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Identity - rock climbing + what it brought to myself - how it affected me


Arachnid 3 / 14 6  
Dec 30, 2014   #1
Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

Final Draft:

My entire body trembles as I cling desperately to the wall for support, refusing to give up. This is probably the millionth time that I have climbed this route, always managing to make it harder on myself. Yet, every time, I relish the challenge. Sweat escapes from the pores from my hands, loosening my grip on the wall. Muscles fatigued, energy and strength drained. Still, I don't let go.

Climbing gave me perseverance and patience.

This is my tenth climb of the day, probably the last one too. I need to make this count. I'm in a precarious position, underneath an overhang with all my weight on my arms, my legs dangling beneath. Usually I'm able to pull myself up and continue my ascent but I lack the strength. I should have given up the moment my feet touched the ground on the end of my previous climb. Yet here I am, my hand a meter away from a hand hold leading to the top of the overhang. It's been ten seconds and I have not been able to move. My right arm is burning and my left hand is cramping up. I am dangerously close from giving up and falling. Except, climbing is a puzzle, a set of steps to get from point A to point B. A ladder that was dissembled and assembled into a piece of art, a path which you invent as you climb. Like all puzzles, this one has a solution. Brute strength is not the answer; all I have is technique and experience.

It increased my creativity and determination.

Having trained for climbing, practice and perseverance always seemed to prevail. It was all a matter of time. Keeping that in mind, I reposition myself to balance my weight onto the reserved strength of my legs. I lower myself to find a better grip and a foothold.

Climbing gave me strength and experience.

In life we have no control over a lot of things; often they're out of our power and depth. This does not apply to climbing. I control the amount of times I climb, the height I go, the path I take. I control my strength, persistence, and creativity. When a situation doesn't go my way, for instance this climb, a new approach is needed. In this case, I'll find another way. By retracing my steps, giving myself a different perspective, I have opened myself to new possibilities. Just like the challenge of this climb required an open mind, climbing has opened my mind in other areas of my life. It drove me to workout daily, to reflect and be creative in film and writing, giving me humility to know my limits and how to improve and learn.

It gave me an open mind.

Climbing led to vast multitudes of opportunities, giving me the motivation to provide assistance for young climbers, and create and lead the first climbing club for my high school. It gave me new goals in my fitness and health, increasing what I can do and strengthening my potential. It gave me a way to reflect on my life, to relieve the stress and pain.

Climbing gave me a way to find reserved strength and to utilize my potential, especially in situations where it seems as though I am running on fumes.

Blinking away the sweat that has rolled onto my eyes, I use the last of my strength to pull myself up. It takes everything I have, but I make it to the top. My feet land onto solid ground, my legs quiver, my forearms are stiff, and I can't feel the tips of my fingers.

It gave me confidence to try and fail...

I flex my fingers, crack my knuckles, and tighten up my harness. I place my hands and feet back on the wall. Hell, I came this far, might as well climb again.

...and try again.

Charphil 5 / 27 10  
Dec 30, 2014   #2
Hey Daniel! great essay! very nice desciption and you answered the prompt. You asked how you can change and cut out some words right?

Well, If I were you I would cut some parts of the description on the first paragraph (even though I loved it), you started to be a little repetitive in that paragraph.. As soon as you make clear to the reader that you are climbing, that the path is hard, and that you are not giving up, you can go ahead and start saying how rock climbing defines you. How have you changes since you started climbing, how you helped others, how you started showing off your proactiveness.. the key word on your prompt is IDENTITY . The universities wants to know how you define yourself through rock climbing.. Focus your words, creativity and drama on this part of the essay rather than your sweaty hands slipping from the rock you were holding to. does that make sense? I hope this helps! good luck! ;)
ryao15 4 / 25 10  
Dec 30, 2014   #3
Hello there!

Seeing that your main problem is that you are over the word limit by around 100 words, my main advice to you would be to cut down the first paragraph. Like, a lot. My first Common App essay was too flowery as well, but I was also forced to remove lots of the juicy stuff for it to fit the topic and word count. Find small phrases like "I don't even let go" and see if you can either merge them with previous sentences or just delete them if they are unnecessary to the story line (I recommend you not talk about not looking down, its quite fluffy).

Also, look through your sentence starters. Right off the bat, I can see MANY sentences that say "Yet..." Not saying that it is bad to start with that word, but too much may seem awkward.

"You can't half-ass a climb, much less the last one of the day" -- 2 issues with this sentence. 1) see if you can find better vocabulary here? 2) That is your opinion, and you might be able to cut it out. In fact, I'd say you should delete the previous sentence too (the one about the last rep and last word of an essay).

