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Posts by Vulpix
Joined: Oct 11, 2009
Last Post: Mar 31, 2010
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Oct 11, 2009
Undergraduate / Working with me - Common App - Someone who had a significant influence on you [7]

I agree. Your essay is smoothly written and engaging- it's about your drum instructor, but it's really about you and your dedication as well.

The only thing I would change is the very last line, which seems redundant and unnecessary to me. I understand the need to wrap things up, so to speak, but this isn't an essay for English class- you don't need to restate your thesis. I think "I have applied this, the idea of striving for perfection, to all aspects of my life" is a strong enough ending as it is.
Oct 11, 2009
Undergraduate / Common application essay(Indicate a person who has had a significant influence . [2]

"My grand uncle who is a retired red-cross nurse likes to talk international events and politics while I am beating him up at dominoes."

I think you should be beating him at dominoes, not beating him up at dominoes.
Also, you already mentioned in the previous paragraph that your uncle was a Red Cross nurse, so restating it here seems a little redundant.

Minor grammatical fixes aside, I think your topic is well-suited to the prompt and also interesting. Your great uncle seems like an amazing person, and you describe him and his influence quite well.
Oct 25, 2009
Undergraduate / Things I Have Learned from Hospitals -- personal statement [4]

I'm not sure about the school you're applying to, but I don't think most college application essays require titles, so you might be fine without one.

Your essay is well-developed, but my first impression was that it lacked an overarching theme or message. Your introductory paragraph provides a lot of vivid imagery, but leaves the reader unsure of exactly why you are in a hospital, and what point you're trying to make. I'm also unsure of the relevance of your second paragraph- it sounds like you're trying for some subtle irony, or to make a joke?- but since you don't mention music or MTV again in the rest of your essay, I think that entire paragraph is unnecessary. You do an excellent job of characterizing your family and your strong bond with them, but it is not until your very last paragraph that I get the full sense of what, exactly, you're trying to say with the essay.

It would be helpful for me if you could cut out some of the more irrelevant sections, perhaps condense your "flashback" sections, and tie everything back to the "silver lining" of what you have learned through your experiences.
Oct 25, 2009
Undergraduate / essay on: Tai Chi Chuan, HUMILITY and respect for others [4]

Good work! Your essay is well-written, with an inspiring message that doesn't come across as utterly cliche.

Is it too long? Well, there's technically no word limit on the Common App essay, so the easy answer would be "no". However, I do think that your essay could benefit from some cuts to improve clarity.

Everything before the sentence "From day one, however, I never even sought to learn Tai Chi" is essentially background information, which is fairly unnecessary. No one is reading this essay to learn about tai chi- that's what Wikipedia is for. You can either cut or severely condense that entire first section, and begin with "From day one...", which is a much stronger introductory sentence anyway. If you really feel that you need to add some background on tai chi, add a short sentence or two into your paragraph about your doubts regarding tai chi.

"Reflecting back on that class, I believe that Tai Chi has taught me more than any AP course I have ever taken" can be shortened to "Reflecting back, I believe that Tai Chi has taught me more than any AP course I have ever taken." Try to avoid qualifiers like "I believe"- if you didn't believe it, you probably wouldn't be writing it in your essay.

Also, is "Shīfu means Master in Chinese.That was what we called him as.Tai Chi chuan is also known as Taijiquan" part of your essay? I wasn't sure, because it seemed a bit like a footnote.

By the way, it probably would be a good idea to mention of you ever managed to improve your grade in Tai Chi. Colleges do love to see ~personal growth and improvement~, after all.

Otherwise, nice work! You have a very strong essay.
Oct 25, 2009
Undergraduate / death is only way to happiness? U of M essay 500 words [8]

Your third paragraph is very strong, and it clearly explains the allegory of the book in terms of your own life. My main issue is that your second paragraph is mainly a summary of the novel, which should be completely unnecessary. Ethan Frome is a literary classic- do not insult your admissions officer by assuming that he or she is not familiar with it!

Also, a couple more comments:

"At first I was a bit apprehensive about the book; I mean in all honesty the books that I read in school are not exactly an exciting pass time. They are written years ago in times that are completely different to ours and yet the teacher still expects me to relate to the characters and their peculiar life styles."

Perhaps it would be better to restate this passage so it doesn't sound quite as negative. Remember, euphemisms are your friend! Even if you don't like the books you read in school, you could say so in a more indirect way, like "I find it difficult to relate to books written in a more archaic style", instead of "yet the teacher still expects me to relate to the characters and their peculiar life styles." Also, I believe in your first sentence "an exciting pass time" should be "an exciting way to pass the time."

