katsch, I completely agree.
Although I like this essay and how it combines shower imagery (haha, I don't get to use the phrase "shower imagery" very often) with your aspirations for the future, it feels a little random and sporadic, especially since everything is described in a sort of meditative dream state. What do you plan to do to achieve your dreams? How does your major, perhaps, tie into your plans for the future? If you could focus more on the specifics of one idea, perhaps the favorite of your dreams, and brought in concrete details and evidence and goals, I could see this becoming a very strong admissions essay.