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Posts by Notoman
Joined: Apr 24, 2009
Last Post: May 13, 2014
Threads: 20
Posts: 419  

From: USA

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May 13, 2014
Scholarship / Why I am a worthy candidate for this scholarship [5]

Yes, cut it to fit the parameters in the instructions. The easiest way to tighten things is using active instead of passive voice. The overall tone of your essay is good, and it is earnest, but little errors with agreement and parallelism disrupt the flow. This is not a complete fix, but here a few example to get you started:

involvements in extra-curriculum activities

involvement in extra-curricular activities

I am on the Principal's Honors Roll, a member of the National Honors Society, a tutor, and many more academic and spiritual clubs.

This is where parallel structure comes into play. It is like saying, "I like to eat oranges, sleep, and riding my bike," when saying, "I like to eat oranges, to sleep, and to ride my bike" would be better. When your sentence starts with, "I am on," the reader expects a list of things you are on unless you clue the reader with words. Try: I am on the Principal's Honor Roll and a member of the National Honor (omit the "s") Society. I tutor younger (or fellow--whatever is appropriate) students, and ... (follow up with something more about this experience). The sound of "many more academic and spiritual clubs" is throwing me off. It doesn't have much meaning on its own because there is no description of what those memberships entail. Sometimes showing a greater commitment in one area is stronger than showing a minimal involvement in many ... depth over breadth.

and the commitment to public service of healthcare practitioners.

and healthcare practitioners' commitment to public service

Receiving the X scholarship will be a significant contributor that lifts off the financial burden and helps me to accomplish my goals

Here's an example of how you could rewrite this sentence:
Receiving the X scholarship would significantly alleviate the financial burden and help me to accomplish my goals.
Dec 31, 2011
Undergraduate / Rice University - contributional perspective about diversity [3]

The essay is well-written and entertaining, but I feel like the overall tone is too negative. Even though you say you don't go on angry rants about your identity, this sounds like a rant and might be leave a negative impression with the reader. What if the reader considers him or herself a mix of two races/cultures? Your essay implies that he or she would be wrong to do so. It is too defensive.

The last paragraph goes off on a tangent and is hard to follow.

P.S. A person cannot be 1/26 Inuit (or anything else for that matter). I don't know if this is an attempt at humor, and I am an idiot for not getting it. I had a professor tell the class that he was 1/3 Navajo. Really? How would that work? A person has two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, sixteen great-great grandparents, thirty-two great-great-great grandparents, etc.
Dec 31, 2011
Undergraduate / 'first impressions are everything' - Boston University Review [11]

Here's a thought for an introduction:

As I meet my roommate for the first time, my mind runs through various scenarios and assigns numerical probabilities. Each thing he says, each action and perceived emotion changes the data entering my brain, and I struggle to keep up. I want to make a good first impression, to maximize the likelihood of a positive outcome, but my obsession with decision theory probably should wait until we are a little more settled. The concept is too difficult to explain while we heft boxes up flights of stairs.
Dec 31, 2011
Undergraduate / Boarding School Applicant Essay - The Life And Death Of My Father [3]

It is a strong essay. The story is engaging and your writing is clear and concise. There are only a few tweaks I would make.

I sat on the edge of his bed, eyes closed, surrounded by family. The scent of bereavement had been lingering in the air for months.

How about combining these first two sentences to tighten things up and bring the word "bereavement" into the opening line? I sat on the edge of his bed, eyes closed, surrounded by family, the scent of bereavement lingering in the air.

I listened to the rhythm of his labored breathing until a shallow inhale was followed by one final exhale.

This isn't bad, and I am being picky. I can tell that you have put a lot of time and effort into your essay, and I want to try to help make it better in any little way I can. I'd like to see more of an active treatment with the sentence: I listened to the rhythm of his labored breathing, a shallow inhale followed by one final exhale.

In that moment, time stood still.

I think this would be more powerful (and provide more sentence variety) if you were just to say: Time stood still.

A sea of thoughts and flooded my adolescent mind as I struggled to stay afloat.

Omit the word "and." I'd replace "adolescent" with how old you were when your dad died. I think it would provide the reader with a better picture of who you are and what you went through: ... flooded my eleven-year-old mind ... (for example)

My father's impact on my life is one that will stay with me throughout my existence.

Tighten this up. An economy of words will help the reader stay engaged and allow you to say more with less. It may seem like a small change, but if you tighten each sentence up by a few words, the overall impact will be noticeable: My father's impact on my life will stay with me throughout my life. (I substituted "life" for "existence" because it sounds less existential)

A large amount of time was devoted to his career, which allowed him to retire and spend time with his family.

This is a little confusing. Did he retire early? Put it into active voice and clarify: He devoted a large amount of time to his early career, and retired early to spend more time with his family.

Our family often referred to him as "the human calculator", because of his uncanny ability to calculate math problems in his head at ridiculous speeds.

No comma because the explanation can't stand on its own as a sentence. I'd also tweak this just a bit to tighten it: Our family referred to him as "the human calculator" because of his uncanny ability to mentally calculate complex math problems at ridiculous speeds.



he enthusiastically helped me learn anything I wanted to.

he enthusiastically taught me anything I wanted to learn. (I don't know why I'd make this change. The way you have it written isn't wrong, but the rewording seems to emphasize the relationship between teaching and learning)

That's all I can do tonight. My sleep-deprived mind is turning to mush. Please don't feel like I am picking on you. I am only picking apart the essay line-by-line because it IS good, and you deserve in-depth feedback. Feel free to reject any of my comments (of course!). Just because I would do something slightly differently doesn't mean that you have not done it well.