Some other grammar and spelling edits:

"I learned from Ethan that if I want to be happy in my future then I should start making the decisions fir it myself and not let other influence it."

"Fir it myself" would work better as "for myself", and "other" should be "others."

Again, you probably want to re-read your writing just to try and catch those tiny grammar mistakes- unfortunately, the really can make a difference. This is a good start though! You are a strong writer, and you obviously have a clear message with this essay.
Oct 25, 2009
Undergraduate / 'Don't lie. I'm going to report you' common app essay.on a significant experience... [6]

My first impression with this essay is that you clearly have a great personal writing style. The short, cryptic sentences, the excellent use of anaphora, everything works very well in conveying to the reader a sense of who you are as a writer.

However, my biggest critique would be that I don't feel like your essay does a good job of describing or defining your world. You talk about your past experiences, and your experiences with friendship, but nowhere do you address the prompt by directly stating what your "world" actually is.

I feel like this is a strong essay, but it would be a better fit for the prompt if you could find a way to clarify your themes.
Oct 25, 2009
Undergraduate / 'my youth with a theme song' - The World Around You UC Prompt 1 [3]

This is a very well-written essay- I am quite envious of your adventurous childhood! My only issue is that to me, your last paragraph seems completely redundant. It feels quite palpably like you're trying to "wrap things up" by summarizing everything you stated earlier, which works on most essays for school but most definitely does not for a college essay. Perhaps you could write more about what you plan on majoring in, or your future career interests, instead.
Oct 31, 2009
Undergraduate / I want to push the submit button tonight (Stanford) [19]

Nice work! Here are a couple of small fixes for your third essay:

"I heard a smirk from my right."
Correct me if I'm wrong, but a smirk usually connotates a smug smile, which is something that you see instead of hear. Perhaps you could use "chucke" or "giggle" or "laugh" or "snicker" instead?

"He continued, "Hey, they name is Aamir I'm a senior here.""
"They" should be changed to either "the" or "my".

"From there, the conversation flowed, minutes flew by as he shared his experiences with me."
I think "flew" would work better as "flying". Otherwise, you have two independent clauses ("the conversation flowed" and "minutes flew") that need to be connected with something other than a comma.

"The students possessed a lust of life"
Check your conjunctions- people usually say "lust for life" instead of "lust of life".

"Stanford is at the paramount of my list because students and faculty like Aamir demonstrate that Stanford can make me a better person."

The use of "paramount" sounds really forced and contrived- change it to something like "the top of my list", which sounds more natural.

Good luck!
Oct 31, 2009
Undergraduate / "Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the fairest of them all?" - Topic of your Choice Essay [4]

"It took strength to portray strength and forced smiles to portray happiness."
I don't think this is awkward, but I'm a little unsure of the sentence placement. I feel like this would work better as the third sentence of that paragraph instead of the fifth- I guess because "portray" makes me think of playing a role, which seems to relate back to theater.

"I courted every school subculture for votes and, although each rewarded me with warm embrace and a win, I began to wonder which group I really belonged to."

"Warm embrace" needs to be changed to either "a warm embrace" or "warm embraces".

" Though they shared the same features, the reflection before me was surely distorted and uncertain; more Quasimodo than Esmeralda."
The word "surely" seems to be unnecessary. I don't really understand how it contributes to that sentence.

"I desperately wanted to make the changes I could foresee, yet I was terrified of the responsibility that accompanied it."
What "changes" are you referring to?

"I was a magician's assistant in a magic box. Where did I go?"
Although I think that the rhetorical question in your first paragraph is well-employed, I question the "Where did I go?" at the end of your third paragraph. "Who was I really?" at the end of your fourth paragraph sounds more natural (although if I were you, I would add a comma between "I" and "really"), but "Where did I go?" is both awkward and unclear, especially since your second paragraph does not end in a rhetorical question, so you don't even have parallelism on your side. Perhaps try something like "I was a magician's assistant in a magic box: there one second and gone the next", which to me sounds cleaner. This is more a matter of personal preference, though, so I'm going to leave it up to you.

