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"Growth Through Astronomy" - Common App essay review


rezzydemption 1 / 1  
Sep 30, 2010   #1
Hi, I recently came up with this common app essay which i believe falls under the "Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you." category...I wanted to get meaningful opinions on it...

Growth Through Astronomy

My upbringing was never really one that allowed me to obtain much liberty. Both of my parents, for fear of the consequences, rarely let me stray too far from the mandates they set forth. It's only been recently, when I joined the school Astronomy Club, that I have really been able to appreciate my first true tastes of independence.

Early in my club career, talk had been going around about a field trip to the local NASA space station for weeks. At first, I was a bit skeptical of signing up for it because my lack of self-reliance had always been a hindrance of mine. My passion for astronomy and space exploration was strong enough to let me sign on as a possible guest to the Kennedy Space Center; all I had to do now was bring this topic up with my parents. Sitting at dinner the very same day, images of possible outcomes raced through my mind as I pondered what the outcome to my question would be. Without thinking I blurted out my question to my father who was sitting directly across from me. "Is it okay if I went on field trip to the Kennedy Center to watch a space shuttle launch?" I reluctantly asked. To my surprise, however, my parents gave me an answer right then and there; a resounding "Yes." Finally my parents had let go of my chains, so to speak, and a spark of excitement lit up in me.

The journey to NASA would begin at midnight the day of the launch. As a result, I would have to pack my bags and take a nap after I got home from school in order to make it to the shuttle that would take us on our outing. Eleven o'clock came and my alarm clock went off. As soon as I got up I knew there was no going back from this point. Soon I found myself walking up to a shuttle full of my peers. They seemed rather talkative while I kept to myself. Our bus driver took no time in putting the shuttle in gear and getting up on the highway that would lead us to our destination. As I watched streetlights go by just outside of my window, thoughts of uncertainty plagued my mind: How do I propose to look after myself and what should I do if something goes awry? Three o'clock arrived and we approach our halfway pit stop. When I disembarked the bus I was suddenly stricken with my new reality, it was time for me to be my own boss. My friends and fellow club members made my experience a much more comfortable one. Being able to talk and laugh together with them made me realize how vital other people in the "real world" can be in becoming an independent person. I'll have to admit, my peers were a huge driving force in helping me express myself as an individual whilst on my own.

The time had come, six thirty-one (NASA is very precise), for me to witness history. Comfortable with my newfound liberty I confidently stepped out of the shuttle and walked over to the viewing area for the launch. The loud speaker overhead began to count down in typical NASA fashion. Numbers that had now become legendary and synonymous with self-determination rang in my ears as I watched a rocket propel itself into the sky signaling the culmination of my journey. It's not that I am now ready to be totally on my own; it's that I have evolved into the kind of person that is capable of that.
Shadow93 9 / 40  
Oct 1, 2010   #2
Uhhhhh.... I have to say that this essay seems very mundane. I understand the perspective that you are trying to present, but it did not seem to me to be such a dramatic portrayal as you paint it to be. You talk of this decision making you a person that is capable of being alone and you tie it to this "permission" given by your parents.

Firstly, it did not seem believable as an average reasonable person that your transformation became apparent to you because of this event. I personally felt that your discussion would be more fruitful if you continue on talk about how this realization began to change you as a person or for instance, how the family dynamics began to change because you became more assertive.

I felt that simply stating that this decision changed your life and talking about your NASA experience did not manage to present the view you might have had in mind. As a reader, I enjoyed your writing style but I felt that I could not get to know you as a person because your focus on your experience instead of yourself became the focus of your essay.

Try to go over it and make it more focused on your idea :)

Good luck!
Mustafa1991 8 / 373 4  
Oct 1, 2010   #3
"My upbringing" is the problem with your first paragraph, which is all I read.

My upbringing was never really one that allowed me to obtain much liberty. Both of my parents, for fear of the consequences, rarely let me stray too far from the mandates they set forth. It's only been recently, when I joined the school Astronomy Club, that I have really been able to appreciate my first true tastes of independence.

The following words evoke a charged tone or have been misused otherwise: upbringing, liberty, consequences, stray, mandates, independence, etc.

Liberty is not obtained. Liberty does not mean independence. To appreciate something here is to presuppose about what has been preconceived.

Sean used to be a moderator here, and it reminds me of him when you use words that are useless: never, really, much, too, really, first, true, etc.

Your sentence structure needs work. You should refrain from juxtaposing emotions, tones, and narratives that clash; this can be corrected at least partially by changing some of the words that I've listed up above.

There are obvious problems with grammar, but this is not my area of specialty so I'll give just one example: In a sentence, such as this one, the words between commas should serve as a comment/afterthought, and they must be non-essential to the integrity of the sentence as an independent clause; your sentence works fine, but vital meaning is misplaced within the set of commas.

Finally, not for lack of more problems to point out but for a lack of time, I recommend that you avoid making vague allusions that distract from your purpose.
sabs 5 / 8  
Oct 1, 2010   #4
christopher i believe you should concentrate on focusing on trying to make the reader get to know who you are through your experiencing. Not only explain your experience.
mea505 - / 265  
Oct 1, 2010   #5
My upbringing was never really one that allowed me to obtain much liberty. Both of my parents, for fear of the consequences, rarely let me stray too far from the mandates they set forth. It's only been recently, when I joined the school Astronomy Club, that I have really been able to appreciate my first true tastes of independence.

--> What mandates? What were the restrictions placed upon you by your parents? You need to explain these things in the essay, so that the reader is well aware of what you are trying to say.

You seem to want to express some sort of "evolution" that happened between yourself and your parents, and in this case, it was the viewing of the launch of the space shuttle. Why don't you explain that in the first part of the essay? I agree with the first critique, in that the essay is somewhat mundane when it first starts -- but you can easily spice this up! Give some other examples, as well, as to your new-found freedom! It's not just the viewing of the shuttle, is it? I would suggest that you re-write the essay with the idea that you might explain in more detail the new-found freedom that you now enjoy, but with respect to other things as well. Give it a try. What do you think?

--Mark :)


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