As far as the overall tone goes, I would like to see a little more redemption. The fourth paragraph talks about the problems you faced with your dad's death, but it barely touches on how you overcame those obstacles. More of a balance would put you in a stronger light.
Dec 31, 2011
Undergraduate / "I can't believe I'm actually doing this" - extracurricular activity [7]

Think about the purpose of the short essay ... to provide a glimpse into your personality and writing ability. With just a cursory reading, it stood out as being negative to me. Look at your word choice: can't believe I'm actually doing this, I didn't really have an interest in it, something to put on a college applications, couldn't help but complain about how pointless the so-called sport seemed, I've never been into sports, I always seem to do badly in all the ones I do try, we were no good, we never won a match, I truly hated the days ...

It doesn't have to be all sunshine and roses, but you don't want to come across as someone who is always whining either.
Dec 31, 2011
Undergraduate / Stanford Supplement: Intellectual Development "Look over these packets" [7]

Here are a few thoughts:

It isn't clear who is talking in the first two quotes. I assume the first one is your teacher and you are the second? You might want to clarify or even omit the first quote. Are these internal thoughts or are they spoken aloud? Usually, if something is not spoken aloud, it would go in italics instead of quotes.

Italicize the Spanish words instead of putting them in single quotation marks (including telanovelas).

heavy packet of papers

This is a bit redundant. The reader can assume that the packet contains papers.

going off the roof

through the roof

I am not sure why you have the single quotes. The only time you would use single quotes would be if you had a quote inside of a quote.

My adventure to conquer this new language began as I attacked Spanish with the incantations of memorization.

There's a lot going on in this sentence, and the meaning gets lost. I'd try to rewrite it and tighten it up a bit.

I could not depend on my mentor to guide me in this battle for her methods of teaching constantly confused me. Yet, my independence was a blessing in disguise as I learned my most effective ways to study.

This might come across as negative to the reader. It sounds like you are saying that your mentor couldn't teach and that you are better at devising study habits. Rewording this to indicate that you do not always learn by traditional methodology and overcome that obstacle with perseverance would put a more positive spin on it.

I would write the words in Korean to practice my pronunciation and repeated the definitions of words until I memorized them.

Your verbs aren't parallel here.

During my first listening comprehension tests, I was stumped by the meaning of a single word and the essence of the entire dialogue was lost to me. It was the same with speaking as I stumbled upon a word or a verb tense that I discontinued talking.

These two sentences aren't as clear as they could be.

Yet, these problems were part of the inconspicuous joy of learning a new language and every failure was a step closer to proficiency.

You'll need a comma before the word "and" because the second clause could stand as a sentence on its own.

There are a lot of strengths in this essay. I like the way you have used mostly active verbs, the variety in sentence structure, and the way you have incorporated interesting vocabulary.
Dec 31, 2011
Undergraduate / 'first impressions are everything' - Boston University Review [11]

Using active verbs instead of passive verbs would make a world of difference here. Look at the verbs: there was, learned, is, are, would, be, got, there is, could, are ...

There are a few grammatical errors (then when you need than, verb agreement, and missing commas).

Keep in mind the purpose of the essay. BU may be asking you what you would want to share with a roommate, but the essay should really be about what you want to share with BU. What qualities do you possess that would make you a good fit at BU? The small talk is just filler and detracts from the real message.
May 29, 2011
Writing Feedback / College/University should be free for ALL determined and qualifying students. [7]

You asked for cons, I will give you some cons.

The U.S. government/taxpayers already pay for *13* years of public education for most students.

Higher education is a privilege, not a right.

Scholarships should be based on merit, not the financial need of the parents. The brightest of students already have scholarship opportunities from private funding, and pubic/taxpayer funds should not be expected to pick up the slack for mediocre students.

Just because parents are financially solvent does not mean that the parents are willing to pay the educational expenses of their offspring, and needs-based scholarships that only look at the parents' earnings are inherently unfair to students who do not have their parents' financial support.

Yes, society needs engineers, doctors, and lawyers, but society also needs shopkeepers, custodians, and plumbers. If everyone has a college degree, the value of that education is diminished. We will end up with a population that is overeducated and underemployed.

College students are not "children," but young adults who should be expected to fend for themselves, even if that means taking out loans to finance their university expenses.

Providing higher-educational benefits to students who are not citizens (foreign nationals) is counter to the interest of U.S. taxpayers.

The American Dream includes a level playing field, but it should not include a leveling of the players. Everyone in this country has the opportunity to a free, K-12 education. When we, as a society, start leveling the players instead of the field, we commit a great injustice.

Paying for higher education is a tax burden that the American public cannot afford.
May 24, 2011
Undergraduate / How did you learn about NJIT and why are you aplaying? Engineering. [10]

Here's the first paragraph to get you started.

The present world in which we live in has significant ways of sharing and communicating information.

The way this is written, it sounds like the world is communicating.

Technology has a huge impact on the way people communicate on these days.

