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First Cut / Sister's eating disorder - U of M Essay

worldbound10 4 / 18  
Oct 16, 2009   #1
My original idea was to go with the prompt: Describe a setback that you have faced. How did you resolve it? How did the outcome affect you? If something similar happened in the future, how would you react?

I was going to discuss my sister's eating disorder and how much it's impacted my life. I've gotten mixed opinions on this, and even if it was an okay thing to write about, I'm just having trouble getting it to work. I think it's too personal, and I'm worried it will sound like a typical family dysfuction essay, which isn't really what I was going for. Above all, though, I'm not really sure it fits the prompt. I know they're looking for a certain failure or something of the sort and how you overcame it. I wouldn't really say the issues with my sister and our difficult life has been resolved, and the third question really doesn't fit in with my topic.

The next thing I'm thinking of is: Tell us about a book you have read that you found especially challenging, stimulating, or provocative. Explain why it made an impact on you.

The book I'm thinking about is First Cut: A Season in the Human Anatomy Lab. This book really provoked a lot of thought out of me, and it helped inspire me to go into the medical field. Has anyone else read this book? Do you think this is a good idea? I'm just not sure that it's the right kind of book for this essay because it's not a classic piece of American Literature, and is focused on a scientific issue. I know that colleges are looking for you to reveal characterisitcs about yourself that would be appealing to the college, and I'm not sure if that would really come out of my essay on this particular book.

HELP, PLEASE! I'm severly rushed for time on this as I should have had it done long ago. The deadline is November 1st.
HaileyHAVOC - / 1  
Oct 16, 2009   #2
I like the first idea with your sister's experience. I think that it's a very good idea although you're right with the family dysfunction aspect. I would say make sure that it's not too teenage angst I hate my life. There are millions of people who can talk about the awful things that have happened to them and I like the fact that you decided to focus on another's experience. It should give them something to think about and it will be a lot more interesting than an essay on a book. Try to remember that admissions people read hundreds and hundreds of essays a day, so anything you can say to make yours stick out is always a good thing.

Hope I helped! Sorry if I didn't!
ayida365 7 / 33  
Oct 16, 2009   #3
I think your second idea is great. Though I did not read that book.
I don't think that the Admission Officer recommend you just to write essay about a certain kind of books, and this book can also reveal your characterisitcs as well as the American Literature classics. For example the Admission officers may know that you ofen read difficult scientific books,(you are a student who knows how to think scientifically, and you are mature in thoughts) that makes you fit for your science major. Admission Officers can read between the lines; they do not just see what you tell.

And certainly many students will write about some classic pieces of American Literature, so if you write about a different book, it may be easier for you to stand out.
catherineding 3 / 8  
Oct 16, 2009   #4
I think the second one is better. As you said "I know that colleges are looking for you to reveal characterisitcs about yourself that would be appealing to the college", I think you can talk about how this book discover your potential or how you transform in characteristic while reading this book. I think that will be amazing. At least I am really looking forward to reading about your change.

P.S I am rushed for time either. I think topics of U of M are really interesting, but very hard to write. :)
xtlraptor 2 / 2  
Oct 17, 2009   #5
The first idea is good in the sense that it would STAND OUT from the other essays due to the unique problem. However, the linking to yourself maybe tough and there is a tendency of not writing enough about yourself.

The second idea is good as it shows that you explore outside normal curriculum text and being the book that inspired you, there is probably a lot of feelings and analytical thoughts you are input into your essay which is something personal and would appeal to admission officers.
hope123 2 / 15  
Oct 17, 2009   #6
Hey! We're in the same boat! I also didn't really finish my essay yet. Now about your question. I think you should go with the second choice since you have a lot to say about it (I'm assuming). The reason why I think the first choice is not as good is that it, like you said, doesn't really fit the prompt. And you mold something into what you'd like it to be is going to be really hard. The second is better because it's safer, in a way. And looks like you don't have a lot of time to complete it!
OP worldbound10 4 / 18  
Oct 18, 2009   #7
Thanks for all the opinions. Surprisingly, I'm still going back and forth. I was all ready to change my idea to the second one (the book), but I started brainstorming and can't think of many ways it's influenced me besides giving me a new perspective on the medical field and giving me a passion for it.

