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'Bouncing up and down on my tiptoes'; "Strength from weakness", Common App

sfw 4 / 9  
Dec 31, 2010   #1
Please help me edit my common app essay! I would really appreciate it if you could edit grammar, diction, word choice, style, flow, content, structure etc. Also, please tell me any way to make it catchier or more interesting, especially the beginning, like suggestions for how I can pull the reader in. Please tear it apart! I really appreciate it. I'll also help edit yours. I chose the last option, topic of my choice.

Bouncing up and down on my tiptoes, I tried to peer into the pot, but alas, I was too short. My brother shooed me aside and strode off to enjoy his meal, while the delicious aroma of shrimp-flavored broth mixed with MSG wafted through the air. My eyes trailed after him, set on the glistening noodles that were steaming with warmth. Stomach growling, I padded down the hallway after him, but was met with a rude bang as the door slammed shut. Miffed, I scurried back to the kitchen, determined to consume this carbohydrate-packed, devoid of nutritional value, fried delicacy. Having observed this noodle-making ritual many times, I decided I would attempt to recreate the process. Antiquated and wobbly pot? Check. Packet of Shrimp Flavored Nissin Top Ramen? Check. Wooden chopsticks? Check. Now, for the solvent. I looked up to the sink, unsettled by its height. I could barely see above the countertop, never mind reach the shiny faucet handle. Using a stool as leverage, I scrambled on top of the counter, all limbs and determination ("like a monkey", my mother would say, shaking her head), successfully reaching the sink. When my parents arrived home, they found me happily slurping away.

Fade in, six years later. Pan horizontally across dozens of heads to a figure looking too small for her desk. I'm sitting in a classroom, one hand supporting my head, the other rhythmically drumming the surface of my crisp, college-ruled notebook. All around, there was an atmosphere of restlessness. The door creaked open. Instantly, the buzz of the class faded into stolen whispers. All eyes were on our Calculus I professor as she strode to her desk, placing her briefcase on the table and retrieving from its depths the results of the test we took last Tuesday. I could already see it before it was placed within my hands, my faded attempts to derive and integrate marked with the color of failure. Telling myself I would just try harder and study more next time, I folded it and shoved it to the bottom of my bag.

Later that night, I found myself sitting at the kitchen table, head lowered and tears dripping onto my lap. The crumpled test was sprawled on the table in front of me, evidence of my disgrace. My parents looked at me and back at each other with expressions of disappointment and worry.

"Why didn't you ask for help?" they pleaded.
"If you were having trouble, you should have come to us or your teacher, sweetheart," my mother scolded. I looked away, ashamed.
"I didn't want to bother you," I finally admitted.
"Oh honey, it is not a bother at all. Asking questions is nothing to be ashamed of. It's part of the learning process, and that is what we are here for," said Father gently, "so make sure you come to us or your teacher next time, okay?" I nodded, and as they enveloped me in their arms, I burst into fresh tears of relief.

Growing up, I was used to doing things on my own, as my parents worked long hours and my brother was "too cool" to associate with his younger sister. From making food to riding a bike without training wheels, I learned to be self-reliant. Don't get me wrong, my parents were neither neglecting nor inattentive; they were simply busy with providing for me and my brother. Understanding this, I didn't feel the need to run to them every time I was met by trouble. It became a trait that they boasted about to their friends because to them, I was such a good child, never making a fuss. If I wanted something, I would find ways to attain it on my own. However, because of this, I came to believe that asking for or needing help was a sign of weakness. My years of independence and tough-love attitude made it difficult for me to admit my need for guidance, but now, I don't think it is a weakness anymore, for humans are not perfect. If we knew everything, we would have no need to go to school, read, explore, or discover. We make mistakes, and that is the best scenario possible because of how much we can learn from our failures. Now, you'll see me with my hand raised, ready to pose many questions, ready to inquire, collaborate with others, and most importantly, exchange ideas.
meegggan 3 / 7  
Jan 1, 2011   #2
Miffed, I scurried back to the kitchen, determined to consume this carbohydrate-packed, devoid of nutritional value, fried delicacy.
I think the part where you say "devoid of nutritional value" sounds a bit awkward, maybe you can replace it with something else...

I think this was a well-written essay and I like the approach you took with the past story and then a more recent one and most importantly, what you learned.

The last sentence where you said "most importantly, exchange ideas" kind of threw me off because I didn't really feel like that was what you were really trying to accomplish during the whole essay so maybe you want to put something more related as "most important"?

Otherwise, nice job, and good luck!
perplexity215 3 / 17  
Jan 1, 2011   #3
These are my suggestions

devoid of nutritional value

nutrition deviod

for humans are not perfect

for no human is perfect

I agree with meegggan on the "most importantly." My suggestion is to get rid of it.
Also, I am a little confused on the time period of your life when you had the noodle and calculus test incidents. Maybe add "Fade in, six years later to 10 grade [or whatever grade it was]."

I honestly couldnt find anything wrong. I think this is a great essay! I think you did a great job with the details.

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