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College essay on how my grandmother influenced me and my vacation to Italy, critique?


twizzler213 1 / -  
Oct 9, 2010   #1
This is my essay for the Common Application, and I think this essay could either fit under the categories:

- Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.
- Indicate a person who has had a significant influence on you, and describe that influence.
- Topic of your choice

It would be a tremendous help for someone to edit and critique my essay and tell me what they think of it.

Picture this: in a nine-person rental car, you and your family (aunt, uncle, and cousins included) are driving around the snowy mountains of Italy, in search of a small, ancient town with a castle. It is 2009. But as I think back, this trip really started on November 4th, 2002, the day my grandmother passed away. She had always been the matriarch of the family and the keeper of stories. Yet due to her fear of flying, she never traveled to the place she constantly spoke of. It wasn't until seven years later that I stood on the steps of the church where my great-great grandfather was baptized. This is how it all began.

For as long as I can remember, my grandmother had been ill. Despite her sickness, she always made an effort to spend time with me every Sunday. As a young child, I strongly admired her strength and passion for family. Through the countless stories she told, she was able to instill a love of history and culture in my naïve mind. Shortly before my grandmother died, she put together a story about our ancestry, which led us back five generations to a small, one thousand-resident town in Italy, called Pescolanciano. I had always sensed her sadness in never having made the trip to our family's birthplace, and I knew that she wanted me to fulfill that dream for her.

Last February, my family and I made the trip to Italy in honor of my grandmother. For the first time in my life, history became something real, as if it jumped out of the pages of a textbook. Here I was, surrounded by art, architecture, and people I had a connection with. Within two minutes of our arrival in Pescolanciano, we spotted the maiden name of my grandmother, Martella, on a shop sign. Whether the Martella's we met were relatives of ours or not, they welcomed us with open arms and were excited by our visit. I left the little town that day with a copy of my great-great grandfather's birth record from 1874, and a new-found passion for studying history. I knew in my heart that this was everything my grandmother would have wished for me, yet I was saddened that I would not be able to tell her myself that we had made it to the epicenter of our origin.

Eight years later, I can still recall the enthusiasm my grandmother put in her stories, and how she made history and culture exciting for a nine year old. One day I hope to influence a child in the same way my grandmother influenced me, whether it's my own child, or a student of mine. My love of history began on my grandmother's knee, and I know it will take me many places throughout my life.
salbazili 4 / 14  
Oct 9, 2010   #2
Well, i think it's an interesting story.. but im not sure about the way you began the whole thing... i think you should change it because at first you were writing to a second person YOU: "Picture this: in a nine-person rental car, you and your family..." and then suddenly, without a good transition, you are writing about yourself "I": "But as I think back, this trip really started on November 4th, 2002, the day my grandmother passed away." and it's not picturing any more...

Do you get what I mean? it sounds a bit awkward.

Here's another one: "history became something real" Well, as far as I know, history is SO real.. so try to say something like: I lived my grandmother's stories" OR I am sure you can come up with something better..

And I think you should write more details about the time in Italy because it I find it weird you talked much about your grandma's dream, but a little about achieving it.

Anyways, it's amazing you've been to Italy.

GOOD LUCK :)
ekim226 5 / 29  
Oct 9, 2010   #3
You are a great writer and I love the structure and conciseness of your essay! It's great! My main advice is to add more about your goals and your dreams. There's a lot of details about the story and I really enjoyed that, but we need to know more about how you will be a great influence and student. What will make colleges beg for you? :)

Great essay! Best of luck!

And if you have time, I'd love to hear your feedback for my Common App essay as well. :]


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