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My Common App essay - going to Princeton, Yale, Williams, Tufts, et al.


Ivy_Equestrian 13 / 55  
Dec 21, 2009   #1
This is my Common App essay - the "other topic." As you can see, I'm very metaphor-happy! I'm working on trimming it down - particularly parts of the second paragraph, which I feel isn't hugely necessary, and a little whiny. I do NOT want to come across as whiny, haha! :) Any critiques would be MUCH appreciated! Thank you!!! :D

When I first came out of the box, I wasn't any different than the others. That's how they make us, you see - black and white; indistinguishable. We are merely canvas and rubber shells; lifeless casings with insignia emblazoned on our sides, proclamations of "All Stars" presupposing an illustrious future. Our soles are unscuffed, our laces, unfrayed. We are perfect, but we are all the same. It is those moments, days, and years after we leave our boxes that we start to really become. I suppose the same can be said for people; the fabric varies a little but each one is cut from the same pattern - two eyes, a nose, and a mouth stitched seamlessly onto a head, attached to a body. Their laces - the lifelines that bind them together - aren't outwardly visible, but they are there. Rather than cotton, they are made of emotions, experiences, memories, passion, pain, fear, and love.

...
Katsch 4 / 63  
Dec 21, 2009   #2
Oh, I absolutely adore your writing style. But uh, I'm actually a little confused. Who is Tilly, exactly?

Also, what point are you trying to drive home with this story?
OP Ivy_Equestrian 13 / 55  
Dec 21, 2009   #3
Haha, Tilly is me, sorry. Should have clarified that.
I'm afraid it's probably very vague, but what I was aiming for is that only by enduring the hard times and the bumps in the road do we grow as people and become unique.

Thank you so much!! I always worry that my writing is unreadable, haha!
nemesis01 2 / 7  
Dec 24, 2009   #4
HEY!I have to say I have fallen in love with your essay. It is beautiful but one thing which desperstely needs to improve, as Katsch said, is to make the realtionship between you and Tilly more explicit and to keep the essay's novelty,make the relationship explicit in the end so that it stays as engaging as it is.
dre888 - / 1  
Dec 24, 2009   #5
When I first came out of the box, I wasn't any different than the others. That's how they makeus you see: black and white, indistinguishable. We are merely canvas and rubber shells, lifeless casings with insignia emblazoned on our sides -proclamations of "All Stars" presupposing an illustrious future. Our soles are unscuffed, our laces unfrayed. We are perfect, but we are all the same. It is in those moments, days and years that come after we leave our boxes, that we really start to become . I suppose the same can be said for people; the fabric varies a little but each one is cut from the same pattern: two eyes, a nose and a mouth stitched seamlessly onto a head, which is attached to a body . Their laces, the lifelines that bind them together, aren't outwardly visible, but they are there. Rather than cotton, they are made of emotions, experiences, memories, passion, pain, fear, and love.lovely analogy

Tilly's soles started to scuff not long after she came out of her box. She was thirteen when we started our journey together; (I would put a full stop here) she was the voice of the duo and I was the silent companion. She had seen far more than I had at that point. Her fabric had been torn and carefully sewn back up. The first tear had started as a small puncture when her father left her life, and only a little bit of thread was needed to repair it: the thread of childhood innocence. At five, a small tear wasn't about to slow her down. But the tear spread beyond the stitching later, when, in a huge new country, her mother's new boyfriend told her twisted lies. These stories, heard by her at the age of ten, shook Tilly's human ideals and made her question her faith in family ties. (I think you should rewrite those two lines in your own words) However, she kept going, one foot in front of the other, quickening her pace to make it past pot-holes and cracks in the road. I agree that much of this paragraph seems unnecessary. I think the first tear can do, and then move on to high school life

