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Common app Personal essay- recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure.

arnoldb 2 / 2 2  
Nov 21, 2018   #1
The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

I need your help in editing, and proofreading my common app essay below, which answers the question above.

The special gift...

It was past dusk as we approached Nketa drive one Sunday evening. Drawing the last bits of energy from my fatigued muscles, I wrestled the cart which held my family's belongings, with my mother and twin brother lumbering beside me. All of a sudden, four men emerged before us, all donned in caps, and black hooded tops, and armed with knives. I felt butterflies in my stomach. The three of us stood still, stupefied, and feeling as helpless as ever. My mind was all blank; I nerved myself to face whatever was to happen, and at the same time gave a whisper to my mother, "let's just give in to their demands, so that they will live us alone." But, I was wrong! They never left us, instead they wanted more than what we could offer.

It had been a hectic Sunday as my mother had spent all day looking for just a room for us to rent, while my siblings and I went to weekend school, after which we came back and packed our stuff. It took us till evening to pack our belongings to where we had found our new home. However, on that last straw, a dramatic turn of events would change my life forever.

The robbery incident left us in shambles. My mother sustained a deep cut on her forehead and was hospitalized for a week, while my twin brother and I incurred minor bruises on the head. With the breadwinner of the family in hospital, my siblings and I were left to fend for ourselves. We took turns to sell vegetables and fruits just to keep up with our daily needs. And even after my mother recovered, she had to take time off her vending business. The responsibility of seeing that everything in the house was in order now rested on my siblings and me. Surviving became a hassle. I couldn't stand the sight of my mother, all frail and incapacitated; with no one to lean on, and the ever increasing financial burden, she was plunged into a state of emotional turmoil.

Special gifts do not come on a silver platter, they are earned! On that Sunday evening, just a few weeks before my senior year final exams) I earned a special drive for success.

Reflecting on my life, I found I couldn't give up just like that. My mother sacrificed her world for my siblings and I to have made it that far, and she had done her job well in the face of all the hardships. But with the drawbacks beset by the robbery incident, her world was crumbling right before her very own eyes. It was high time I stood up for my family. At that moment, I realized that my exams had a big role in the turnaround of my family. I held my head high; pushed myself to succeed, to inspire my siblings, and to give that glimmer of hope to my beleaguered mother. I pushed myself to show my siblings that hardships are part of life, and that nobody can change our life, except we push ourselves. And that realization became my stepping stone into a new life.

But how did this shape me?
Despite all the storms that hit my family and me, I grew to become a self-made individual. I learnt to build a bridge and get over it. I learnt that family is everything. I learnt that I controlled my future, and have the power to make it better. I learnt to collaborate with my siblings, and became an inspiration to our mother.

As I turn on a new leaf, and prepare for college-and beyond-I bear in mind that there will be challenges, even greater that what I've experienced. But, I am willing to fall, and rise up stronger. I am willing to collaborate with peers to make life better for us all.
sklyn27 - / 2 2  
Nov 21, 2018   #2
This is a really interesting essay. The topic is very intriguing, however, you provide more context than needed, and although you touch on how this experience affected you, I still think you need more. Focusing on the present is just as important as the past. I would recommend making the first few paragraphs more concise and elaborating more on the effects of the experience.

Overall, it has a few grammar mistakes with comma misplacement in the first paragraph and a few unnecessary commas here and there. This is a well-written essay, I really like your reflection.

Elaborate more on "special gift," the metaphor is not completely clear at first glance.

(you can use grammarly to help catch small grammar errors)
Holt  Educational Consultant - / 11,584 3758  
Nov 22, 2018   #3
Arnold, the essay that you wrote doesn't align with the requirements of the prompt. You should be using the following prompt instead: Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

This is a tremendously impressive situation that led to a realization on your part. However the essay focuses too much on the event and it's effects on your mother and family members, who are not the applicants and therefore, should have the least amount of exposure in this essay. Revise the content to focus on you to help the reviewer understand how everything that happened after had a direct impact on you emotionally, mentally, and socially.

The change can talk about how you now view you mother and siblings (an understanding of others) which led to your evolution as a person from a child to an adult (sparked a period of personal growth and new understanding of yourself). Based on the change in prompt, it is clear that the essay you wrote, once revised and edited, will allow for a more relevant presentation in relation to the prompt objectives.
leylamagsud 5 / 6 1  
Dec 5, 2018   #4
... in caps, and black hooded... (remove and)
I felt butterflies in my stomach - you could also change this, I believe butterflies are used in a more positive connotation (might be wrong, so please make sure to check)

... gave a whisper to my mother - just change it to just "whispered", it sounds better
But, I was wrong - change "but" to "sadly" or "unfortunately"
They never left us, instead ... - change the comma to a dot (after the word us), and put a comma after "instead"

We took turns to sell vegetables - change to "selling"
And even after - remove

There are a few more grammatical errors, check the ones I written here first. Overall, I think this essay is very impressive, but it should focus more on the realization part. Also, edit to make sure there are no grammatical errors.

Would you mind checking the essays I have posted? Thanks! :)

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