Put this into active voice. Let me give you an example: Technology impacts the way people communicate in myriad ways.

However, people's voice spreads around the globe quite quick and effective which allows us to be informed of everything that surrounds us.

However, people's voices spread around the globe quickly and effectively, allowing us to be informed of everything that surrounds us.

The power of people's voice has a big impact when it comes to take decisions such as buying a car, location of house and especially choosing the right school to attend in order to pursue our dreams.

The power of people's voices has a big impact when it comes to making decisions such as buying a car, choosing a neighborhood, and finding the right school to attend in order to pursue one's dreams.
May 24, 2011
Writing Feedback / Success is the definition based on persistence as well as the desire of people [4]

You are really on your way. There are a couple of minor errors, but when they show up repeatedly, they stick more in the reader's mind.

I noticed you don't put a space after your commas. Why? They all need a space; it will help the reader's mind process the words. Watch your punctuation in general. Put a space behind all of the commas, period, colons, semicolons. There are a couple places where the periods are missing.

This,and hence,accuses the shortages of aspiration of being unsuccessful.

I am not sure what you are trying to say with this sentence, but I get the feeling that you might have used the words. Accuses means to blame someone for a crime or offense. Aspiration is kind of like a goal or a dream. Did you mean unsuccessful?

others strongly disapproves

Watch your verb agreement. Others is plural so the verb needs to be as well. It is one of the most difficult things in English (articles--the, a, an--are another common mistake).

The higher demand they have,the pressures they will suffer.

This is a tricky sentence. Do they have demands or are demands being placed on them? How about something like: The more demands made of them, the more pressure they will suffer.

Harvard university

Capitalize University

reach the success's door

You don't need the word the here.

there are great deal of concrete circumstances

This is a sentence where you need an article. Insert a before great deal.

dreaming of mercy,wealthiness

I don't think that you want mercy here. Mercy is more like forgiveness. Wealthiness is an awkward word. Just wealth works.

they spend all the time

Change this to their time.
May 23, 2011
Speeches / "courageous individuals will serve our country" (rough draft) Valedictory Speech [5]

I like the motif of inventing the future. Perhaps you could bring some humor in with that.

Think about the things that were invented within your parents' lifetime ... personal computers, digital clocks, eight tracks/cassettes/ CDS, cordless phones, cable tv, video games, and microwave ovens. Today's teens have all of those things (with the exception of microwave ovens) within their smartphones. What will the future bring? Use your imagination.

You say that you tried to avoid cliches, but this version of your speech is full of platitudes. Perhaps you could focus on cliches as part of your humor. I'd love to write a graduation speech that was all cliches, including a few (barking up the wrong tree, mistakes were made) that have nothing to do with graduation. I'd end it with, "the ball's in your court."

Try to focus the speech on one topic and bring it around again at the end. Have you seen any of Ellen's graduation speeches? She's a riot, but one of the things that make her speeches successful is the way she wraps them up and brings them full circle. Watch a few graduation speeches on YouTube and decide what you like about them and what turns you off.

Wishing you the best!
May 23, 2011
Writing Feedback / Final Honors English Paper- Why do I deserve to pass this class? [6]

Yes! Silverystars has great advice for the structure of the paper.

There are A LOT of grammatical errors (including "alot" as one word). The dearth of apostrophes jumped out at me. Those possessives are crying out for apostrophes:

ones ability

gods gifts

(you'll need to drop the "s" on "gifts" as well.

Hamlets Soliloquy.

At times, you employ the wrong word:

strong suite

Use "suit" unless you are really talking about a collection of rooms or furniture.

wasn't aloud to sit

Use "allowed" as in "permitted."

no lower then a high B

Use "than" because you are making a comparison.

its not the grade you get its what you learn

it's, it's

its still the grade

And again ...

I'd avoid words like "gonna" and "yeh." I know that you're writing in an informal style, but this is a little too casual.

English should always be capitalized (as well as titles of books, but you already know that).

Look over something on the use of hyphens. There are a lot of places in your essay in need (half-ass work, for example)

Good luck with it. It sounds like it is do-or-die time. If you turn in half-assed work for this, I imagine that the teacher might give you a half-assed grade (one that doesn't allow you to pass the class).
May 23, 2011
Undergraduate / "I used to think life was different" - Harvard supplemental essay for fall admissions [4]

Using active voice instead of passive will make the biggest impact on your essay.

I am not trying to burst your bubble here, but this essay needs a lot of work to be persuasive.

The introduction falters. It doesn't act as that strong "hook" that you need.

Some of the details are very compelling while others are extraneous (especially if you are looking to cut the word count). A personal essay doesn't have to include every little chronological detail. You could omit the details that round out your family's story, but don't add to your own (your sister's undergraduate degree, the timing of your father's departure, the deaths of the renters, Obama's bailout).

