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Common App Essay - "Do Dead Men Really Tell No Tales?"

RoseGold 1 / 1 1  
Jul 8, 2018   #1
Hi, this is my first post on here (yay), and I would really appreciate some feedback on my college essay. I'm a bit scared that the topic I chose to write about is a bit risky since it's such a non-conventional topic. Plus, depending on which admission officer reads it, it could potentially be interpreted wrongly.

It would also be nice to have some suggestions on a more fitting title. I used the first idea I had, but I'm sure there's better options to describe my essay more accurately. Please be honest, and constructive criticism is always welcome! Thank you in advance :)

Prompt: Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

The surprises are unavoidable and it's no use of being ashamed

The daunting task ahead of me consisted of several oddly shaped packages piled on top of a metal table.

They were only about two to three feet long with one end protruding out and were extremely heavy to lift. According to the instructions I was given earlier that day, I had to pick them up and wrap them inside a huge plastic trash bag. Standing to my right side, a cheerful woman wearing a white lab coat helped me hold the trash bag open.

After hefting two or three packages into the awaiting bag, a sense of curiosity began to nag at the back of my mind. The lab specialist holding the bag open for me saw me lifting a corner of the package and casually mentioned, "Oh, those are just cadaver legs that we used for the Orthopedic lab this morning. We're done with them now, so we're going to ship them off."

I was stunned and absolutely speechless. I couldn't believe that this was the same volunteer opportunity that I signed up for in the beginning of the summer...


The next morning, I remained lying in bed when the alarm blared me to consciousness at 7:45. It was difficult to get up and return to the research institute due to the shocking events of the first day, but it was even harder to give up my commitment after only one day.

When I arrived at the lab, there was a full cadaver lying on a draped bed. An instructor dressed in black scrubs explained to us the procedure of channeling catheters through the arm into the heart and encouraged us to step closer for a better view. However, after a few minutes, one of the other volunteers began to sway and stumble around. Before he was able to faint onto the cadaver, the instructor successfully grabbed his shoulders and pushed him against a wall.

When he regained his consciousness, he looked up at all our concerned faces and began to laugh. The whole situation was brushed off as if it was completely normal, and he resumed his place around the back table. Once again, I was stunned and absolutely speechless. Even though he fainted in front of a large group of people, I was able to see the amount of courage it took for him to return standing in front of the cadaver.

Through the events that happened during the first few days of the summer, I was able to learn several important lessons. First of all, there will always be surprises regardless of whether you least expect them. Second of all, there's no use in being ashamed of anything, because how you deal with it afterwards is more important. Lastly, and the most important of all, even though the surprises that happen in life won't always necessarily be good surprises, there will always be a way to switch them around.

Holt - / 7,529 2001  
Jul 8, 2018   #2
Sara, there is no danger in writing about a risky topic provided that it complies with the prompt expectations. In this case though, I do not feel that the lessons you learned actually sparked a period of personal growth, understanding of yourself, and an understanding of others. Sure this was a shocking experience. However, you spoke more about your fellow volunteer and what happened to him instead of what happened to you during this encounter. As a reviewer, I need to get to know about you through the events that transpired.

This essay requires a sort of transitioning to adulthood or the development of a more responsible person in the presentation. It should be a collective presentation of an overall growth instead of sentences presenting stand alone developments. You need to create a related, cohesive, and clear discussion that portrays a time in your life when you had an experience that helped you become a better person in some way.

You presented a story that is nice to read but doesn't really address the full requirements of the prompt. Don't worry about the title for now. Your title should be the least of your worries. Instead, focus on developing a relevant presentation first. When you write the correct essay, you will find that the title will easily come with the story that you wrote.

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