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The National Merit Scholarship Essay - UF Essay Help

Oct 12, 2008   #1
I am currently working on my University of Florida application, and the only thing now standing in my way is the essay. The topic is as follows:

Describe a meaningful event, experience or accomplishment in your life and how it will affect your college experience or your contribution to the UF campus community. You may want to reflect on your family, your school or community activities, or your involvement in areas outside of school.

So far, I have written only one essay, the National Merit Scholarship Essay. The essay basically said (I don't have exact topic as I already sent in my packet) to write about your interests, achievements, or background. My essay, shown below, mostly stuck to the "interests" aspect. I am now completely stuck on my UF essay (I have no clue what to write), and I need it done fairly soon, so I was wondering if anyone has any advice. I am thinking about modifying the National Merit Essay (which I am also considering doing for my Common Application essays, as I can choose an "Any Topic" option.

Basically, what I am asking, is if anyone can critique the essay I already wrote, and if anyone would help me out with modifying it for the UF topic or simply coming up with new ideas.

National Merit Essay:
Since the very beginning of human life we have felt a primordial urge to explore everything and anything possible, from new lands and exotic locations, all the way to the cosmos. This desire for discovery and thirst for knowledge is our very essence, part of what it means to be human.

For me, it is no different. As far back as I can remember I have felt this instinctual tug, and I constantly seek that knowledge that can satiate my thirst for understanding. This natural beckoning has led me to the one source of discovery left on this Earth, a true Final Frontier still in our own backyard, the ocean.

My interest in marine biology began as a young child, and it has only blossomed since. Living in Florida, I have been well exposed to the coastal ocean. Some of my fondest memories are walking down the beaches of Sanibel Island on my annual family vacation on what we called our "Adventure Walk".

While memories like these provided a foundation for my curiosity, it was through books that my passion for marine science really blossomed, as I learned of the mysteries of the deep ocean. It has always struck me as odd that more funds have been devoted to space exploration than to the discoveries we have yet to have made in our own home.

According to H.B. Stewart, "Only the ocean remains as the last great unexplored portion of our globe; so it is to the sea that man must turn to meet the last great challenge of exploration this side of outer space." This statement perfectly embodies my own fervor for marine biology. Because we have explored so little of our oceans (an estimated 2% by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), there remains a veritable goldmine of new discoveries.

Academically, my interests have always lied in the sciences, especially in courses like biology and marine science. My insatiable thirst for knowledge has led me to work hard in school. It is for this reason that I have always taken the most challenging courses available to me, and my grades have only been a fortunate byproduct of this drive for knowledge.

I will attend a university with a strong biological research department so that I may further my knowledge of biology in general, and eventually become a research scientist so that I may one day devote my efforts to studying deep sea biology. Undoubtedly, my goal in life is to discover new life the likes of which nobody could have imagined, and to make a tangible contribution to science's never-ending goal of understanding the world around us. There are, undoubtedly, thousands of discoveries yet to be made, and it is my personal belief that one only has to set his goals high and strive for success to begin to unravel the mysteries of the deep.

Oct 12, 2008   #2
I should probably clear up my actual question, since the original post looks pretty jumbled.

I am basically hoping for a critique of the National Merit essay (which I will probably use for my Common Application Essay), as well as any recommendations on how to modify it to fit the University of Florida prompt, or perhaps any tips on picking a new topic for my essay (possibly one specific feature from my other essay, or just tell me that I should just find a completely new topic).

Thanks in advance for any help at all (at this point, I'll take any advice).
Good evening.

You've got a good piece here, but I have a couple of concerns.

First, is mechanics. You've got a good underlying story here, but I'm afraid that the mechanical and grammatical errors will obstruct it. Mainly rules of capitalization; make sure you are capitalizing proper nouns and the beginnings of sentences only, and not capitalizing words that are not either. To help with this, I suggest one of the books from the "Prentice Hall Guide for College Writers" series written by Stephen Reid. You can pick any of them up cheap used, or get them from the library. Secondly, mechanically, make sure your punctuation is always inside of your quotation marks.

In regards to content, I'm not sure as it is, if this paper will work for the prompt. You explain your interests, but not a meaningful event, experience or accomplishment in your life or how it will affect your college experience or your contribution to the UF campus community. I suggest removing some of the detail from the paper as it is and filling it with answers to the prompt.

Moderator, EssayForum.com
Oct 12, 2008   #4
Thank you very much for your input Gloria, I'm working on those mechanical errors right now.
However, I now have two more questions.

The first has to do with a specific line of my essay- "Academically, my interests have always lied in the sciences." I was wondering which verb i should use where it says "lied", as I am fairly certain that this is an incorrect usage of the word when I look back at it. I have been looking at "laid", "lay", and "lain", but I just don't know which is correct.

My second question involves the UF essay topic. I was wondering if it would be acceptable to write about several similar experiences (possibly trips to certain museums and certain family vacations) that together led to my interest in biology. I ask this because I cannot pinpoint one specific experience that has had this impact, and I don't believe that I could write an essay using only one of these experiences without either running out of things to say or straying from the topic.

I appreciate any further advice anybody can give me.
You're welcome.

In regards to the first question, you could use either "lied" or "lain"; I would probably use "lain" in this situation.

In regards to the second question, I think that if you kept each instance very brief, kept it within the word count requirements, and tied them all concisely together so that they created an obvious and logical chain, that would be fine.

Moderator, EssayForum.com
Oct 12, 2008   #6
Thanks very much for your input once again, I think I have everything I need to start this essay now (its a good thing too, I've been trying to write this essay for weeks, but I always put it off because I didn't know where to start).
Oct 14, 2008   #7
Congratulations on National Merit.

Oddly enough, I just applied to National Merit and I'm writing my UF letter right now. Good luck.

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