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The 'King Kongs' - Caltech - Honor Code Essay

starlinks 2 / 7  
Oct 26, 2014   #1
I had some trouble with this essay because I wanted to stay away from the trite 'I don't want to cheat on homework/tests' type of thing. However, I'm not quite sure if either of my essays really answer the prompt well. Please tell me which essay I wrote is better for the prompt, and how to edit it to make it better. Note that my second essay is about 80 words over the limit; if you can help me cut some redundant content out, that would be great!

Thank you so much for your help--I'll be sure to return the favor if you ask for it. :)

Members of the Caltech community live, learn, and work within an Honor System with one simple guideline; 'No member shall take unfair advantage of any other member of the Caltech community.' While seemingly simple, questions of ethics, honesty and integrity are sometimes puzzling. Share a difficult situation that has challenged you. What was your response, and how did you arrive at a solution? (200 word max)

1. The 'King Kongs', as my friends and I called them, were really just a couple of rude teenagers in my old apartment complex. They would situate themselves in the gated playgrounds (this area designed for ages 5-12...) everyday until the matron of the complex came and lock the gates at nine.

They were terrifying. If we dared to approach, KKs would laugh at how stupid we were for invading their territory and kick us away in the most literal sense. If we tried to sneak back timidly, they would "tell our parents that we were being difficult." This may seem petty, but the playground meant the whole world to us; there was no where else to play in Hong Kong.

I was eleven when I couldn't take it anymore; sure, we ought to respect people with more experience than we have, but it was tyranny. I rallied up every kid around the block and marched up to them, everyone else fanning behind me as I demanded our playground back. They threatened to lock us in the gates, but we stood. We finally brought attention to the administration of the entire complex, the parents, and the onlookers. Their rights to the playground was revoked by the security. We, the children, won our playground back.

Also, I just wrote up another one just now based on what happen today. I don't know if this idea is better. I'm having so much trouble with this prompt.

"Hey, Rainbow, can I take a look at your Physics homework?" Ryan asked during lunch time.
I was halfway to my backpack when I suspected that he didn't have it done yet. It is a custom for Physics AP students to check the answers with each other since only completion grades are taken. Mrs. Calandro trusts us to have the questions completed correctly.

vangiespen - / 4,137 1449  
Oct 26, 2014   #2
Lean, I strongly advice that you use the first essay about the playground bullies. It more than answers the prompt because it depicts your strength of character and logical line of thinking. I would try to relate it in a more concise manner though so that you can still tell us about the end result of your actions on the bullies. What kind of reprimand did they get? That is a part of the essay that needs to be addressed. You can do that by shortening the story about how they acted in the playground. Right now, the essay is over the 200 word limit but I am refraining from editing it because of my advised revision. Should you choose to revise the essay, you need not worry about going over the word count, I will help you bring it down when necessary :-)
OP starlinks 2 / 7  
Oct 28, 2014   #3
Thank you so much for the input! I do need all the help I can get. I've revised it, as you can see above... :)
vangiespen - / 4,137 1449  
Oct 28, 2014   #4
Laan, are you asking for advice as to which of the two stories you just presented you should finally develop into the essay prompt? Answer? If that is so, I suggest that you go with the second story dealing with Ryan and homework cheating. That is directly in line with the honor and integrity system of the university you are applying to. By standing your ground and not lending him your homework for copying, you will be able to accurately and completely answer the prompt provided. Having read some of the essay already, I know that you can further develop that story for the prompt provided. You just need to concentrate on the honor and integrity aspect of your explanation in relation to the schoolwork. Remember to detail the consequences for Ryan if he is caught and the eventual outcome of what happened. That should be the closing statement of your essay.
OP starlinks 2 / 7  
Oct 28, 2014   #5
True, but I feel like the second story is very trite. Most applicants probably submit a similar essay, and I do want to stand out with an unique one.

The question part of the prompt only asks for a challenge and how I overcome it, though the preface relies heavily upon the "Honor Code". My school is actually very proud of its firm standing on integrity, so I don't really get challenged a lot in this aspect. What happened with Ryan today was definitely a rarity. (Anyhow, I do have 197 words--any suggestions on cutting down the word count?)
vangiespen - / 4,137 1449  
Oct 28, 2014   #6
You make a good point Laan. However, something that happened when you were eleven years old does not really make an impact upon people now. The reason that I advice you to stick to the honor code discussion is because, though it is commonly answered, your answer becomes unique because you have just recently experienced it and it was with a student leader of the campus. Which makes it quite unique in a way. However, if you really want to go with the first story, then that is your decision and I will support it. Let me see how i can help you bring the word count down for that essay a bit further :-)

My version came in at 192 words:

I was eleven when I reached my saturation point with the "King Kongs", as my friends and I called them. They were the bullies of the playground that was meant for children aged 5-12. They lorded it over the area each day until the lady in charge locked the gates at 9. In Hong Kong, a place where land area is very scarce, the playground was a place where the children could freely play, but the KK's were preventing that.

I decided to rally every kind on the block and stand up to them. I stood as the fearless leader, demanding that they give back our playground. Their tyranny had to come to an end and I would make sure of it. While I did not succeed on the playground that day, I managed to get the attention of the parents and complex administration, who did the right thing by having those bullies removed from the playground permanently. I had helped win our playground back and showed the King Kong's that not everyone would allow them to take unfair advantage of us just because we were younger and viewed as less powerful.
OP starlinks 2 / 7  
Oct 28, 2014   #7
I see where you are coming from--thank you for the advice! I agree that something happened when I was eleven probably should not be featured in a college essay. I will work on my story about Ryan, and then post it here so you can help me edit it a bit. I apologize for the inconvenience (and wasted efforts with the playground bullies essay :/). I'll polish it a bit and post it here tomorrow.
OP starlinks 2 / 7  
Oct 30, 2014   #8
"Hey, Rainbow, can I see your Physics homework?" Ryan asked today.
I was halfway to my backpack when I suspected that he didn't have it done yet. While allowing us to consult our classmates, Mrs. Calandro trusts our Physics AP class to have the questions completed by ourselves.

"Um, I have the book with me." I offered, thinking that if he didn't do it yet, he might still be able to finish the homework during lunch.

"I don't need the book. Just give me your homework." He said impatiently.
Ryan is my StuCo Vice President. He is a hardworking student and I trust him--we are good friends and work closely with each other in Student Council. However, as integrity is highly valued in my school, I was shocked that he made the suggestion. I was tempted to say 'yes', and see his gratification. It was just a small favor, after all.

"No." I refused. "I--I'm sorry, but you have to understand. Ryan, copying homework is a small thing; but cheating and taking advantage of others will cost you a lot more. Being a morally sound person beats academic success anyday." I said, and then offered to explain any concepts to him should he need it.

Edited! Please tell me if I should change anything else!
vangiespen - / 4,137 1449  
Oct 31, 2014   #9
Laan, this is very good. However, I believe that you should offer an explanation about your own school's honor and integrity system aside from your teacher's expectations. That will offer more support and provide a stronger reason for your refusal to help Ryan in the way that he wanted. Remember, the essay itself makes mention of the importance of honor and integrity to their own Caltech student honor code. By showing the admissions officer that you come from a school that has a similar background, you will be able to let the reader know that you share some commonalities with their university which will benefit you as an incoming student.
OP starlinks 2 / 7  
Dec 30, 2014   #10
Hi Louisa, I haven't quite figured out how to PM on EssayForum yet but I just want to thank you for all your help with this. The advice you gave me were extremely helpful--also, I did get in Caltech EA! :)

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