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Boarding School Applicant Essay - The Life And Death Of My Father


pillowface 1 / -  
Dec 30, 2011   #1
Must be submitted by January 1st. Any critique is appreciated. Also, let me know if you think the first paragraph is too sad/heavy...wanted to write something that would set my essay apart from others.

Thanks for reading!

Prompt: Write a clear and concise essay on a topic such as telling us about a person you consider important in your life or describing an event you participated in which had great meaning for you. It can also be a free composition on a topic of your choice.

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. I listened to the rhythm of his labored breathing until a shallow inhale was followed by one final exhale. In that moment, time stood still. A sea of thoughts and flooded my adolescent mind as I struggled to stay afloat. I questioned the reality of what just happened; was this all just a terrible dream? A powerful rush of emotion derailed my train of thought, and suddenly all I could do was cry. In between desperate sobs, I managed to utter four last words: "I love you, Daddy."

My father's impact on my life is one that will stay with me throughout my existence. Originating in Australia, he worked hard to become an international business leader in Japan and the United States. His success was fueled by strong leadership skills, a solid work ethic, and determination. A large amount of time was devoted to his career, which allowed him to retire and spend time with his family. He was a wonderful father. He believed in me no matter what and always encouraged me to try my best. Thanks to him, I am inspired to mature into a successful and self-reliant adult.

As a young girl, my love of learning flourished with my dad's influence. 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. From riding a bike without training wheels to writing my first email, he enthusiastically helped me learn anything I wanted to. When I was six years old, I started riding horses. My dad made an effort to be involved and enjoyed watching my lessons. As I progressed and began participating in horse shows, he always showed up to cheer me on. My father's sincere joy in watching me succeed instilled a belief in myself. Being the youngest of his four children, I was definitely spoiled from time to time. I didn't appreciate how fortunate I was until it was gone. Now I cherish every little memory I have of dad: the made-up songs he sang loudly to wake me in the morning, the way he rubbed his face whenever he was stressed, and his laugh that sounded exactly like Ernie from Sesame Street.

On November 14th, 2004, my father lost his life to melanoma. A confusing and difficult time in my life began. I experienced a period of emotional stress that lead to a glorious self-discovery. Following his death, I buried my feelings deeply for a long time. By denying my emotions to myself and others, I unknowingly caused harm to myself physically and mentally. I slowly started to lose touch with the bright little girl I had been. My focus on education drifted, which became obvious as my grades lowered. Upon facing my emotions, I was able to let go of the past and focus on what is truly important to me: my future.

The life and death of my father are strong influences of who I am today. My memories of his life remain a positive example to look up to while his death taught me valuable lessons. I have come to the conclusion that a lesson can be learned from every experience, even if it doesn't immediately seem like it. Witnessing how debilitating cancer can be from experiencing the loss of a loved one has inspired me to pursue a career in the medical field. I aspire to help others while thoroughly learning about something I am interested in: the science of the human body. I know I am making my dad proud by striving to do what is best for me. Even though I am no longer with him physically, he will always remain in my mind, motivating me to reach for the stars and believing in me in all of my pursuits.
Mauru23 3 / 16  
Dec 31, 2011   #2
I personally think the first paragraph is perfect. It helps u get ready to see how much he meant to you.

Some changes I would suggest:
"I didn't appreciate how fortunate I was until it was gone." What was "it"? Or did you mean "he"?

"Now I cherish every little memory I have of D ad" or you can say "my dad"

You've got a really great essay on your hands.
Notoman 20 / 419  
Dec 31, 2011   #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.

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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.


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