I want to go with my original idea, but I'm still having the same problems. I know it has impacted my life in every aspect, but yet I struggle with explaining how so in the way that would be appealing to the university. I DO NOT want it to sound like a sob story looking for sympathy or with the end result of "I'm a stronger person."
EF_Stephen - / 264  
Oct 18, 2009   #8
A part of me thinks that this conversation might make a good essay for you because it shows that you take things seriously and really try to think things through. That is exactly the quality college people are looking for.

Of the two possibilities you mention, though, I like the second one, for the reasons already mentioned. Literature is great, but there is so very much more in the world to read, and the fact that you chose a medical book speaks much about you that goes to your character is ways that your experiences with your sister do not.
Notoman 20 / 419  
Oct 18, 2009   #9
I'll echo the opinion that so many others have already offered ... go with the book essay.

The first choice has too many potential pitfalls. You could easily end up talking too much about your sister and not enough about yourself. It is a personal situation and that can be a tough line to walk--you don't want to come across as being either oblivious or helpless, but you can't really be the hero in her story either.

I like the idea of the book. Influencing you to pursue a particular profession is a very strong impact. I also like that it isn't the typical literature essay. I read once where a college admission's guy said he felt like puking every time a Catcher in the Rye essay crossed his desk. I have confidence that you can make it work well!
OP worldbound10 4 / 18  
Oct 26, 2009   #10
Thanks for the input, everyone! Taking the advice of the majority, I went with the book essay. I FINALLY finished a very rough draft of it. Please help me with it! The opening and ending are kind of weak right now - advice on how to make them better? I know it's too long, so any suggestions on how to make it more concise or things to cut out would be very helpful! Thank you!

Tell us about a book you have read that you found especially challenging, stimulating, or provocative. Explain why it made an impact on you.

Never did I expect on the morning that I sat down to begin reading First Cut: A Season in the Human Anatomy Lab that this book would have such a profound impact on me. I expected to enjoy the book, like I have most of the scientific books, especially those of medical nature, that I have taken interest in over the last couple of years. However, as soon as I began the first few pages of First Cut, I knew it was different. Carter, the author, doesn't just graze the surface of human anatomy; he digs deep down into larger issues that can be realized from an experience in medicine.

Albert Howard Carter III, a professor of Literature and Humanities at Eckerd College, elected to spend a semester observing first-year medical students in a human anatomy lab at Emory University. The book takes the reader dissection by dissection through the socialization process, as well as the technical content, of the class-from the first cut to the final memorial services for the cadavers at the closure of the term. He vividly and poetically recalls the details of dissecting each cadaver, giving huge insight to the anatomy of a human body. Moreover, he develops the characters of the six main students he most closely observed at table Number 3 in the lab, and their emotional and difficult journeys through their first semester of medical school. Character is also brought, somewhat ironically, to each of the lifeless cadavers. Each has been given a name by their dissectors, and has a unique set of qualities involving their age, gender, body type, cause of death, and more. Carter expects to write about the lab, the instructors, the lectures, the students, and their subjects, but the additional reflection he gains is just as meaningful. He explores the powerful ideas of life and death and the marvel of our own bodies.

Before reading this novel, I considered medicine to be strictly technical. It interested me because sciences had always appealed to me, and because I wanted to enter a career field where I would be helping people. That is just the surface of medicine though; a career in health sciences means so much more than that. This book inspired a lot of thinking out of me, due to Carter's open ended questions and interesting concepts. I'd never considered there to be an "unlikely paradox, of life arising from death" (293). While the point of this dissection is for students to master human anatomy, they gained additional insight. Carter says, "We each cut in different ways, and all of us are increasingly able to see more within these bodies and within ourselves, deepening our own humanity while studying the unusual humanity of the dead."

