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Common App Essay: "Why I Shouldn't Go To College"


pennhopefull 5 / 18  
Oct 30, 2009   #1
Rip this essay apart. I will be happy for your comments. Length: 824 words (last i checked lol)

As Bob Dylan aptly stated: "Colleges are like old-age homes, except for the fact that more people die in colleges". How can spending four years in an institution which will be responsible for my hair loss, sleepless nights and the consumption of detrimental amounts of coffee, be an appealing compensation for seventeen years of hard work? Although it may hardly seem alluring, an unprecedented number of high school seniors annually vie for highly coveted spots at very selective colleges; I am no exception to the rule. I, very much like thousands of other American high school seniors, am hoping to rejoice at the sight of an oversized mail from the University of my choice next spring. However, one night, while filling out a plethora of college applications, writing pages of essays (only later to find them in the garbage) and debating factors varying from financial aid to appealing fast food joints at college campuses, I was struck with a divine realization: How can the claim that a college education is essential for success be justified? Is this expectation, that a college degree is critical and preeminent for accolade and monetary success, a bare-faced lie that has been brainwashed into teenagers? College seems more like a haven for late night study sessions for tomorrow's "Psych 101" test and junk food binges from missed meals, than the ideal place to pursue a degree in higher education.

By the time undergraduate students frantically "explore" their college campus to hand in term papers, finish pending lab projects and work to pay off their tuition loans, they hardly find time to relax and lead a balanced lifestyle. Various surveys support the idea that a college degree adds many thousands of dollars to a man's lifetime income; however, it is disappointing to learn that this money is ultimately used to send his son to a university. In addition to the onerous financial situation attached with a college education, the work given in college seems more taxing. Although students feel a sense of accomplishment in achieving their daily tasks, they don't realize that they are victim to the vicious cycle of college demands. Such an experience with their undergraduate years leads many to question: Is college is indicative of success in life? Understanding the life of a college student makes one feel that students are in a haste to reach their goal and to conclude their college phase, but not to enjoy what has been labeled the "college experience".

As Ursula Leguin has appropriately phrased "It is good to have an end to a journey, but it is the journey that matters in the end." College is like a serpentine voyage. A journey filled with physical stress and mental anguish; however, it is also a journey where autonomy is established, passion discovered and the value of friendship understood. Facing the responsibility of living alone and managing a hectic schedule is overwhelming at first, but, these are the memories that often trigger nostalgia in students. The passing years of college establish one's character, build one's perseverance and aid in the realization of one's life's goal. Even though colleges come across as years of stress and 3 A.M review sessions, they are also very essential for your future. After all, isn't it the ideal place where one finds their future spouse?

Although it may not seem like it, the prodigious amount of work given in college is a tool meant to prepare students, not one meant to kill them. By advocating students to manage challenging tasks and pushing them to excel in multiple activities, colleges aim to instill the persona that determines success in the professional field. Specifically, colleges build determination, instill courage and establish organizational skills; many of the qualities required to succeed in life. In addition, a college stands on its own in many aspects. Isn't this the only place where there is a confluence of brilliant ideas from different cross-sections of society? Personally, I look forward to the days when late night studying is called for; clutching a Starbucks coffee in my left hand with a Computational Fluid Dynamics book in my right, I yearn to experience the frustration of finishing labs, studying for exams and doing my laundry all while holding a job.

In essence, predicaments are to be expected in college; the only way them around is through. The college experience is meant to be a maturation process, not a period through which one flies by. This transformation phase during the college years is vital, almost like a developmental stage in the lifecycle of a human being; missing out on it would not complete a person. Nowadays, a college education is essential to live in this world of unprecedented technological advancements. No one comes to college to achieve something, but, they all leave having acquired the capacity to succeed in anything...while losing a few strands of hair in the process.
srandhawa 10 / 157  
Oct 30, 2009   #2
this is a good essay, the conclusion is especially capitvating and you make good conclusions and provide insights about yourself and how you think. Thats what you want, my biggest advice; shorten this. Common app, while not explicitly stated, should not exceed 500 words on most occurences, and this isn't just me speaking, councelors have told me and this is what Princeston Review says as well. An 824 word essay is really going to turn off ad coms unless it is truely outstanding and you can never tell what htey think and they are very likely to skim secitons of such a long essay as well. Still, if you are turning this essay in by 11-1, I don't know if theres a whole lot you can change, you don't want to lose your voice or focus by cutting out half your essay, just something to think about next time you write one of these essays.
OP pennhopefull 5 / 18  
Oct 30, 2009   #3
thank you for your response...i am EDing to UPenn...i am not sure how much the length of the essay will affect how they view it...? If essays are that important, how can they "skim" through the essay? I thought it would weigh significantly in their admissions process?
OP pennhopefull 5 / 18  
Oct 31, 2009   #4
any other feedback? please!!
ebby2010 10 / 51  
Oct 31, 2009   #5
Is college is indicative of success in life?
^ is this a typo? it doesn't really make sense.

