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I have a Mohawk---commonapp essay for upenn, princeton, amherst, rochester


maroon5 9 / 57  
Dec 3, 2011   #1
Okay this is my commonapp essay...the prompt is a topic of your choice...please care to read the whole thing although it's obscenely long :)

I have a Mohawk. In fact, I have had one for the past three years despite the inconveniences it has caused me; I often draw more attention to myself when walking down a street than a parade of bikini models would. Anyone foreign to our community would probably observe the above scene and leave with the impression that I was either some sort of a local hero or was much better looking than he was giving me credit for. Now I am not saying I would mind having an entourage of fawning sycophants, ready to swoon over every word of mine. The trouble, you see, is that these onlookers are rather less than admiring. As though gaping isn't enough, these "fans" of mine often see it as their absolute obligation, their moral calling, to grace my Mohawk with insults and slander. A few particularly memorable ones have been, "Can't afford a proper haircut?" or, "So is it the lawnmower or the chainsaw that you use on your head?" and even "It looks soooo gross." On one fine occasion, a local shopkeeper even went as far as to hurl pebbles my way; I guess he felt as though words couldn't justify the extent of his dislike of me. Of course, acquainted as I am with how Jagger handles upset fans, I always acknowledge these aspersions with a toothy smile and a wave of the hand.

My family members are peculiar beings indeed. You would have thought that having someone as distinguished as me in the house would have been an unwelcome cause for distraction and disruption in their daily lives. This, however, couldn't be further from the truth. It seems as though my family has become immune to my Mohawk and its charms; they hardly ever comment on it or even bother to take note of it anymore. It's almost as though they see me as the same Snape- haired boy that I was before.

However, my family hasn't always been so unfazed by my Mohawk. I can remember a time, just after I had first adopted the Mohawk look, when my family members had been my biggest "fans". Back then, they simply couldn't get enough of my Mohawk and rarely allowed me a moment of peace. Every morning, I would be welcomed at the breakfast table with snickers of, "Morning Freak" from my brother. And then, rather than admonishing my brother for his colorful use of language, my parents would join his cause with exasperated queries of "When are u going to grow some sense and get rid of it ?" or "Why can't you just be 'normal' like others?" My grandmother, whenever she felt like it, would pipe in with solemn premonitions of "The devil's got a hold of you boy". And all this was on a good day; I have lost count of the number of times my father threw ultimatums of, "It's either the hair or a place in my house" my way. On such occasions, I always found it best to retire quietly to my room and watch re-runs of HOUSE while I waited for father's anger to subside; he would often start humming downstairs even before the intro music had finished playing.

My life under my parents' roof went on in this manner for over a year before I found that I couldn't put up with their condescending manner any longer. Things had actually gotten worse with time in some respects; my brother's taunts had become more frequent than ever before (he wouldn't even spare me in the shower) and my parents, having failed miserably themselves, now resorted to conjuring up little-known relatives of ours every week to sermonize me on the "evils" of having a Mohawk. The last straw, however, had been when grandmother brought home a medicine-man from her village with the intention of "cleansing my body of the devil" as she put it. With incantations and mantras being cast at me every time I dared to venture out my room, I knew I would have to do something before my family and I lost what little sanity we had left.

"I can't get rid of the Mohawk," I declared during dinner. I watched as father rolled his eyes over his half-finished steak before he jeered in with, "Why? Because you think it's funny being weird?" "No I can't...." "Because I am joining the circus," my brother generously offered, cutting me off. This was my family's usual response to any talk of my Mohawk; rather than learn the reasons behind it, they preferred to shrug off any mention of it with ridicule. Okay, I'll admit some of their jokes were funny. But I had had remained silent for much too long and felt as though the time had now come to make some noise. "You will have to hear me out this time," I went on more forcefully, "How else are you ever going to understand me?" Father's gaze shifted to my face at this, and I could tell from his puzzled expression that he was either contemplating the truth in my words, or wondering whether to have me institutionalized. Encouraged nevertheless, I continued, "The Mohawk is simply a part of who I am, just like your hair is a part of who you are. I have been trying to get you to see that all along." After a long silent pause, father solemnly asked, "Why didn't you tell us this before?" I was very much taken aback at his sudden change in demeanor and honestly replied, "I wanted to, but I didn't as I never thought you would understand." After another eternity of silence, father spoke again. "We understand," he said with a curt nod in my direction before going back to butchering his steak. Coming to terms with what had just happened, I tried to affect an air of nonchalance. I believe I did a pretty good job of it as well as I pranced around our dining-table wailing the lyrics from Bon Jovi's "It's My Life". My family finished the remainder of their dinner in silence and have been oblivious to my Mohawk ever since.