I do like this essay a lot, though. It's a very unique approach, and you are consistently strong throughout. Good work!
Oct 31, 2009
Undergraduate / The Lifetime Challenge within Me - Common App Main Essay [7]

You have a really compelling story here, and I think this will make a great essay.
My main concern is- and a thousand pardons if I am wrong- that it sounds as if you spent too much time with a thesaurus or the synonym finder on Microsoft Word while writing it. There are certain phrases that sound not only awkward, but unnatural: for example,

"Pining for complete mobility, I would often find myself gawk at the facileness of how others walked."

I'm fine with "pining". I'm even fine with "gawk". But "facileness"? I don't know about you, but "facileness" is not the first word that comes to mind when I see someone with a graceful walk. In this case, I think "ease" would sound much smoother.

Your lofty lexicon aside, there are some changes I would make to the structure of your essay. You could probably get rid of your first paragraph entirely or combine it with your second paragraph, since it does nothing for your essay except introduce the concept of challenges, which is already explored in your second paragraph. As for your fourth paragraph, the abstract comparison to a large spinner is interesting, but it could be considerably shortened. Also, I'm curious about your physical education award- what was it? How and why did you win it? If you're going to mention it in your essay, you probably should elaborate a little more.

As for your conclusion, I would consider everything past the sentence "Those are the things that have gotten me to this point" to be the strongest part of your essay. However, I would get rid of the "hey" in your last sentence- that colloquialism just doesn't seem to fit in with the rest of your essay. I would also change the first sentence of your concluding paragraph- "heeding to the image" is a strange-sounding and confusing phrase. It would probably be better to say something like "When I look in the mirror, I don't see physical brawn. But I also don't see the things that like beneath my skin through years of enduring [...]"
Oct 31, 2009
Undergraduate / Wrestling - College Essay...any suggestions? [6]

Consider me impressed! Your essay is the best I've read in days. You are obviously a strong writer, and you tell your story very well. You can feel confident submitting exactly what you have now without any changes, if that's what you plan on doing.

However, here are some (very minor!) suggestions for you to consider, in case you still want to revise.

"No one would have guessed a lean, 5'7" blonde girl like myself would be a wrestler."
This is actually the only important sentence of your introductory paragraph- the rest is just added for the sake of style. You could probably combine the first couple of sentences to tighten up the paragraph, or find a way of combining your first and second paragraphs.

"Their behavior reminded me of my elementary years when boys wouldn't go near girls since girls had contagious "cooties.""
This stands out to me as the only overtly awkward sentence of your entire essay. I'm sorry, I can't really think of a good way to rephrase it, so my advice would probably be to cut it, since it isn't necessary to the content of your paragraph.

"Both my teammates and coaches were certain that I wasn't capable of partaking in the sport, due to the fact that I was a female."

"Due to the fact" seems a little wordy to me- I would probably say "because" instead. And also, "I was a female" sounds a little unnatural to me. It's not really that common for people to say things like "I am a female" in spoken English- it would sound more comfortable to me if you were to write "[...] because I was a girl" or "[...] because of my gender".
Oct 31, 2009
Undergraduate / Common App #4 - Fictional Influence (Free Thinking) [4]

The Fountainhead is a brave and somewhat dangerous book to choose due to the controversy surrounding the rape scene (as Liebe has already mentioned) and what it implies about the relationship between men and women. Also, there are many people who would disagree with Objectivism and Ayn Rand's ideals.

Other than that, your essay is well-written, but extremely abstract. It would be so much stronger if you could give some concrete examples or specific events showing what you were like pre-Fountainhead and post-Fountainhead. I can't really see that progression through your essay, and as a result, it's just not very convincing.

Also, this is sort trivial, but I find it slightly awkward that you always refer to Howard Roark as Howard Roark. Why not simply Roark, since he frequently goes by last name only throughout the novel?
Nov 1, 2009
Undergraduate / "You are good at everything." - Stanford Intellectual Vitality essay [5]

Hmm. This is an interesting approach- I can't say that I've ever seen anything exactly like this in response to this particular prompt.

My main concern is that the prompt asks to "Explain to us a time when you felt intellectually engaged." You talk about being good at many things in your essay, which I'm sure is true. However, you never mention anything in particular, or a specific event to illustrate your statement. I guess you're trying to say that being told you are good at everything was a thought-provoking moment, but it would seem like there are better ways to convey a sense of "intellectual vitality". Do you like to read? Do you love scientific research? I think that is more along the lines of what this prompt is looking for.

