I am applying for Purdue University, writing an essay for the Common App under the prompt "Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn?" The following guidelines have been copied directly from the Common App itself:
My essay:In the summer of 2011, I failed to make my high school golf team. It sounds so trivial, but it was so important to me at the time. For many people, failure can be a wall. It would be easy to hit it and turn away. Instead, I chose to learn from it.
Throughout my younger childhood, I took for granted many things. Success came easy to me even as I assumed new responsibilities like working jobs or taking strenuous classes. I'd never really had an opportunity to fail until the golf tryout, and I was not prepared for that failure. It was then that I realized there were things I could not do; I also realized there was something I could do about it.
Entering high school in Ames, I felt pressured to go out for a fall sport. After failing to make the golf team, I decided to play football instead. If my decision taught me anything, it is that there is not much I hate more than playing football. Every tackle, every hit, every embarrassment was a slap to the face. It was a reminder of my failure. By the end of the season, one thing was clear: no matter how much time, hard work, and effort was needed, there was no way I was going underneath those lights every Friday next fall. I would do whatever it took to make the golf team.
The next summer, I bought a season pass to the Iowa State Golf Course. Not a day went by that I did not play. I lost hundreds of golf balls. As the bad shots piled up, it just did not feel like I was making any progress.
Throughout high school, I remember crying exactly two times, one of which was after the divorce of my parents. The other was that summer, halfway through. It was a hot, miserable day when I launched my fourth ball out of bounds into the woods, not half an hour in. As it disappeared into the trees, I collapsed onto the ground and fell apart. I lost hope that I could change something. Yes, it was only golf. Yes, there are far worse things to become upset about, but to me it was more than that. I had accepted that there was something in this world which I could not do.
Two years later, I sit here, still reflecting on this event as I read an email from my golf coach about a meet this week. I am reading that email, because I did not give up that day. I stood back up, put my club back in the bag, and walked forward. I remembered what I had told myself, about not letting anything stand in my way. I could have gotten up and gone home that afternoon, but instead, I kept playing, because that is what I had to do to succeed. Even Edison had to find one thousand ways in which a light bulb would not work.
For me, there will be times when life becomes too difficult. There will be times when I want to let go. The only difference is, I have learned to grab back ahold after I let go. Some people fail, and they quit, because they decide to take a different path. Personally, I believe that so long as I believe I can do anything, I will be able to do it. I have failed in the past, time and time again. Those failures become buried as I continue to build myself as a person. As those roots become deeper, they become an ingrained part of me. Because of that, I have seldom met a challenge that I cannot overcome with enough motivation and hard work. I do not plan on meeting that challenge any time soon.
The word count is sitting at 636 right now. After reading another couple essays, I see that a few of them mention the school within the essay. While I agree this is nice, this is also a Common App essay, which means it's designed to go out to many schools. I am only sending it to Purdue. Would it be useful to mention Purdue because of that? Or is it OK to leave it as more of a personal narrative type essay?
All feedback is appreciated.