Keep in mind the purpose of the essay ... it isn't a personal biography as much as a billboard. It should say, "Look at me. I have overcome this adversity, I bring diversity, and I can succeed at your university." At this point, I don't see enough of that in your essay. If I were a Harvard admissions counselor, I would worry that you have not truly overcome your adversity. I'd fear that you would have to quit school to go home and help take care of your parents. Your Colombian heritage and economic status brings diversity to a school rife with upper-crust, white-Anglo-Saxon protestants, but that is not enough. Schools have myriad ways of increasing diversity, and are not going to want to take a risk on someone who doesn't appear ready for success. Which leads me to the last point ... how have your prepared yourself for success at Harvard? Perhaps you could tie that into hard work you put into cleaning car dealerships. I wouldn't talk about being sidetracked in middle school or a lack of parental supervision because it doesn't add to your case. I am assuming that your high-school grades (at least in the top 10% of your class) and SAT scores are high enough for Harvard consideration ... tell the admissions counselors about how you took advantages of all the school system had to offer, challenged yourself with AP courses, became a fixture of the library, how you studied, worked hard, and built yourself into the type of person an Ivy-League school would consider.

Here's a brief sample of how you might be able to word things differently: When I was eight years old, a heavily-armed guerrilla threatened my family because of my father's politics. Afraid for our lives, we fled our beloved and familiar Colombia and settled in the United States. School proved challenging. Without a common language, understanding lessons and making friends was difficult. My parents worked hard to make ends meet. My dad toiled at two full-time jobs and my mom cleaned airplanes at night to make ends meet. The wages didn't always cover the expenses, and we sometimes resorted to renting out rooms in our tiny, overcrowded apartment. As a middle school student, I worked alongside my dad cleaning local car dealerships after they closed for the night. I scrubbed the toilets and washed the cars' windows as fast as I could so my dad and I would be able to get a little sleep before work and school the next day.
May 23, 2011
Writing Feedback / Ships Ahoy -- floundering marriages [25]

I jumped into the fray without an inkling of the underlying issues. Duh! (Slaps self on side of head) I thought Rajiv wanted input on grammar and writing style. Now I see that this is much more personal than comma placement.

Know what kind of peace you want before you start a war. I am not much of an advice giver, but Lin had some good input.
May 22, 2011
Writing Feedback / Ships Ahoy -- floundering marriages [25]

You write well, Rajiv. There are some minor errors, but the essay flows. What is the purpose of this essay? Is it an assignment of some sort?

Let me point out a couple of things that caught my eye before delving into commentary on the content.

Our marriages are these ships and frankly,

You'll need a comma after the word "ships" because the rest of the sentence could stand on its own.

; but

Don't use a semicolon and a conjunction together. Either use a comma and then a conjunction or a semicolon with no conjunction when you are combining two independent clauses.

of ?

You have a space between your sentences and the question marks. Why ?

Because the man by tradition accepts the matrimonial bond completely, and the person his wife is.

I am not sure what you are trying to say here. I think the meaning gets lost in the semantics.

has an independent earning

independent earnings

And thinks to herself that what had kept women subjugated in earlier times was not having an independent source of income.

This is an incomplete sentence.

Even though this is hardly how the man would have thought, or taken advantage of except in rare cases.

Another incomplete sentence

Then pushing along this line of thought further

Add a comma after this phrase.

Instead chose the slippery slope of tasting an over-abundance of independence.

This sentence needs a subject. Who chose?

it's values

No apostrophe

If you do not do the acceptable thing

Comma after this clause

You employ the second-person tense throughout the essay. Generally speaking, formal English essays don't use the first or second persons. At times, I wondered if this was a personal entreaty to your wife to obey. When you used "we," "our," and "you," I found myself wanting to know just who these people were.

Okay, now I will move on to commentary on the content. I ask what the purpose of this essay is because I can't imagine a situation in which it would be appropriate (unless you are freelancing for a chauvinistic organization).

You say:

for men, little has changed from what was earlier

I would argue that A LOT has changed for men. The women of India have changed and that certainly impacts the men of India. I am sure that the new-found freedoms have created a turbulence in the marital waters for Indian couples, but other than subservience from the women, I don't see any solutions in your essay. At one point, you say: "It would be wrong to ask women to go back to the earlier ways of being uneducated and lacking the earning power," but you don't have me, as a reader, convinced that you believe this. Are you suggesting that Indian women earn BAs, BSs, MAs, and PhDs only until they get their MRSes? What should Indian men being doing to adapt to the new reality of wage-earning wives? Shouldn't they be supportive, even proud, of their wives' successes? You mention Indian men nourishing the family, but I get the sense that you mean that merely in a bringing-home-the-bacon manner. I don't see you or your ilk nourishing the family by taking the kids to doctors' appointments, cooking dinner, cleaning a toilet, or changing diapers. I imagine that the working women of India feel oppressed if they are expected to put in fifty hours a week at work, do all the shopping, cooking, cleaning, AND dote on a husband who sees himself as a maharaja.

You seem to imply in your second post that westerners do not hold marriage in high regard. I suppose that would be true if one were to look merely at divorce statistics, but I think it is an unfair and condescending assumption that westerners hold marriage in low regard. An American or European would look at your essay and think that Indian men care only about personal prestige and power instead of the happiness of their wives or the stability of their marriages.

Seriously, is this for your own practice, for an assignment, or for some publication called Misogynists Weekly? I think understanding the purpose of the essay would help us as readers to understand a bit better where you are coming from.

May 22, 2011
Writing Feedback / "The function of science is to reassure; the purpose of art is to upset. Therein lies [8]

I'll tackle a few issues that jump out at me.

a firm reasoning towards the general accepted belief

When you say "the general accepted belief," it sounds like you are talking about only one generally accepted belief without stating what that belief is. Do you mean generally accepted beliefs?