However, I understand that it's late in the day and your early action deadline is fast approaching.
Here are some quick fixes:

""It's not fair," my friend Natalie had once said to me, "You are good at everything.""
Change the second comma to a period ("once said to me. "You are [...]""). Also, get rid of the word "had", since it's unnecessary.

"I mean when I was born I was just as accomplished as any other baby, so how have I become the person that I am today?"

Starting that sentence with "I mean" seems strangely colloquial, since the rest of your essay doesn't maintain that same informal tone.

"the words of inspiration that I have received from random people that have allowed me to develop into the person I am now."

What words of inspiration? Any specific examples? And did they really come from "random people", like total strangers? Or do you mean people like your parents, your teachers, or your friends?

"As I write this now reflecting on the defining moments in my life I realize how easily I could have been swayed in the wrong direction."

This makes me a little curious- elaborate on your defining moments.

As for your last paragraph, I'm a little surprised that you suddenly switched from "I" to "we". Why the plural form? Especially that last sentence- it sounds like the mission statement of a Fortune 500 company.
Nov 1, 2009
Undergraduate / Obsession with time - Stanford Roomate short essay response [5]

"it has been this very "problem" that has lead to what I feel are my greatest successes in both school and community service projects."

"Lead" should be "led".

"My obsession with time has led me to be a very driven and focused person, something that I would definitely want my roommate to know and understand."

Get rid of the phrase "something I would want my roommate to know and understand". Given the prompt that you are writing to, it is entirely unnecessary, and it weakens the conclusion of your essay.

Otherwise, nice work. You have a clear focus throughout the essay, and a great story to tell.
Nov 1, 2009
Undergraduate / Why Northwestern (is it personal enough?) [6]

You did a very good job on this essay- it's extremely specific, which the admissions officers will definitely appreciate, and you make a strong argument for the reasons you want to attend the school.

"In my communities, I preferred that the driving force of one's daily life was the devotion for friends and family instead of consumerism and a lack of time as in the US."

This sentence is extremely ambiguous- first of all, I'm not exactly sure what you mean by "communities" (communities in the U.S.? Or communities in Latin America?)

"As I explained arithmetic to young, perplexed students and controlled their rowdiness when baking an afternoon treat at a tutoring program, I learned about child psychology and developed more efficient ways for communicating ideas."

Tutoring is good, but it seems completely unexpected to mention it just once in the middle of your essay, when the rest of your essay is clearly focused on your cultural interests.

Also, the ending of the essay feels a little abrupt. Perhaps you could consider reiterating some of your previous points, especially since this is such a long and complex essay.
Nov 1, 2009
Undergraduate / Rape as a topic? [11]

Oh man. Usually, I would say no, absolutely no, to using rape as a topic, but you have done such a good job with this essay that the topic doesn't come off as distasteful at all- in fact, your essay is beautifully written. I deeply admire your bravery for being able to write about a topic so close to your heart, and I think that any admissions officer will appreciate the raw honesty of this essay. It's a risk, certainly- but I think that, all things considered, it's a good risk to take.

Here are some grammar fixes for you:

"I never would have thought that I would spend the next year struggling to get out of bed each morning. Facing my assailant each day in my Calculus class and in the hallways was an impossible task, and my attempting to hide the incident only contributed to feeling alone and helpless."

Change that last part to "[...] my attempts to hide the incident only contributed to my feelings of loneliness and helplessness."

"I have weathered through the darkest storm"
Get rid of "through", since it's unnecessary and the placement is awkward.

" I am still excited about future and I would very much like to prove myself to you."
Please, get rid of this sentence! It sounds like such a disappointingly cliche ending to an essay that is anything but cliche. Just end with the sentence before ("I know [...] to throw at me"), which is much stronger.
Nov 3, 2009
Undergraduate / 'They loved it and recommended it' Why are you considering the ohio state university? [3]

"College is a huge step in life for me and which college I choose is one of the biggest decisions I am going to make. College determines the rest of your life based on how successful you remain during the course of it. Meaning you want to pick a college you believe you would be successful, that college for me is OSU."

Perhaps you want to address the reasons why college is a "huge step in life"- challenges to overcome? A new environment to encounter? Are you the first person in your family to go to college?

Also, your second sentence ("college determines the rest of your life") is a bid of a loaded statement. Many people are successful without going to college, and many others are successful even if they dropped out of college or did not do well in their college classes. Be careful about making such broad generalizations!

And finally, the first part of your third sentence ("Meaning you want [...] be successful") is grammatically incorrect. It would be better to attach it to your third sentence ("College determines [...] the course of it, meaning you want to [...]).

