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Environmentalism and Leonardo da Vinci - The Common App Short Answer and Essay


aa6877 5 / 29  
Nov 3, 2009   #1
Hey everyone, I would really appreciate a critique on these two pieces I wrote for the Common Application:

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Essay # 1: In the space provided below, please elaborate on one of your activities (extracurricular, personal activities, or work experience) - (150 words or fewer).
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The heat was almost unbearable that afternoon, but I remained stoic because I knew that day was important. It was finally time for the first event that the Environmental Society at my school had organized: a hiking trail clean-up. Using only garbage bags, shears, and gardening gloves we managed to clear up many of the malignant weeds growing in the area, and we also managed to liberate the trail of much of the litter it had accumulated over the years.

I had signed up for the society hoping to assist the group with its noble environmentalist endeavors; fortunately we accomplished more after the clean-up. Joining the society and participating in its activities was an enriching experience. I truly felt like I was helping save the world, and making a few good friends on the way was a wonderful bonus.

(139 Words)

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Essay #2: Describe a character in fiction, a historical figure, or a creative work (as in art, music, science, etc.) that has had an influence on you, and explain that influence.

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Reading Dan Brown's bestseller The Da Vinci Code intrigued me greatly and made me wonder: could Leonardo da Vinci really have been intelligent enough to have hidden all those secret codes in his artworks? Of course, I realized Brown's novel was a work of fiction, but the imaginative story he had crafted inspired me to research da Vinci and learn more about this enigmatic polymath. Upon reading more about da Vinci, it dawned on me that he was the archetypal figure of who I wanted to be.

Leonardo da Vinci was the epitome of a Renaissance Man. Not only was he an accomplished visual artist, but he was also widely recognized for his breakthroughs in science and engineering. Much like da Vinci, my interests lie in both the humanities and the sciences. Even though I would prefer to choose research science as a career, I still hold a deep appreciation for the arts and their beneficial effect on the human psyche.

Da Vinci's seemingly superhuman ingenuity was evident in his detailed diagrams and essays. Long before proper calculators were even invented he had already made his own prototype, which he called an Adding Machine. He even had ideas down to build a helicopter! These amazing facts inspired me to look into a research-based career. I dream of one day making a breakthrough discovery to help humankind; even laying the groundwork for future discoveries would fulfill my aspirations. My hopes of contributing to society in such a way motivate me to always do my best.

A somewhat little-known fact about da Vinci was that he was a vegetarian entirely for ethical reasons. Back in his time, that was extremely rare. Da Vinci was one of the many great thinkers I admired, along with the likes of fellow vegetarians Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein, who inspired me to become a vegetarian myself. He taught me that being yourself and standing up for what you believe in is much more rewarding than conforming to society's sometimes cruel standards. Becoming a vegetarian has been truly liberating and I feel like I'm making a positive impact on the world even by doing something as small as this. Hopefully I can inspire others in the future just like da Vinci inspired me.

Today, even centuries after da Vinci's death, he still lives on through his accomplishments. His paintings Mona Lisa and The Last Supper are still two of the most widely recognized and loved pieces of art in the entire world. His sketch entitled Vitruvian Man has become a universal symbol for the human body. I know that I want to be the same way. Not famous exactly, but significant. I yearn to explore the frontiers of science, especially biology. Being remembered for my achievements, however small, would be an honor. Hopefully I can contribute to the progress of humankind just like the great Leonardo da Vinci!

HarmonSa 6 / 13  
Nov 4, 2009   #2
Hi,aa, here is some of my advice and I hope it can help you(By the way, it looks like we two choose the same prompts)

The first passage:

1. After reading the first sentence I thought a running race was about to begin...er, well then, since you've written in the following sentences that you are going to clear the weeds and trail, then why don't you delineate your actions and mentation during the process at the beginning of the paragraph? You can give us a sense of flashback and I believe it can intrigue readers.