Art has got an unique charracterisation of ideas and the preference to art is limitted to certain people.

Omit "got" from this sentence. Watch your spelling ... characterization and limited

geographical ,political and economical is the clear evidence

Geographical, political, and economical are all adjectives and they need a noun with them. Geographical, political, and economical what? Studies? Sciences?

primarily to help the humankind

Articles are *very* difficult in English! In this particular case, you don't need one. Omit the word "the."

descent life for future

You want "decent" here instead of descent.

makes assure them a brightness in future.

assures them a bright future

The employ opportunities for art candidates


The works from history teaches

Historical works teach


Sep 1, 2010
Undergraduate / "a twin with my own identity" - UC prompt- world you come from [6]

One really quick comment because I *must* do my homework and get to bed ...

When you write '90s music, the apostrophe should go before the 9 to show that you are omitting the 19. Different style guides will tell you different things, but I'd stick to MLA rules for a college application.
Jul 24, 2010
Grammar, Usage / Can this sentence be improved by punctuation? [7]

Another vote for the semicolon. The two parts of the sentence could stand alone as sentences so it calls for more than a comma. A colon doesn't work. A dash is kind of like a casual or beefed-up comma. The way it is written, I'd say that the semicolon is the best bet.
Jul 23, 2010
Grammar, Usage / Quick Comma Question - is it needed after "small amenities"? [5]

This is an essay on packing a backpack for a camping trip. My question: Is the comma after "small amenities" needed or am I better off without it?

Foam earplugs and a sleeping mask rest atop the pile. My friends will call me "Princess," but without these two, small amenities, their snoring will prevent me from falling asleep and the early-morning light will make it impossible to stay asleep after the sun rises.

Jul 12, 2010
Graduate / If ISB were to admit one more student, I would be a very strong candidate because [6]

There are several places where you need the article "the." It can be difficult in English to know when an article is needed and when it is not. Basically, if you are talking about a particular noun instead of a noun in a general way, you need an article--but there are always exceptions because English is tricky like that. Native speakers make many grammar decisions based on instinct and ear.

lead University Cricket team

the University Cricket team

I focused on big picture

the big picture

to support customers in North America region

the North American region

in India, Singapore, UK, and US

the United Kingdom, and the United States (I would also spell out the countries' names)

various levels in IT industry

the IT industry

There are other issues with commas and odd word choice, but I will leave those for another person or another time.
Jul 7, 2010
Undergraduate / "the perfect time in my life to challenge myself" - Peace Corp Essay [4]

First of all, it is the Peace Corps. It is a tricky word because the "s" is silent, but it is important to get it right in your essay.

I won't go more into the grammar at this point, but instead talk about my impression of the essay. I hope that you don't think I am picking on you. I just want you to see how what you say might be seen by others.

What I liked:

I want to bring new ideas and experiences to a community and in turn bring home the experiences I acquire in hopes of inspiring others to create change in some way

This is powerful. In my understanding of the Peace Corps, the mission goes beyond just helping people in developing countries, but being "goodwill ambassadors" with an open mind to a two-way cultural exchange. This speaks to the goals of the organization.

What confused me:

whether through the comfort of their own community or in a completely new one.

Huh? Are you thinking about taking the people you serve to a completely new community?

What I thought could be problematic:
Honestly? Although your commitment to vegetarianism and animal rights is admirable and environmentally responsible, with the Peace Corps, you must be able to acclimate and integrate into your new environment. This could prove difficult if you are perceived as judging people who eat meat or who may keep chickens in what you see as an inhumane manner. This is the only part of the essay that comes across as decisive, strong, and passionate. Which leads me to my next point ...

The essay comes across as wishy washy. You word choice doesn't convey a commitment or a passion; if anything, your word choice suggests serious reservations. Here are some examples: struggled, clear path, difficulty, short-term, struggling (again), and tear away.

Looking at the prompt, I don't feel like you have fully addressed it. Why do you want to join the Peace Corps? I get the feeling it is because you don't know what else to do. "Helping others" is vague. What drives you to leave the familiar and take on the obligation to serve long-term in an environment and capacity yet to be determined?

How do your reasons for wanting to join tie in with your life experiences and goals? This might be a good place to talk about the kinds of volunteering you have done. Did it involve teaching? Agriculture? Healthcare? Service to others? A Peace Corps volunteer really needs leadership ability. Have you served in a leadership role? Directed others in completing tasks or working as a team? And what about your goals? What are they and how will a stint in the Peace Corps help you to reach them?

You say that your biggest challenge will be leaving your family/friends and that you will meet that challenge head on with their love and support, but ... you will be away from them for over two years and may have minimal contact. You will probably not have Internet or access to a telephone (heck, you may not even have electricity) and letters lack immediacy. You certainly won't be going to movies with your college roommates on Friday nights and you won't be home for your mother's birthday. If these are obstacles that you can overcome, tell the Peace Corps how you plan to overcome these challenges ... the prompt is asking for a solution in addition to a confession.

If you want this, really want this, you have to make yourself sound like you will be a successful volunteer. The Peace Corps accepts less than a third of the people who apply. It might not be as hard to get into as grad school (depending on the school), but it is competitive.