Overall, you frequently mention your enthusiasm for OSU throughout the essay, but I feel like you could spend more time addressing the reasons for your preference.

"My freshman English teacher gave us a list of colleges with some information and since then OSU has been my pick."
What exactly made you decide on OSU so early on? What about the school stood out to you?

"I have been to the university itself many times and have asked many questions, I already feel so familiar and comfortable there."
Get rid of the word "itself", which is redundant, and add a "so" between "questions" and "I" ([...] asked many questions, so I [...]) to join your two independent clauses.

"OSU, in addition, has many organizations I would love to get involved in; most other colleges aren't as student associated as OSU."

This sentence is extremely awkward. It would probably be better to rephrase it as "Unlike other colleges that are not as student-oriented, OSU has many organizations that I want to get involved in."
Nov 3, 2009
Undergraduate / 'Aunt's cancer..' - Concise Narrative: Entrance Essay for UF [3]

I am rather confused about your verb tenses: "tears ran out" of your eyes, but "this is the third time" your aunt had cancer. Are you describing an event in the past, or are you placing yourself inside the experience? Please clarify this for consistency. The general timeline of your description could also be clarified- is this something that has taken place recently? How recently? You describe your aunt in the present tense ("she is"), and yet you say the experience "affected" your life in the past tense.

"She is always happy and upbeat when I see her, she has been very strong and not letting this get her down."
First of all, the first and second parts of this sentence are both independent clauses, meaning they need to be joined with a conjuction ("[...] when I see her, and she [...]"). Also, the second part of your sentence needs to be changed to "she has been very strong and has not let the experience get her down", in order to maintain parallel verb structures.

"She still sees this just as something that god has put in front of her to let her surpass and continue with her journey."

In this context, "god" should be capitalized. Your use of the word "surpass" is also rather dubious. I would change it to "overcome", as in a challenge to be overcome.

"Remember that the journey ahead is a long one, but one that shouldn't be taken lightly and that you will surpass and look back as just a tiny bump."

This sentence does not make very much sense to me in the way it is structured. I think I know what you are trying to say, but perhaps try rephrasing. Something like "Although the journey ahead is long, I know that when I look back the challenges I have surpassed will only seem like a small bump in the road" would be clearer.

Overall, I feel like your story is engaging and clearly inspirational. However, I feel like you need to rework some sentences for grammar and clarity, and you could also think of adding more specific examples- everything right now is mostly abstract.
Nov 3, 2009
Undergraduate / 'Not an artist myself' - Stanford A Good Place For You (many opportunities) [6]

Cut down on your first paragraph, or get rid of it entirely, since it is not directly relevant to the rest of your essay.
I agree with justwannahelp in that you should only focus on the things about Stanford that directly relate to you- if you're not an artist, you probably don't need to spend an entire paragraph talking about art.

Also, you are going to need to do a lot of cutting! You're at 3,417 characters right now, which is almost double the character limit of 1,800. And, if you're submitting online, you are most definitely going to have to be under the character limit (trust me, I submitted Early Action to Stanford, and I spent about 5 hours cutting my essays down to fit the limit). You have a good start here, though, you just need to refine everything a little more.
Nov 16, 2009
Undergraduate / "I was always the typical shy student" - common app essay [5]

I also don't think this is too long. Since there is technically no word limit to the Common Application, the length is up to your discretion, and this essay seems a fairly reasonable length to me.

"I dig my spikes into the track, pump my arms and accelerate as fast as I could."
Since the rest of this paragraph seems to be in first person, perhaps it should be "as fast as I can" instead of "as fast as I could"? The sudden change in verb tense confused me a little.

"I think to myself of all the hours we spent training for this event and how we cannot let that go to waste."

You don't really need to say "to myself", because unless you are thinking out loud, it goes without saying that your thoughts are directed towards yourself.

"I hand off the baton, I become relieved and all the pressure is off of my shoulders."
First of all, this is a run-on sentence, as you're attempting to link two independent clauses with only a comma. Also, I wonder why you suddenly switch into a passive voice with "I become relieved." Wouldn't it be better to stay in an active present tense? Finally, I'm a little concerned that the only emotion you mention here is relief. What about joy? Pride? Exuberance? "Relief" makes it sound as if you've just experienced a reprieve from something painful or unpleasant.

