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UC Essay #2 An important experience. Roller Coaster

JennB2288 2 / 6  
Nov 17, 2009   #1
I HATE word limit...is the first thing I must say. I'm scared that my essay seems rushed..and the sentences seem short or something (although i probably just read this too many times). I used this same essay and changed it a bit for the common app and USC :] Please read, I need feedback! I keep doubting myself.

UC #2: 2. Tell us about a personal quality, talent, accomplishment, contribution or experience that is important to you. What about this quality or accomplishment makes you proud, and how does it relate to the person you are?

In one final death-defying stunt, the roller coaster plunged down between two explosive plumes of vermillion fire, rushing past the concession line, blasting the waiting victims with blistering heat and piercing shrieks. As I regarded this spectacle with horror, my jaw dropped, my eyes widened, and my skin sweltered with each consecutive fiery blast. Meanwhile, my fearless cousin Sherry giggled in the background.

"This is so not funny. Seriously, I'm going to get killed!" I cried, exasperated at my unaffected cousin.
"It's not that scary. Ok?" Sherry reassured, rolling her eyes.
I don't know how I got there, but there I was, a 17-year-old who had never summoned the courage to ride a looping roller coaster. With apprehension and petrifying fear, I attempted to find reassurance in the transformation I had made...

Just a year ago, I was in a similar situation, forcing myself to face my fears. Naturally timid and anxious, I had avoided new people and experiences with the same aversion I had towards roller coasters. Before any unfamiliar encounter, I would feel gut-clenching dread build within me, as if I were riding a steadily ticking coaster, nearing the edge of that first terrifying hill. While nervously awaiting my doom, I would imagine the appraising eyes of my peers burning into my fragile psyche as I stumbled over my words, struggling for acceptance and struggling to form friendships. Overcome with shaking nerves, I would constantly hide from my fears of embarrassment, failure, and rejection.

By junior year, I was tired of being scared and sought a life unhindered by my doubts. That summer, I accepted a position volunteering at the community center, taking my first leap over that daunting peak. Inundated by trepidation, I was lost within the sound of my speeding heart as I awkwardly interacted with the people around me. Gradually, I found my place at the center. The children I cared for started calling my name, fighting over the chance to sit by me, and even the other volunteers became my new companions, showering me with moments of happiness and laughter. It was a small success, yet it gave me the courage later to participate actively in a variety of school activities. During those first days of service, I realized that different environments and budding relationships are actually harmless. After passing that first intimidating hill, the subsequent downward fall released all the anxiety and terror, leaving me with a surprisingly satisfying and rewarding experience.

Finally, after conquering those fears, I was placed before yet another phobia: roller coasters. Nearing the front of the line, I nearly hyperventilated. As I walked onto the platform and felt seat restraints lock me into the terrifying monstrosity, my breathing quickened and my mind froze with familiar fear. When the roller coaster began its slow ascent, I suddenly snapped back to reality and panicked.

"What am I doing? No...I cannot do this...Crap!" I said, freaking out.
"Jennifer. Stop. Breathe," Sherry said firmly, "It's not as bad as you think. Just remember it lasts like 60 seconds, okay?"

With no time to respond, I left my cousin with one last, skeptical look.
Then I went, soaring in fantastic spirals, zooming through dips and turns, weightless and free. All I could see were colorful blurs whizzing past me, all I could feel was the air flicking across my cheeks, and all I could hear were my enthusiastic shrieks ringing in my ears. The feeling was nothing I ever experienced, an exciting rush of adrenaline as my stomach dropped from my body, torn in all directions by the centrifugal force. Strangely enough, it was...fun. When the ride ended, I was almost disappointed.

"Was that it?" I asked my cousin.
"Yeah. Pretty good ride. What'd you think?" Sherry replied.
"It was fun. It went so fast; I barely felt anything..." I said, embarrassed by my formerly panic-stricken state.
Yet with pride, I realized I had somehow mustered up the bravery to leap over my fears, despite my shy demeanor. With perseverance and latent courage, I had overcome my inner battles. Looking at Sherry, I heaved my shoulders up and relaxed them while expelling an exaggerated sigh, facing her with a content smile.

We both started laughing, and I realized there is nothing, nothing to be scared of.
natsuken 2 / 7  
Nov 17, 2009   #2
wow, jennifer. i have to say you have really good writing skills.

However, i think that you need to look at the question.

how does it relate to the person you are?

I think that you have amazing writing skills but you really need to let them know how this rollercoaster life has impacted your life.

For, the way i see it, this is afight that sooo many people in the world had fought and won.

just an opinion, but great essay overall
OP JennB2288 2 / 6  
Nov 18, 2009   #3
Yeah, I think I need to develop that more...although I hoped that the description of my shyness, and how i overcame my fears would be enough to relate to the person i am...

since there's a word limit, im not sure if i can develop the question more
Rowa 5 / 15  
Nov 18, 2009   #4
I think that this is a really great essay!

You have really great imagery! You sound like a proffesional writer!!

About your concerns that you mention at the beginning, what my teacher always tells us, is after you reveiw your essay, leave it, don't read it for maybe a week and then read and review again, you'll discover a lot of things you didn't before.
Mustafa1991 8 / 373 4  
Nov 18, 2009   #5
In one final death-defying stunt, the roller coaster plunged down between two explosive plumes of vermillion fire, rushing past the concession line, blasting the waiting victims with blistering heat and piercing shrieks.