Wishing you the best.
Jun 30, 2010
Scholarship / "Tell us what makes you a good college student", missionary work topic? [4]

I think that whether or not missionary work is "too religious" for the scholarship essay depends on who is awarding the scholarship. Knights of Columbus? Go for it! The Ayn Rand Institute? Not a good idea.

The prompt asks what makes you a good college student and a 200 word limit doesn't give you a whole lot of room to expound on that subject. I think whether or not to address your desire to become a missionary depends on part if you can tie it to the prompt. What kinds of things are you studying at school? Will they help you with your future goals? If you are studying foreign languages and farming techniques in hopes of being a better missionary, by all means, tell the panel. If you are studying business and astronomy, it might be a little more difficult to make the connection.
Jun 14, 2010
Writing Feedback / What must we do to truly understand ourselves? [4]

Just a couple of quick notes ...

The word "eyes" is plural. They are able to see everything.

Make Sure to capitalize the word "Prejudice" in the book title. In some languages, only the proper nouns and the first word are capitalized, but in English, all of words (with the exception of little ones like "of," "and," and a few others in that vein) are capitalized in a title.

Your teacher will most likely want "literary present" for an essay if this nature. Event though the events in the book were in the past, you will need to use present-tense verbs. Instead of: "Jan Austin characterized Elizabeth as a country girl ...," you will want "Jan Austin characterizes Elizabeth as a country girl ..."
Jun 1, 2010
Undergraduate / "a love for science" - Statement of Purpose [6]

Let me give you a couple of quick pointers before I retire for the night ...

Through my life I had always had a love for science.

Use "throughout" instead of "through" here. "Throughout" denotes time while "through" is more associated with space/location.

I have always been particularly interested in the science of life, biology.

Try to punch up the verbs whenever you can with the active voice instead of the passive (any form of "to be"). Using the active voice also takes the words count down and allows you to put in more "meat" and less "cotton candy." The "biology" tacked onto the end of this sentence is awkward. Try something like this instead: The science of life, biology, particularly interests me.

I have been interested in everything from the smallest organism to complex creatures such as elephants to bizarre plants.

You used the word "interests" in the previous sentence. You can repeat words, but I feel like it is best to mix it up some. This sentence is another example of how you could take things into the active voice: Everything from the smallest organism to complex creatures such as elephants to bizarre plants captivates me.

Everything about life in general was fascinating.

Was? It isn't any more? The verb tenses are jumping around a bit in your piece. Try to smooth out the past/present/future/past/future/past/present issues as much as possible.

That's all I can do tonight! I start school in the morning.
May 17, 2010
Grammar, Usage / How do I show that someone is speaking the quotation I have in my essay? [4]

I'd have to see it in the larger context. Generally, you will introduce a quote or clarify it in some manner instead of using the quote as a sentence on its own; it would be appropriate to mention the speaker at that time. Something like: Bobby's frustration with his situation becomes evident when he says, "I was getting quite cold. I couldn't do anything about it but it was driving me crazy! I had to do something about it" (Smith 11).

Put the period on the outside of the parenthetical citation (it is awkward, I know!).

The brackets are used when you change or omit something from the original text or if you want to show that an error was in the original and not your error (in that case, you include the error and then [sic]).
May 17, 2010
Grammar, Usage / sentence structure....is the following sentence grammatically correct? [9]

"Published," in this case, is a verb that is being used as an adjective.

"What types of works have you published?" sounds like the person is the publisher instead of the writer. Writers can self-publish with vanity presses, but generally another entity is doing the publishing. Here's an example of a sentence where "published" is used as an adjective: Please include samples of your published work with your application.
May 17, 2010
Speeches / Speech about courage, honor, leadership, patriotism, scholarship, and service [3]

Well ... the American Legion is a veterans' organization focused on community service, advocating for veterans, and basically building a better America (or an idealized version). How do you see the attributes that you have listed fitting into the mission of the American Legion? How does the Legion support those ideals? What does it mean to be a patriot? How does honor, courage, scholarship, and leadership play into the concept of service? Service to who .. country? Fellow countrymen? What debt of gratitude do we owe to those who have fought for our country? What debt do we owe to our country and our fellow man?

I know that I am not giving you an opening for a speech, but I hope that I am sparking some ideas. When you write, think about who the speech is for and gear your words toward that audience. A speech for the American Legion would look very different from one for the Sierra Club.
May 10, 2010
Poetry / Chaos Into Fourteen Lines + Catch - Compareing and Contrasting two Poems [3]

Well ... what do you think that the two poems have in common? What are the differences? You could start off by talking about the obvious similarities (both are about writing poetry) and then delve into the not-so-obvious (cadence, imagery) and then talk about the differences in the same way (obvious--tone, not-so obvious-- literary devices).

When setting up a compare/contrast essay, there are a couple of ways to approach it. You could do a point-by-point compare and contrast or you could talk about one poem and then the other. It could look like one of the following:

I. Introduction and thesis
II. Discussion of Poem #1
III. Discussion of Poem #2
IV. Comparing both Poems
V. Contrasting both Poems
VI. Conclusion

I. Introduction and Thesis
II. Comparing and Contrasting one Aspect of the Poems (subject matter, for example)
III. Comparing and Contrasting another Aspect of the Poems (tone, perhaps)
IV. Comparing and Contrasting yet another Aspect of the Poems (the amount the poet obscures)
V. Comparing and Contrasting (maybe) one more Aspect (the use of language and literary devices, maybe)
VI. Conclusion
Apr 29, 2010
Faq, Help / Is it safe to post my essay here? Or should I be worried about Plagiarism? [175]

It sounds like you are asking for a website where you can purchase or copy papers, put your name to them, and then turn them in without your professor knowing that you copied them from the Interent. We don't do that here.

