Unanswered [4] | Urgent [0]

Home / Undergraduate   % width Posts: 20

Common APP Essay: Luxury VS. Struggle

ZhoeK 5 / 173  
Dec 27, 2011   #1
I have completely changed the direction of my Common Application Essay. I feel that this is more personal and will show more about how I have developed. Any critique, comment, feedback on content, grammar and overall readability will be greatly appreciated. I will return the favour..

Any suggestion for which prompt this will fall under or if it should be the 'topic of your choice' prompt. Also, titles/topic suggestions?

Returning to school after summer holidays had always been difficult for me. I distinctly remember the first day of grade four when the teacher asked the class, "How did you spend your summer vacation?" This was standard procedure, and whether it was addressed formally by teachers or casually amongst friends, I was made acutely aware of how little I actually did. In comparison to the broad and extensive travels of my peers who, in response to the above question, prattled on about their cross-state exploration of America, my biggest safari that summer had been spending two weeks with my grandmother.

At the time I could not grasp why my twin sister and I were regarded like aliens after we proudly made our declaration. I could not fathom why we had never been on an airplane or left the island since the numerous responses my teacher was swamped with designated them as prerequisites. That class was the catalyst for my fervent desire to travel, learn about different cultural perspectives and also my curiosity about the world; but it also made me realize my parents could not afford to provide us with similar opportunities.


Thanks in advance!
deremifri 9 / 137  
Dec 27, 2011   #2
Like that the personal feel of your essay.

However, the end:
Are you suggesting that you will use the money earned by your job which you will learn in college to have escapades?
Since you are hard working, the types of stories you could tell would still be the same irregardless of the amount of money you have, wouldn't they?

The conclusion:
I am not sure if the conclusion is really on the spot.
You talk mostly about the relation to your environment, but in the conclusion you write about your own discipline.

But I really like the parts before that.

Please take a look at one of my essays when you got time.
armanigates - / 5  
Dec 27, 2011   #3
Fourth Grade*- sounds better (Comma after fourth grade?)

I enjoyed the essay, but I think you have jumped from idea to idea. I'm a twin as well, although we are boy fraternal twins. I totally do understand how people do not think your a single individuals. When we were little, we went to different schools but now we go to the same high schools. I also attend the rich schools only in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Back to your essay, I think that this is an excellent insight towards you personal character. The grammar is fine but I would check commas. Sometimes it's better to through a period and start a new sentence. I love how you use great vocabulary not "showy" words. I connected towards your essay. I'm a black dude but my friends are valley-girls and chauvinistic boys show flaunting their peacock feathers (so to speak).

The ending was a nice conclusion to a fabulous essay. Contractions are great to limit word count. Are you over the limit?

There's just better ways to say some things.

In no way*
The "rich" label has plagued
m45over 6 / 12  
Dec 27, 2011   #4
....There was one thing i was unprepared for...The moment you write this, the admission officer expects you to clearly state what you were unprepared for. But you did not reveal the stuff you were unprepared for but went ahead to say "and it was not the intense workload promised or the prospect of creating new relationships". You then dive into a new paragraph. This is a good strategy to keep them in suspense but make sure there is a transition from that paragraph to the next paragraph which starts with "There were....".This will make ideas flow smoothly without ambiguity.

Overall good essay with some touch of originality.:)
OP ZhoeK 5 / 173  
Dec 27, 2011   #5
Thanks, will reply to comments soon & will be sure to look at your essay! :)
OP ZhoeK 5 / 173  
Dec 27, 2011   #6
First: Thanks for all the compliments ;)
Now the critiques/feedback


Mhmmm that was not my original intent but glad I could incorporate an element of suspense in my essay. I'll try and fix the transition, I also realized it.


I'm fraternal and black as well, it really bugged me that I was just a twin, so high school on my own was quite an adventure. Yep, best school in the country (literally, no bragging I live in a small country) and apparently that means we're all rich, its so annoying when I hear outsiders who seriously believe we're stuck up. Though sometimes when I hear my friends talk I'm like 'wow?'.

I'm iffy about the comma too, but will change to fourth grade.
I get what you mean about jumping from idea to idea, I had hoped the progression was smooth and flowed. I'm thrilled, my last essay didn't show too much of me so I was hoping this would portray more of me. I was also aiming at natural and not showy words so mission accomplished! Will check commas and see if I can change a few with periods.

