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'Grades can influence many things.' - Columbia early admission Common App essay

help_me_123 1 / -  
Nov 1, 2015   #1
This is my response to the common app prompt "Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?"

I would appreciate some feedback on it. I specifically need help with a good way to end it as my ending is pretty abrupt and cynical at the moment. (I couldn't think of anything)

Grades can influence many things. A student's chances of being accepted into his or her dream college, the expectations placed on the students by others and sadly even the way the student's peers view him or her can be based on the student's grades. In this highly competitive generation, grades are seemingly all important, and rightfully so because there must be a way to quantifiably judge a student. Yet this idea has seemingly gone too far, to the point where grades are even influencing the attitudes of students towards certain things. I saw this unfold first hand during the beginning of my sophomore year, due to the summer assigned reading of Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë.

The English II class at my school is known for giving an insanely difficult test on this book during the first week of school. Prior to the test, my class had intelligent class discussions about the book and everyone claimed to have enjoyed the tale of sin and revenge. Yet, once our horrendous test scores came back to us, not a single person claimed to have enjoyed the book. At first I thought that it was simply a jovial overreaction to our test scores, claiming that our lives were ruined thanks to the book and the test. However, as time went on, no one seemed to want to change their point of view about the book and soon the book's title became synonymous to something satanic. When I tried to argue the fact that the book itself was actually quite interesting, they all looked at me as though there were some screws loose in my head. In the end, I was only able to get my teacher to agree with me, which wasn't much to my advantage considering that she had made the test which had seemingly caused everyone's opinion of the book to be changed for the worse. At first many of my classmates assumed that I was advocating the book simply because I had gotten a good score on the test, as if I was speaking down upon them from some high up pedestal. Such an assumption raised a question inside of me. Did my classmates truly believe that grades were everything and anything that results in a bad grade should be considered some form of taboo? Even after I told them that I had not done very well on the test, they seemed to think that I was some heretic who did not really care about his grades.

At the time I had not realized that I was actually challenging anything other than the fact that my classmates thought that the book was not worth reading. However, upon looking back on the incident, I realize that I was challenging the very importance of grades. While school should be a place of learning and gaining knowledge, it has simply become a place to earn a letter grade that will allow one to be considered by colleges and universities. While I too care about grades just as much as my classmates, I did not see a reason to forsake a book and all that could be learned from it simply due to a bad test grade.

What I challenged was not something major, it was simply my friends and their assumptions. Yet through this challenge I was able to gain insight into my friends' personalities and how they view education itself. I, someone who is normally quite shy, was able to advocate something that nearly everyone else was against. But perhaps most importantly, I've realized that people's original points of view may be extremely fickle and can easily be swayed.

P.S. The Word Limit is 650
Hanan125 4 / 9 2  
Nov 2, 2015   #2
In paragraph 2 :

Line 3 : irealize should be I realized .
Line 4 : it has simply become should be became
Line 6 : while I too should be also .

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