If you are asking how you can tell whether or not a paper has been plaigiarized, there are several websites that offer plagiarizism detection. I like to use dustball.com because it doesn't require registration and is free. You can just Google some of the key phrases as well.
Apr 28, 2010
Poetry / How is my analysis of The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost?? [6]

There are some grammar issues that need to be cleaned up. You have some words that don't quite fit as well (faced, repent. I only looked at the first paragraph, but there is a misspelling there "traveller"should be "traveler." I don't know how your teacher feels about the use of the first person (I, my, we, our), but my teacher flips out over it.

Look at your first paragraph ... there are three different verb tenses. Put everything into the "literary present." I've highlighted the verbs tenses in this passage. You have present, past, and then future.

Sometime in our lives we are faced to make momentous decisions. We either made a propitious selection or repent about our decisions and how our lives could have ended up if we had chosen a different path. "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost is a poem about how one traveller will choose a road that will change his whole life. The decisions we make in life should be chosen carefully because there is no going back.
Apr 27, 2010
Essays / Persuasive essay about the benefits of texting [6]

Well ... what do you have so far? Do you have a basic outline? If we know what you have, we might be able to able you brainstorm more or expand on the thoughts that you have now.
Apr 25, 2010
Research Papers / Djibouti research paper...foreign policy BRIEF HISTORY, DEMOGRAPHICS, POLICY FROM U.S., etc. [3]

Gaining its' independence in 1977, the Republic of Djibouti is a small sized country surrounded by limited resources and in hostile region.

Take out the apostrophe from "its." The country isn't really surrounded by limited resources. You'd be better off saying that it has limited resources. Likewise, are you saying that the countries and the governments that surround Djibouti are hostile or that the region (the geography and landscape) is hostile? AND ... Djibouti isn't really surrounded because it borders the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. Hostile neighbors? Make your meaning clearer in the second part of this sentence.

Following their independence, Djibouti was left with two primary ethnic groups. (BBC 2010)

Use "its" instead of "their." Djibouti is a singular noun. If you are using MLA style, put the punctuation on the outside of the parentheses.

The Afars and the Issas, whereas the first president was an Issa, he created "an authoritarian one-party state." (BBC 2010)

This isn't making as much sense as it could. The first part is a fragment that doesn't relate to anything else. I might combine the first part of this sentence with the previous sentence for better flow. Following its independence, Djibouti was left with two primary ethnic groups--the Afars and the Issas (BBC 2010). The first president, an Issa, created "an authoritarian one-party state" (BBC 2010).

in addition to many 'off-shoots' that resulted from the resentment.

I am not sure what you mean by off-shoots or why it is in single quotation marks.

Sorry that is all I have time for. I need to hit my own homework before hitting the sack.
Apr 25, 2010
Essays / "Sexual harassment in the workplace" - does this thesis statement make sense? [4]

Okay, I think I see what you are saying.

I made a mistake in my typing ... it should be adverse effects (plural). Speaking of agreement, I think it is best if you talk about multiple victims in your thesis and their experiences. There were some agreement issues there with numbers.

The new ending still doesn't quite work, but here is another way you could get it to flow:

Despite common belief, sexual harassment in the workplace is more about power and authority than sex; the victims' experiences after attacks prove to be more damaging than the original harassment with negative ramifications from the victims' workplace, in their families and friendships, and even from the legal system leading victims to believe they provoked the attack.
Apr 25, 2010
Essays / "Sexual harassment in the workplace" - does this thesis statement make sense? [4]

It could be clearer. Thesis statements can be difficult because there is so much to say in one sentence. Mixing up the punctuation can help ... try adding semicolons, colons, em-dashes. Let me see if I can break apart the sentence and show you the places that tripped me up:

Despite common belief sexual harassment in the workplace has been about power and authority rather than sex

This is a sentence in and of itself. You could use other punctuation after this to give it more separation. Putting this into the active voice instead of the passive will also help to tighten things up. You need a comma after the word "belief."

but the experience after the attack has proven to be more damaging than the original harassment and has adverse effect in the victims workplace,

This part trips me up because you use "the attack," as if it is a one-time assault instead of a pattern of abuse that many people associate with "harassment." Victim's needs an apostrophe to show that it is possessive.

has adverse effect in the victims workplace, their family and friends,

When you say that it has "adverse effects in the victim's ..." it applies to all of the words in the series. So, in effect, you are saying that it has adverse effects in the victim's family and adverse effects in the victim's friends. It could still work if you said, "friendships" instead of "friends."

and the legal system since victims are somehow led to believe they provoked the attack.

Because it is still in the same list, this is also saying that there are adverse effects in the legal system.

Okay, now let me see if I can rework your sentence and retain your meaning:

Despite common belief, sexual harassment in the workplace is more about power and authority than sex; the victim's experience after the attack proves to be more damaging than the original harassment with adverse effect in the victim's workplace, their family and friendships--even the legal system leads victims to believe they provoked the attack.

