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"Live, Learn, and Love" - Princeton University: Two Summers Supplement

xtasue 2 / 6  
Dec 23, 2010   #1
I have a couple of questions, actually:

1) Is this asking the summers of 2008 and 2009, or 2009 and 2010? I wrote about the latter and then I read some essays on here and got confused. Either way, I'd be fine but, just wondering.

2) I know I took a risk on the first one, but that's honestly what I can gather from my memory of that summer! Tell me what works/what doesn't work/ WHY it doesn't work. Basically, an overall impression would be good, thank you!

PROMPT: Please tell us how you have spent the last two summers (or vacations between school years), including any jobs you have held, if not already detailed on the Common Application. (Max 2500 char)

I spent the summer of 2009 in love. It was on a bright day in June when I began a rapacious affair with an older, significantly more antiquated character, Merriam-Webster. It started with the intellectual stimulation of my curiosity. While reading a copy of Time magazine, I noticed that the language was quite foreign to me. It was long, verbose and tantalizingly intricate. As I read past the opening summary and got into the first sentences, the masterful use of language is what fascinated me. Although I had perfected the art of thoughtful reading through years of practice, I had never been a particularly strong writer. I often struggled to find my way around appropriate word choices and the difficult task of simplifying lumpy, awkward sentences. So when I find literature that articulates ideas in a succinct yet expressive manner, I often read it, regardless of content. Carefully analyzing the display of linguistic acrobatics, I picked up new diction and structural cues that have since helped me develop as a writer. For all the unrecognizable words, I trusted my copy of "Merriam-Webster's New Encyclopedic Dictionary". In every instance, it unfailingly produced a definition. I am forever indebted to the linguistic masters who produced and published that writer's manual. Much of my summer was spent in this fashion; reading thought-provoking articles with genres ranging from young adult fiction to medical journals. Not only did I learn new material, but also phraseology. Reading continues to be one of my favorite pastimes.

Learning was always an important aspect of my life. As a foreign exchange student, I learned more about the world than I ever did from a textbook in history class. In mid-2010, I traversed the bustling port cities and mountainous mid-regions of Japan for two short weeks. The lessons are enduring and invaluable. One of my most memorable moments was a day spent in silence. I learned the importance of body language. I had a mild cold and speaking was a painful and tiring task. Plus, having only limited language skills in Japanese, a surgical mask upon my face was further hindrance. After the first day of gesturing and eye contact, I was humbled. The language barrier was surpassed by this newfound communication. I seemed to have communicated better than in my broken, non-native Japanese. By utilizing varying degrees of body language, I learned that some of the most basic and significant messages are often unsaid but already understood.
alexa23 2 / 9  
Dec 23, 2010   #2
By what you have written here, I would have never thought that you were a weak writer! (For that matter, I think that you should take out the sentence "I had never been a particularly strong writer".) I think the way you answered this question is very unique, and the risk definitely pays off! I like that instead of going through a laundry list of what you did the past two summers, instead, you focused on a couple events that were important to you. I really don't think there is much to change! Great job!

Could you please look over my essay too? Thanks!
OP xtasue 2 / 6  
Dec 23, 2010   #3
Thank you for your help!
I worked hard on this essay and was honestly, daunted by the caliber of other applicants.

Are there any other suggestions anyone else can offer?
tonglil 3 / 8  
Dec 23, 2010   #4
You may wish to highlight what the lessons are in reference to "The lessons are enduring and invaluable."
Seems a little nondescript.

Other than that, it clearly shows that your summer of '09 has paid off in your response!
Gillatorby 1 / 11  
Dec 23, 2010   #5
Plus, having only limited language skills in Japanese, a surgical mask upon my face was further hindrance.

This sentence is awkwardly phrased. I had to double-take in order to understand what you actually meant--something you definitely do not want an adcom to have to do. I would suggest phrasing it so that it is more clear.

Other than that, I found the essay to be interesting and very well written.

If you could, please take a look at my edited essay! (It is the last post)

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