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"my low grades" - Northwestern- would you send an essay like this to a school?


hmeggitt 1 / 2  
Dec 30, 2010   #1
Essay Question: What are the unique qualities of Northwestern - and of the specific undergraduate school to which you are applying - that make you want to attend the university? In what ways do you hope to take advantage of the qualities you have identified?

When you read my application, the first thing that will probably come to your attention are my low grades. Other than that, which is unfortunately the most important part, I think I make a good candidate for Northwestern; my test grades are strong, I have taken hard courses, and I have a solid list of extracurricular activities. Each day I have spent applying to colleges, I regret more and more not trying my best in school, which is honestly the reason why my grades are what they are. In this essay, I am hoping to convince whoever may be reading it that I will be a good addition to the Northwestern community.

For as long as I can remember, I have been an unconventional thinker. I am motivated to do things differently than what is considered normal, and I take pride in discovering new ways to solve problems. This is why I am interested in science and engineering; two studies which are most simply described as problem solving. When people don't know why something works the way it does, they look to science and scientists to explain it. The best scientists are the ones who can solve problems by looking at things in ways that other people might never think of.

My issue has always been that I find myself so interested in one thing that I totally ignore everything else. This hurts me as a student because it makes it hard for me to concentrate on my grades. There are times when I should be studying for tests that I spend drawing up business plans or researching things on Wikipedia. As much as I wish I was a person who was able to stay focused and get good grades, I am not and I never will be. I am inherently interested in bigger picture things. While it may not be good for schoolwork, I think it gives me an advantage in college and beyond where I am able to choose what studies to pursue.

With its large number of research opportunities, particularly the Solar Energy Research Center, Northwestern is a place where I will easily be able to find a field of study that inspires my full capabilities. More than any college I know of, Northwestern is committed to making real world discoveries and putting them to use. It is a place where people with big ideas can go to make a difference in the world. I think it is the kind of place that gives a person like myself the best opportunity for success.

hereonawhim - / 6  
Dec 30, 2010   #2
I would try to steer clear of focusing on aspects that schools will find negative. For instance saying you ignore other subjects will probably not encourage them to accept you. Put emphasis on the qualities that do make you a good student, like dedication to a certain area of study or your individuality (what you alone can bring to the school). Hope I could help!
etaang 4 / 40  
Dec 30, 2010   #3
^Agreed. While it might be a knee-jerk reaction to try and "explain" the weaknesses of your application, essays only do a very little amount of compensating. You are better off using your essay to show how, despite your grades, the other parts of your app are still excellent.

By opening with the paragraph you chose, you aren't doing much to convince NU to accept you. There is a keen difference between being conscious of your deficiencies (a very positive attribute) and trying to make excuses for why your grades aren't a little higher (not very good).

Content-wise, you need to spend more time simply addressing the question. Your first and third paragraphs seem almost completely unrelated to the prompt at hand and what time you do devote to "Why Northwestern" is very underdeveloped. Remember that the central tenet to college essays is to reveal, not tell. If you explicitly communicate that you feel you are an "unconventional thinker", you better have the experiences and substance to prove it (again, this goes back to the format of your work, since you really only have half an essay).

You seem like a decent writer and if you spent some time revising your piece then you should be fine. I hope this helped!
lapetitecygne 7 / 16  
Dec 30, 2010   #4
much, much, much less about making excuses for your bad grades! it seems a lot like you're past-focused instead of making the best out of what you have

since the question specifically asks for qualities of northwestern that you like, you must write a LOT more about that, not just about you, though you CAN write about how your interests can bloom at northwestern.

take a look at mine as well?
afwebb 6 / 17  
Dec 30, 2010   #5
You didn't answer the prompt. This isn't about why you would be good for northwestern, it's about what about Northwestern is good for you. I would rewrite your essay, and instead of saying why you would be a good candidate, tell them what about the school interests you and what you intend to do with the resources they provide.

Never try and make excuses for your bad grades; the person reading the essay will not appreciate it.
Ukeboy 2 / 9  
Dec 30, 2010   #6
-Never use "In this essay". My AP teacher used to nag at me all the time for that.

--Do not use contractions in formal writing! Colleges will see that you were not careful in your editing and writing abilities.

-- You have good ideas in your essay, i think that you just need to be clear and concise. Use formal language and use the first paragraph to interest your reader!
jz7 6 / 21  
Dec 30, 2010   #7
When you read my application, the first thing that will probably come to your attention are my low grades. Other than that, which is unfortunately the most important part, I think I make a good candidate for Northwestern; my test grades are strong,

this is contradictory and may need a better explanation.

furthermore, don't waste space sayin you WILL CONVINCE them, just do it by showing, not telling.
i would advise rewriting the first paragraph.

For as long as I can remember, I have been an unconventional thinker.

this seems awkward.

you only talk a little about NWU in the last paragraph, try to incorporate more areas of interest and its unique qualities.

hope this helps and it would be great if anyone could look at my NWU app as well!
Davina22 1 / 5  
Dec 30, 2010   #8
I agree with hereonawhim.
Don't focus on the negative side of you!!
Try to appeal NU with your best side!!
Starting your writing with admitting low grade is not very good.
rebrose 8 / 20  
Dec 31, 2010   #9
Use your dedication to science and engineering as a positive. You could say that those are the subjects you enjoy the most, etc. Also you need to focus more on "why NU?". I think you have the right idea in the last paragraph you just need to expand more on it.
ztn123 3 / 5  
Dec 31, 2010   #10
I agree with what's been said. I think you should use your regret as an undertone instead of the focus of the essay. Use it as a means of motivation in the sense that Northwestern will benefit you because you were able to turn a negative into a positive. remember it's why NU.
Anonymoussenior 17 / 133  
Dec 31, 2010   #11
Your essay is your chance to shed light on the positives that you would bring to Northwestern not to remind them about other aspects of your application. that being said focus more on you and what NU can do for you. Focus more on the promt of why NU.

Please read my why Northwestern essay.


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