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Common App personal essay option#1-My Greatest Personal Failure--Feedback


politik 6 / 34  
Dec 17, 2009   #1
Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.

My greatest Personal Failure

I was surprised when I came to know that I had become the School Pupil Leader(SPL) in 10th grade. My surprise was because I knew that the Principal did not have a good enough impression on me. Even though I used to read more of science fiction and encyclopedias than academics, I was school topper in 7th grade. In 8th grade, others who concentrated on academics got better grades than me. The Principal thought I had become self-confident and her impression stuck to me that way. However, many teachers also liked me because of my all-round performance in academics, sports and literary activities. Since an SPL is elected by a teachers vote, I got elected inspite of the Principal's dislike. I set out to get into her good books. My role model was the previos SPL who was a legend and was liked by everyone and especially by the Principal. I wanted to be a better leader than he was.

I spent much time for organizing various school events. I tried out spot quizzes as an innovative way to get students to study seriously during the study hours. I lobbied to extend the games hours. But the Principal was never impressed with me.

I was disappointed with myself and sought the advice of some of my classmates who wanted to use my power to get back at some other people with whom they had issues. Although I had a faint idea of what they were trying to do, I did not question their ways at that time. The school had a warden who picked on me all the time but I did not give him much notice until he was hated by my 'group' who made me complain against him. In my complaint to the Correspondent, I blew the whole issue out of proportion and requested him to remove the warden from the school. The Correspondent saw me for what I was really doing and advised me not to get caught up in personal issues when I had greater responsibilities. I took this as a blow to my ego which took me closer to the 'group'. I continued to dwell upon issues brought forward by that small group of classmates. Consequently, I neglected my duties in representing the larger group of students. My 10th grade drew to a close this way.

I left the school after 10th grade to study at a junior college. The new environment made me realize that I had wasted the opportunity to lead and be a role model. The fact that I wanted to only impress the Principal was an indication of my immaturity. Instead of being happy that I had done a great job at organizing the school events and bringing about changes in the school timings, I was caught up in seeking recognition from Principal. I realized that recognition is a consequence of good leadership

By trying to frame the warden with false allegations, I had demeaned myself. I had focused on getting into the good books of a single person rather than addressing the issues critical to students. I had been too muddled up in matters relating to my differences with certain individuals and neglected matters of real significance.

I now realize that to be a good leader is to be responsible to those I represent and address their issues and well-being. I am confident that this lesson in humility will hold me in good stead in future leadership roles

Please tell me your views on this essay.I think I muddled it up a little bit..Please help!!

thecirclegame 2 / 7  
Dec 17, 2009   #2
My role model was the previous SPL, X. The Principal, Ms. Y liked him much that she used to treat him like her own son. She would take him out to dinner once in a while, and help him with his studies.

I was disappointed with myself., therefore, I started seeking sought the advice of some of my classmates.

Thus, I continued to dwell upon issues brought forward by that small group of classmates. Perhaps explain why you took the advice of the small group?This way, Consequently, I neglected my duties in bring forward matters of importance of representing the greater group of students.

I can now take upon leading leadership roles

that I should be selfless and not be egoistic. Did you mention egotism before? I think you should relate egotism clearly to the ethical dilemma you went through. Also, I think you should stress more on what you learned about responsibility... Make it sound less like a wrong choice (right now, it sounds to me like a simple mistake of who to be more attentive to) and more like a life-altering failure. Make it as deep as you can.

I soon lost the authoritative edge that leaders have. A little egotistical. Sounds like you are a leader because you simply want authority. Present yourself more as a person who likes responsibility.

I like the strength of the structure of your essay. Make your last paragraph relate more to your story, and less than a list of realizations.

Just some tips.
OP politik 6 / 34  
Dec 17, 2009   #3
here is the re-edited essay

Please tell me if this is any good..I am applying to cornell and princeton
ore4thebetter 5 / 14  
Dec 18, 2009   #4
I love this essay.It is very strong and I like the fact you are trying to use a mistake to prove a ponit. I didnt look into the grammar but the idea is nice.

It is definitely good.
yang 2 / 313  
Dec 19, 2009   #5
In the 9th standard

9th grade?

quiz competition

math?

Since I was part of these committees,

Since then, I was part of these (which? specify!) committees.

Therein

There is perfectly fine

7th grade. And yet,

, and yet. Or . Yet

In the 8th grade

no need for the

(i'm confused, you were made SPL of the school in tenth grade, so why are you going back in time?)

because, by then, I had also become what they already were-Egoistic

mmm... not sure you would put this in. you said already that you were very involved with the stupid things your group were doing, so why emphasize that you're egoistic?

----
overall, the essay reads...very very long. I suggest that you put more paragraphs and that you CUT unnecessary details.

Like

Even though getting the nod of the Principal was important, I should have realized that it was not my most important thing.

you already (and will later) talk about how leadership isn't about 1 person or 1 idea, so no need for this.