College is like a serpentine voyage. A journey filled with physical stress and mental anguish; however, it is also a journey where autonomy is established, passion discovered and the value of friendship understood.

^ these 2 sentences should be combined or something. the second one isn't a complete sentence.
I suggest this:
College is like a serpentine voyage,a journey filled with physical stress and mental anguish.H owever, it is also a journey where autonomy is established, passion is discovered and the value of friendship is understood. <-- on the last part, i see what you're trying to do, but in order for the parallelism to work, i think the other 2 verbs (discovered and understood) need to have an 'is' in front of them just like the verb 'established' has.

...managing a hectic schedule is overwhelming at first, but, these are ... <-- delete the comma after 'but'

...and aid in the realization of one's life's goal <-- i think it would sound better if you delete 'life's' and make 'goal' plural. just a suggestion, though. if you don't agree, it's still ok.

After all, isn't it the ideal place where one finds theirhis or her future spouse?

Although it may not seem like it, the prodigious amount of work given in college is a tool meant to prepare students, not one meant to kill them. <-- "'meant" doesnt real;y sound good there. maybe use "designed" or something else. just a suggestion.

the only way them around is through. <-- huh??

Overall, i really enjoyed this essay. However, I think you should write more about yourself. This essay is your chance to show the colleges who you are.

As far as the length, i don't think it's too too long. I don't think there's much you can cut out.

great job!

if you can, check out my UChicago supplement. greatly appreciated! =)
OP pennhopefull 5 / 18  
Oct 31, 2009   #6
i cant find your u chicago supplement essay...? could you post a direct link here, it would make it easier lol. and thanks for your critique!! it helped.
ekfoong 10 / 46  
Oct 31, 2009   #7
Hey. Once again thanks for commenting on my essays.

As for yours, I am captivated by the subject matter. The levity of your cynicism distinguishes your essay from the rest - very wise choice...

If I had to give you one piece of advise -- keep it terse.

I'd say comb through once more. Although don't change your writing style. I find that in a couple of instances you reiterate the subject within your sentences. By eliminating that subject repetition you're forced to add structural variety and cut out a few words in the process :)

as for 2010ebby's grammar critiques. I agree with all of them except for...
After all, isn't it the ideal place where one finds theirhis or herone's future spouse? (parallel structure)

--edit--
I also really enjoyed the Bob Dylan throwback :)
chantal2010 - / 1  
Oct 31, 2009   #8
I really enjoyed reading this.
it kind of shows that you have a grasp on what to expect when you do go to college.
Good conclusion too.

Good Luck!
OP pennhopefull 5 / 18  
Oct 31, 2009   #9
thank you!! feed back is appreciated!
ivyeyesediting - / 85  
Nov 1, 2009   #10
Hi there,

I liked your essay and thanks for sharing it! I do have some thoughts for you.

At the heart of an admissions essay, AdCom members want to see a student who has a certain level of 'openness,' earnestness, and general willingness to 'hit the ground running.' The premise of this essay is almost inherently more 'closed.' You haven't been to college, but you know it all. I don't get the vivacity or humor of a 17 year old here.

Additionally, the reader knows where you are going from the start of this essay to the finish--there isn't a significant narrative or sense of mystery (he's debunking the college process but he'll have to somehow praise it in the end). It doesn't allow you to really flex your creative muscle, or share what is so fresh and exciting about a high school senior's perspective.

If you'd like to stick with this topic, I might suggest that you mix it up a bit. Take a different angle. Show the flipside, but make it more interesting--perhaps unusual college experiences or events that no one could possibly anticipate. Show potential for not just intellectual, but creative or personal growth. At this point, I understand where you are going with what college is generally thought to be, but I don't fully believe that you are convinced of its transformative power. This may sound a bit hokey, but, at the end of the day, AdComs are definitely in search of students that are intellectually/experientially open, likeable, and curious.

You tackle a challenging topic here--it breaks the fourth wall, and necessitates that you subtly show your fit/compatibility. Other applicants that choose a topic from left field may actually have a much easier time. I think with some modifications you can take this to the next level, but, I encourage you to keep developing.

Hope this helps!!!!

All the best,
Janson
Ivy Eyes Editing


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