"After seventeen minutes the runners emerged, the sound of the crowd roared for their favorite."
Although it is possible, I suppose, for a sound to "roar", I think it would be better for you to have the crowd roaring, not the sound of the crowd. Basically, what I'm trying to say is- watch which noun you're modifying. Also, please note that both "sound" and "crowd" are singular, and therefore "their favorite" should be "its favorite" or "its favorites".

There are a couple of other grammar details, but otherwise, you have a good start. Just work on refining everything a little more, and I'm sure you'll be fine.
Nov 16, 2009
Undergraduate / "professional chefs" - Rutgers admission essay [4]

Well, this is certainly a unique approach! There are a lot of things I like about this essay, most notably the fact that you chose to write about pancakes, because hey, I love making and eathing pancakes too. My main concern is- and you addressed this yourself- that this doesn't sufficiently address the prompt that you were given. You do talk about backgrounds and experiences, but not so much your benefits and contributions to Rutgers University. Perhaps you could broaden the scope of your essay- maybe talk about what pancakes mean to you allegorically, or try to fit the pancake story into a larger story about family life or sharing your talents with others. Otherwise, I think there is definitely a lot of potential here; your writing is generally strong and even a little humorous (or maybe I'm just biased in your favor because, like I said, I love pancakes). With a bit more rethinking and polishing, I could see this becoming a really strong essay.
Nov 16, 2009
Undergraduate / Game Freak- Common App Essay [10]

"For half years I kept the DS out of my dad's sight, covering myself fully under the quilt every night only to prevent the light and music from the console being perceived."

Haha, I can most definitely relate- I remember doing the exact same thing when I was younger.

"I had to cram three years' course in eight months."
This statement is a little awkward- perhaps revise it to "I had to cram three years' worth of coursework into eight months", or something like that?

"At the turn of the year, I became the stereotype of a good student, burying in tomes of books everyday. Gradually work filled into my life, while games were laid forgotten."

I suggest changing this to "[...] burying myself in tomes of books every day. Gradually work filled my life, and the games were forgotten."

" I had learnt to live a new life without the virtual world, without me being the savior of the world, but just as me, a commoner."

This, again, is a little awkward. Consider "I had learned to live a new life- not as the savior of a virtual world, but as just an ordinary person."

I do like your essay a lot, overall, and I certainly enjoyed reading it. I feel like you could perhaps emphasize your relationship with your father a little more- you hint at it, but it's not fully developed as a sub-plot. Again, nice work! Good luck wherever you're applying.
Nov 16, 2009
Undergraduate / The Other Children: Columbia University personal statement evaluation? [4]

"I stared blankly at my reflection in the mirror as my mother adjusted my collar until it portrayed perfect symmetry."
I don't know, it disturbs me a little to think of collars "portray"ing things the way actors or people do. It's rather an odd usage of the word "portray". It would sound more comfortable to say "[...] adjusted my collar until it was perfectly symmetrical."

" I nudged every time she placed her hands on my attire to remove the tiniest speck or flaw that marred it. Such was the same for my personality."

What are you nudging? Your mother? The suit? Nudge has to modify a noun, otherwise your sentence is ambiguous. Or you could change "nudge" to "twitch" or another similar verb.

"I knew instantly that this so-called social gathering would exemplify the very restrictions of an Indian American adolescent."
Check your conjunctions- either "of" should be "on", or this sentence needs to be rephrased entirely.

" I chuckled as I explained how my world history teacher, who had visited the structure, made us know every minute fact regarding it. "

"Made us know" is such an awkward construction. Perhaps change it to "taught us", instead?

Good work. Your story is funny and anecdotal, and yet it has a clear message. I especially like how you manage to address the "culture" issue in a refreshing and original way.
Nov 16, 2009
Undergraduate / I loved fighting; Personal statement for University of Arizona [4]

My main concern with this essay is that the organization is not apparent, and your ideas are hard to follow. It seems a little like you're just addressing certain aspects of your life that you believe are important, but there really isn't much to tie everything together. I think it would be best if you could just focus on one specific aspect and really expand on it. Perhaps bring in some personal stories or anecdotes, and wrap everything up by relating it to your interest in the university and your major.

"I am interested in becoming a Criminology."
I think you mean, "I am interested in becoming a criminologist."

"Anybody who wants to major in any type of career must need a post-secondary education."
Get rid of this sentence- presumably, if you are applying to college, then you are interested in a post-secondary education.

