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Undergraduate   Posts: 5

Fear of asking for help - Common App Essay


lynnlynn 2 / 4 1  
Oct 12, 2018   #1
Please take a look at my essay and give any suggestions you have. Thank you very much!

The topic is on overcoming obstacles.



"It's okay. You can definitely do this." The previous leader smiled proudly as she handed me a little blue tag, marking my new position as the head of the youth group. I felt the same way too; I was deeply passionate about serving people in my youth group, and I loved the idea of leading them as we went on retreats and service trips, even if it came with many responsibilities.

Soon enough, before the summer of 2016 began, I was tasked with the responsibility of planning the annual service trip. The trip is held in Anhui, a rural province in the eastern region of China, and I needed to make reservations for food and lodging, plan activities for the program, and gather all the required supplies in one month. Though the adult leaders offered to guide me along the way, I refused and insisted that I can do it on my own. I hated reaching out to someone for help, because I associated it with vulnerability and failure. Being raised in a strict Chinese culture that values success, soft-spokenness, and obedience, it was difficult for me to speak up and admit my struggles and incompetence. I was used to carrying the weight on my shoulders.

However, because of my reluctance to ask for help, I suffered from large consequences. Being a fifteen-year-old, I had no connections to find a place in Anhui that holds and feeds nearly a hundred children and teens at once. I had no volunteers to lead the program. The weight on my shoulders came tumbling down as I frantically tried to balance between the task, my academics, and extracurricular activities, although in front of others I acted as if nothing happened. As a result, I could not finish the task of planning the service trip on time, and the adult leaders had to push back the date. I realized that I certainly had to stop pretending like I can do everything on my own anymore, so I asked for a second chance. This time, when I planned the trip, I asked members in my church for connections and delegated tasks to others; I was also willing to share about what I was worried of or unsure of during the process. To my surprise, people gladly agreed to cooperate, making me feel less nervous to ask them for help. As I stepped out of my comfort zone, I found it easier to open my mouth.

Even though I had to ask for a second chance, I believe I achieved success because I acknowledged my flaws and tried to perfect them. I recognized that, by not confessing defeat and approaching others for help, I had missed countless opportunities throughout high school to not just enhance my academic performance, but also learn from my mistakes and become a better person. Nonetheless, I am still a work in progress, but I am utilizing the lessons I learned from youth group in other areas of my life too--step by step. In the future, as I prepare to overcome more obstacles in college and beyond, I am confident that I will embrace failure, be fearless of appearing weak, and continue to improve and challenge myself.

Holt [Contributor] - / 7,181 1785  
Oct 13, 2018   #2
Gaby, the story you narrated doesn't fall under an obstacle that you had to overcome. Instead, it falls under one of the following prompt discussions:

1. Describe a problem you've solved or a problem you'd like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma - anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.

2. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

3.Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.

My top choices for the essay that you have written are prompts 1 or 2. That is because the elements of your discussion show more of a personal character development and enlightenment about your own abilities and how those around you can be of help in fulfilling your need for help. The essay you have written is strong and truly indicative of the person that you are and how your life experiences have led you to certain realizations and skills development. I would rather change the prompt than have you write a new essay based on an obstacle topic. Why write something new when you have a perfectly good essay to retrofit into one of the other prompts right?
OP lynnlynn 2 / 4 1  
Oct 24, 2018   #3
Thanks for your suggestion. Sadly I already turned this in but I have a couple more colleges to apply to so I think I will choose the second question. Thank you so much!
SmolBean15 1 / 2  
Oct 30, 2018   #4
I like this essay, it really seems to tell who you are and what you care about.

My only concern is that it seems to tell too much, and not show anything. You basically spell everything out - which is great to know what you are thinking and understand why you acted the way you did - but it doesn't leave a lot up for interpretation, which can lead to mystery and intrigue on the side of the reader.

Feel free to disregard this, only send in what YOU feel confident about. This was just my 2 cents :p
jasmine17 1 / 2  
Oct 31, 2018   #5
Great essay!

I think that you can definitely extend your reflection on the first leadership experience and write how it sparked changes/improvements on your second one. This, of course, would allow you to use the second prompt suggested by @Holt and let more of your personality to shine through.

Regardless, your essay has a strong anecdote and a great structure.


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