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Life in a Travel Trailer - Common App Essay for Wash U in St. Louis


nippycan 2 / 2  
Dec 15, 2011   #1
I am applying Regular Decision to Washington University in St. Louis and my English teacher is far too busy to help me with my essay! I'm still not happy with the essay I have...I just really need feedback! Are there ANY good things going on or is it a terrible essay? The prompt is to evaluate a significant experience.

"It was always the tiny insignificant details that impacted me the most. And some nights I would end up in a sleepless state of tears and frustration. But I lived with this experience, and I learned from it. In the past five years, no one could have pointed to me and said, "You see that girl right there? She doesn't live in a house. Every day she goes home to a run-down, 1970s travel trailer that she and her parents live in." Sure, I seemed mostly normal, but doesn't everyone have something they're not telling?

The summer before I went into seventh grade, my family moved from Oklahoma to Arkansas, with plans of building the house my parents had been designing for years. Unfortunately, our old house didn't sell, and we didn't have the money to build. We had to settle for something a little cheaper. "It's only temporary," I told my twelve-year-old self, with just a hint of excitement. After all, it would be just like a more luxurious version of camping, right?

WRONG. Strong winds made the trailer sway ever so slightly and the roof would leak during heavy rains. In the winter, the heater battled with the cold due to the lack of insulation, and in the summer, it was hotter inside than out. My "bedroom" consisted of a very tiny area elevated over where the trailer would hitch to a truck. The entire space in my room was composed of two smaller-than-twin beds with about three feet of floor space between them. There was no door of any kind. At age twelve, I could stand up straight in my room with my head just barely grazing the ceiling. As I grew, I adapted to leaning over.

From age twelve to seventeen, I grew up and changed there. While all of my friends had the much-needed privacy of a teenage girl, I had to manage. I did my homework on my bed, and I avoided the subject of my home at all costs. I would frequently dream of houses, and my jealousy always got the best of me.

Sometimes I felt unappreciative of what I did have, but most of the time I was embarrassed. I just wanted to have a normal home life as I grew up, and I felt like I was being deprived of that. After a while, I stopped thinking about our new house being finished. Things between my family and I just weren't the same. They were tired, and I was left completely and utterly numb.

I came out of this experience with a different view on life. I am stronger now, and I can finally recognize the worth of the things that we so frequently take for granted. Never again will I ever see something so wonderful and simple as a home in the same way. And I will not judge people similarly, either. You can make generalizations about people and think you know them, but do you? Never assume certain things about a person because of what you see on the outside. How could you possibly know the details of their life?

I am changed. I am strong. I look forward to my future. And I look forward to the first Christmas in six years where we can finally have room for a Christmas tree."
Rocomo 2 / 6  
Dec 15, 2011   #2
The ending is REALLY SWEET! i finished this essay with a smile on my face.

I have a few suggestions on the essay though.

It was always the tiny, insignificant details that impactedeffected me the most, and some nights I would end up in a sleepless state of tears and frustration. But I lived with this experience, and I learned from it. In the past five years, no one could have pointed to me and said, "You see that girl right there? She doesn't live in a house. Every day she goes home to a run-down, 1970s travel trailer that she and her parents live in." Sure, I seemed mostly normal, but doesn't everyone have something they're not telling?I LOVE THIS SENTENCE! great way to end of the paragraph.

The summer before I went into seventh grade, my family moved from Oklahoma to Arkansas with plans of building the house my parents had been designing for years. Unfortunately, our old house didn't sell, and we didn't have the money to build. We had to settle for something a little cheaper. "It's only temporary," I told my twelve-year-old self, with just a hint of excitement. After all, it would be just like a more luxurious version of camping, right?

WRONG. Strong winds made the trailer sway ever so slightly and the roof would leak during heavy rains. In the winter, the heater battled with the cold due to the lack of insulation, and in the summer, it was hotter inside than out. My "bedroom" consisted of a very tiny area elevated over where the trailer would hitch to a truck. The entire space in my room was composed of two smaller-than-twin beds with about three feet of floor space between them. There was no door of any kind. At age twelve, I could stand up straight in my room with my head just barely grazing the ceiling. As I grew, I adapted to leaning over.

From age twelve to seventeen, I grew up and changed there This sentence seems a bit strange. Changed how? Changed your personality? Changed your perspective on life? Changed to be a better person? . While all of my friends had the much-needed privacy of a teenage girl, I had to manageMaybe you should explain how you managed...so if it's had the much needed privacy of a teenage girl, I couldn't even (just as an example) dance around in my room listening to Justin Beiber blasting through the speakers of the radio. This is just an example...you'll need to tweak it to fit your situation . I did my homework on my bed, and I avoided the subject of my homeconversations concerning my home at all costs. I would frequently dream of houses, and my jealousy always got the best of me. Maybe add a biiiit more description of the definition of 'dream houses' for you. Maybe 'dream of houses back a back yard, the ideal white picket fences...i don't know..

Sometimes I felt unappreciative of what I did have, but most of the time I was embarrassed Rephrase the sentence, 'I was embarrassed, and sometimes even unappreciative of what I already have . I just wanted to have a normal home life as I grew up, and I felt like I was being deprived of that. After a while, I stopped thinking about our new house being finished. Things between my family and I just weren't the same. They were tired, and I was left completely and utterly numb.

I came out of this experience with a different view on life. I am stronger now, and I can finally recognize the worth of the things that we so frequently take for granted. Never again will I ever see something so wonderful and simple as a home in the same way. And I will not judge people similarly, either. You can make generalizations about people and think you know them, but do you? Never assume certain things about a person because of what you see on the outside. How could you possibly know the details of their life?

I am changed. I am strong. I look forward to my future. And I look forward to the first Christmas in six years where we can finally have room for a Christmas tree.

Also, since you are presenting an evolution into a better person, maybe before your last 2 paragraphs, you should also talk about the positive outcomes of your situation.

And also, the fact that you mention the trailer as a 'home' instead of a 'house' or 'accomodation' means that it means more to you than just a place you're living in. Is that what you wanted to portray??? if yes then great...if not than you might want ot change the choice of language.

Hope this helped!
lana94 1 / 3  
Dec 16, 2011   #3
LOVE this essay :) it's honest and personal without tugging on your heartstrings TOO much. really love the last line. very sweet, but the last paragraph:

I came out of this experience with a different view on life. I am stronger now, and I can finally recognize the worth of the things that we so frequently take for granted. Never again will I ever see something so wonderful and simple as a home in the same way. And I will not judge people similarly, either. You can make generalizations about people and think you know them, but do you? Never assume certain things about a person because of what you see on the outside. How could you possibly know the details of their life?

i think this bit is somewhat general and overused, like they will have heard it before; maybe it's the second person narrative you switch to, because i know i have a problem with that too. but overall, great essay! :)


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