"Thus, I will not get rid of my Mohawk," I concluded. The shopkeeper stared hard at me, as though doing so would somehow magically change my mind. Finally, he shrugged his shoulders and strode away. "Awesome," I congratulated myself, "no more pebbles." Nowadays, I have made it my duty to confront and enlighten anyone who, like the shopkeeper had been, is kind enough to offer me insults. My intervention with my family had shown me that ignorance and a lack of communication lay at the root of my troubles; I cannot ignore others and say nothing while, at the same time, expecting them to understand and appreciate my perspective. I now realize that if I truly believe in something, I have to stand up for it and express myself even if doing so entails me to confront society's criticism and prejudices. I have to speak up and let people hear my voice, however "girly" my singing teacher might have dismissed it as. This, I believe, will finally help my "fans" overcome their infatuation with my Mohawk and accept me for who I am. Because unlike my beloved Jagger, I have grown tired of my fame and would like nothing better than to go back to being just me.

So what do u guys think??? Please be as critical as u wish to be....i know i have exceeded the word limit by a mile so feel free to point out sections of the essay which you feel as though i could do without....ALSO, more importantly...can u guys tell what i am talking about??? The Mohawk is a metaphor; i am really talking about embracing atheism in a conservative community( although i do have a Mohawk as well). Is the deeper meaning clear enough???

I didn't want to go all out and write blatantly on atheism...but i do want them to realize that i am talking about something deeper...i would really appreciate any help and u guys can post your essays if u want any help...THANKS...

ItsokaytoGaga 15 / 96  
Dec 3, 2011   #2
Hey Junaid!

I really loved your story! Believe it or not, I have the same condition at home! Gosh, the amount of unwanted attention a hair-style can grab... :/

You've written a very long essay. But it doesn't really seem laden with extraneous words or sentences. You have clarity in thoughts and that shows in your writing. :) I would still suggest you re-edit and keep revising till it becomes a bit shorter...

I liked the usage of the word "fans" for people who actually criticize or judge you. Nice.

Your metaphoric use of the Mohawk, being the fact that you embrace atheism, is not at all obvious. I couldn't have had known it till the time I read your post-essay note (but this is just my opinion about it! I may be wrong..) I advise you to go around changing bits that would make metaphoric meaning more profound. It would be challenging to leave the reader convinced that your use of the mohawk actually signifies something deeper, but if you are able to then this essay would be a true winner! :D

So I hope I could give you some worthwhile insight. Your essay is good though. It's different. And you've conveyed your message well to me - Standing up to your convictions.:)

PLEASE I would really be grateful if you could help me with both my essays and give me some insights. I would really appreciate it! Thanks! :)
ItsokaytoGaga 15 / 96  
Dec 3, 2011   #3
Haha, about the Grandma bit. I really love t cause my mother casts the same spells over me, regardless of her religious fervor! Probably one could infer from that that you mean something else while saying 'mohawk', but I don't think it is quite obvious. :/ Maybe because my relatives have said nearly the same things.... *sigh*

Yes, Lady Gaga it is :)
I love Maroon 5 :D
happykid93 2 / 9  
Dec 3, 2011   #4
Hey maroon5! I think you did a great job on the essay - the essay flows smoothly from idea to idea. Maybe you could edit the part on your family to make it shorter? That part does seem a little long. I didn't really see the idea of embracing atheism though. It is obvious that it's about going against some really conservative values but not specifically about atheism.

It is a really unique essay though! Keep working on it and improving on your metaphor. I think you will surely have a great essay in the end! Btw, I think mohawks are cool!
ravenclaw 1 / 6  
Dec 3, 2011   #5
This was a really good essay! It was amusing, interesting, and definitely different. It also flows smoothly like happykid93 already said. Although I didn't realize you were using your mohawk as a metaphor for atheism, I did get the feeling you were talking about something more or deeper than hair and conservatism.

As for shortening, the only thing I could suggest is to possibly remove some examples you have when taking about your family.
morecelery 4 / 20  
Dec 3, 2011   #6
Nice! It was funny, well written, and had a distinct voice, which is so important for a college essay. The only this is that I think you could do a lot of condensing; It was a little long, and carried on for a while before it all tied up in the end. It takes away from the effect when it is too detailed or adds too many jokes. My essays were insanely long, but they needed to be under 500 words. It was so insanely hard to take out things without thinking the essay would crumple down, but in the end they were 10 times better. It had an even better reaction in much less space, which also can impress the college admissions essay-reader people. OTHER THAN THAT IT WAS FANTASTIC!! you are really good, I especially like how you write freely with your own voice; you write to express rather than impress and that's awesome. SO good luck and I really think you can get in with this haha

Also, thanks for reading my essays, your advice was really helpful!
tehfunkicookie 19 / 50  
Dec 4, 2011   #7
Hey maroon5! Your essay was very interesting, funny, and personal. The use of your brother's joke and the pebbles combined with the fans made it really great to read.

one point, your last paragraph "I have to speak up and let people hear my voice, however "girly" my singing teacher might have dismissed it as. " - i think there should be a semi colon and I couldn't really get the point of the teacher so i suggest that you can delete that part.

