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Common Application Essay (My Transition to High School)

Cellerdoor 1 / -  
Dec 21, 2008   #1
My Transition to High School

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it!" I used to be a firm believer in that statement, that is, until I stepped into high school. Entering high school, I was confident of success. I vividly remember my freshman orientation. As luck would have it, my friends and I were sorted into the same homeroom. We expected to be the booming majority. But soon we realized we were actually the silent minority. I was not ready for change and a quick glance across the room told me most people weren't either. People like to keep the status quo, to keep what is comfortable to them, and to keep their circle of friends for strength in numbers. But as I soon realized, success does not come to people who cling to the old, but to people who embrace the new.

I graduated from a relatively small elementary school. I knew everybody in my class and they all knew me. At recess, our senior fleet would capture the treasured 4-squares and we took tremendous pride in capsizing the lower-class men. At lunch, we would sit next to each other and talk about the Pokémon show from last night. I never worried too much about school; I did well in my classes and had my few moments of glory here and there. Life was great! High school, I thought, was going to be just a continuation of elementary school and not necessarily change. I was shocked to find just the opposite. High school came with burdensome homework, it came with more people from diverse backgrounds, and it came with much more challenges. Looking back, I was a relatively big fish in a small pond. But what happens to these fishes when you move them into the ocean? Even a student in freshman biology would be able to tell you that such a drastic change in the environment would mean the extinction of the species. Well, that is almost what happened. Maybe that is why people are reluctant to give up their tradition and to journey into the unknown. Either way, whether you are fish or people, the ugly truth is: change is hard.

My first few weeks of high school were memorable. I remember getting lost on many occasions and serving countless detentions for being late to class. I was hesitant to speak out and approach my new classmates, after all I still sat with my old friends but instead of Pokémon, it was Yugioh. I remember PE class and the excitement and pain for having to run on a real track. I remember being invited to the prestigious "Sunday Math" but then getting bombarded with mathematical gibberish that I did not understand. High school was not a continuation of the little pond; it was a whole different sea. Instead of the calm serenity of the pond, the mighty forces of the waves constantly batter you, drown you. Like sailors, to stay on top of things you must take matter into your control and make adjustments when necessary.

Now I am on the eve of another change - college. But I am a seasoned sailor now and I will be ready. I did not realize this before, but change is all around us, it is happening all the time. For progress to have continued, there must be men who challenged the status quo and changed the society. Take the Wright brothers, against the conventional wisdom they attained flight. Take Copernicus, against the death threats from the mighty Catholic Church, he revolutionized astronomy forever. Take Socrates, against public ridicule and outright shunning, he founded the western philosophy. And take the French Revolution, against the century old imperialistic absolute monarchy, it gave birth to the idea of democracy and self-determination.

In the end, I made it through my freshman year and did all right even if the transition took a while. It is true that the majority of the fishes forced into the ocean might have died off. But the same freshman in his 2nd semester of biology would tell you that there is always the few who will adapt to the changes and not only survive but thrive. These are the fishes that swam their way to the top of their food chain and these are the people who will lead this world.
EF_Sean 6 / 3,491  
Dec 21, 2008   #2
""If it ain't broke, don't fix it!" I'm not sure that the experience you describe actually refutes this statement, so you might want to omit it. Apart from that, the essay is relatively well-written stylistically. I liked the extended fish metaphor that you used throughout. The main problem you have is that, having written what is essentially a narrative essay about your transition to high school, you leave off the most important part, namely how you eventually overcame all the problems that you mention. You list the difficulties you had in adjusting, mention that change is hard, point out that you are about to undergo another great change, then add that you did eventually adjust last time. This is a bit unsatisfying. A better approach would be to list the difficulties you faced, then to give an anecdote in which you learned what you had to do to succeed, then to mention that you were in fact able to succeed, then to say that you are facing a new change, but that the lessons you have learned will guide you through it.
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,321 129  
Dec 22, 2008   #3
It could work out okay if you expand the meaning by concluding with a revision of that saying. Perhaps you could conclude the essay by giving a new version of that expression, and that would fix it, too! You could say that your new understanding is that:

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it, but check to see if it..." (something)


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