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'Muddy and sweaty uniform' - Early Decision essay for dartmouth

dyj921 2 / 8  
Aug 1, 2011   #1
Hi guys, Im new here and rather clueless on to delive THE essay that will get me in. Do give me some feedback on this essay alright, be as critical as possible. I m gonna go with the "choose your own topic" topic on common apps but i have yet to think of a suitable one. feel free to give ur suggestions

common apps essay
My uniform was covered with mud and sweat. The stabbing hunger and
incessant bugging of sandflies kept me awake despite the fatigue from
a day of trekking through the Brunei jungle. This was but one of the
many sleepless nights I had during the Jungle Confidence Course (JCC).
The course required a team of 8 soldiers to undergo a 9 day jungle
navigation exercise supplied with only 2 days of food and water. I had
to go through it as it was a rite of passage for the infantry officer
cadets of the Singapore Army.
My memory of JCC is still fresh, particularly the events that
transpired on day 8. Day 8 was no different from the other days. It
was miserable. My team gathered after a day of building individual
shelters to plan our trek back to base on the next day. The lack of
sustenance and accumulated fatigue were affecting all of us. My
teammate, Ted, was in a particularly bad shape. A small guy to begin
with, he was now reduced to skin and bones. None of us could afford to
eat then as we had to preserve what was left for the long trek back to
base. However it was clear that he was going to faint if he did not
consume any ration. Ted was not just a good friend, he was a fellow
cadet who stood by my side as we endured the harsh and painful
trainings together. I felt a strong urge to give him my food. This was
a moment of great self struggle as my instinct of self preservation
tried its best to rein in this urge to help my friend. Caught in this
dilemma, my thoughts wandered back to the time I first set foot in
Singapore. As an quiet 10 year old immigrant from China, I found it
hard to adapt to this foreign English speaking land. My first year in
Singapore was miserable because I had no friends. Although things
ultimately turned out fine for me, I never forgot how important
friends were. In retrospect, those early experiences made all the
difference on day 8. My friend was suffering in this foreign land. I
had to help him. Secretly though, I felt a tinge of regret when I gave
him my ration, knowing that I will suffer on the trek back.
Eventually, all of us made it out of the jungle alive. Just a while
back, I found out through a casual conversation that my JCC teammates
secretly stashed food in my field pack when I was sleeping. This
discovery made me realise how insignificant my supposed sacrifice was
and how foolish I was to partially regret my choice back then. This
selfless gesture truly confirmed the power of friendship for me. It
was the strength of the bonds we formed as a team that gave us the
will and tenacity to survive this painful ordeal in Brunei.

Rechy 11 / 73  
Aug 7, 2011   #2
You need to include what motivated you to give your friend your ration, while you weren't supposed to and this essay fits well under this category below:

''Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you''
OP dyj921 2 / 8  
Aug 7, 2011   #3
yea i did realize that bit of the essay needs more elaboration. Thanks for the comment anyway :)
cocoachip - / 1  
Aug 9, 2011   #4
I think this is a great essay and an excellent topic to write about. Apart from the grammatical errors, I would say there are a few things that you could improve on.

I would first of all try to start with something better than "My uniform was covered with mud and sweat". Maybe begin with "The stabbing hunger..." because that is a much better hook.

The story is pretty good and pretty well written. Maybe include a few more details about the experience. Try to include more sensory details instead of directly telling us what is happening. Such as instead of saying that "The lack of sustenance and accumulated fatigue were affecting all of us", show how this was happening by certain things you saw or felt in that moment.

I do think you need to work on your conclusion. You have to say why this experience is important. You do say that the friendship gained through this experience gave you the strength to finish your journey, but how does that make you a good candidate for Dartmouth or for any college? What is it about this bond that makes you special or unique? You have to answer the "so what" question in this essay?

Anyway, great job with the essay. Good luck with your admissions!

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