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"Looking Back" - Common App Essay---Evaluate a significant experience


soxfan 2 / 5  
Oct 28, 2009   #1
I was hoping for some feedback and any suggestions on this essay.

Prompt: Evaluate a significant experience in your life and how it has affected you.

If you don't believe the essay relates well enough to the topic above say so and it can be put under the Topic of your Choice prompt.

Looking Back

As a kid I remember answering the question that seems so monumental today as I approach college, but was so easy before: "What do you want to be when you grow up?" I heard it a million times as I grew up, everywhere from preschool to fifth grade, on the swings, in a class, in the gym; everyone always wanted to know what I wanted to be. My answer changed with the seasons− I went from wanting to be a doctor, to a policeman, to a fire fighter, but the common denominator was that I always wanted to help someone. I shuffled randomly through professions− that is, until my brother got sick.

When I was in first grade, my brother was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a type of brain cancer, and began his years of recovery, which included brutal chemotherapy, radiation treatments and brain surgery. During those years I spent in and out of the hospital, I noticed the effects the oncology ward had not only on my family, but all the families there. What I saw and experienced there would repulse just about anyone. Make them fear the hospital. Make them wish that they would never have to see the inside of one again. I felt exactly that way for years; I learned to hate those sterile rooms and detest the deathly quiet of those hallways. I hated the way that place turned my life upside down. I despised everything about the hospital. I hated spending birthdays there instead of at home; I hated never having sleepovers, because everyone was at the hospital; I hated that my parents took my brother to the hospital, but not me to my soccer games. The hospital was the source of my misery during those dark years, but once my brother was cured I escaped that place for years, though eventually my neighbor fell seriously ill and I was forced to return.

My neighbor was hospitalized after her liver function drastically decreased and she was told she would require a transplant. When she underwent her transplant, I decided to brave those dark white halls again to see her and hopefully comfort her. This visit brought memories crashing back, but the entire visit was from a totally different perspective. I was older, I was wiser, and I saw things in a whole new light. Before, I had only seen disease rip apart my family: now I saw it striking all those around me as well. It was at this point that I realized how disease affects everyone. No one escapes.

* * *

When I finally decided what I wanted be, I remembered those troubled halls and the pale faces staring out at me from each and every room as I walked through the hospital. I dwelled on the hardships my family and my neighbor's family faced in those terrible years of sickness, but what I kept coming back to was how cancer specifically ripped apart even the strongest patients and their families. I remembered the emaciated bodies and the translucent skin of every kid in the oncology ward. I remembered the suffering I saw. I always went back to those kids, and I couldn't imagine doing anything but helping them. That night I finally knew what to do with my life, and it didn't matter how hard it would be to go back to the hospital: I'm going to be an oncologist.

Thanks in Advance

Klaw30 3 / 9  
Oct 28, 2009   #2
"My answer changed with the months"

I think you should change months to seasons

"Make them wish that they'd never have to see the inside of one again." - they would instead of they'd

Also i think you should emphasize the part where you had to return to the hospital for your neighbor

Overall i think you were really descriptive and i liked the ending sentence.
sb1092 2 / 2  
Oct 28, 2009   #3
Oncologist should not be capitalized in the last sentence.

Second paragraph:
"When I was in first grade..."

Other than that, it's really good and deep!
srandhawa 10 / 157  
Oct 28, 2009   #4
first off thanks alot soxfan for responding to my post, i edited my essay and there is another essay on another topic i posted and if you get a chance it would be great if you looked at it and provided some feedback. anyway, this is a good essay, no doubt about it, but the main problem is it takes to long to get into the story. Your idea is that you were changed as you matured and came back to the same hospital you went to before, but you took too long to develop that point. Too much talk about what you were like before, i dont think you lose focus, but i think you would be better off if you went into the main point of your essay sooner. I like the concluding paragraph alot, it makes what was an ok essay into a very good one, i think if you just try to get to your point a little quicker so your focus isnt lost to the reader, you'll be set.
OP soxfan 2 / 5  
Oct 28, 2009   #5
Thanks for all the advice, i'll keep it all in mind when i revise the essay.


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