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"You are good at everything." - Stanford Intellectual Vitality essay


lexmonti 3 / 7  
Nov 1, 2009   #1
Stanford students are widely known to posses a sense of intellectual vitality. Explain to us a time when you felt intellectually engaged.

What do you think? Any suggestions? And do you think this is an adequate response to the topic?

"It's not fair," my friend Natalie had once said to me, "You are good at everything."
At first I thought this was a silly statement; I know that I am not good at everything but I realize that I am good at many things. The more I thought about it, the more questions came to mind: What is it that makes me able to do the things I do? What is it that gives people the ability succeed in certain areas? And what is the cause of success anyway?

I certainly have not been successful in particular areas my entire life. I mean when I was born I was just as accomplished as any other baby, so how have I become the person that I am today?I have learned that the answer to this question lies in the random qualities I have inherited from my parents, the opportunities (both good and bad) that I have had, the words of inspiration that I have received from random people that have allowed me to develop into the person I am now.

As I write this now reflecting on the defining moments in my life I realize how easily I could have been swayed in the wrong direction. Is it fair that I found my way out? I don't really have an answer to that question, but I feel like because I have realized the importance of opportunities it is partially my responsibility as a contributing member of society to encourage people to help find what will lead them to success too. Whenever I see someone struggling I offer encouraging words, whenever I see someone with a spark of inspiration I try to stimulate it, whenever I someone eager to learn I try to teach them what I know.

Being successful is something we learn through our opportunities. Whether it is simple words of inspiration, a success, a failure, or a thought provoking statement like Natalie's, we are shaped into what we will eventually become. By providing people with inspiration and opportunities to succeed we will have more successful people and a more successful today.
Vulpix - / 71  
Nov 1, 2009   #2
Hmm. This is an interesting approach- I can't say that I've ever seen anything exactly like this in response to this particular prompt.

My main concern is that the prompt asks to "Explain to us a time when you felt intellectually engaged." You talk about being good at many things in your essay, which I'm sure is true. However, you never mention anything in particular, or a specific event to illustrate your statement. I guess you're trying to say that being told you are good at everything was a thought-provoking moment, but it would seem like there are better ways to convey a sense of "intellectual vitality". Do you like to read? Do you love scientific research? I think that is more along the lines of what this prompt is looking for.

However, I understand that it's late in the day and your early action deadline is fast approaching.
Here are some quick fixes:

""It's not fair," my friend Natalie had once said to me, "You are good at everything.""
Change the second comma to a period ("once said to me. "You are [...]""). Also, get rid of the word "had", since it's unnecessary.

"I mean when I was born I was just as accomplished as any other baby, so how have I become the person that I am today?"

Starting that sentence with "I mean" seems strangely colloquial, since the rest of your essay doesn't maintain that same informal tone.

"the words of inspiration that I have received from random people that have allowed me to develop into the person I am now."

What words of inspiration? Any specific examples? And did they really come from "random people", like total strangers? Or do you mean people like your parents, your teachers, or your friends?

"As I write this now reflecting on the defining moments in my life I realize how easily I could have been swayed in the wrong direction."

This makes me a little curious- elaborate on your defining moments.

As for your last paragraph, I'm a little surprised that you suddenly switched from "I" to "we". Why the plural form? Especially that last sentence- it sounds like the mission statement of a Fortune 500 company.
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,321 129  
Nov 4, 2009   #3
Thanks, Rebecca, for those corrections! I mean When I was born, I was just as accomplished as any other baby, so how have I become the person that I am today?

Unfortunately, much of this seems very self-indulgent. You can make it more impressive by saying your friend only thought you were good at "everything" because she happened to have seen you engaging in the activities to which you are best suited.

If you read about some of Gardener's famous work about "multiple intelligences," it might help you to find ideas for revising this to be more introspective...you can write about how some of the kinds of intelligence your friend had are weak areas for you. Show the reader that you are aware of your limitations and trying to transcend them.
OP lexmonti 3 / 7  
Dec 30, 2009   #4
You are both right. I didn't like the essay at all during and after I wrote it, it didn't capture the reality of the situation and I didn't really have confidence in it. It was sort of a makeshift essay. I decided to do regular decision so my essays were better. I also noticed that I did sound self indulgent.

Thank you both for your input.
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,321 129  
Jan 8, 2010   #5
Well, it's hard not to sound self indulgent with this kind of essay! It's really tricky to get it just right. I hope they accept you!!


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