I am at 499 words, but I purposely did not use contractions cause I've always been taught no contractions in sentence, essays etc. Is it allowed/okay?


That was not my original intent, though I can see how you derived that opinion. I was trying to say that when my hard work pays off and I am able to, I will conduct my own travels and hence have my own stories to tell. Well I don't tell much stories now, but in the future once I am able to have more experiences, I will be able to tell me own stories. That part was really to bring it back to the original anecdote where I had nothing really to say about my summer vacation.

I think I see your point, however the conclusion was supposed to demonstrate what I have learned from the environment that I grew up in and the disciplines I have developed because of that environment.
armanigates - / 5  
Dec 27, 2011   #7
In academic papers such as dissertations, essays such as literary analysis, and or term papers, contractions should and not be used. In personal narratives, its fine because this i not a formal essay. 499 is just fine, They don't care about world limit unless you are crazy over, like 600 or more words.

Would prompt 5 work.

It was smooth,a natural progression, but jumped the gun. I got interested in one part, then the direction changed, but you have a lot to say in few words.
OP ZhoeK 5 / 173  
Dec 27, 2011   #8

I see, well if I need a few words, I'll be sure to use contractions then.
Hmmm, I think prompt 5 could work. It would just be the diversity part that worries me.

Yep, the limit is tight. Where do you think I veered off?

Working on a revised version.
Citygirl1120 4 / 8  
Dec 27, 2011   #9
Your introduction is great, it's very conversational and the words seem just right.

"At the time I could not grasp why my twin sister and I were regarded like aliens after we proudly made our declaration." declaration of...? It took me a second to connect this sentence with the idea that you had said you spent part of your summer with your grandma. And the language seems a little tight. How about: At the time, I couldn't understand why my peers seemed so perplexed that my sister and I had greatly enjoyed spending our summer with Grandma.

"I could not fathom why we had never been on an airplane or left the island since the numerous responses my teacher was swamped with designated them as prerequisites."

still sounds a little stiff, and although i can see where you're going with this, it doesn't connect very well with the sentence before.

From that class emerged my fervent desire to travel, learn about different cultural perspectives and also my curiosity about the world
^ perhaps?

but it also made me realize my parents could not afford to provide us with similar opportunities." <-- similar opportunities to what? specify. Or perhaps instead of similar, use "these" in referral to "desire to travel, learn about different cultural perspectives"

The third paragraph is very well written.

the fourth paragraph is also very well written, but one thing. Is there another word rather than "freakish" ?

Nice conclusion.

Overall, my only comment is that it's a little bit scattered. When read the beginning of the essay, I thought you were going to talk about your love for travel and exploring different cultures/places, but then it roughly transitions into an essay about making the most of what you have. Perhaps you want to make it a little smoother in going from one idea to the next, or just focusing on one?
RiceAllTheWhey 3 / 16  
Dec 27, 2011   #10
I think the best choice would be "Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you."

Overall, I think the essay lacks that "so-what" factor. There's nothing JUMPing out on the reader that says, "wow this student is so deep", "he's so dedicated", "she's so intelligent"...
armanigates - / 5  
Dec 27, 2011   #11
Since fourth grade, returning to school after summer holidays had been extremelymost difficult.
I cut out the part that veered off!!!!!!!

(Add some personal examples of what you want to experience, maybe talk about study abroad opportunities; explain how you will have stories to tell.)

Edit this and add some more and i think you'll have a great essay, do worry about "the so-what" factor, because hopefully your supplements will attribute towards wowing the admission committee.
OP ZhoeK 5 / 173  
Dec 28, 2011   #12

Thank you ;)
I haven't changed a lot as you advised, I don't wanna lose the originality.
Thanks a mil.


Thanks a mil too. You've been very helpful, I wrote a lot more thanks to you cutting out the parts where I strayed. Greatly appreciated.


Thanks to you too :)
I have made some changes and have tried to transition somewhat smoother into ideas. The point was to use the travelling-part as an anecdote to demonstrate that when I was younger I did not understand why I couldn't go places but as I have matured and due to the environment I was raised in, I fully understand why I cannot and in turn, make the best of my situation.


Thanks for the comment, I tried to incorporate more of a 'so-what' factor this time around by getting a tad more personal.