Finally, could you talk a bit more about how rock climbing is so central to your identity?
Emphasize on that point, it should be the main focus of your essay.

Other than that, I think its quite an intersting essay to read.

Best of luck!
OP Arachnid 3 / 14 6  
Dec 30, 2014   #4
Thanks for the help! Any advice on connecting the two aspects of climbing and relating it to myself? Also, how is the second half? I know the first half is alright and needs to be cut down, but does the second half need anything else? If so what?
ryao15 4 / 25 10  
Dec 31, 2014   #5
I think that what you should do is separate the rock climbing from your personal traits a bit more obviously (does that make sense?)
So for "When a situation doesn't go my way, the route I choose to take allows me to control what happens, to create a new path. In this case, I'll find another way. By retracing my steps and giving myself a different perspective, I have opened up new possibilities." maybe you can try to split it all up in a more obvious way. Make it become one part clearly rock climbing, one part your characteristic. I'd even go as far as to italicize the characteristic sentences to make it more apparent that they are two different things.

"When a situation doesn't go my way, the route I choose to take allows me to control what happens, to create new paths. I then retrace my steps, giving myself a different perspective to open up new possibilities in my climb."

Maybe something along t he lines of this?

And for your second half, I think its fine.

"Much like how climbing has done so for me. It opened up a door about myself, providing motivation and inspiration alike. It gave me determination to workout daily, it gave me insight used to reflect and be creative in film and writing, it gave me humility to know my limits and how to improve and learn from mistakes. It lead to a vast multitude of opportunities, giving me the motivation to provide assistance to middle school climber, to begin and lead the first climbing club for the high school. It gave me a goal and a way to reflect and change. This climb for example, it required everything I had to get to where I am now. Yet I haven't even finished it." --- I recommend that for this paragraph, you add a bit more about why rock climbing has affected you so deeply that you want to write an essay on it. Tie in stuff from the first paragraph (the fluff) in to talk about how rock climbing gave you determination to work out daily, how it taught you to be reflective, etc.

Hope this helps.

Also, would you mind looking over my Cornell essay for me?

Thanks.
ryao15 4 / 25 10  
Dec 31, 2014   #6
Nice! Much better!

I think it reads a lot better now that you broke it up into a bunch of smaller paragraphs. It's more coherent in general, and not as overwhelming either.

I especially like the "Climbing led to a vast multitude of opportunities" and the previous paragraph, since it ties in everything nicely. This newly updated version is MUCH MUCH better than what you started with, and makes it easier to understand and answers the prompt better.

Suggestions that I would make:

"touched the ground on the end of my last climb" -- Previous climb would make it even more clear, last climb could mean previous or final.

"It gave me new goals in my fitness and health," -- Parallelism! Make it start with "It has given me... xxxx" like the 2 sentences that follow are. That would make it flow better.

" to ask out that one girl that got away" -- I thin this takes away from your whole 'confidence gave me' part. The other things are more serious and this one is kind of random (in my opinion). I recommend that you either take it out, or change it to become humorous by going into an excessive amount of detail. "...to ask out that one girl from the 5th grade that wore those bright neon shirts every day to school, to...xxx"

But again, just a suggestion. You can leave as is and it wouldn't take away from it.

Other than these minor points, I think your edit of your edit turned out very, very good!

Great job!
OP Arachnid 3 / 14 6  
Jan 1, 2015   #7
I also tried something different like;

My entire body trembles as I cling desperately to ...

Climbing gave me perseverance and patience.
...
ryao15 4 / 25 10  
Jan 1, 2015   #8
Wow, thats incredible! I really like it how now the paragraphs are even shorter, so its not as big of a block if text. I think if you were to make all of the italicized sentences one long sentences that connects (Climbing gave me xyz... it taught me to doxxx... thorugh climbing, I learned xxx...) it would be better.

For your word count problem, I suggest you go back to the 2nd and 5th paragraphs (This is my tenth climb...) and (Climbing led to...) to try and merge sentences into longer ones. Maybe if you must, crop down on detail.

"Brute strength is out of the question, as all of my resources are dried up and useless. All I have is technique and experience." -- merge it to "With brute strength out of the question, I had to turn to technique and experience" -- 24 words down to 15

Try and do this to all the ones you can, and eliminate your detail (I know, it will be horribly painful doing so, but I had to go through the same thing) and just avoid talking about anything that doesnt help progress your essay.

As for which of the essays you use, that is up to you. I think both are great essays, but I personally prefer the 2nd edit with the italicized sentences because it's structure is much more unique and eyecatching than just any other essay.