There's not much of interest to read nowadays and this essay is no exception; so, I'll just point the errors. Ok, your opening is redundant. It isn't easy forgiving all the thunderous words you use (e.g. plunged, explosive, vermillion, blasting, blistering, piercing); lend me some of your energy surplus... Now, presumably you're trying to create dramatic effect -- by the last part especially -- but "blasting with blistering heat" doesn't make sense. You follow? Blast doesn't work well with heat, or "piercing shrieks." The coaster is blasting waiting victims with sharp shrieks?

As I regarded this spectacle with horror, my jaw dropped, my eyes widened, and my skin sweltered with each consecutive fiery blast.

Diversify. You're wagering even more cash on a botched opening. This sentence is pure filler, but it has its fair share of errors. It's all messed up because you don't have a clue what parallelism describes in grammar. "As blah blah blah, shah shah shah" should be used to balance two verb phrases, ideally. You are not only overextended but also introduce more errors. What is the difference between your jaw dropping, eyes widening, and skin sweltering, or which is the odd one out? Well, you can't really control the last one. Is there some importance to the word 'consecutive'? I mean, would it not serve the meaning to leave it at, "with each fiery blast?"

While we're on that, tell bunny rabbit, what the jack are you saying, or trying to say?

So as you can see, "Return on Errors", if I was so disposed to maximizing, could get up there in a hurry.
I ran an eye or two over your essay, and it's really awful. "Inundated by trepidation", the similar misuse of other words -- they don't add any value to a cotton dry essay. You had some issues with anxiety and either continue to work on them or overcame them at some point. That's a fair synopsis of what can be understood. Take a machete to this detritus until the bits are ground into a fine dust.
zhoudongzhou 5 / 16  
Nov 18, 2009   #6
Your essay is too long.Try to limit your words and delete some useless sentences.
OP JennB2288 2 / 6  
Nov 18, 2009   #7
to Mustafa1991:

Um I can understand some of your criticisms, but they don't offer any solutions. I need help, not insults.

And obviously you don't even understand parallel structure, or else you wouldnt have made that comment.

And I used "inundated" in the figurative way. Duh. What's your problem?
Notoman 20 / 419  
Nov 18, 2009   #8
The hyperbole is overblown.

There are a lot of redundancies, "plunged down," for example.

Some of the word choices could be stronger because the word is slightly off or has more than one meaning that could confuse the reader. You say that your cousin is unaffected, for example. Unaffected can mean that she is not affected, but it can also mean that she is sincere and genuine. See the potential for confusion? Likewise, a plume could describe column of fire, but because it is more commonly associated with smoke, it isn't the best word here.

You use a ton of adverbs. I have a personal bias against adverbs. Stephen King calls them a lazy writer's crutch. Try to let your verbs do most of the talking without puffing up your prose with adverbs.

Be careful with the more complex sentences so you don't have unintended results. Here's an example: "As I walked onto the platform and felt seat restraints lock ..." You felt the seat restraints on the platform?

Think about the light that an essay puts you in. What kind of traits do you want to illuminate? When I read this brief glimpse into your life, I don't see a girl who overcame her fear, but a girl who is prone to freaking out and exaggerating the danger for drama's sake. If I were an admissions official, I'd be afraid that you would show up on campus and have a panic attack, burst into sobs when you got your first test back with a B on it, miss your home so much that you wouldn't return after a weekend visit, or melt into a puddle of misery if a boy broke up with you. I know that you are trying to use strong words for effect, but I think that they are backfiring instead. You don't come across as mentally healthy and ready to take on the challenge of college life in this essay. Use the opportunity to showcase your "personal quality, talent, accomplishment, contribution or experience" instead of a weakness.
natsuken 2 / 7  
Nov 18, 2009   #9
jenn: If this is your style, stick with it. By changing all these little stuff would really take away your "character" from this essay.

mustafa: i love your critiques. Brutal! This is how criticism should be. However, please respect others and not put people off.

Excellent work both of you.
lucky7x123 1 / 4  
Nov 18, 2009   #10
The intro was good. Just cut the fillers. I enjoyed the story but you could talk more about what you gained from the roller coaster experience.

You write very well but you lost my attention when you came back to the roller coasters,unless it derailed into a frenzy of chaos we know what happens. Good luck.
OP JennB2288 2 / 6  
Nov 19, 2009   #11
Thanks! I appreciate the feedback.

And Notoman, your comments made a lot of sense, I'll definitely fix my essay in those areas. I'm going to try to cut down on some adverbs and add more content.
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,321 129  
Nov 19, 2009   #12
Mustafa, you are so mean! Ha ha, and even though my first impulse is that it is not good to have you discouraging people, I think a cruel critic is an important part of discourse. I like the show called House M.D. .... you are like him, a mean genius.

Jennifer is tough enough to deal with you, though, ha ha,

And I used "inundated" in the figurative way. Duh.

Jennifer, you have to admit that his discussion of your content is very thoughtful... not thoughtful like "kind," but thoughtful like he put a lot of thought into the discussion. There's an expression: "experts criticize." That must be because we want to show that we are experts; we want to criticize instead of giving praise, because praise doesn't make us superior!

I agree about that idea of killing adverbs.

About the essay, I think it is too much narrative and not enough explanation. Remember the real trick is to affect the conclusion the reader comes to about you -- that means you should give a brilliant introduction to the narrative and then some Maury Povich Final Thoughts at the end. That is, frame the story within the profound insights you provide -- the moral of the story .

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