And yeah, I had the same problem with the word limit. I just had to include every single detail in my essay or else it wouldn't flow, but it's ok! You can really cut it down. Your last few paragraphs I know you can cut down! Like for example you can edit out a lot of the questions your dad asks. There are so many questions but I think a few is enough :P. Also, I think you can maybe edit out the second paragraph or combine it with your third paragraph because you're directly addressing your family's issues about your hair in the rest of the essay. I think maybe you can talk about your family being the fans first but then after they switched their perspective of your mohawk.

Maybe build up you're topic sentences a bit more. I know what you're talking about eventually but I think you should address it in the first sentence so what you want the common app people to know what you're talking about is more clear.

Overall, very great essay! You're emotions and thoughts make it very original. Good luck with grading it!!!
Guest /  
Dec 5, 2011   #8
I really like your essay! It wasn't at all boring even though it's long. I love that you wrote in your own voice; you really know how to express yourself through writing. But I didn't realize you were talking about atheism until after i read your post-essay comment. I guess I should have known when you mentioned your grandma brought home a medicine-man.

Yeah, the only thing you need to do now is condense it. Maybe you could cut off a little about your family?

Oh, and thanks for commenting on my essay! I'll work on it:)
mikisuzuko 1 / 2  
Dec 7, 2011   #9
I really love your essay. The metaphor is really clever! I may just be dense, but it did not come across to me that you were talking about Atheism. As for your essay length, I suggest just cutting off some of the added bits of information.

For example:
My life under my parents' roof went on in this manner for over a year before I found that I couldn't put up with their condescending manner any longer. Things had actually gotten worse with time in some respects; my brother's taunts had become became more frequent. than ever before (he wouldn't even spare me in the shower)
athai45 1 / 5  
Dec 7, 2011   #10
i don't think there's anything wrong with it except length. its a very inspiring story i think how you stood up for yourself and this will play a big role in you getting into your schools.

Alex Thai

PS: Thanks for looking at my essay.
Zachariah 1 / 1  
Dec 8, 2011   #11
To echo everyone else, your essay was very good. However, as the first commentor pointed out as did many others, the atheism metaphor doesn't show through. Without the phrases about the Mohawk being "of the devil," it could just as easily be a metaphor for choosing faith in a community of atheists, or choosing Hinduism just as easily as atheism.

Frankly, it's a good essay metaphor or not. It shows what I think you want it to show, about being confident in going against the grain of what's commonly accepted.
angelalp19 1 / 5  
Dec 15, 2011   #12
Soo I'll start by saying I genuinely enjoyed reading your essay. :) You're definitely a talented writer, but like you said, it has to be cut down. I know this would be changing a lot but maybe you could take out the beginning. It was funny but it was almost too sarcastic. I think if you start with a particular story about a stranger who commented (I guess the shopkeeper would work but they might not believe that he actually threw pebbles since "adults are too mature for that") and go from there it would work. I don't think you should change your last paragraph besides possibly taking out the part about your singing teacher. So I guess the essay would go like this:

Random stranger dissing the mohawk - it happens often
Transition into your family judging you (At one time similar insults came from my family...) and then you couldn't take it so you explained to your father

End with your last paragraph

You might have to cut out some parts in the family section to make it short enough. As long as you get your point across it'll still sound great. If you want me to read a revised version or need help with what specific sentences to cut I could try.

Mind using your awesome writing skills to read over mine? :)
wapogod 1 / 1  
Jan 1, 2012   #13
I would say go with the second of the two conclusions. The mohawk seems to be something more than just a haircut in your essay, and I feel like the second conclusion does a nice job of tying the mohawk into a more general statement regarding your religious status/society.

Hope that helps
birdcages 2 / 11  
Jan 1, 2012   #14
I agree with the first poster - the second conclusion is leagues better, imo. Also, I'm not really a fan of the paragraph before your conclusion - it feels a little after-school-special to me. Like, 'too happy' of an ending? I mean, if that's what happened, that's wonderful for you & I'm certainly not telling you to lie, but the way you wrote it makes it seem like a complete 180. I think you can write it in a way that's a little more subtle.

Otherwise, I think it's a great essay! You can really hear your 'voice' & personality come through.

Take a look at my CommonApp essay? :)


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