When high school began, there were more frays in her fabric, but also more threads to bring the pieces back together. Rather than having stars and stripes, her laces were painted with the greens and blues of the countries she had inhabited, and the ocean that separated them.This line confuses me a bit. If you are specifically talking about two countries, I would suggest explicitly stating so, because then the singular 'ocean' seems to make more sense. It really is just the way it sounds in my ears, but when you say 'the countries', I expect to see 'the oceans that separate them'. Where was home? Surely it wasn't this vast new place, where her lack of a birthright closed so many doors in her face, a place where deportation loomed overhead like a roiling thundercloud. But how could she consider a distant country to be home? The struggle to find her niche was traced in colors all up and down her laces. Solace was found on the stage by pulling characters from deep within her stitching. She discovered a comfortable place within herself, somewhere between her heart and her brain, a place that she could cushion with musings and insights, a place that no one could touch.

It was to this place that Tilly escaped many times over those three years. As my soles scuffed from repeated lindies across the scratched black stage, and my black fabric faded from hours spent in barns and fields, hers strengthened in color from these interwoven threads. They became the binding that stopped her world from shattering when a nasty turn was taken.

Almost as soon as she entered her teenage years, Tilly had to be an adult. A divorce is never a pleasant turn of events, but the divorce of an illegal alien from a citizen,when a young child irrevocably links the two , is especially tedious. The long-standing threat of deportation became a real possibility; Tilly didn't know whether she would be sent from the country with her mother, or alone (sent alone? left alone? . She found herself struggling to take root somewhere. Like a daisy in a Nor'easter, she was whipped back and forth, from possibility to possibility. Her fabric was almost ripped apart when her three-year-old brother was snatched away by his father's family. She held her tiny family together through those few months, while she fought to stay upright herself, becoming a confused, shaken facsimile of a parent. It was now Tilly who had to be the strong one, Tilly who had to keep walking forward, lest she forget which road she had been on. She tightened the laces and stitching around her heart like a vice, and locked the most vulnerable parts of herself away, protected them from harm; they could be brought out and pored over in times of calm.

Her fabric, rife with imperfections, tears, and ragged edges lovingly repaired with vibrant threads, was her own, in the same way that mine had now become unique.This sentence just doesn't click. Although the first part sounds nice, I have to keep reading for it to make sense. My soles, like hers, were scuffed, not only from tripping, but from dancing as well. My laces had been replaced with something representative of my journey, and my formerly white rubber tips had been graffiti-ed with emblems of love and friendship. All these things had shaped my physical makeup, but for Tilly, they were kept in that special place, used to grow, to learn, and to improve.Both the incredible and the not-so-great parts of life shaped Tilly and me , gave us our quirks, made us inimitable. I reflect upon the flawlessness that once made up my design, and I know that I am infinitely better in my imperfection.

Ivy_Equestrian

Could you make it clear at some point that you and Tilly are one and the same. Are you? Is she just a part of you that you are referring to? Is she your alter ego? Is she just you when you refer to yourself in third person? Even at the end, it's not clear and I think you should state it even though the readers will know your name from the application.

The essay is good. It caught my attention. It also seems very long for a common app essay. It's better to avoid using contractions. I would have corrected those if there weren't so many of them.

On the note of correction, I'm no expert on English, but I hope the errors I spotted were actually errors. You used the semi colon in the wrong context pretty often, and I won't say its wrong, but you overused the dash as well. I also removed some of the commas you placed before conjunctions (mostly 'and') but it wasn't actually necessary. YOur writing had a very nice flow to it from the beginning, but all the punctuation is distracting.

I know there's a lot of red in it, but I liked your essay. The subject matter and style of writing was refreshing.

I advise you to get an actual English teacher to review this for you.

Hope I wasn't too late in answering. You probably submitted this already.
cgnolan 1 / 5  
Dec 26, 2009   #6
I'm glad someone brought up the incorrect use of semi-colons, because you use quite a few of them.
Also, this is minor, but the word "tedious" in the fifth paragraph does not seem to match the emotional tone of the rest of the essay.


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