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Common App Essay - Topic of Choice - "Gateway to knowledge, highway to hell"

supermodella 4 / 13  
Oct 17, 2009   #1
I did a topic of my choice, something that was really hard for me, but I couldn't figure out how to meet anything else. Please critique/edit as necessary. Also, is it too long, at 774 words? If so, what should I cut? I'm also unsure if this tone of essay could merit contractions. Thanks.

Where would this world be today without the gift of technology? Supercomputers and chrome-plated robots seem high tech to modern citizens like ourselves, but what was a spear made of flint rock to a caveman? A sift to the gold rushers of 1849? These innovations weren't called "technology" then, instead, an invention created to better the way of life. The Internet can be seen as a gateway to knowledge or a highway to hell, whichever path one types into their address bar. Luckily for me, the case has always been the former.

I was introduced to the wonders of computers at a very young age. My mother was a single parent going to nursing school with a school-age child anxious to learn more outside of a preschool classroom. The solution came in the form of an off-white CRT monitor pre-packaged with a wide keyboard. It ran Windows 95, connected to the World Wide Web and best of all, operated my favorite computer game, WordsAlive. We became acquainted very quickly once my mother decided it was the easiest way to keep me entertained and her less distracted from her studying. I learned to read around the age of three with WordsAlive, but as everything does, it became old and so did I. CD-ROMs became the new floppy disk, and just like that, our computer was obsolete.

AOL came into my life early, just when I was entering first grade. I still have yet to decide whether it was a gift or a curse. The main reason why I begged my mother to install it on our new Windows 98 ready PC was because of the cheetah print design that had been imprinted on the disc's exterior. Plus, they offered 1000 free hours! That was a lot of zeroes to an eight year old. Not to mention hogging up our phone line had taken over my life, complete with fits of panic whenever my mother would pick up the phone during the connective screeching sound of dial-up. I'd spend my entire day on Kids AOL, doing everything from chatting with celebrities of my time in the strictly moderated chat rooms, to creating pointless fan clubs on the message boards. I was firmly engaged in the world AOL had set up for me. My only nemesis? Parental controls. Later on, my main wish for my 12th birthday had been to make the progression from the Kids AOL setting to the Young Teen AOL setting. It took a lot of begging and convincing of my maturity for my mother to agree to make the change. Once she obliged, I finally felt like a young woman.

Before I had even become a pre-teen, people had begun calling me a computer genius. Or rather, my mother bragged about her computer genius daughter to anyone who dared to listen. I was the one they turned to if their PC had spontaneously become overrun with pop-ups, or a saved file had gone rogue and disappeared. My mother forgave my addiction to the computer just because I was the one who she often called to fix it. I had easily learned the secrets of our then operating system Windows Me and was eagerly waiting to get my hands on Windows XP due to its annoying instability. I was only nine years old and I already wanted to tutor Bill Gates.

At twelve, I had mastered Paint Shop Pro and Adobe Photoshop. However, I wasn't making 3D models of outer space or blueprints of prospective buildings, instead I was using the programs to edit various pictures of celebrities and put them on the foreground of a self-made splattered design. I acquired these skills from playing on a site called Neopets, where users could create their own makeshift clubs called "guilds" which focused on nothing but gaining the highest number of members and having the best looking designs called "layouts" on the guild's façade. I quit before I turned 16, but I took everything I learned with me.

Today, I can freely admit that I am in love with my computer. There's just something about having a portal to the entire world at my fingertips that keeps me from letting go. I realized that as I grew, so did technology, and that is the miracle of it. Technology is a never-ending process, active proof that society can only improve over an era. Maybe one day the world will be controlled by supercomputers and chrome-plated robots, but only time will tell. Until that comes around, I'll have to be content with my outdated Windows XP and a laptop that likes to crash every now and then. (I can't figure out how to end this essay/paragraph/sentence nicely. Help?)

Collegehopefull 2 / 5  
Oct 18, 2009   #3
I really like your essay, but you only mention the "highway to hell" part twice. It sounds great, but you either need to incorporate it more into your essay or cut it entirely. Also, your final sentence in the last paragraph doesn't quite fit.

Until that comes around, I'll have to be content with my outdated Windows XP and a laptop that likes to crash every now and then.

This sentence has a negative connotation to it about computers, whereas the rest of your essay is very positively connotated. Make your final sentence more positive and then I think you've got it made!
OP supermodella 4 / 13  
Oct 18, 2009   #4
Thank you so much, but that's my problem! I have no idea how to tie that up nicely, but I get what you mean about the positive connotation. Thank you. :)
OP supermodella 4 / 13  
Oct 19, 2009   #5
Anyone else? I'm applying Early Decision so I really need some feedback on this!

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