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The Other Children: Columbia University personal statement evaluation?


sozin817 3 / 8  
Nov 16, 2009   #1
Can you please check for grammar and substance? I think I have too many commas!
Prompt: Basically, give us an undertanding of who you are. Write about an experience.

The Other Children

I stared blankly at my reflection in the mirror as my mother adjusted my collar until it portrayed perfect symmetry. She wanted every button, every sleeve, and every thread on my suit to be near perfection, matching the suits of the other children who were attending the dinner party. I nudged every time she placed her hands on my attire to remove the tiniest speck or flaw that marred it. Such was the same for my personality. I was always reminded to never speak out, as all Indian children were told, and to maintain that silence while the adults were speaking. She would always ask me, "Why can't you be like the other children of our family?" You see, she wanted me to replicate the "other Indian children" who were, in a sense, replicas themselves, attempting to please our society. I knew instantly that this so-called social gathering would exemplify the very restrictions of an Indian American adolescent.

As I sat down next to my parents on to one of the extravagantly designed yet extremely uncomfortable chairs at the grand table, I looked around the brightly lit and embellished dining hall, making eye contact with my cousins who smiled back but portrayed signs of apprehension to say anything while the adults were speaking. My grandfather, the head of the family, who was a rather tall and brawn individual with a plethora of knowledge, began to speak of his visit to the Taj Mahal. I watched as he stood up to emphasize the glorious sights, using vigorous hand motions which caused the table to shake. He proclaimed in an erudite manner, "You know, Shah Jahan himself came up with the designs on the Great Gates." I dropped my spoon, for I knew that he was mistaken. I had to stop this injustice and proclaim the name of the real visionary who, at this moment was being stripped of his accomplishments. I proclaimed without hesitation and yet with total respect, "Dada (grandfather), I don't believe that's true. I think the name you're looking for is Abd ul-Haq." The table, which was, moments ago, filled with my grandfather's vivid depictions, went silent, as my relatives focused their pupils on this discrepant teenager. My mother looked at me as if I were some barbaric specimen who had been let out of a cage to wreak havoc. It was not common for my folks to see a "naive child", as they called it, actually refute an elder. This silence prevailed until my grandfather ended this period of equilibrium with a smile and said, "Really, from where did you learn that?" I chuckled as I explained how my world history teacher, who had visited the structure, made us know every minute fact regarding it. He laughed, as did my other relatives, and it seemed that this one-man show had become an event of exchange; an exchange of thoughts, ideas, and laughter.

As my seldom expressive relatives continued their discourse throughout the night, I caught a glimpse of my mother in the corner of my eye and saw her smile at me, apparently amused, and yet I felt that somewhere in that smile was a sense of pride. I think she knew that I could never be like the other children.

pcvrz34g 22 / 117  
Nov 16, 2009   #2
As I sat down next to my parents on to one of the extravagantly designed yet extremely uncomfortable chairs at the grand table,

...sat down next to my parents on one of the... (you don't need the "to". you sit on a chair. not on to a chair.)

my cousins who smiled back but portrayed signs of apprehension to say anything while the adults were speaking.

a bit confusing... why the use of "but." "But" implies that there is a counterpoint. There seems to be no counterpoint here..

name of the real visionary who, at this moment was being stripped of his accomplishments

who, at this moment, was

without hesitation and yet with total respect

you can't use "and" and "yet" together. pick one (:

It was not common for my folks to see a "naive child", as they called it,

is it still a tradition to call kids like you a "naive child"? if so, it should be "they call it".

The table, which was, moments ago, filled with my grandfather's vivid depictions, went silent, as my relatives focused their pupils on this discrepant teenager.

try to clean that up; that's a whole bunch of commas.

every minute fact

am not a fan of the diction "minute"

of exchange; an exchange

that would be better with a : not ;

amused, and yet

again, you can't use "and" and "yet" together.

overall, pretty good. I know nothing about Indian culture but had no difficulty following the story.
I do think you complicate the story by adding so many commas. Although they aren't making your essay worse, they make the essay a bit difficult to read.

I like it (: Goodjob.
Vulpix - / 71  
Nov 16, 2009   #3
"I stared blankly at my reflection in the mirror as my mother adjusted my collar until it portrayed perfect symmetry."
I don't know, it disturbs me a little to think of collars "portray"ing things the way actors or people do. It's rather an odd usage of the word "portray". It would sound more comfortable to say "[...] adjusted my collar until it was perfectly symmetrical."

" I nudged every time she placed her hands on my attire to remove the tiniest speck or flaw that marred it. Such was the same for my personality."

What are you nudging? Your mother? The suit? Nudge has to modify a noun, otherwise your sentence is ambiguous. Or you could change "nudge" to "twitch" or another similar verb.

"I knew instantly that this so-called social gathering would exemplify the very restrictions of an Indian American adolescent."
Check your conjunctions- either "of" should be "on", or this sentence needs to be rephrased entirely.

" I chuckled as I explained how my world history teacher, who had visited the structure, made us know every minute fact regarding it. "

"Made us know" is such an awkward construction. Perhaps change it to "taught us", instead?

Good work. Your story is funny and anecdotal, and yet it has a clear message. I especially like how you manage to address the "culture" issue in a refreshing and original way.
fromagebus 3 / 7  
Dec 8, 2009   #4
I love your story. You write in a conversational tone and use commas where there would be a pause or hesitation in a spoken sentence. I think that it fits the tone of the piece.

I nudged every time she placed her hands on my attire to remove the tiniest speck or flaw that marred it. Such was the same for my personality.

I think that fidgeted fits better. Then you could reaffirm that by saying you were restless.

I fidgeted every time she placed her hands on my jacket to remove the tiniest speck or flaw that marred it. Such was the same for my personality - I was restless.

As I sat down next to my parents on to one of the extravagantly designed yet extremely uncomfortable chairs at the grand table, I looked around the brightly lit and embellished dining hall, making eye contact with my cousins who smiled back but portrayed signs of apprehension to say anything while the adults were speaking.

I think that this sentence should be broken up.

I sat down next to my parents on one of the extravagantly designed, yet extremely uncomfortable chairs at the grand table.
I know that you're worried about commas, but I think you need one before "yet"?

Does anyone else know the rules about "yet"?


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