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Common App Essay 200-500 Words

aerial30 1 / 1  
Nov 18, 2012   #1
Please assist with my common app essay! The topic is Indicate a person who has had a significant influence on you, and describe that influence...this is what I have so far--

Influence: the capacity or power of persons or things to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc., of others,

There are many people, places and/or things that influence our day to day lives-some positive and some negative. It is simply amazing how everything around us shapes and carves us as characters. One person can make a huge difference in your life, whereas ten people all together might never change you. The person who has had a significant influence on me happens to be my grandmother, Mattie Gipson.

In spite of the many obstacles my grandmother faced growing up, she had great success in high school, college and the work place. At the age of 9 months, she was put up for adoption because her mother could not take care of her. She was adopted by a wealthy family but was abused by them most of her childhood. Many people crumble and give up after ordeals such as this but my grandmother kept pushing and excelled in every aspect of life. She was valedictorian of her high school class, crowned Miss Rust College during her senior year and graduated with honors. In the workforce, she was a decorated music teacher, a respected executive at Bell South and upon retirement she accepted her call to the ministry. She has held the positions of Pastor, Elder and is currently District Superintendent in the United Methodist Church. I spent the majority of my childhood summers with my grandmother and I watched and learned so much from her. She would sometimes share her story with others who had been abused and tell them that if she can make it so could they. She could reach people that it seemed no one else could and her humble desire to help others in spite of herself greatly influenced my life. My grandmother has always told me to never give up, to always believe in myself and if I wanted and worked hard enough, I could accomplish anything. I have taken that to heart and I feel my compelling desire to help others and my will to push through any obstacle is definitely due to her influence.

chaleys 1 / 11  
Nov 18, 2012   #2
I would get rid of your cliche definition introduction (we all know what influence means) and start with "In spite of the many obstacles my grandmother, Mattie Gipson, faced growing up..."

I like how you start to tell how your incredible grandmother influences you at the end of your essay. But, you need much more of that! Your essay should be mostly about YOU, not your grandmother. I think it would make this piece much stronger if you gave specific examples of HOW your grandmother influenced you.

Please help me with my essay!
cback 1 / 22 6  
Nov 18, 2012   #3
You're listing too many awards, and the image of your grandmother becomes lost among them. Paint your essay with more detailed examples, use specific names to bring characters to life, or even just titles (her principal, her dorm mother, etc.)

How did she influence you? Give a specific example correlating to your grandmother. Your answer was extremely vague and open-ended, sounds as if you chose someone impressive in your family line and attached a Disney moral at the end.

You mentioned she could reach people nobody else could, give an example of that! How did she touch someone else's life? How did it affect you? What was the contrast in your life from when you didn't know her to after her influence took over?
OP aerial30 1 / 1  
Nov 18, 2012   #4
Thanks so much! I really appreciate the feedback.

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