Prompt #1 (Freshman):
Describe the world you come from - for example, your
family, community or school - and tell us how your
world has shaped your dreams and aspirations.
Being raised in an Asian family has impacted my values and goal in all the expected ways. Compared to the culture that everyone in America- including myself- was raised around, the expectations that my parents have tried to impress upon me since childhood seem archaic and unreasonable. However, now that I have grown out of earnest idealism, I have come to appreciate the solid and realistic basis that they revolve around. This, in combination with my experience in the American educational system, has profoundly affected the way that I think today.
When juxtaposed with the Western ideas my teachers preach, it becomes apparent to me that my parents view success and failures in an abjectly different light. From middle school through high school, teachers have often felt the need to stress that failure is a necessary stepping stone to success. This was an utterly shocking revelation to me: from what I had observed from my family, failure only merited scorn.
In my junior year, my grades suffered greatly due to the fact that I took a large number of AP classes, for which studying was more of a requirement than an option. Having coasted by merely relying on natural ability, it was a struggle for me to discover and develop study habits that worked for me. My parents often swooped in on moments of great insecurity to pressure me. I thought it utterly unfair at the time, that when classes were growing more difficult to handle, my parents' emphasis on success grew correspondingly stronger. One particular instance sticks out in my memory: following a succession of failed calculus tests, I achieved a 'B' on one. When I showed my parents this in excitement, I expected praise for having improved. Instead, I was told to try for a better grade the next time.
For quite a while, I resented my parents for this. I was working hard and felt insanely angry that they weren't recognizing the effort I was putting forth. In retrospect, that wasn't the message they were sending at all. They were trying to communicate to me the hackneyed, overused message that more improvement was possible- which, though cheesy, was also true. Though I had felt I had tried my hardest, there was always an extra hour I could have spent studying, the extra problem I could have tried solving. Though it is not an Asian concept per se, I feel like my parents' approach to success and failure- proactive improvement- is leagues more effective than acceptance of failure as a fact of life.
What I want to do with my life is to continuously improve myself. Whether I'm struggling with challenges that stretch my abilities to the limit, or doing things I perform at an adequate level, I aim to further myself as much as possible. Developing skills I am lacking, pushing myself to improve even further- these are all examples of self-improvement, something I wish to continue to do for the rest of my life.
I'm willing to completely rewrite the essay if it's bad. Heaven knows that's all I've been doing all day.