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"The Limit Does Not Exist" Common App Activity Essay

hihihi 1 / 3  
Oct 24, 2010   #1
Prompt was Common App's Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences in the space below (150 words or fewer).
This is my 2nd draft. Please critique me on my grammar/style/overall. Thanks!

"Why did you join?" my friends all asked when they heard about the Track and Field team's hardcore workout. I used to ask myself the same question. The practices were painful, the coach was tyrannical, and my practice results were devoid of any hope of ever seeing improvements in running time and jumping distance. Despair was ephemeral, though. At meets, the results showed that my hard efforts at practice were not in vain; I had surpassed my practice times and distances. However, each year I still believed that I have finally reached my physical limitations. But my doubt is annually refuted as I see myself yielding unlimited personal records. Track and Field has thus allowed me to discover that I am capable of reaching beyond-not just in Track-my maximum performance. So I replied to my friends, "Because I can disprove the existence of limits."
boyohboy17 3 / 6  
Oct 24, 2010   #2
You have a good idea and good ending, but i think that you should reduce the number of fancy words. I had and still have no idea what ephemeral means. if you put in some more every day lingo, it brings the reader more into the story. I felt like a third party reading this. Put me in the story!
RyanVi16 12 / 91  
Oct 24, 2010   #3
Haha I don't want to give bias opinion since ephemeral is one of my favorite words. I think your essay is fine, you have good vocabulary. But you could change "Despair was ephemeral" to something like "However, despair was incomparable to the joy of seeing my improvement after all the hard efforts" Then I think you can get rid of the next sentence. Just a suggestion though.
collegekid27 1 / 6  
Oct 25, 2010   #4
I like this alot. It shows a determined side of you. I would agree that vocab is best used in the informal kind of essays. This is almost like a chance to speak to the admissions office face to face, by explaining the activity. Would you use that type of word? Maybe you would!

It's fine though, I thought I could just provide another perspective as to what the first person was talking about.
Absinthe 2 / 5  
Oct 25, 2010   #5
wow! I really like it!
It's brief and effective. Good enough!
If you add an example into the passage, just a short one, maybe it'll be better?
nishabala 4 / 91  
Oct 25, 2010   #6
Bias towards ephemeral here too, I'd say keep it. I actually think changing words you use amounts to changing style, which I really don't think is a good idea cause it detracts from your style.

One thing, I think "So I replied" at the end just sounds wrong. It may be worth your while to rephrase the beginning in the end (So, when my friends ask me why I joined Track, I replied...) but that might kill your word count.

"...and my practice results were devoid of any hope of ever seeing improvements in running time and jumping distance." is a bit wordy, '... and I had no hope of improving my running time and jumping distance' sounds a bit better, though I'm not sure that it contains everything you want in it.
OP hihihi 1 / 3  
Oct 25, 2010   #7
@nishabala so are you saying that if I take out ephemeral then it'll sound like I'm changing my style? which equates to bad idea?

@everyone thanks for your suggestions! I'll definitely consider taking out ephemeral.
nishabala 4 / 91  
Oct 26, 2010   #8
I don't mean JUST ephemeral, if you doctor your essay to include different words it may not seem as heartfelt. Plus, vocab's not gonna be a problem for the AO reading your essay.
Kaiser - / 9  
Oct 26, 2010   #9
What you're conveying here is that T&F is important to you, because you realize through it that there is no limit to what you can do. But somehow there seems to be greater focus on the RECORDS than on T&F itself. Your obsession with statistics does not really say much about why you chose T&F specifically - which is ironically the question you answered at the end. I could substitute any other sport for T&F, and your essay would essentially be the same.

The fact that you were surprised (every year!) at surpassing yourself suggests that you didn't have much confidence in your abilities. It doesn't imply any kind of determination, because determination is the product of a conscious mind.

Suggestions: Leave the Q-A pair intact. What you need to do is say that surpassing your records was a CONSEQUENCE, a BYPRODUCT, of your passion for T&F, and not what drove you to play (couldn't think of another word) it.

Good luck. I like the concept and your writing style, and really think you can do better.
OP hihihi 1 / 3  
Oct 26, 2010   #10
@nishabala alright thanks for your clarification.

@kaiser you said that I'm writing about how there's "no limit to what can do"? um...did you actually mean I was writing about how there's no limit on [i]performance? because that line sounded kinda ambiguous...

So do you think it might be better if I changed the first sentence to "Why did you continue joining.."? Because, like you said, the explanations i give aren't really about why i joined in the first place.

I agree about the determination part (I was actually hesitant about writing this part when I first started writing this). The whole point of the essay that I'm trying to convey were why I stuck with the sport and what I learned after 4 years (no limitations on performance). So...do you think it'll be better if I said I doubted myself for 2 or 3 years, but around 3rd or 4th year i no longer doubted myself?
Kaiser - / 9  
Oct 27, 2010   #11
Hi. By that I was referring to the central theme of your essay. It's a good theme. But since the prompt asks you to elaborate on one of your extarcurricular activities, whatever lessons you might have learned from T&F should be directly connected with the sport. It's good that you learned to be more confident in yourself through T&F. But I don't think readers will easily appreciate your obsession with the records. When you begin with "Why did you join?" the response the reader naturally expects is that you liked T&F. Your essay in effect suggests that you're indifferent to T&F. It doesn't matter to you if you chose swimming, or basketball, or football instead, since it's the records you care about.

What you're implying in your reply right now is that you would have left T&F after the first year, if you had failed to surpass yourself. Doesn't that sound kind of defeatist to you? Colleges look for positive qualities, like determination, perseverence in spite of extreme adversity, and so on. What you wrote here might be the truth, but it wouldn't necessarily impress the admissions officer.

The purpose of this essay is to find out what kind of activities you are good at or passionate about, and how well you express that passion. A blind obsession with game statistics is the equivalent of wanting to join a good college just to make good money later on.

The lesson you learned through T&F is good. But T&F here is used as an expression for the lesson, when it should have been the focus of the essay.

Do you understand what I'm trying to say?
edwardng 1 / 4  
Oct 27, 2010   #12
It is brief but still not enough
However, you may turn out a better one by elaborating more at the last part of your essay
Good luck
OP hihihi 1 / 3  
Oct 27, 2010   #13
@edwardng Um, that was very...vague.

@Kaiser Hmm...I think I see what you're trying to say. I thought I implied that I endured (physical) adversity with the coach part and the first sentence. But maybe it was too short.

As for the records part, well, they're more like personal goals I guess. I saw it kind of like a goal oriented trait..

I understand that I should show more passion. But I don't want to make it sound cliche by doing what i've seen a lot people do, like: "T&F has been my life. I've made a lot of friends, matured, developed leadership blah blah" ... it's so hard with only 150 words. :(

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