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"Being a member of the debate team" - Georgia Tech Extracurricular Essay

debater514 6 / 18  
Dec 28, 2010   #1
Please expand upon an aspect (s) of your academic or extra-curricular background that you feel is especially important to you and that will help us to get to know you as a person. (5000 character limit)


This essay seems bland, and I have no idea where else to go with it, so feel free to rip it apart.

I have added another paragraph to increase the length, but I need help editing it. Feel free to tear the entire essay up if necessary.

The ring of the timer hits me like a punch in the face. Everyone in the room looks in my direction. I stand up and then approach the podium. For five straight minutes I present my case to the judge, trying to make as many arguments in as possible. When I finish, I return to my seat, and sit down hesitantly. The room is so silent that I can hear my heart pounding. Thirty incredibly long minutes later the judge hands a piece of paper over to a boy who then scurries out of the room. Afterwards, the judge says, "I voted for the Affirmative from Nashua", the room suddenly erupts with applause. The underclassmen in the room tell all of their friends how that was their coach who just gave that speech. I can only smile, because these are the moments that define why I debate.

I would be lying if I attempted to explain why I chose debate, because I really didn't want to join another club. Every single person I know chose debate for me. Classmates would encourage me to join the team because they would come out of every class discussion with a headache. Despite my mom's qualms about over scheduling myself, even she almost forced me to join the team. She claimed that she thought that my argument skills needed work, but in retrospect that probably was a nice way of saying she was sick of me arguing with her. The only problem was that there was no debate team. That was, until my sophomore year, when the team was first founded.

During the first meeting, we were instructed to sit down. The coach proposed we debate about policy regarding abortion. Over the next hour, I realized why I liked debate so much. Right from the start of the debate there are always some canned arguments that I break out to get the discussion rolling. Then I reveal the ace up my sleeve, the argument that can't be responded to. When the room became completely silent, I knew my job was complete. As if she got a sense that discussion was over, the coach dismissed us for the day. At that moment, I knew that I would be coming to many more meetings in the future.

Regardless of my initial intentions, the effects of being on the debate team are indisputable. Organization was always my Achilles heel. Despite my best efforts in September to make an organizational system that is simple to follow, by October my bag would look like something exploded inside of it. Now, my backpack is so organized, a caveman could find my homework. I have become so organized that I am in charge of organizing all of the team's files. The responsibility of being student coach has also forced me to mature, because my actions no longer affect myself alone, but also directly affect the twelve underclassmen who I coach. Interacting with people was like attempting to solve multi-variable calculus. I literally would attempt to plan out conversations with people, so I wouldn't spend so much time thinking of exactly the right words to say. However, debate has drastically increased my ability to communicate with people. The turnaround was so drastic that I got nominated for Junior Prom King, and was elected Junior Class Vice President.

All of these skills came in handy when it was time to put myself to the ultimate test: a three week debate camp at a Michigan State University. It was just like three weeks at a college. There was a meal plan, I stayed in a dorm room with a roommate, had an extensive amount of work, did my own laundry, and also make friends with other students. The experience was one I will remember for a long time to come. Throughout the camp I was affectionately known as "Big D". I even managed to get along with my roommate despite the fact that he didn't ever talk. Time management was a breeze, as I never got behind in my work and still had time to "toss the disc around" and play several poker games, for Starburst of course. Debate has helped me prepare for, and even have, the college experience, and I am incredibly grateful to all of those who forced me to join.

Jimbort 2 / 3  
Dec 28, 2010   #2
Firstly, this is a good topic that definitely has potential to illustrate your strengths. It does, however, need some polishing.

Like you said, the essay does seem bland and lacks true substance as well as cohesiveness. The introduction has a good premise but many of your phrases are short and choppy ("When I am done, I sit down", "The room erupts with applause"). If you could try and put these together, it could flow much more effectively.

The second paragraph is a little confusing as it does not actually sow passion for debate but actually the opposite. You seem reluctant to do so in that you parents "forced" you to join and that they were "sick" of arguing with you. If you could show that your impression of debate was wrong or how you have grown to love debate, I think the reluctance could be considered a plus but you want to counter it with plenty of positives about your attitude towards debate. In addition, you use the word "debate" far too much in this paragraph so you might want to consider some change in diction to facilitate a little variety. This applies to your sentences as well as they all seem a bit formulaic in structure. Try varying the word choice along with the sentence length to make it a little more interesting to read and a little less tedious.

The third paragraph starts to describe how your experience with debate has changed you but there are a number of issues. You don't want to start with the word "First" if you are not going to continue to list other reasons. You may want to reconsider listing these changes at all and let them flow a little better. You still have a few fragmented sentences which impede the cohesiveness ("Debate has also helped me mature"). The main issue with this paragraph is the very straightforward nature. You list off the ways it has changed you but you do not do it in an entertaining way. The "caveman" metaphor is a little out of place as it is the only example of creative language.

This essay has potential but it goes need some revision. If you can vary your sentence structure by starting them with words other than "I", "My", or "The", you will hear a massive change in the way it reads. Make sure to check on the grammar as well as there are a few examples of misused commas.

This link is to an article that talks about how you can vary sentence structure and I have found it very helpful in the past


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