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"the banana peel" - Common App: Significant Experience

nysock 2 / 3  
Oct 25, 2009   #1
Here Is My Essay. This is my first time writing a college essay and would love any feedback I can get back. Thank You!

Blacking out, bleeding and naked, in the middle of the desert was the least of my worries. The sun was beginning to set, and the only thing fighting off the overpowering feeling of helplessness was the incoming surge of adrenaline through my veins. If I didn't finish my shelter while there was still light, I knew I would have to spend the next ten hours shivering to stay alive. As I rushed to gather the pine needles for my bed, a cold wind surged and nipped at the back of my damp, crimson matted hair. A smile spread across my face, this is exactly how summer should be spent.

I enrolled in the Boulder Outdoor Survival School to see how I would react mentally when pushed beyond my limits. I think that the true measure of a person is best seen when they are outside of their comfort zone, and those with genuine strength of character are able to persevere. Back home I had a warm bed and a climate controlled room waiting for me, but I knew if I stayed there I would only be cheating myself. I had never truly broken down before, and I felt that if I didn't strip my walls down, I would never be able to rebuild them, stronger than before.

One week before I blacked out, I sat in the corner of camp and watched as the other students readied themselves for bed as the second day of the trip concluded. The only thought going through my mind was how I can leave this trip and get back home as quickly as possible. Holding back tears, I gagged myself trying to throw up, hoping the guides would end my misery and send me home. It was only the second day of the trip and I felt as though I had already been defeated. It was at this moment that I realized why I had come on this trip. I had successfully been broken, but would I have the strength to build myself back up? I looked around for a sign, a signal that I was going to make it through this trip, and the next day, I found it in a banana.

For the first 72 hours of our trip, we were not allowed to eat any food, except for the grasses and berries we passed by on our daylong hikes. On the end of our third day, our guides surprised us with a bunch of bananas. Henry Thoreau discusses the experience of starving in his book Walden and he quotes Thseng-tseu saying, "one looks, and one does not see; one listens, and one does not hear; one eats, and one does not know the savor of food" (218). As I held the banana in my hand, I felt like weeping, never before had I been so happy to see food in my life. The banana symbolized the beginning of my rebuilding, and I knew that I could take on the rest of the course.

While my friends back home slept with roofs above their heads, I marched through fields guided by moonlight, constantly pushing towards my final destination. With every new hole I carved into my belt, I knew that although my stature was shrinking, my character was stronger than ever. I had jumped off 20-foot cliffs and combated hypothermia with others' body heat, but never before had I succeeded alone. No matter how far I fall, or how daunting the challenge, I will persevere, and I have the banana peel to prove it.

ebby2010 10 / 51  
Oct 25, 2009   #2
this is a really well-written essay. however, i think you should expand more on a few things:

1. more details of the camp. where was it located? why did you initially decide to attend the camp?

2. what did the quote (4th paragraph) mean to you?

3. the banana: you said: "never before had I been so happy to see food in my life." wasn't the banana there the whole time? why did it suddenly become so special now?

^ you should be more clear in what you're trying to say so as not to confuse the reader.

other than that, great essay! =)
angie127 12 / 49  
Oct 25, 2009   #3
Your choice for the topic is good, but I'm sure you could develop it a little more.

One week before I blacked out,

This detail seems random. you could either expand on this or eliminate it and begin the paragraph something like "as the second day of the trip concluded..."

The quote you used seems out of place. I like the reference to it though. You could say that that quote came to mind as you held the banana in your hand and say what connections you made with the quote. do you see a deeper meaning in it now? Expanding on the quote will help the reader understand more why eating the banana made you realize you could persevere.

hope that helps.
OP nysock 2 / 3  
Oct 25, 2009   #4
Thanks for the feedback!
@ebby, I will try and clarify things a little more and add more details about the camp.
@angie, I really liked your idea of integrating the quote more.

thanks again :)
lrayan6 2 / 6  
Oct 25, 2009   #5
i think that if you take the advice given to you this essay would be even better. I thought it was very interesting and you had my undivided attention from beginning to end. Your a good writer good luck!

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