Revision: Coming Soon!
yusra12 6 / 24  
Dec 28, 2011   #13
Overall i thought it was pretty good=]
"my biggest safari that summer had been spending two weeks with my grandmother." I dont think "my biggest safari" quite makes sense here. Maybe you should replace it with something else,like "my biggest adventure"?

also the beginnning of the second paragraph is a bit confusing since you never directly "declare" anything in the first paragraph. and maybe you should clarify that you and your twin were considered aliens in comparison to the rest of your peers. Furthermore in the second paragraph,i think you should make your "realizations" a bit clearer. was the first one supposed to be how much you want to travel? But anyway,clearing that up should get rid of the minor confusion in the beginning of the third paragraph.

Other than that,i liked it. Although i think at the end you should elaborate a bit more on the impact of the situation/realizations on you,ect.

sorry if my critiques are harsh at all. good luck!
music920 6 / 23  
Dec 28, 2011   #14
Great job! Your essay flows nicely, and it's quite personal and honest - all of which are hard things to do in an essay.

Here are just a few suggestions:

At the time I could not understand why my classmates regarded my twin sister and I as aliens for merely visiting our Grandma. I could not fathom why we had never been on an airplane or, left the island especially,or left the island, since all of my friends had. From that class emerged a boundless curiosity and fervent desire to travel and learn about different cultural perspectives and a boundless curiosity. But most importantly, it made me realize that my parents could not afford these dreams of mine. This realization did not come instantly, nor did I wake up the next morning with a Eureka moment,( as I occasionally do) . It was not until high school - several years later that the consequence of money began to have any significance to me.

Also, I think you should select prompt #1 or #6.

Good Luck!
HopefulApplier 4 / 27  
Dec 28, 2011   #15
I think this would only fit under topic of your own choice because you don't address ONE specific event or ONE experience. I really like how personal this essay really is. The one thing I'm afraid of is when you say how you disregard opportunities because of your economic status. I'm not sure, but I'm a bit afraid if the AO will take this the right way. And since this is your common app essay, you aren't saying that because you lack awards or something right? Just wondering. Another problem is the image of your school. You almost make it seem like you are ONLY non-nerdy, non-rich, athletic person because you say you're surrounded by lavishness and luxury. I think you need to restructure that paragraph a little bit.

The writing style is great though. Best of luck!
OP ZhoeK 5 / 173  
Dec 28, 2011   #16
Thanks Lacey, I was going for honesty.
Anymore feedback?


Thanks. Personal feel - accomplished!
Mhmmm I was thinking the same thing since it isn't really one event/experience and also that bit about it sounding as if I am the only one who's not a nerd. Will fix.

No I don't lack rewards, those were just specific examples of times I had to give up - I will also restructure this though. I do not want to give that impression.

sarahbee 1 / 49  
Dec 28, 2011   #17
I really enjoyed your essay. I only have one suggestion, and that is to break up the sentence below. Its a little hard to follow, especially if you are reading it quickly (like most admissions counselors are). Other than that I thought your essay was great.

There were a lot of stigmas attached to my high school; and if one believed them, we were all rich, athletically disinclined nerds -which as goalkeeper of the Water Polo team and someone who worked hard to get good grades, I felt terribly insulted by.

please return the favor!
yusra12 6 / 24  
Dec 29, 2011   #18
Love it! I think you really did a good job editing it. I didnt catch any grammer issues either. I think youre good to go=]
OP ZhoeK 5 / 173  
Dec 29, 2011   #19

Thanks for your comment + compliment! & yay at good to go. :)

Anymore feedback?
cindyw1397 1 / 4  
Dec 29, 2011   #20
- I think you should change "grade four" to fourth grade. It has more of a I'm-trying-to-tell-this-story type of feel.
- "regarded like aliens" should be regarded as
- "I could not fathom why we had never been on an airplane or left the island since the numerous responses my teacher was swamped with designated them as prerequisites." This sentence to me felt a little odd, I think you should reword it.

- All in all, this was quite a wonderful essay. you word choice and transitioning were smooth. I get the feeling that living in an environment where people think you are a certain way but when you actually aren't sucks. i know how you feel. Good job!!! :)

Home / Undergraduate / Common APP Essay: Luxury VS. Struggle