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Common App Essay--"A Dramatic Turn of Events"


squinn 1 / 1  
Oct 28, 2009   #1
If anyone would like to leave criticisms, please do! This essay was used for the Yale Early Action application, and will be used for some regular decision apps too:

Prompt: Evaluate a significant experience and how it has affected you.

A Dramatic Turn of Events

In the summer after 7th grade, I had an epiphany. Actually, the moment wasn't really as simple as sitting in a bathtub and immediately realizing the intimate workings of the universe. But anyway, it all started with an unfortunate series of events which landed me at Duke University during late June, taking a summer drama class.

Picking drama wasn't even my idea. During that school year, I was placed in an eighth grade Algebra class because of some freak accident in the scheduling. That meant any information distributed to my fellow seventh-graders took ages to reach me-I didn't find out about the Duke TIP summer program until several weeks after everyone else. This delay, in turn, translated into a later test date and the test scores arrived even later. By the time the application and qualifying test scores were processed, my top-choice classes were completely full. So I was left with no other option but the class at the bottom of the list... Theatre Arts.

There was a reason why Theatre Arts had been my last choice. Among the numerous classes offered, "Architecture" and "From Wonderland to Hogwarts" competed for first place. Both sounded extremely interesting-after all, drawing and reading were my forte. Ever since I was old enough to hold a crayon and not eat it, scribbles of unicorns, princesses, and the occasional gremlin were everywhere. And when paint fumes weren't threatening to poison me, I was endangering myself with books. An absolute avid reader, I had to read a book to the end. In fifth grade (during my historical fiction obsession) I refused to put down Johnny Tremain, decided instead to ride home on my bicycle while reading, and almost crashed into a parked car, a lamp post, and an irate heron.

I understood, felt comfortable with, and was somewhat talented in drawing and reading. But drama? My family was the strictly academic, scholarly type-my parents avoided histrionic pursuits like the plague. I wasn't effortlessly expressive and charismatic-I couldn't even be a convincing liar. How was I supposed to become a completely different person? Plus, piano recitals in front of people tended to produce massive amounts of sweating and nervous anxiety. So, I reasoned that I would be terrible at acting... and that was what scared me the most-the fear of failure-not the self-consciousness or lack of experience. I felt completely out of my depth.

So it was a shock to learn that theater wasn't all about memorizing lines and acting in front of people. Learning the basics, we had all kinds of workshops: acting, blocking, stage fighting, and set designing. One day we had a workshop about stage makeup. My artistic ability finally came in handy-I discovered I was particularly talented with making blood-oozing wounds. After applying some nasty, bleeding cuts, several of us ran back to the dormitories screaming like madmen. Watching us dramatically groan and collapse, Kirsten-the usually cheerful, slightly-sunburnt R.A.-was in hysterics, ready to launch a full-scale assault on our imaginary bullies. And some afternoons, we sprawled outside in the cool grass and read Shakespeare, Ibsen, and Sophocles. For the first time I realized how a simple line like "It's good to see you" could be interpreted in so many ways, just by changing gestures, inflection, or posture. Acting became a great deal of fun, testing the limit of my creativity. I might not have been the best actress, but puzzling out actions to make a scene more realistic was exciting. Stage fright and self-consciousness soon became afterthoughts. And literature, always a great source of adventure, blossomed in my mind and became something more compelling than simply the words written on the page-it became a quest for the meaning behind them.

In retrospect, I didn't have a sudden realization, but a series of revelations. Theater is so much more than putting on a convincing display of a character. There are so many aspects, artistic and technical, which are equally fascinating. After participating in my school's drama program for so many years, I'm still learning new things which make it worth all the long rehearsals, laborious set-building, and yelling from the directors. Fear of failure also won't stop me from taking risks and stretching my horizons, because the surprise and challenge make my world more complex, interesting, and rewarding.

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Word Count: 743; its a little lengthy, but is that okay?

Thanks in advance!

sb1092 2 / 2  
Oct 28, 2009   #2
Pretty good, but you might want to watch the humor. It's coming off as sarcastic. That might also lessen the length. And perhaps delete the paragraph how you said you didn't want to do drama.

In the summer after 7th grade, I had an epiphany. Actually, the moment wasn't really as simple as sitting in a bathtub and immediately realizing the intimate workings of the universe (Eureka!).

During that school year, I was placed in an eighth grade Algebra class because of some freak accident in the scheduling (or maybe the guidance counselors simply had an evil grudge against me) .

So I was left with no other option but the class at the bottom of the list... Theatre Arts. Wonderful.

I wasn't effortlessly expressive and charismatic-I couldn't even be a convincing liar (which my parents probably appreciated)!
OP squinn 1 / 1  
Oct 28, 2009   #3
Thanks! Appreciate all the comments :)
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,324 129  
Oct 31, 2009   #4
Wow, I really like the sentence about it possibly being a freak accident or a grudge.. Actually, I don't like the first paragraph so much, don't think it really helps. I suggest starting the essay with this:

During my seventh grade school year, I was placed in an eighth grade Algebra class...

That is an interesting start! What do you think? Also, it will be good if you take out other sentences that do not "help." Try to eliminate everything that can be eliminated without the essay losing meaning... condensing is refining. You already write very well, so the trick now is to work on efficiency.


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