But the choice is yours.

Good luck!
OP Arachnid 3 / 14 6  
May 30, 2016   #9
thanks for the help on my last essay, could you help me out again?
OP Arachnid 3 / 14 6  
Jun 1, 2016   #10
The similarities between climbing and editing - my motivation to joining a film program

The prompt is: A motivational letter explaining why you want to be a part of the program. [The program being film]

I tried to avoid being generic and the whole "film changed my life, here is a sad backstory] and instead used the similarities between climbing and editing to fuse the motivations together.

However, my main issue is I have a bunch of things that just say my positive traits and am unsure if it should still be in the essay or not. Also, does it answer the prompt, overall?

My entire body trembles as I cling desperately to the wall for support. I dangle precariously at the edge of an overhang, my body swinging like a pendulum, my entire weight dependent on the grip of my right hand and the collection of my muscles.

Suddenly I freeze. [...]
ichanpants89 [Contributor] 16 / 777 309  
Jun 1, 2016   #11
Daniel, sorry for making you wait in order to get feedback and corrections. I see that you have been in this forum for a quite a long time, even earlier than I did.

However, let's just directly discuss about your essay. I think that this essay is quite unusual. At first, I thought it was a story-telling essay. I have no idea why did you do that, but if you're asking whether this essay have answered the prompt or not. The answer is yes. It answered the prompt correctly. I am just not really sure that this type of answer is appropriate for a motivational letter. As I know, motivational letter is usually straightforward. It explains some aspects that makes you interested in the program.

For the improvement of this essay, I think you need to mention what is exactly the program and the university that you're going to apply (you can censor the name). When you mentioned 'editing' in the last part, I think it is still unclear for the reader. There are many types of editing, not only editing film, but there are also editing essay, editing books, editing a letter, and many more. You can add 1 more paragraph to sum up all the information, or reduce the amount of words in your essay. I am just concerned if there is maximum words limit for this essay.
OP Arachnid 3 / 14 6  
Jun 2, 2016   #12
I thought it would stand out more from other applicants if I were to make it more entertaining. I also tried to drive away from the whole cliche "film changed my life motivation".

So what exactly is a motivational letter? Would what I wrote be ignored?

Also, thanks for reading and the advice. I'll get back to you with a new draft!
ichanpants89 [Contributor] 16 / 777 309  
Jun 3, 2016   #13
In this forum there are plenty of examples about motivational letter. Perhaps slight modifications from one of those would be better. You can just search in the search box above, or google it for sure. I didn't say that this kind of essay would be ignored by the selection committees because there is no wrong and right in writing an essay as long as you've answered the prompt properly. For me, this essay was just unusually attractive. It is okay if you want to post a new draft. I would be happy to see it. :)
OP Arachnid 3 / 14 6  
Jun 6, 2016   #14
Thanks for the help! Here's what I got so far [I need to cut 400 words though]

My entire body trembles as I cling desperately to the wall for support. I dangle precariously at the edge of an overhang, my body swinging like a pendulum, my entire weight dependent on the grip of my right hand.

I defy gravity.

Suddenly I freeze.

"Crap!" there's a shotgun boom mic within the shot of me climbing. I crop the scene and slow the footage for dramatic effect. I watch frame by frame as the narrative continues.

I defy time.

The millionth climb, always managing to make it harder. The 27th take that I took that day alone and I was exhausted on the 5th.

Anything for the perfect take and climb.

Sweat escapes from the pores from my hands, cut and bleeding, loosening my grip. Muscles fatigued, energy and strength drained from intense movement. Sweat seeps down my brow, an ever growing river flows, heat of the computer and displays pulsing to my body. I release my grip on the mouse and keyboard. Muscles cramped, restless and strained from the lack of movement.

Against the bleeding and overflowing river of sweat that continuously sweeps away the little energy I have, my perseverance a towering colossus stands its ground.

Both the last climb and last piece of footage, both the best.
I need to make them count.

In the shot I'm in a precarious position, underneath an overhang with all my weight on my right arm. Dangerously close to giving up and falling. Except, climbing is a puzzle, a set of steps to get from point A to point B. A ladder that was disassembled and assembled into a piece of art, a path which you invent as you climb. Like all puzzles, this one has a solution. Brute strength is not the answer; all I have is technique and experience. Sitting in my room staring at my display I'm in an awkward position, it's been an hour and I have yet to make progress. Dangerously close to giving up and switching off. Except, editing a film, like a puzzle is a work of art. Piecing together footage into one coherent narrative. A moment in a person's life that was recorded in random order and has yet to be organized. Like all puzzles, this one has a solution. Having to rely on sparks of inspiration is not the answer; all I have is creativity and experience.

