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Lucked out of the gaokao ; UW Madison Admisson Essay

David1 1 / 1  
Aug 25, 2014   #1
Prompt: Consider something in your life you think goes unnoticed and write about why it's important to you.

Three years ago, I had an opportunity to my visit hometown in China, after almost a decade apart. It was a small town in southern China, hemmed in by mountain. My previous memories of the place was one of busy markets, raging traffic, and adventure. I remembered playing tennis with my cousins at the local high school, and how they had led me on a grand tour of the town.

Liangshan, China in the summer. Sweltering by any standards, but I had never seen the town so sleepy. My cousin and I grabbed our tennis racquets and made our way down to the local high school for a friendly game of tennis. As we rounded the corner, we discovered that the school had been fenced off. Police cars blocked the roads, preventing any vehicles from passing the school. We saw hundreds of parents crowding the school fence, all with a look of anxiety on their faces. Both of us immediately realized that it was the gaokao, the Chinese higher education exam. An annual examination, it is a three day ordeal where students are tested on everything they have learned in four years of high school. Students spend months memorizing seemingly meaningless information, as well as constantly practicing "for the test". In a small town such as Liangshan, success means entrance to a prestigious university and a life of opportunity, while failure guarantees a difficult life of farm work and disappointment by family and friends. When I visited China during 2011, 30% of the students would fail the exam.

It on that hot summer day that I finally noticed how privileged I was to live in the United States. I never thought about how difficult admissions are for other countries, until I had visited during that summer. While I had a western education, everyone else in my family would have to deal with the pressure of the gaokao sooner or later. During that month, I realized how lucky I was that my parents decided to immigrate. If there is one thing I should do in life, it is not to let this opportunity go to waste.

Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated!

vangiespen - / 4,137 1449  
Aug 25, 2014   #2
Three years ago, I had an opportunity to my visit hometown in China, after almost a decade apart. It was a small town in southern China, hemmed in by mountain

You left the description of the location hanging. Include a description or the names of the mountains that hem in the small town in China. What is the name of the small town? You need to give a detailed description that includes the name of the town. The first paragraph is too short for an introduction.

Liangshan, China in the summer.

- This should be worked into the first paragraph as part of the description mentioned earlier.

It on that hot summer day that

- It was on that hot summer day...

The title should also be changed from "Lucked Ou"t to Locked Out because you were prevented from getting to the school. Luck had nothing to do with it.
tdshah1 5 / 8 4  
Aug 25, 2014   #3
Good job. however, I think you spend too much time describing the scene of the exams and don't spend enough time focusing on you. the college wants to hear about you. although reading about these exams from your perspective is nice, it isn't personalized to you.

also, just saying near the end that you feel very privileged doesn't cut it. many students are like you- they come from hard backgrounds with poor living conditions, less freedom, etc. saying you shouldn't let this opportunity go to waste is also vague- how, what, how could the college possibly help with this?
OP David1 1 / 1  
Aug 26, 2014   #4
Hi! thanks for the input!

Should I shorten my description (the second paragraph), and instead focus on the third paragraph?

I'm not sure what exactly I should be doing to improve this essay. Your right that most of it isnt very personalized. How can I change that?
vangiespen - / 4,137 1449  
Aug 26, 2014   #5
One way you could improve it is by concentrating on the fact that you do not need to take any qualifying exams. Compare the educational system between China and the U.S. in such a manner that you can discuss how your cousin might have told you about the exams they have to take and what it is for. Which made you realize how lucky you are to be a student in the U.S. That way, you can clearly show how you came to realize that you have taken your education for granted all this time because U.S. education is somewhat easier than the Chinese way of education.

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