And combine your sentences. instead of saying

Leadership is not about getting recognition. Recognition comes as a by-product when the job is done properly

you could've said Leadership is not about getting recognition, which is simply a by-product (not sure if that's what you call it) when the job is done properly.

Also, don't capitalize your leadership and principles. Unless they are personifications/specific titles (I don't think principle fall into that category, better check) you don't capitalize them.

anyway, definitely come up with a shorter and less dense essay. It's...tedious to read since you repeat a lot.
ukarmy04 /  
Dec 19, 2009   #6
I completely agree. The introduction of a mistake and the transformation resulting is something admissions officers love. Unfortunately I didnt do this for my essays...but yours is very good!
yang 2 / 313  
Dec 19, 2009   #7
The introduction of a mistake and the transformation resulting is something admissions officers love

true, but when everyone's doing the same thing...it gets old.
OP politik 6 / 34  
Dec 20, 2009   #8
so...here is another edit...i cut down on some parts and added yang's suggestions..

critique it indiscriminately...tell me evrything u dont like about this essay
yang 2 / 313  
Dec 20, 2009   #9
the kind of further condensation that I would suggest:

The achievement made me a sort of a hero at school. Everybody in school recognized me and my seniors gave me important roles in the school student committees on sports and literary activities.

The achievement sort of made me a hero at school and my seniors gave me important roles... (If you are the hero, it's implied that everyone recognized you. Get what I mean?)

The Principal, Ms. Y liked him much that she treated him as her own son. She would take him out to dinner once in a while and help him with his studies. She once declared that X was the best leader and person ever to study at our school.

you spend 3 sentences discussing about someone else...you could simply say that the previous SPL was a legend and loved by the principle without getting in the details. Remember, the essay is about you.

There lay my problem too

you don't need "too"

This brought me into Ms. Y's bad books

I still don't understand. If you are in your principle's bad books in 8th grade, how did you become SPL in 10th grade? there are some time conflicts here...

But Ms. Y was never impressed with me.

did that happen in 8th or 10th grade?
before or after SPL?

During my journey I introspected

misuse of introspected...introspected myself? or simply "reflected"?

That I wanted only to impress Ms. Y was an indication of my immaturity

The fact that

I need to take decisions

I need to make decisions, (i think that's what you mean right?)

again, although much better than last time, it's still very long...I think it's because you cut sentences which could be merged to read smoother. For example:

I sought the advice of some of my classmates. Unfortunately, these students wanted to use my

I sought the advice of some of my classmates, who, unfortunately, wanted (this way, you save repeating "these students)

The school had a warden who would always pick on me and demean me in front of teachers. I did not give him much notice and went on as usual. This particular person

The school had a warden who would...teachers, but I didn't give him much notice until he became hated by my group. (this saves you "went on as usual" (which is very awkward) and "this particular person))

Try to condense your sentences to avoid repetitions of subjects, which in the long run REALLY distract the reader.

Finally, I just want to reemphasize that I am really confused by your timeline.
OP politik 6 / 34  
Dec 21, 2009   #10
Well..this another edit with changes only to the last paragraph..so the moderator can probably remove the essay part from the earlier post...

I now realize that to be a good leader is to be responsible to those I represent and address their issues and well-being. I am confident that this lesson in humility will hold me in good stead in future leadership roles

@yang:I hope this cleared up the timeline ambiguity.Also,I was wondering if this essay is worth it or should i scrap it and begin a new one??

Do u get to know anything about me from it??Is it any good??

Please help me as to how to make the conclusion...the previous one was bland as hell..

Also...with this edit..the word count came down from 894(the first draft) to 569...I will be happy to cut more if u feel there is some more unnecessary information...

PLEASE PLEASE help me with the CONCLUSION!!

Why are the moderators not commenting on my threads?Are my essays that bad??
jacob5642 1 / 7  
Dec 22, 2009   #11
I don't feel like I get much of a sense of who you are after reading this. I understand you as a person much more from your other essay where you briefly mention your mother and that relationship.

Try bringing some more YOU into the piece and less technicality of the school system.
colorfuloving 6 / 31  
Dec 23, 2009   #12
hi there [:

alrighty, about your edited essay:

I would also have to agree with Jacob above me. You seem like you are trying to convey yourself as someone who thrives on positions of leadership - but by taking a negative spin for the majority of your essay, the message is burdened and hidden behind self-deprecation. I don't really get a sense of how the experience created a more positive and savvy individual - you spend too much time describing all the things you realized were "wrong". Where is the experience that truly taught you to be the opposite of what you had been thus far? Really the only sense of that is in your tentative conclusion sentence.

I personally think you should focus more on events in your junior college that helped you find the right path and sense of leadership. Maybe condense all the "I tried to get the principal to like me, etc" talk into a small paragraph?

Hope this helps :D please, let me know if you have more questions or want further opinions.
OP politik 6 / 34  
Dec 23, 2009   #13
@Tuhina...My junior college was as bland as hell...it was all classes and nothing else...classes,solve problems,exams,classes...

