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Common app essay-The value of education Stanford Supplement #3- What I learned matter


sahir13 2 / 2  
Dec 16, 2012   #1
Hello, I could use some feedback from some people about these two essays because they're super important. Please and thank you (:

Common App Main Essay

Growing up, I always wished I could skip school every so often, but my parents would never let me miss; after a conversation with my grandfather some years ago, I finally realized why our family values education so much. My grandfather was born in India, and as a boy was forced to migrate to Pakistan with his family during the Partition of 1947. Grandfather started working from the age of seven to help support his family, and so his younger brother could attend school and university, to eventually become a doctor. Although my grandfather had limited resources and time, he still managed to get a college degree.

My grandfather's story is not unique; the vast majority of people in developing countries struggle to gain education. When I taught in Kenya over the summer, I witnessed how my students experienced the same hardships my grandfather experienced to get an education. These students worked to support their families and to pay for school, a daily grind that pays dividends eventually, but is grueling the entire time. Seeing the limited educational opportunities that exist in developing countries like Pakistan and Kenya empowers me and gives me a sense of obligation to embrace the rest of my educational opportunities. This lesson is far more important than anything I learned in my classes, and drives me to challenge myself every day.

My students in Kenya went through many daily struggles outside of the classroom to attain an education, and in some cases to survive. Many were sick, physically abused, or hungry, but even with all those negative circumstances they remained focused and learned the curriculum. These brave and tough kids had unlimited potential, but few resources to help them realize it. I have just as much potential as the young Kenyans, but my resources are incredible; I just had not used them very well in the past. With my awakening came the need to put myself in their shoes, to see if I could perform very well under similar situations. I only ate one meal a day at the school, just like my students. While eating that meal each day, I taught my students basic tech skills, and by the end of the four weeks they had successfully completed that separate, extra course. While I was excited for my student successes, I was also focused on sticking with the Kenyan student diet; I lost 20 pounds and gained some muscle, and when I came home, was the healthiest emotionally and physically I had ever been. Although my adversity was artificially created, I still accomplished my goals of running successful classes.

I went into this trip blinded by stereotypical images of hunger and poverty in Africa, but returned with incredible insight about myself and the Kenyans. Despite tough obstacles, students at Mtongwe Secondary School realized education is the key to uplifting their community; they made the most of their opportunity to learn from me and let me learn from them. I owe much to my students and my grandfather for giving me a new perspective.

Stanford Supplement: What matters to you and why?

A wise man once told me "You must remember that life will have for you many disappointments. If one-fifth of one's hopes are realized, one is extremely lucky and fortunate, so do not be discouraged by disappointments. Failures should be forgotten and new efforts made". In the past however, I was easily discouraged when even the smallest things went wrong. Weather it was not getting noticed by a girl I liked or earning a bad score on an exam, I would be sent spiraling downwards, trapped in a loop of depression. The worst downward spiral occurred in the middle of my junior year; I thought "what's the point of trying in school anymore, I screwed up. It's too late to change anything". At that point, I reflected upon my life and asked myself "How did I get into this situation?"

Through self reflection, I realized my downward spirals were a motif in my life that would reoccur if I kept reacting to my problems with a defeatist attitude. Right then I made a conscious decision to reject despondency from my life; I made the most of the second semester of my junior year by learning from my shortcomings instead of complaining about them. Although I had this epiphany late in my high school career, I still have the rest of my life to apply the lesson I learned. More importantly though, I realized it's never too late to change because every day we wake up we have the opportunity to start anew which matters to me the most.
jingzhao 1 / 3  
Dec 16, 2012   #2
My mentor always told me that details were what made an essay come to life for the readers, so I think more details would make your points much stronger.

About your common app essay:

"I witnessed how my students experienced the same hardships my grandfather experienced to get an education. These students worked to support their families and to pay for school, a daily grind that pays dividends eventually, but is grueling the entire time."

~> I think you could change these sentences a bit. Some examples of your students who worked hard will illustrate your point. What is the name of a student? What did he do to earn money? What time did he start working? How many people were there in his family? What did he say to you about his desire for knowledge?

"Seeing the limited educational opportunities that exist in developing countries like Pakistan and Kenya empowers me and gives me a sense of obligation to embrace the rest of my educational opportunities."

~~> You should spend more words on how you feel about those students. Did you feel sad? Did you hurt? What are your educational opportunities?

"My students in Kenya went through many daily struggles outside of the classroom to attain an education, and in some cases to survive. Many were sick, physically abused, or hungry, but even with all those negative circumstances they remained focused and learned the curriculum. These brave and tough kids had unlimited potential, but few resources to help them realize it. I have just as much potential as the young Kenyans, but my resources are incredible; I just had not used them very well in the past. "

~~> I think you repeated yourself a little bit here. My suggestion is the same as above. Maybe you could merge this part with the previous paragraph. Anyway the most important thing is adding details.

Regarding your amazing diet, you could impress the reader by mentioning your feeling. Were you hungry? How did you feel? Describe your process of realizing your abilities. After you returned, did your family realize you had changed?

About your Stanford supplement:

"Right then I made a conscious decision to reject despondency from my life; I made the most of the second semester of my junior year by learning from my shortcomings instead of complaining about them. Although I had this epiphany late in my high school career, I still have the rest of my life to apply the lesson I learned."

~~> Although you haven't applied the lesson much, you shouldn't just promise. You could add some details about your recent efforts. The efforts may be small, but at least they show your willingness to change.

Since I'm not a native speaker, I can't say anything about your style and vocab and so on. I hope my suggestions could help you add some nice details into your essay.

Could you spend some time reading and revising my supplement essay, please? Thank you.


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