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Life is a Game - Common App Essay (Stanford, Harvard, Columbia)

Chromaz81994 1 / -  
Dec 19, 2011   #1
I found out earlier today that Common App no longer allows you to submit your essay if its over 500 words. I really need help because right now my essay is at 666 words and I have no idea how I could cut 166 words while still keeping the flow of my essay that I have now. Any comments/suggestions/advice would be greatly appreciated!


'games are a waste of time' - Common App

I have been told that games are a waste of time. Nevertheless, I still love playing games. While the saying "life is a game" is very cliché, in many ways, the games I play are metaphors that help explain my life.

Life is like the game of Scrabble. When the game begins, we are given a unique set of letters and must decide what words to create out of them. A month after I was born, I was diagnosed with hydrocephalus. I struggled both physically and emotionally growing up with this condition. I believed that I had been given the worst possible combination of letters to work with. But a few years ago, it dawned on me that I was not the only one facing challenges; everyone had their own words to make, even those that were in tougher circumstances than I. I realized that the tiles I had been given did not determine the quality of my life; it was what I chose to do with them that made the difference.

Life is like the game of Angry Birds. Winning the game requires finding the best way to knock down the enemy fort and eliminate the opposing forces using birds as ammunition. If any enemies are left standing once we use all of the birds we are given, we must change the way we look at their defenses or fire the birds differently in order to move on. When I was in middle school, the fort I faced was social awkwardness. I was afraid to interact with others because my condition made me feel different. But during my first year in high school, I realized my condition did not have to be a social barrier. The change in the way I looked at myself and others made eliminating the opposing forces incredibly simple. As I stopped worrying about what others thought of me, I saw how much easier it was to make friends when I let me be myself. All it took was a different perspective to beat the game.

Life is like the game of Risk. We are given our own armies, or talents, and it is up to us to decide which territories we want to conquer with what we have been given. One of the results of my hydrocephalus was an extremely tight muscle in my left leg. For most of my childhood, I walked with a severe limp. Even after enduring casts, leg braces, Botox shots, and acupuncture, my orthopedic doctor told me that I would never be able to walk normally. Nevertheless, I told myself that I would not be limited by what I could not do. I realized that although my walk was not normal, my physical and mental stamina was solid. I took this stamina as my army and used it to train my leg muscle by taking Tae Kwon Do classes and by joining my school's long-distance running teams. It was extremely challenging initially, but I never gave up. After many years of hard work, I received my black belt degree in Tae Kwon Do and found that I could run for hours with ease. Though the odds were against me, I took the risk and conquered the territory that I strove for.

I know that there will be times when I am not given all the letters I want, or when the fort will not go down the way I planned. However, I also know that in many cases, all it takes to achieve my goal is to change my perspective and make the best of what I do have. When the game ends, we either put the pieces back into the box or press the power button and either feel satisfied or disappointed after winning or losing. With life, the game never ends, and the results of my actions aren't about the feeling of just having won or lost, but rather about developing who I am in the midst of the daily struggles of life.
hutch428 2 / 4  
Dec 19, 2011   #2
Maybe you should condense it into a single game, instead of talking about 3 alone. The essay seems too much like a "3-pronged" essay that you are forced to write in freshman year of high school.

The games of Angry Birds and Risk just seem to be subsets of Scrabble in this essay. Instead of talking about how parts of your life are like different games, talk about how parts of your life are like parts of a single game, possibly Scrabble, or possibly the others: it's your choice.

If you condense this into an essay only about 1 game, I don't think you will have difficulty cutting it down to the 500 word limit.

Also, by the way, Common App does give a little bit of leg room with the essay. If you go a little over the limit, but the essay fits in the designated space, then you should be fine.
DesiGirl 9 / 52  
Dec 20, 2011   #3
I found it helpful to find synonyms and cut down 1 or 2 words at a time. My common app. was used to be 700 something words; it took a while but I finally got it down to 499. I can take a look and help you cut yours down.

If you could look at my USC Supplement regarding the one or two majors, that would be amazing :)
sumerakhaja 1 / 5  
Dec 20, 2011   #4
I like this! How you used life metaphorically as games was good, but it could be shorter.
snugglyduckling 1 / 4  
Dec 20, 2011   #5
sumerakhaja: thanks! do you have any idea how i could make it shorter without breaking the flow of the metaphor? i could do as desigirl said and only use 1 game, but i want to know if theres any other way before i change to just one game.
jasononwenu 5 / 19  
Dec 20, 2011   #6
If there's too many "to be" verbs, cut at least half of them out. Try to reword some sentences and phrases because usually people like to say what they need to say in many more words than needed. ELIMINATE any words such as "thing", "so", "stuff", etc. because these are just "gap words"; they contribute nothing to the essay. Good luck!
snugglyduckling 1 / 4  
Dec 21, 2011   #7
desigirl: oops sry i was thinking about another thread that i posted on
well even changing those few things doesnt get me much closer to the 500 word limit :/

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