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Undergraduate Posts: 3

Common App essay - talking about challenges I've faced throughout my life


Volcore 1 / -  
Nov 4, 2018   #1
Here is my common app essay, I'd appreciate any and all feedback you guys have. The essay is currently a bit too long, 667 / 650 words, so i'd like feedback on how to reduce its length, and of course anything in general about it.

The prompt is:
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.

something meaningful about me to complete my application



August 5th, 2001: My first day on this planet, but in an alternate reality, it could have been my last. Flash backwards a few hours. My parents were in a movie theater watching Rush Hour 2, but an hour or so into the film, my mom sensed something was wrong with the little boy still inside her stomach. My dad at the wheel, my parents urgently bolted to the nearest hospital -a small one called Swedish Medical Center. The doctors found some dire news. My mom's placenta had burst, and to make matters worse, I was choking on my own umbilical cord. The only way to possibly save me was to do a C-section. Hour after hour passed until I came out in one weak, dying piece. I was two weeks premature, I could not breathe. My lungs were not developed, I needed an artificial umbilical cord. This meager hospital had neither the tools, nor ability to give me this. We had to drive nearly halfway across Seattle, to the local Children's Hospital, for there they could possibly save me. I had to be put in a box for one week. Then another week, and another, and finally a fourth. After 28 long days, I was lucky to be alive. Any slight mishap over the month could have caused a completely different outcome.

I am a Southeast Asian. my parents can trace their lineage to Indonesian islands. I am also cursed, since I at six was diagnosed with the fatal Asian defect-I was allergic to peanuts. In this region, the humble peanut is a staple of the cuisine, in the same way fried foods are enjoyed in America. If you travel anywhere in the region, from Vietnam to Malaysia, peanuts can be found in nearly every dish, such as the Malay and Indonesian satay, gado-gado, pecel, and many more. I feared, that when it came time to travel to Indonesia, I would starve. When this did in fact had, in 2011, I was ready. I decided that in order to survive I would simply eat only fried rice.Yet, after days of inquiring about the food to my relatives, I learned that a select few restaurants offered Peanut free variants for the skyrocketing populace of cursed foreigners like me. So I was finally able to enjoy the rich, tender skewered chicken dish called satay.

I love computer programming. Ever since I was eleven, it has brought me unimaginable joy and satisfaction. I remember when I first learned to code. I longed to have the knowledge, but I just could not do it. To me, it was like learning a new language. However, I longed to make my own video games, to be the next Shigeru Miyamoto, I would not stop until I learned how to do so. Many months passed, long, arduous months filled of online course after online course. Young eleven-year-old me could understand only the simplest lines of code. Question after question, I slowly learned to write code. With this as a launching pad, my dreams of making computer applications could finally become reality.

All of these obstacles in my way have guided me through the labyrinth of life. All the challenges have helped me through the labyrinthine maze known as life. The epic stories of my birth has shown me from the start that life would hurl challenge after challenge in my path. The labyrinth would never be easy, but I would not get lost. My allergy to peanuts has shown me to never take things at face value. Life could have many dead ends and pit traps, but to traverse this maze I had to think elaborately, to unravel a spool of thread to guide me in my journey. My ambition to learn to code has shown me the value of perseverance. I have learned to become adaptable. The hurdles of my 17 years on this Earth have given me endless methods to use in my journey through the labyrinth of life.

yyoussef 1 / 3  
Nov 5, 2018   #2
I think that the story is dramatic, describing the sequence of events was dramatic.
I just didn't find the opening so encouraging.
You spent a lot of time describing how normal the Peanuts for everyone might be but i think you can shorten this part since we understood that you had allergy to peanuts.
Holt [Contributor] - / 7,179 1785  
Nov 6, 2018   #3
William, your essay is overly dramatic and exaggerated. It also lacks a clear focus on one line of discussion. The discussion about you being allergic to peanuts is nothing special. That makes you normal, common, average. Nothing notable in that discussion. It would be in your best interest to write a new essay. One that focuses on a specific, regularly discussed, not exaggerated presentation of the topic to the reviewer. This essay will benefit from a clear focus on one of the 3 choices. Now, if you prefer not to write a new essay, then you can use this essay as is, as the basis of the open topic discussion instead since that allows you to discuss a topic of your choice for the essay. Personally, I would opt to simply use the open topic essay since that is simpler than writing a new one.


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