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'I kept my opinions to myself' - National Merit Essay: Influential Person


drunkardsdream 1 / 2  
Oct 29, 2012   #1
Hi, I was hoping someone out there would have some criticism on my essay... I understand it's a piece of crap--I just started writing it like half an hour ago--and that it sounds extremely cheesy and melodramatic. Also it barely says anything about what my teacher actually did to influence me. I'll try to work on these things. Don't hold back. Anything at all will be greatly appreciated!! ^_^

Prompt: To help the reviewers get to know you, describe an experience you have had, a person who has influenced you, or an obstacle you have overcome. Explain why this is meaningful to you.

Why is it that the people who influence us the most usually do so in a way that can't easily be explained? Many people I've met have given me a new perspective on one particular issue or another. Many have offered up bits of wisdom meant to help me live a better life. But few have inspired me enough to change the way I think. Mr. Near, my 11th grade English teacher, is one of those people.

We never did talk much; I am fairly quiet, and rarely speak out in any of my classes. While my classmates animatedly discussed literature, philosophy, and current events in class, I sat, listened, and kept my opinions to myself. Despite this, I suspect that Mr. Near understands me better than any teacher I've had, and probably better than most people I know-because everything that I had to say, I poured into my writing.

I can say from first-hand experience that in English class, we students are experts at telling teachers what they want to hear. We often "go through the motions" in order to get good grades, without internalizing an ounce of the knowledge that is offered to us. And that's what I did, for the most part, until Mr. Near's class.

I can't say exactly why I felt so compelled to open up and pour my heart and soul into my writing last year-it is probably just part of the magic that all good teachers have. Maybe it was the profoundly thought-provoking questions he asked us. Maybe his own creativity, thoughtfulness, and open-mindedness forced me to reexamine my own ways of looking at the world. Whatever the reason, that class changed me. I know now that going through the motions-telling people what they want to hear in pursuit of personal gain, whether it be a grade, credits, a degree, or a job-isn't the way I want to live my life. I want to always be passionate about what I do, and always be thinking.

Here are the basics of what I learned in English class last year: that really thinking about things is important; that understanding is important; that I don't want to be a robot. I make a point, now, of not judging anything before I fully understand it, and not pretending to understand anything I don't. I know that there are some things that can never be fully understood. I know that I am not always right. I am more open to everything in life now, from people, to experiences, to ideas, to perceptions. And for sharing his own ideas and being willing to listen to mine, I have Mr. Near to thank for that.

tannerscooter 6 / 14 1  
Oct 29, 2012   #2
I think for a beginning paper, this essay is very good! Like you said in the beginning, you may need to have more examples of what way he influenced you. How was he thoughtful? How was he creative? You have to go into more detail about what Mr. Near did to help open you up to the world. Did he say anything meaningful to you? Did he do anything that was unique to him from many other teachers? What kind of thought-provoking questions did Mr. Near ask you? Any of these would help the reviewers get a better idea of just how the man helped you. Did you have anything in common with him that you didn't share with your other teachers?

I apologize for all of these questions, but I think that by answering just a couple of them and putting them in your essay will really make your essay stronger.

But overall, it is very well written, there were little to no grammatical errors that I could very well pick out. Good job and good luck! (:


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