In our culture, death is final. Discussing the intricacies of death is considered taboo or morbid. First Cut breaks these rules. First Cut weaves a deep relationship with these bodies, dead or alive. The students become close with death as they study these bodies that once may have been walking beside them. Carter quotes a student, "'See, the tissue below all died without oxygen. Killed him.' I feel a wave of emotion: we have just seen this man's final fatal secret." They are forced to consider the final moments of these people's lives and the person they were before they died, with thoughts like, "But the encounter with the human cadavers is able to filter deeper into our consciousness and to raise other, far more difficult questions. With each dissection we must think about their culture, religion, social background: What was her life like? How did she decide to donate? What must have that cancerous liver, spinal fusion, or bed sore felt like? Who painted her nails?" This book caused me to think differently about death. Death is always a concept I've been confused by. I've wondered, what really happens when we die? How can someone be alive and on this Earth one second, and gone forever the next? Is there no transition? Can it really be that simple? I've always known the subject of death is no simple thing; I just have yet to comprehend the spectacle. This book gave me more insight into these questions, and I realized that there is so much that can happen after death. Life can emerge from death. In this case, it was in the form of knowledge.

There are so many things we can do in our lifetime to help others in terms of health: giving blood, volunteering in hospitals, donating money, and so on. These are so important, but never do we think what an impact we can make after death. In addition to organ donation, we can donate our bodies to medicine. This is truly giving back; it continues the cycle of learning by giving the most precious gift to medical students. Most often after death, our bodies are preserved and placed into beautiful caskets, and we are buried in the ground. First Cut made me realize that something so much more influential can be done with my body. I can think of no better purpose for my own body than for it to be sent to a human anatomy lab where a nervous medical student, scalpel in hand, will make a life-changing first cut.

Of all the thought provoking that First Cut caused me, the most influential on my life was the fact that it made me want to go into the medical field even more than I did before. Not only do I enjoy science and want to help people, I want to experience what the students, or even Carter, have. They "have seen and considered some of the absolute limits of humanity." I know that I could get more out of life by going into a career where I would be taking care of other's lives.

I have never attained something so different than what I expected out of reading a book than with First Cut. I expected it to be an educational book on human anatomy, which intrigued me but didn't prepare me for a challenge on the mind. Who knew that a description of the dissection of a cadaver could stir up such thoughts about life, death, humanity and the meaning of it all? I have never read a book backed with such educational information that has been so entertaining to read at the same time. I felt that I was there in the classroom, looking over the table at the same cadaver as Carter was, watching procedures like the removal of the heart and bisection of the head. Not only did I gain more insight into human anatomy and physiology, my favorite science, but I learned to think outside the box. When things as important as this can be considered from something that appears so scientific, I know that the medical field is the area for me.
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,321 129  
Oct 30, 2009   #12
In our culture, death is conceived of as something that is "final." What culture? In what way is it final? This sentence could be clearer.

Oh, your writing is so good that I don't want you to have to cut any of it! You'll need to let go some of the sentences, though. Choose the weakest paragraph and chop it!

What you need to do is ask yourself what your purpose is. Then you will know what to cut and what to keep. You convinced me to get the book!!
srandhawa 10 / 157  
Oct 30, 2009   #13
You choose a good topic, you have some good descriptions, I just think you could work a little bit more on your conclusions. You definitlely make them, but there is also some passive, weak writing in this essay as well. I'll give you three examples, two of what you don't want to do and one of where you do a good job 1. I can think of no better purpose for my own body than for it to be sent to a human anatomy lab where a nervous medical student, scalpel in hand, will make a life-changing first cut. This is excellent, its vivid and its a diff. perspective on something a lot of kids will talk about in their essays in terms of wanting to pursue medicine. However, the ending "I learned to think outside the box. When things as important as this can be considered from something that appears so scientific, I know that the medical field is the area for me" is not how you want to leave the writing. You don't state anything particuarly meaningful here, and you use hte cliche thinking outside the box. DO NOT USE THESE KIND OF CLICHES. Even if the rest of your essay is strong, this is the kind of sentence that will make up a large part of an ad coms impressio nof you. Here's the third quote, "I know that I could get more out of life by going into a career where I would be taking care of other's lives". Not much wrong with the writing here, but a little more interpretation, reflection, analsyis, whatever you call it would serve you well. This is a big theme of your essay, and not only do you get away from it in your conclusion, as a whole, you don't go as much into this as you probably should. I agree with the moderator that you should look to cut out lots of details up front to shorten this essay, ask yourself is everything truely necessary, but a little bit more in the things i mentioned and a general revision and i think you will be in good shape, much better than you probably think. I have 3 michigan essays im turnign as well tom. if you could get a chance and look at them, it would be great, thanks alot.

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