2. The last sentence of second paragraph can not convince me that your experience is enriching. I think points are enough, but you need some more words to reinforce them.

The second one:
1. Sincerely, I think 456 words are far from adequate...My teacher told me that the essays of students he knew who earned full scholarship and entered top universities are about one and a half page measured in the paper of A4; that should be about 900 words to 1000 words. I wrote 982 words...

I don't know whether you are going to expand your essay largely or not, so please tell me how you would like to do and then I can give you the contingent advice in order to improve it in my best effort.

Harmon
redsox34 2 / 10  
Nov 4, 2009   #3
In the second essay, the length is not the problem. You tell the reader all about DaVinci but nothing about yourself. You have to reveal who you are in this essay and you missed the mark.
OP aa6877 5 / 29  
Nov 21, 2009   #4
I changed my da Vinci essay a little bit; taking out a bit of the superfluous content about him and adding a bit about more about me. Honestly, I don't really know what to add; I thought I had covered all the points well enough but apparently not =( Could you guys give some advice if you think I still need to add a bit more of something? Thanks.
OP aa6877 5 / 29  
Nov 22, 2009   #5
Anyone have any feedback? Sorry for the double post.
OP aa6877 5 / 29  
Nov 23, 2009   #6
Anyone, please I'm running out of time with my applications, I don't want to wait till the last second but I need to know if my essay's ok =(
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,334 129  
Nov 23, 2009   #7
I like your phrase:
A somewhat little-known fact...

This really is very good, and it seems to answer the prompt well. I think you should take advantage of the opportunity to make a connection with your chosen field of study. Da Vinci was involved in so many arts and sciences that he surely had something to do with your chosen field...

:-)

...he was the archetypal figure of who I wanted to be. (After this sentence, I think your career aspirations should be mentioned.)
OP aa6877 5 / 29  
Dec 3, 2009   #8
Unfortunately I wish to go into molecular biology/biochemistry, and even da Vinci wasn't ingenious enough to study those during his times =P

Anyway, I revised the 1st and 3rd paragraph a little bit; now in the 1st one I state early on what I would later confirm in the consecutive paragraphs, and in the 3rd one I wrote a little on which particular fields of science I would like to go into. I highlighted the revised parts in red

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Reading Dan Brown's bestseller The Da Vinci Code intrigued me greatly and made me wonder: could Leonardo da Vinci really have been intelligent enough to have hidden all those secret codes in his artworks? Of course, I realized Brown's novel was a work of fiction, but the imaginative story he had crafted inspired me to research da Vinci and learn more about this enigmatic polymath. Upon reading more about da Vinci, it dawned on me that he was the archetypal figure of who I wanted to be; someone who became influential for pushing the boundaries of knowledge and discovery.

[2nd Paragraph are the same]

One thing da Vinci and I have in common is our thirst of knowledge and undying curiosity. His seemingly superhuman ingenuity was evident in his recorded research papers and detailed diagrams. Long before proper calculators were even invented he had already made his own prototype, which he called an Adding Machine. He even had ideas down to build a helicopter! These amazing facts inspired me to look into a scientific research-based career. The fields of biology that interest me the most are the ones that explore the smallest and, in a way, most complex parts of organisms; namely genetics, biochemistry, and molecular biology. I dream of one day making a breakthrough discovery to help humankind; even laying the groundwork for future discoveries would fulfill my aspirations. My hopes of contributing to society in such a way motivate me to always do my best.

[4th and 5th Paragraphs are the same]

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So is there anything I should add? Anything I should leave out?
zealzou 11 / 54  
Dec 3, 2009   #9
A piece of advice on the first passage.... I like that topic very much, but I want to hear you talk more about your sense of pride of "help save the world". I think your sense is more important than the activity itself and maybe readers care about howyou have growed after that.

Just a suggestion~
OP aa6877 5 / 29  
Dec 4, 2009   #10
Zealzou, I'm sorry, but I don't really understand what you were trying to say...


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