" I am not an aggravated person, but fighting is something I enjoy doing."
Either change "aggravated" to "aggressive", or change the sentence to "I am not easily aggravated [...]". Also, you never really address why, exactly, you enjoy fighting. Is there a story to it? Maybe talk more about how you managed to channel that interest into sports or wrestling, as you briefly mentioned later.
Nov 17, 2009
Undergraduate / "I caught my target unaware of my presence"; USC -Visions and Voices [10]

"Rats, I chastised myself when the seagull drops its meal and took flight. I have left the lens cover on."
In response to the comments on the sentence above, I believe the issue is that it is not, in fact, in present tense like the sentence preceding it. To maintain consistency, I would change it to "Rats, I chastise myself, as the seagull drops its meal and takes flight. Once again, I left the lens cover on" or something to that effect.

Overall, though, I agree with EF_Kevin: your verb tenses need to be more consistent throughout.

"The way the morning sun danced between two honeyed leaves in autumn, the reverent bow of daffodils after a heavy rain, and the sleepy droop of morning glories made their way into my collection."

This sentence is beautiful! Definitely my favorite part of the essay. I especially like "the reverent bow of daffodils"- what a lovely turn of phrase!

"My camera will be my extra set of eyes. And this time, I'll make sure the lens cap is off."
I don't know, I feel like the ending is a little cliche- as if you're trying too hard to be funny or clever. But of course, I suppose it's a matter of personal interpretation.

I like this essay a lot- your write very well, with a clear sense of style and humor. You could probably edit it a little more just to finesse some of the phrases and revise some of the verb tenses, but otherwise, I think you have done a really good job.
Nov 19, 2009
Undergraduate / An essay about Pole Vaut-Rutger's essay [3]

I agree with amaryrose: to submit this as a college essay, you will have to tie your experience into Rutgers or your plans for the future somehow in a more direct way, and you will have to condense the narrative "story" of your essay. And although fragments can be used to convey a particular sense of style, the way you're currently using them comes off more as messy and unnecessarily informal.

Examples of fragments that need to be modified:
"Not really talking to anyone at this time."
"Hoping I won't screw up too much."
"Making it hard to run a lap or even stretch."
"Pacing back and forth and watching the other athletes jump."

Also, there are severe inconsistencies in verb tense throughout your essay. For example, your first sentence is in past tense ("was one of the best experiences"), but your second sentence is in present tense ("gives me a natural high"). Even in your narrative section, you switch between past and present in a way that feels awkward and unnatural.

I do think that this essay has a lot of potential. I look forward to reading it again once you make some more revisions!
Nov 20, 2009
Undergraduate / UC PROMPT #1 - "Average? Maybe not" [7]

This essay is short and sweet and simple and plain, but it's all very well done- there's a good overall effect. Despite some momentary awkwardness in syntax- try reading your essay out loud, some sentences seem a little lumpy- the style is straightforward and consistent throughout.

"While my mother was pregnant, she had problems in her body and had to go through surgical operations that could have been deleterious to the fetal me in her womb."

I agree with the comments above regarding the awkwardness of this sentence. In particular, the word "deleterious" stands out to me as rather unfitting. To be honest, it sounds unnatural, as if you right-clicked in Microsoft Word to find the synonym with as many syllables as possible. I would go with "harmful" instead.

I feel that you could shorten your first paragraph a little- the "I'm ordinary" message becomes redundant pretty quickly- and expand on your second paragraph. No need to give private details, but perhaps you could elaborate a little more on what, exactly, your mother's affliction was?

Also, I am a little confused as to why playing the violin led to exposure to many different cultures. Did you travel because you were invited to play concerts in those countries? Or was there some other reason?
Nov 20, 2009
Undergraduate / "Coming to America" (How has your family influenced who you are) [5]

First of all, your first paragraph is redundant. Get rid of the first sentence entirely ("My family's history [...] today"), since it is implied in the prompt, and try to consolidate the remainder: for example, I notice that you mention the word "poor" or variations thereof with unnecessary frequency. If you could shorten the first paragraph to two or three sentences and combine it with the second paragraph, I think that would give the reader all the background he or she needs. After all, the prompt asks for the influence of your culture on who you are, and you don't fully address that until the third paragraph. Try to expand your third paragraph, as well. Mention some specific examples- what are some things you have been able to do that your parents were not able to? How have you maintained aspects of your Haitian culture while living in the United States? If you try to think along those lines, I believe you can make your essay a lot stronger.
Nov 20, 2009
Undergraduate / "Hanged Jesus portrait" - Common app - Evaluate a significant experience [3]

Even if you had not stated that you are an international student, I would have been able to tell- there are certain phrases in your writing that sound stilted or unnatural, indicating that you're not familiar with English as a native language, even though in terms of structure your essay is well done. Here are a few comments:

Consider capitalizing "catholic" in your first sentence.