I reposition myself to balance my weight onto the reserved strength of my legs, altering my posture. I strain my eyes to notice every detail of the scene, from screen and wall, collecting ideas.

Watching the screen, noting every detail, reflecting on what climbing and editing has done for me.

Climbing led to multitudes of opportunities, giving me motivation to provide assistance for young climbers, creating and leading the first climbing club for my high school. New goals appeared in fitness and health, with more discipline and responsibilities, increasing and strengthening my potential. It gave me a way to reflect on life, to relieve stress and pain. Likewise, editing led to new branches, to stronger roots, and higher sights. It gave me the motivation to write my films, to direct, film and edit, to create my own stories. To make new life out of the life that I already own. It led me to join the broadcasting team in my high school which streamed online, editing live, and working a camera on the field where retakes are impossible. It increased my standards as it forced me to perceive media with a more critique eye. It led me to start a review page with hundreds of followers who read and react to my reviews. Additionally it motivated me to create a YouTube channel full of my diverse films, enabling myself to communicate ideas, memories, and messages to a larger audience. Due to these activities and attributes I gained, I was motivated to continue my pursuit in editing and climbing. Aiming to prolong the growth that they have both started.

As I place the cuts in order, transitioning seamlessly with the footage and the audio, I render the work area and reflect. Reflecting on how climbing and editing counters the inability of life.

In life we have no control over a lot; often they're out of our power and depth. This does not apply to climbing or editing, both cases I am in control. I control the amount of times I climb, the height I go, the path I take. I control my strength, persistence, and creativity. When a situation doesn't go my way, for instance this climb, a new approach is needed. By retracing my steps, giving myself a different perspective, I have opened myself to new possibilities. Just like the challenge of this climb required an open mind, climbing has opened my mind in other areas of my life. It drove me to workout daily, to reflect and be creative in film and writing, giving me humility to know my limits and how to improve and learn. As for editing it has given me the ability to control every aspect of film, determining the final outcome. Editing allows me full reign in the film industry. Where I am able to create works of wonder with footage that was mediocre, while maintaining the humility to realize how far editing can take a film, from completely altering the emotions portrayed, to the complexity of changing the story.

Blinking away the sweat that has rolled onto my eyes, I use the last of my strength to pull myself up. My feet land onto solid ground, my legs quiver, my forearms are stiff, and I can't feel the tips of my fingers. As I strain my mind to think of a creative way to edit this piece, I use the deep rooted emotions that the footage portrays and place them in an order that expresses the correct message. I fix the flaws in footage, correct the color, and manipulate what I can control to complete the film to the best of my ability. I save, render, and export. My eyes are sore, my fingers twitching, and I can't seem to get the visuals out of my head.

Beijing Film Academy. It's program contains the basic and advanced needs and skills for film. It targets my interests as much as it targets my requirements. They provide the entertainment and intellectual information I need to fulfill my desire to learn and develop. Consisting of courses and programs that benefit my career choices in film with an environment that will vastly improve my character for the real world and for self improvement. Having a progressive program that is committed to excellence in filmmaking is perfect for me. Having the want to create a stimulating environment where I can realize my potential is a great way to transition smoothly into a working professional. The school has a safe learning environment with top of the line facilities and equipment. They believe in treating all students with fairness no matter your country of origin, religion, age or sex. Also promoting the acceptance of ideas from all cultures and don't believe in only having one way of thinking. This is welcoming for myself as I am an international student of a diverse background.

I flex my fingers, crack my knuckles; I look at the climb, the edit, that I just completed. I place my hands and feet back on the wall, on the keyboard and mouse. Hell, I finished this climb, this edit, might as well start another.

My motivation to join their program is grand.
My motivation is my fundamental needs to climb and edit.

My motivation to edit is the same as my motivation to climb. It defies everything we are capable of. In climbing we defy gravity, we determine how we climb, how high up we go, our perspective alters our view above what gravity tells us is possible. In editing we defy time, we determine the speed of our life, the order of events, our perspective alters our view that is nonexistent in our linear narrative.

Time is altered by gravity.
Gravity is shown through spacetime.

Personally; climbing and editing has altered the other, both one side of the same coin.

Picture a film strip laid out flat, held together from one end to the other. Time is continuous throughout, a constant measurement within the film. Placing a large rock onto the film creates a dent. This dent alters the structure of the film.

No longer continuous.
No longer constant.

The film is now perceived as slower where it is dented and faster where it is not.
The film is time and the rock is gravity.

Editing and climbing are one and the same.


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