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Help with Common App Essay: "I Am an Alien"


dbsqudtlr 4 / 22  
Dec 5, 2009   #1
Hello, guys :) I would appreciate very very much if you guys could edit my main common app essay. My English is not perfect because I moved to US four years ago, but don't be merciful for this reason :) Thank you very much for doing this for me.

I am really afraid that this topic may be way too common and that my essay may not stand out very much within the international pool...

"What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well."
- Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince


I am an Alien. On Planet America, lacking a nine-digit number imposes an alien status upon me. "Do you have a Social Security Number?" This frequently asked question pierces my heart like a tiny, sharp, invisible needle. No matter how many times I encounter it, I have not been able to develop immunity to the sense of shame and guilt created by the suspicious stares of DMV officers or the condescending glances of bank tellers.

Upon moving to the U.S., my first difficulties began with school work. Despite my attempts to understand them, some of the teacher's words would escape my brain like dandelion seeds carried by the wind. Night after night I would labor through textbooks bound together with the most baffling English words. While at first I had pitied myself and lamented the disadvantages and flaws in my situation, I eventually saw things through a different perspective. I learned to value the vast academic opportunity that I have and the rich cultural diversity that has expanded my views. I came to appreciate the countless drops of sweat and tears my family has shed to allow me to be where I am now. At moments when my heavy eyelids and a nosebleed lured me to sleep or when a failing grade on a test tempted me to give up that subject, I remembered my parents who had held countless jobs, working in a number of positions and places from Jamestown and High Point to Fayetteville and Virginia. I feel grateful for all sacrifices, both small and large.

By observing my parents and witnessing other families undergo similar challenges, I have developed a sense of compassion toward a broader range of people. Looking through the iron bars of a laundromat, I see a Mexican woman and am reminded of my mother and the immigrant parents around me. At school, I see a nervous Chinese man delivering a box of General Tso's Chicken. He is unrecognized by the students and faculty passing by, but I understand and give him a warm smile. In Korea, I did not know what it was like to face discrimination. I looked indifferently upon the Filipino laborers who had come to my country. Now when I see these aliens or poor laborers, I think of their families, their children, and the sacrifices they must be experiencing daily. Hiding the pain behind the shade of their stoic faces and mechanical movements, they work through each day. Handling load after load of laundry or cleaning and clearing the way for others, they too have dreams and aspirations.

As I relate to the struggles of the people that I encounter every day, my determination, together with theirs, propels me forward. Often, I envision myself as a grown-up. My heartbeat quickens as I imagine myself become a surgeon, a biomedical engineer, or a diplomat. No matter which path I may take, I long to reach out and to contribute to a broader world. Though some may say that these are not the perfect paths for me or remind me of how hard it would be for me to pursue them, I continue to dream, without boundaries but with passion. At times, I may find myself in a desert in my life. But as the dry desert air parches my throat, I will come to further appreciate the sweetness of life when I reach the oasis that the desert hides.

Leaving Planet Korea changed my life. The linguistic, cultural, academic, and financial hardships have broadened my perspective and have helped me to grow beyond the boundaries of what is familiar. Though I may face numerous obstacles in my path, these past four years have taught me that I can find a way. Through my experience as an alien, I have begun to find gratitude and hope in the midst of hardship and to pay attention to what is often missed by others. Like a lotus flower, I have learned to discover threads of sunlight in the darkness of muddy waters.

Mustafa1991 8 / 373 4  
Dec 5, 2009   #2
It's pretty good. The anecdotes you provide resonate deeply and the essay does not crack open or even stagnate in any paragraph.
OP dbsqudtlr 4 / 22  
Dec 6, 2009   #3
Any more advices/ feedbacks please?
OP dbsqudtlr 4 / 22  
Dec 6, 2009   #4
Would someone please give me some more advice?
Thank you!
jjeff 4 / 9  
Dec 6, 2009   #5
Wow, I thought that was pretty well written! Every sentence was very captivating and illustrative!

Not many things to change as far as I can see.

First sentence: "I Am an Alien. On Planet America, lacking a nine-digit number imposes an alien status upon me."
I'm not 100% sure if that is grammatically correct. Perhaps "I Am an Alien on Planet America, lacking a nine-digit number that imposes an alien status upon me."

"This frequently- asked question pierces my heart like a tiny, sharp, invisible needle."

Just wondering, how long did that take you to write?

Once again, good job!
-Jeff
Melgib 1 / 3  
Dec 6, 2009   #6
Having first hand experience with English classes overseas, I can tell you that writing at this level is remarkable for only 4 years of living in the U.S. . The essay does a good job in justifying itself for whatever purpose you intend to use it. Don't worry that it maybe a common topic, these are your experiences and you have the right to share them.
OP dbsqudtlr 4 / 22  
Dec 6, 2009   #7
Writing the first draft didn't take too long...I actually wrote it late at night one day :p
but, I had some of my friends edit it :) I think that really helped.

A.S.H.: thank you very much for the compliment :) but I am sure that there are a lot of international students that excel at writing :P... But I'm going to give my best nonetheless!

Good luck!
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,337 129  
Dec 7, 2009   #8
I think tellers might be better:
...or the condescending glances of bank tellers.

You sure do have a title that catches my attention. I like it.

This below is nice detail, too.

At school, I see a nervous Chinese man delivering a box of General Tso's Chicken. He is unrecognized by the students and faculty passing by, but I understand and give him a warm smile.
OP dbsqudtlr 4 / 22  
Dec 8, 2009   #9
Hello, Kevin :)
Could you please take a look at my other essay titled "Shower Dreams?"
A lot of people say that it's not the right way of presenting myself while others around me say they like it. I think I understand both argument, but I think a solid answer from a moderator/contributor will help me make a better decision.


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