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"Learning to balance one's social and academic life", personal essay, common app

cherubk 1 / -  
Dec 24, 2009   #1
Hey, here is a copy of one of the later drafts of my personal essay. Please let me know what you think and if you have any suggestions. Thank You!

Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.

My junior year in high school was perhaps the most difficult yet meaningful year in my life. The lessons I have learned have helped me grow into a strong, mature young man. However the transformation did not come from any wonderful awe-inspiring event. Instead, I was treated with a heavy dose of reality that left my fairy tale outlook on life destroyed. In the pursuit of a solution for my problems, I underwent huge paradigm shift in my life that has allowed me to see life in an empowered way. Although I would have preferred to avoid making the wrong decisions, I realize the value of me personally experiencing the effects of my actions. Experience is the best teacher. There is no better way I could have learned my lessons. I accept full responsibility for placing myself in these situations. But with that, I also give myself full credit for using them to improve myself.

The most obvious indicator of the issues I was having was my slipping grades. However this was only the tip of the iceberg. Many of my problems stemmed from my overconfident and carefree attitude towards life. I believed that I would be able to get whatever I wanted, without putting forth any effort. Throughout my academic career, I had been able to put in minimal effort and still earned excellent grades. However as my classes became increasingly difficult, I reached the critical point where it became impossible for me to continue doing well with the minimal amount of effort I was putting in. Unfortunately my first reaction to the problem was to ignore it and to pretend as if everything was fine. As a result, my grades significantly dropped from what I was accustomed to. But as the year went on, I realized that I had only made things worse by hiding from the problem. The only way I would be able to fix my grades was to accept the consequences of my overconfidence. Once I had confronted the problem, it became much easier to come up with a solution. It became evident that my past work habits would no longer be sufficient for the amount of work that was required from my advanced courses. I have spent a lot of time building a strong work ethic to replace my careless habits. Although this has been difficult to change, I realize its importance because I have experienced the consequences of laziness first hand. I have learned that if I put in some hard work now, I will be able to enjoy the rest of my life comfortably.

Learning to balance one's social and academic lives in high school is crucial to success. Throughout my junior year, my priorties were in heavy disarray. Unable to see my life in perspective, I spent too much time trying to have fun and forgot about my future. I felt that I no longer needed to pay attention to school and could focus on my social life. I regularly neglected my academics while I tried to build a vibrant social life for myself. I was completely oblivious to the consequences of my actions. Not only were my grades suffering, but I was also starting to lose my identity. I had become so addicted to trying to fit in and building my social life that I put the rest of my life into disorder. I may have been the life of the party, but on the inside I was slowly breaking down inside. Thankfully, my parents saw my life slowly spiraling out of control and intervened just in time. Despite my pleas, they painfully disconnected me from the social life I worked so hard to create. But as the weeks went by, I found a new sense of awareness awakened in me. My parents had created a much needed asylum in which I was able to reflect upon my life with clarity. The consequences of neglecting the other parts of my life became easy to see. I slowly came to my senses and realized how consumed I had become. I needed to put my life back in balance and set my priorities straight. Although friends are very important to me, I discovered how unhealthy it was to center my life on them. I have learned that balance is very important when managing different aspects of life.

My parents have always played an important role in my education. They instilled the importance of a good education from a very early age. But at 16, I was at the height of my teenage angst. The constant nagging and the endless lectures were agonizingly unbearable. Although I knew they were trying to help me, I did not care. All I wanted was to be left alone. I immaturely tried acting out and purposefully disobeyed them to try to make them understand that what they were doing was not working. But in the end, the only person I was hurting was me. Although my parents were disappointed by my actions, they escaped unscathed from my childish tantrums. They might not have been telling me in the best of ways, but what they were saying was absolutely correct. My self-destructive actions taught me a great deal about anger management and self control. They have made me much more composed and stoic. Although I might be tempted to act out against some of my parent's decisions, I always try wait until I am calmer to avoid making a decision in anger. I also learned how important family is. In high school friends are always changing, and drama is inevitable, but family is one thing that is constant throughout the years. It is one of the most important foundations that my life is built on and I am forever grateful for my family's support.

My experiences from my junior year have defined me into a stronger, more mature person. I have learned to live by principles important to me. Among them are hard work, honesty and balance. These principles guide me through all problems in my life. I am grateful that I have been blessed with such a defining year so early on in my life. I have been able to learn from my mistakes early I have made early on. These lessons will stay with me for life. After all, I have been taught by the best teacher.

help1 1 / 2  
Dec 25, 2009   #2
Your writing is watertight, but very...generic. You don't give a single example or anecdote. You're just another face in the crowd.
Partyfann 1 / 7  
Dec 25, 2009   #3
I agree^.

I think you're just trying to tackle too many concepts in this essay. I found that centering my essays around an anecdote help me focus on a couple ideas.
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,335 129  
Dec 27, 2009   #4
The lessons I have learned have helped me grow into a strong, mature young man.

This does not mean anything to the reader, because it only tells that you believe you are strong and mature. Maybe you can come up with something more intriguing to say here. Maybe you can refer to a difficult lesson you learned, and by referencing it you show that you are mature.

In the pursuit of a solution for my problems, I underwent huge paradigm shift in my life that has enabled me to see life in an empowered way.

I guess I think the first paragraph has too many sentences -- that it drags on a while before you tell us the nature of the game, the topic of the essay. And at the end of the first para, I see that you still keep it mysterious. I think you should give the reader a few key words in that first paragraph so that they become the memorable theme of the essay. MAybe your theme is "damage control," or maybe it is "guarding against complacency." Whatever magic words you choose, let them become the soul of the essay... and use them both in the first and the last paragraph.

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