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"I really hate my hair" - Common App Essay

eg55 1 / 2  
Oct 25, 2015   #1
This is my personal statement for the Common App. Please let me know if you have any suggestions or content/grammatical corrections. Thank you!

Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

Early in the morning, when the sky is still soaked in hues of grey and streetlights breathe gold light into the damp fog, I arise from sleep to begin my loath, daily task. Stumbling to the bathroom with bleary eyes, I glare at the mirror under the scrutiny of radiant fluorescent lights. A cloud of frizzy red curls encircles my livid face. With trembling fingers, I snatch a large comb and hastily begin working through countless knots and tangles, cursing every time a chunk of my untamable hair rips out. My jaw tightens and my fists clench as I wrestle a scrunchie through the thicket of curls atop my head. Finished, my gaze returns to the mirror and my eyes meet my reflection's. My thoughts echo a line that I have repeated to myself over the past five years: I really hate my hair.

It wasn't the mere appearance of my wild red hair that I struggled to accept. It was all the ways in which my unruly hair conflicted with my timid personality. My hair was conspicuous. Distinctly noticeable. I shuddered at the thought of standing out in a crowd. My insecurity escalated with each passing year and worsened as I withdrew into a shell of shyness and restraint. However, it wasn't until years later that I learned the significance of my crazy hair.

Throughout elementary and middle school, I struggled to conquer this timidity and introversion. After my best friend moved to the other side of the country in third grade, I quickly withdrew my prior outgoing nature. I had spent so much time with her since kindergarten that I realized I had never familiarized myself enough with the rest of the people in my grade. Consequently, I was left confused and anxious, unsure of where I now stood amongst my classmates.

While I gradually fell deeper and deeper into a void of reticence, I made a change to my appearance: I tied back my hair.

Realizing that I was now ashamed of my distinguishable frizzy hair, I attempted to hide it from view in a ponytail. For years I was terrified to wear my hair down in public, expecting others to ridicule my curls, so I confined them in cages of hair scrunchies and self-doubt. My shyness grew parallel to my ever-frizzier hair; as my curls thickened, I progressively became more conscious of my appearance and timid nature. However, everything changed when I started high school.

"So pretty! Is that your natural hair?"

"Wow, what amazing hair!"

"You should wear your hair like that more!"

My eyes widened in shock every time someone commented on my hair. Whereas I was expecting odd stares, I received kind compliments on the day my new friends finally persuaded me to wear my hair out of a ponytail. I was beyond flattered; I was speechless and overjoyed. The moment school ended, I ran to a mirror and saw my usual pale, freckled head encircled by a blaze of red curls. The only difference was the beaming smile etched across my face.

From that day on I wore my hair in its natural form, rich with all the curls and frizz I've come to love. Day by day my confidence grew. As I began to embrace my curls, my individuality blossomed, and I no longer saw my qualities as a hindrance but as a gift. Thus, my peers quickly noticed my growing gregarious nature and increased participation. Ultimately, I discovered that my transition from middle school to high school had manifested a new identity. I was not just the "girl with red curls." I was the person who accepted herself, the person who looked in the mirror and smiled because everyone is unique. No two people have the same skin, eyes, hair, ears, or smile. And that's beautiful.
Ssakshijain 28 / 146 87  
Oct 26, 2015   #2
You did a good job but sorry to say you need to mention more about you, about your qualities and talent and interests. Your essay is all revolving around your identity as a girl with curly hair though it is very well written in a coherent and artistic manner. But you can make this hair part short and add another things like learned different languages, travelling, music, craving for knowledge, community service, etc. Try to add more things about you and let them know more about you.

This is what I think :)
Good luck

admission2012 - / 481 90  
Oct 26, 2015   #3

Very well done! This is one of the few times that I have seen someone actually answer this prompt correctly. Your descriptive language worked really well here and I had a vivid image of you at every step of this essay. You correctly indicated in the opening paragraph that this essay would be about your hair and then went into detail as to why your red hair was such a significant part of who you are in a believable way. - Admissions Advice Online
OP eg55 1 / 2  
Oct 26, 2015   #4
admission2012, Thank you for your feedback. I'm glad that my writing responded to the prompt and was descriptive.

Ssakshijain, I would have included those things but that wouldn't be responded to the prompt. Including a ton of other activities would have probably made my response too broad and wouldn't have connected to my primary topic (my hair and how it related to the progression of my shyness)
aikoashiya 1 / 39 26  
Oct 27, 2015   #5
I think the concept is good, but you need to focus the essay more on your triumph over your shyness. About 2/3 of your essay is talking about your hair and your inherent shyness, but you need to condense that and expand more on how your hair became a source of confidence and strength for yourself, and what you were able to accomplish through this. For example, your last paragraph touches on this, but should really be around the 3rd paragraph so that you have more paragraphs to show how this newfound individuality inspired you to do something.

When you look closer into the prompt, you'll see that it asks for something SO meaningful that your application would be INCOMPLETE without it. However, from your above essay, I only really know that you were shy as a child, but now feel more confident in your own appearance. Is this really that meaningful? I'd argue no, but it could be if you were to expand on how your confidence enabled you to -insert here-. I only urge you to realize this because this prompt is answered by many individuals who pride themselves on their very unique backgrounds, and your essay is a very common archetype among this prompt. However, you can differentiate your essay through your voice in the essay, as well as relating your individual experiences. As of present, many of your experiences have been hashed down to a "transition from middle school to high school", which applies to many many people.

I advise you to rewrite your essay so that your primary focus deals with your "transformation" and how you grew/matured through it because admissions officers want a picture of who you are today, as who you are today is who will be accepted into their college in the following months - but who you were 5, 10, 15 years ago doesn't matter much at all.

Hope this helps :)
OP eg55 1 / 2  
Oct 27, 2015   #6
@aikoashiya Thanks for the feedback. I understand what you mean when you explained to talk more about the "transformation" but do you feel it's necessary to rewrite the entire essay? I think I could just elaborate towards the end and shorten the parts where I talk about my introversion. However, this worries me a little since both the English teachers I had read my essay really liked it and gave me minor grammatical corrections.
aikoashiya 1 / 39 26  
Oct 28, 2015   #7
Hey Erin,

Sorry if I said rewrite - I meant basically what you said that you should shorten the parts about your introversion and elaborate towards the end. Again, I believe that the main crux of your essay should be about your "transformation" so at least half of your essay should be a focus on that, imo.

I would venture that your English teachers enjoyed the essay mainly because it paints a vivid story and that the overall structure and language is good. However, note that admissions officers are looking at your essay not as an assignment, but more as an advertisement of yourself to the school. You are selling yourself to the schools you are applying to through your essays, and to do that, you need to portray more of your current qualities as a student/volunteer/athlete whatever, but something that indicates that you are a fit for their school.

Again, I think it's a good topic and something that can be made into something very individualized, but it just needs to focus more on who you are at present.

Hope this helps!

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