"All of volunteers are gathering at here, Padre's room at the hospital."
A missing article, perhaps: "All of the volunteers [...]"?

"Before we serve to people, we pray to God, and minute silence, and then we separate each other to start serving patients."
The phrased "serve to" seems awkward to me; I don't think the "to" is necessary. Also, what are you serving- food? Or do you mean "serve" as in performing service, in a more general way? "And minute silence" should probably be "take a minute of silence."

"After pray, Sr. Shin says"
"Sr."? Do you mean "Dr."? Or is this meant to be an abbreviation of "senior"? Also, "after pray" should be "after praying".

"I nodded what she said and left the Padre's room door. Before I enter the Intensive care unit, I think billion situations."

Change this to "I nod in response, and leave Padre's room. Before I enter the Intensive Care Unit, I think of a billion possible situations."

Remember, keep your verb tenses consistent- if you start in present tense, remain in present tense.

"As I entered Intensive Care Unit, I knocked down about thirty seconds. People are moving busily to serve patients effectively. When I knocked down myself, Mrs. Kim, who is my co-volunteer, explains what my job is, how should I do, and inform restricted behavior in this unit."

First of all, I don't know what the phrase "knocked down" means. And how do you knock yourself down? Do you mean that you fell down? Or that you were knocked down by someone else? Once again, you've switched to past tense, as opposed to the present tense of your first paragraph. Also, change "inform restricted behavior" to "and informed me of the restricted behavior in the unit."

I think you have a good start to this essay- most of the changes I would make are grammatical errors. Read your essay to yourself out loud and see if you can catch all of the mistakes. You do a good job of describing the experience, but it could be even better if you could bring in some of your plans for the future.
Nov 29, 2009
Undergraduate / UC2: Multilingualism (I just need a yay or a nay for the red parts) [5]

I think the first two paragraphs you put in red should be condensed to give a brief history of your experiences with languages. You could probably sum that up in one or two sentences, and add it to your first main paragraph. The line about the soap operas is fine- it's not necessary, but it adds humor.

Also, I am a little confused by the premise of your essay. So are you indeed multilingual? What languages are you actually fluent in? You mention "picking up phrases" of certain languages and that sort of thing, which implies that you aren't entirely fluent...

I agree with yang; I think you should also address the resolution of your Spanish class. Did you end up doing better? How did learning that "simplicity is key" help you learn Spanish?

Other grammatical edits:

"I was constantly surrounded by languages."
The past tense implies that you are no longer surrounded by languages.

"I was proud in my lingual abilities."
It should be "proud of", not "proud in".

"[...] how to construct a pumpkin shaped masked to a parent."
I'm assuming that you mean to say "how to construct a pumpkin shaped mask to a parent"?

"Der Frieden, La Paix, Paz, Pace, Heiwa, Peace"
I'm not sure how the word "peace" relates to your essay. If you're trying to parallel the structure of the opening of your essay, then maybe you should pick another word?
Nov 29, 2009
Undergraduate / I have taken many journeys devoid ; Carnegie Mellon- Why?/ Major [8]

"Because our admission committees review applicants by college and programs, your essay can impact our final decision."
This, to me, is a red flag. The prompt is asking you to be very specific about your future major and career, with less emphasis on why you developed that interest and more emphasis on the direction you plan on going in the future. There are certainly parts of your essay that address that, but I think you should do so in more detail. For example, you talk about finding energy alternatives- be more specific! Do you mean alternative means of generating energy, or greater efficiency in transportation or packaging, or what? And how do you want to incorporate science into business, for example? And what sort of business? This is the chance for you to elaborate more on your passions and interests, and you should definitely take advantage of that.

Also, if you want to talk about its location in Pittsburgh, you should probably relate that to your interests by talking about internship or research opportunities.

"the ability to receive an ivy league education and at the same time experience ."
From what I know, the Ivy League consists of Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania, and Yale. In other words, Carnegie Mellon is a great school but not an Ivy, so you might want to say "Ivy League level education" instead.

This essay is a good start, but it needs more work to fully address the prompt. I look forward to seeing a revised version, and I wish you the best of luck with your application!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.