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Common App Essay #1--- How history influences me


Patzzzzzzz 1 / 1  
Oct 10, 2017   #1
Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

I am a time traveler.



Although I had fought for His Majesty in the New World for six months, it is still a dreadful place for me. In fact, no one would prefer the most luxurious room in Philadelphia to even the most austere cottage in Scotland. However, this is the only way I can prove myself to the dignitaries. So here I am, hiding in the muddy woods along Brandywine Creek with my Company, covering the flank of General Howe's army. My sweat drips on my rifle, making it slippery. As I clench my rifle, two riders enter my peripheral view. Unlike the other Major Ferguson, I pull the trigger without hesitation. The last thing I hear before the ringing of my phone wakes me from my daydream is: "General Washington is down..."

History is forever changed by just one simple decision. In my imagination, it would have changed even more if the phone call had not ruined it.

I have been a "history nerd" my entire life. However, I enjoy traveling through time more than researching it. I often lose track of time by re-enacting historical scenes in my mind. During these journeys to the past, I am always amazed by how history can be changed by the simplest things done by the most insignificant figures, like the bullet of Major Ferguson. I can always recall the awe I felt when I first learned about how George Washington survived that battle only because Major Ferguson thought assassination was dishonorable and thus decided not to shoot him. It is not hard to imagine what would happen to this world if Major Ferguson decided to pull the trigger as I did in my imagination. His decision changed the fate of this country, and the history of human beings. I realize that as individuals, we are actually more powerful than we think.

Although I cannot really change the past in my day-dreams, I can influence the future if I put them to good use in my real life.

During the summer of my sophomore year in high school, I volunteered at a children's hospital helping the nurses in the infusion center. Sitting at the reception table, greeting to all the people came and left, my facial muscle is sore due to hours of warm smiling. The work was tedious until a woman approached. Unlike all the other people who smiled politely, she stared at me with anger and anxiety. She walked toward me, followed by her four puzzled and scared children, like an angry mother lion looking for revenge. All of them were starving and dirty, look nothing like people I would encounter in the "Ivory Tower" I am living in. I smiled at her, as puzzled and scared as her children, carefully asking if she needs any help. She struck me with a series of confusing words. Her accent was so strong that it took me some time to understand she was complaining about her appointment. She and her kids are from a small village near the city, they made this appointment two months ago and spent the entire day on their way to the hospital, but still missed the appointment. I nodded and smiled at her, partially listen to her complaint. As my patience gradually fading away, I began to wonder whether I should offer her my help. After all, I was not supposed to break the rule of the hospital. Besides, not too many doctors would listen to the unrealistic request of a young volunteer they do not even know. I felt puzzled. Still, worried about both losing my job and the suffering of this miserable mother and her family, I called one of the doctor's number in the phone book, asking for his help. My voice began to tremble, and my heart started pounding as a stranger's voice raised on the other side of the phone. Fortunately, the doctor agreed to treat the kid. After the poor mother and her sick child went into the doctor's office, I began to wonder what would happen if I did nothing to help her. I was shocked by the extra pains my small decision will bring to this miserable family. Just like major Ferguson, my decision would make more differences than it seemed to be. Besides feeling relieved because the child is saved, I was struck by the honorable thing I did and felt empowered by my action.

Growing up as a "history nerd", immersing in my dreams about the past, has not only earned me all the A's in history class, or taught me amazing stories that I can share with my friends, but most importantly it has made me realized the power in each of us to make a difference in this world, inspired me to dedicate to the creation of a better world in the future. With this goal in mind, I decided to study sociology in college and to use this power to help the development of human beings in the future. When I am thinking about the changes we could bring, I cannot help but wonder if someday in the future, the history nerds among our kids will also be amazed when they learn about how their beloved world is created by all the small decisions of their ancestors.

I love living in the past, but I look forward to an even brighter future.

Thank you in advance for any of the suggestions!
Holt  Educational Consultant - / 10,880 3554  
Oct 10, 2017   #2
Zheng, you need to cut the story of the woman at the hospital by a few lines. That part of the essay seems to run extra long and doesn't really create a connection to your being a history nerd until almost the very end. Don't lose focus. The point of your essay is to explain that you are a history nerd and that being one has helped you to become a better person in life. So the long winded story of how you had to sit there listening to the woman, considering hospital policy, etc, really just takes attention from the point of the essay. Just say the woman came with her children, they missed their doctors appointment and at that point, You were reminded of Major Ferguson. Always go for the connecting factor and work forward from there. Don't dwell too much on the description. Talk about the relationship of the two stories instead. This is a pretty good essay but, just like a movie, this is a director's cut, which is why it is running so long. Edit it, tighten the story, and then present the improved version to the reviewer.
OP Patzzzzzzz 1 / 1  
Oct 13, 2017   #3
@Holt
Thank you so much for your advice! It's really helpful!


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