Do u suggest I scrap this essay and start afresh??
How do you suggest I get rid of the self-depreciation bit??
colorfuloving 6 / 31  
Dec 23, 2009   #14
Ohh, hm...
"The new environment made me realize that I had wasted the opportunity to lead and be a role model" - well, then, why is is this?

You know, I don't think it's wise to start from scratch when we're so late in the game and CApp stuff is due so soon (well, I guess it depends where you're applying) - I think you should just focus more on your transformation after the mistake, instead of so much of the mistake itself.

Getting rid of the self-deprecation...
1) less telling, more showing. You have really long descriptions in the beginning, but if you could weave more insight into those parts, the essay would be much more effective.

2) as I said, I think you should condense all the stuff about your backwards attitude at your first school into a paragraph or so.
3) then, you should maybe deal with how you are now a better person because of the past events - maybe, how you will use that realization of yours to aid you in college?

all this is just my honest opinion.

hit me up if you need more help! [:
OP politik 6 / 34  
Dec 24, 2009   #15
@Tuhina

Hey!!
I am working on this essay right now...Will you also read my other essays??
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,334 129  
Dec 25, 2009   #16
Sorry! I didn't mean to neglect you. :-)

My surprise was because I knew that I had not made a good impression on the Principal. did not have a good enough impression on me.

I don't think the word principal is supposed to be capitalized, is it? Is "principal" a proper noun? I think it is not, but I guess maybe sometimes it might be capitalized. I'm not sure.

The Principal thought I had become self-confident and her impression stuck to me that way. ---what do you mean by this? She thought you had become complacent, maybe. Her impression stuck to you... I think you mean that this impression you made on her stayed in her mind, causing her to view you in a negative light.

The Principal thought I had become self-confident over-confident, and I think her bad impression of me made her prejudiced against me. stuck to me that way.
OP politik 6 / 34  
Dec 25, 2009   #17
hey Kevin...it was over-confident...i absent-mindedly typed self-confident..

Do you think I should drastically overhaul the essay like colourfulloving said??

I am working on a new draft where I have reduced most of the school stuff and concentrated on me..
OP politik 6 / 34  
Jan 1, 2010   #18
FINAL EDIT:

I will read yours if you read mine..

School Pupil Leader. I still recall my feeling of incredulity when these tidings were brought in by my close friend Srujith. After all, it is the dream of every boy in the 10th grade to be elected to the coveted School Pupil Leader (SPL) position. My thoughts were torn asunder by conflicting emotions of elation on one hand and astonishment on the other. As I raced down the corridor towards the Administrative office to confirm the news, the single most dominating thought was 'How did I get voted in- the Principal doesn't even have a good opinion of me'.

Three years earlier in the 7th grade, I had outperformed all others in my class and did the school proud through my academic excellence. Soon after, I engaged myself in other pursuits like reading science fiction and encyclopedia, rather than the school text books. I had thus unwittingly let go of the academic position to my peers, and since I wasn't grade-conscious, wasn't too mindful of it either. The Principal attributed this behaviour to arrogance and her opinion persisted thereafter.

However, many teachers liked me for my all-round performance in academics, sports and literary activities and as the SPL at the school is elected through a ballot among teachers, I was elected as the SPL.

Every child seeks recognition from the one they admire; and so I set forth to getting into her good books, organizing various school events, trying out innovative ways like spot quizzes to get students to study seriously during the study hours and lobbied to extend the games hours. But the Principal was never impressed with me. Her noncomittal responses disappointed me greatly.

I sought the advice of some of my classmates on this issue, but they (unknown to me then), started to use my position to settle scores with others. Influenced by this group, I allowed myself to be swayed by their emotions and instigated a complaint against a warden. In my complaint to the Correspondent, I implicated the warden on (baseless) grounds and requested that he be removed from his position. The Correspondent did not relent, instead he advised me not to get caught up in personal issues but to address issues of greater good. His words dented my ego; my hurt soul leaned even more towards the 'group'. I continued to dwell upon issues brought forward by that small group of classmates and consequently neglected my duties of representing the larger group of students. With the final examinations of the 10th Grade, my role as as a Pupil leader drew to a close on a flat note.

After 10th, I left the school to study at a junior college. As I was settling into college life, a chance remark by one of my new-found acquaintances that he really envied my accomplishments as a SPL, sparked off a round of inner questioning. Did I truly 'accomplish'? I tried to analyse my behaviour, the underlying attitude and motivations. Why is it that I allowed myself to be influenced by others? What made me seek recognition from the Principal and why was she noncommital? My mother, a seasoned counselor, helped me put the pieces together. I realized that I had wasted an opportunity to demonstrate my leadership skills; failed to recognise that leadership is not about position but about values and responsibility, it is not about the self but about those we represent. My mother chuckled when the final piece clicked into place- my motivation! I had been worshipping at the altar of recognition, instead of being driven by a strong purpose. Perhaps this was what my Principal was in her own way urging me towards- to act for the higher purpose.

For me, this has been a humbling experience and this is what gives me the courage to stand tall and dream for the future of our world.


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