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Giving "Hack" A New Name | Common Application Personal Essay [Prompt #4]


BearByte 2 / 3  
Jan 3, 2021   #1
Hello! Please give as much criticism on my essay as you can. Don't hold back (seriously). Thanks!

Prompt:

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 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. (650 word limit)


Famed philosopher Nietzsche (or Kelly Clarkson, depending on who you ask) once wrote the famous words: "That which does not kill us makes us stronger." This quote has become rather cliché in recent history but still holds its significance nonetheless. The idea that one should take failure as an opportunity to build strength is an important one, one that resonated with me when I encountered failure while trying to solve a problem. "What was the problem?" you might ask. Let's talk about it.

The problem in question fell onto my radar while my friends talked about the classes they planned on taking their junior year. I heard the usual. AP this, honors that. But there were two classes I was surprised to hear nobody mentioning: the computer science classes, and when I suggested one of my friends take them, he gave me a somewhat unexpected response:

"I did last year but switched out because it was too boring."

AP CSP is one of my favorite high school classes, so this response surprised me. But it also got me wondering: who else feels this way? So, I decided to conduct a mini-survey via Instagram Stories (very scientific, I know) and received many insightful responses. It turned out that numerous people at my school wanted to learn how to program but found it too boring or too hard, and since my personal experience with coding has been really fun, this didn't sit right with me. So, I decided to take the initiative and do something about it. My solution was to start a club: Berkley Hack Club (BHC), the club where anybody can learn to code (the fun way).

The idea behind BHC is to teach code in a more fun, easily understandable way. The computer science classes in my school focus more on abstract programming concepts than programming itself. It's way easier and fun to learn how to code by making a game versus learning about what loops and variables are. That is the core methodology behind BHC: learning by doing. Of course, this was just an idea. The real challenge was making it a reality.

The first step in starting BHC was registering the club with my school. Easy enough. The next step was the real hurdle: getting people to join. I started hanging up flyers, handing out stickers, and convincing random people in the hallways to join my club, which was extremely uncomfortable for me. I was somewhat of a reserved person at the time, so it felt weird going up to people I didn't know, practically begging them to join BHC. But, I eventually became more comfortable (and less awkward) talking to new people and even made a few friends.

After two weeks of trying to find initial members, I felt prepared enough to hold the first meeting. On the day of the meeting, I sat down in my chair, expecting a sizable turnout. A few people walked in at first, but reality started to set in as time on the clock ticked away. Nobody else was showing up. I held out hope for an hour before finally deciding to call off the meeting. The wave of sadness that came over me that day was immeasurable. I felt like an absolute failure.

Although devastating, I'm glad the meeting flopped because it taught me an essential life lesson: don't fear failure. My fear of failure ultimately hindered BHC's potential because I focused more on "success" than BHC's mission of teaching people to code. Upon this realization, I entirely changed the approach I took towards growing BHC. Instead of focusing on marketing, I focused on the experience, striving to make BHC the most exciting club at my school. Once I did that, I saw BHC go from 3 to 15+ members in only two meetings.

Ironically, failing turned out to be the best solution to the problem I was tackling.

Holt  Educational Consultant - / 10,124 3267  
Jan 4, 2021   #2
Creative and interesting presentation. Interesting take on an otherwise boring discussion. The lessons learned are more than properly developed in the essay. A clear progression of your personality and your desire to succeed is evident. More importantly, the fact that you did not give up and figured out how to bounce back from failure shows that you have the mettle to be a serious college student. The more difficult the situation, the higher your chance of failure, the more you are challenged to succeed. This is a strong presentation that supports a clear reference to an adult maturity on your part. It also shows that you prefer to enter into an unfamiliar situation, then turn it on its head so that you are the one in control of the outcome of the activity you have chosen to do. Good job. This will definitely help the reviewer to consider your application to their university on a higher level than the standard applicant.
OP BearByte 2 / 3  
Jan 4, 2021   #3
Thank you so much for the feedback!


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