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"Failure is not an option"; Stanford Intellectual Vitality

Dec 29, 2011   #1
The question is: Stanford students possess an intellectual vitality. Reflect on an idea or experience that has been important to your intellectual development.

Here is the essay.

Growing up, I heard the phrase "Failure is not an option" and consistently tried to stay away from it. Now that I have matured, I understand that this quote is fallacious. Ambition is the result of failure. Two years ago, my science teacher ordered me to create a mousetrap vehicle for the annual statewide science contest. Fifteen painful snaps and a hundred splinters later, I created a so called masterpiece. Having immersed myself in the First Deadly Sin, Pride, I chose to take the car straight to the tournament without performing any essential tests. My foolishness led my creation to unfortunately become a piece of wood flying at close competitors. At that moment, all I felt was utter shame for my lack of success in my first attempt. In spite of the failure, this experience had a positive impact on my life. I realized that making mistakes is the first step to truly learning. Since then, I have made many mousetrap vehicles in order to succeed in the contest. My failure resulted in a magnificent vehicle that brought the contest trophy to our school.

This seemingly catastrophic experience will further help me by encouraging me to not ignore the mistakes I will likely make in rigorous college programs, but rather encouraging me to constructively learn from those mistakes. Without failing in some aspects, I would have never understood my weaknesses that I could improve. As Henry Ford, "Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently." I am bound to have difficulty with college, but I know that I will emerge smarter and successful. To make errors is human nature, but to learn from mistakes is essential.

Thank you for reading my essay. It is much appreciated. :)

Growing up, I heard the phrase "Failure is not an option" and consistently tried to stay away from it. You may want to open with something more solid, the sentence seems a bit vague. I wonder what you mean when you say you tried to stay away from it... you wanted to stay away from the phrase, failure, or..? Not totally sure what you mean. I would clear that up.

This seemingly catastrophic experience... Sounds a little dramatic. You have the right idea though, your paper is organized well, although it could be improved to sound more mature. With a little work, your essay will be terrific!
Dec 29, 2011   #4
The essay is good, but I'm not that impressed with it. This essay is likely to get you wait listed. You did well on the essay, but what you fail to do give your reflection at a deeper level. You offer a basic moral of the story that anyone can write. What else you do is incorporate a theme of overcoming failure and becoming a success. Many students write about that all the time.

If you want to separate yourself from other applicants, I advise you to give a deeper analysis of yourself on failure like, "From the event, I understood that failure is a critical step to developing success because without failure, there is no stepping stone to reach perfection. Failure also became the tool that corrected flaws in my personality such as my arrogance which became an inhibitor to my success."

Give a deeper image of yourself, and the essay will make you distinct among other applicants.

I hope my advice helps.

Could you give my Princeton Supplement a read.
Dec 29, 2011   #5
That is pretty good, especially because you have a concrete idea that has helped you. I would suggest not using a quote though, I think it would be better to put it in your own words. Here is mine:

There was only one Constantine. There was only one Thomas
Edison. There is only one Billy Graham. The impact made by each of these men is immeasurable. What if these men had decided to be lazy, to ignore their abilities and live an average life? The world would be a much different place today. Instead, these people chose to use their talents to achieve their potential. These men were the only people with their specific circumstances, and therefore no one else could have accomplished what they did. There is only one Blake Alderink. It is my responsibility to reach my full potential. This idea has been vital to my intellectual development up to this point, and will continue to be for the rest of my life. My personal convictions regarding potential have inspired me to strive to achieve all that I can. I have a desire to have a significant, positive impact on people; however, this desire alone is not what invigorates me. This desire stems from my belief that I am called to do just that. In the same way that much is required from whom much is given, I am responsible for making the most of what I have, whatever that may be. This responsibility, along with my desire, is my inspiration. I believe that the impact I have is directly related to achieving my potential. Therefore, if I do attain my potential, I can have the greatest impact on the world. The reason my responsibility to reach my potential has been so important to my growth intellectually is that I believe my intellect allows for me the most potential. I consider my mind to be one of my greatest assets. Logic and reasoning have always been essential in my life. Furthering my knowledge so that I can grow in wisdom is extremely important to me, as well. These intellectual inclinations have led me to realize where my potential lies, at least up to this point. For this reason, striving to recognize my potential has directly affected my intellectual growth. No one else can reach my potential. My potential is a height only I am tall enough to reach, and it just might happen to be worth reaching for.


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