Still not perfect, but I hope it gives you some ideas.
Apr 20, 2010
Book Reports / how to write ESSAY on Hamlet for grade 12 english (need help to start the essay) [8]

First, you need to decide whether or not you think Hamlet is a coward and then find supporting evidence from the play. Then you need to decide whether or not you think Horatio is a coward, find the supporting evidence and compare and contrast the two characters.

If I were writing an essay on this topic, I might start something like this:

Shakespeare's Hamlet asserts that "conscience does make cowards of us all" (3:1). Hamlet exhibits cowardly behavior, but it is attributable to the human condition rather an innate cowardliness in the title character.
Apr 20, 2010
Book Reports / "All Quiet on the Western Front" versus propaganda- a short paper on World War I [4]

This is well written! You have a nice grasp of vocabulary and descriptive language. I am going to make a few little suggestions that I feel will strengthen your paper even more ...

Clarify in your introduction that you are contrasting the American depiction of Germans in their propaganda posters because both sides had posters.

a young group of German soldiers

Minor thing here ... I would put "young" in front of "German" instead. They are a young group, but you want to emphasize the youth of the soldiers.

The soldiers depicted in Remarque's novel are young men

The instructions say that the paper should be exclusively in active voice. Man, that is tough and it doesn't always produce smooth sentences! You could change this to the active voice by saying: Remarque depicts the soldiers ...

Despite their lack of age, however, war has quickly robbed them of their mental youth and innocence.

This sentence is a little awkward. Age isn't something I think of people as lacking. They may lack maturity. They may be young. But they don't really lack age. You are also skipping around a bit on your tenses. Try to keep everything in "literary present." You fall into the passive voice here with "war has." I am thinking that the first part of the sentence isn't meshing with the second. I'd probably drop it altogether and say something like this instead: War quickly robs the young soldiers of their youthful thoughts and innocence.

The German propaganda machine also spared no effort in dehumanizing the enemy.

"Spared" isn't working here. Sparing effort is like avoiding effort. You might spare a friend embarrassment by covering up a small fault for him. You could also spare a friend the effort of going to school to pick up missing assignments by bringing the assignments to him. You could change it to something like: The German propaganda machine effectively sought to dehumanize the enemy.

Ironically, the schoolmaster of the young boys writes to them, referring to the boys as "the Iron Youth." According to the narrator, "We are none of us more than twenty years old.

You might want to explain the irony a bit here. I am not sure how to include it, but I feel like there needs to be a more explicit contrast drawn between the then and now and how the boys no longer see themselves as youth. Maybe: The soldiers find it ironic when their schoolmaster extols them as "the Iron Youth" in a letter; war matures the boys. Even though none of the boys is older than twenty, they question their youth: "But young? Youth? That is long ago. We are old folk" (p. 360). Okay, I am not crazy about that construction either, but I trust your ability to rework it just a tad.

Once war ensued in 1914, this formerly benign distaste for foreign opposition became overt and necessary for success as new recruits were needed at the front lines of a never-ending war of attrition.

Awesome sentence. "Were needed" slips into the passive voice. New recruits replaced dead soldiers? New recruits marched to the front lines?

Without such a fervent hatred for the other side, little cause for such violence would exist.

Again, great sentence. Take out "would" and just use "exists."

The Great War of 1914-1918 was traumatic for both the nations of Europe and the people who were involved within it.

That passive voice is so tricky! Instead of "was traumatic," you could write "traumatized." "Who were involved within it" gets wordy and relies on the passive voice. Just say "the people involved."

According to Remarque's "All Quiet on the Western Front," the soldiers of the Great War were young boys whose only crime was to trust an institution that would send them to die for vague ideals such as glory and patriotism.

Again, the passive voice sneaks in. Try something like: In All Quiet on the Western Front, Remarque writes of the soldiers of the Great War as innocent young boys trusting in an institution that sends them to die for vague ideals such as glory and patriotism. That brings up another point ... italicize the title of the book instead of putting it in quotes for your final paper.

At the same time, their side and opposing factions pumped out propaganda to suggest that these young soldiers were not human in any right, but instead savage beasts to be destroyed for the good of the world.

Because it is a literary paper, I think it best to stick to the literary present even here. Try to omit "were" and "to be." Hmmmmm ... Opposing sides pump out propaganda suggesting the inhumanity of the enemy and portraying the opposition as savage beasts in need of destruction for the good of the world.

This propaganda displayed not only the detriments of nationalistic competition, but also served to perpetuate the war by inciting hatred between groups of people that did not naturally exist.

Tense and voice. This propaganda displays not only the detriments of nationalistic competition, but also serves to perpetuate the war by inciting hatred not naturally existing between groups of people . I switched around the last part of the sentence because it is the hate that doesn't exist naturally not the groups of people that don't exist naturally (that would be Brave New World).

The effect was a bitter and prolonged conflict that incited deep mutual hatreds between nations of the world that exist to this day.

Tense and voice. The propaganda effected a bitter and prolonged conflict inciting deep mutual hatred between nations of the world existing to this day.

I just reread what I wrote and realized that a lot of the corrections are still falling into past tense. Check your tenses when you rewrite to ensure things make sense and flow. Best of luck!