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'His name was William' - Common App Essay

eagles05 1 / 1  
Nov 7, 2011   #1
This is my first draft of the Common App Essay. Any feedback would be great.
Thanks in advance! :)

Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.

His head was lowered as he finished the last few questions on his homework. Once he was done, he slid the paper over to me. The boy's curious eyes watched me intently as I glanced over the sheet. I looked up at him, smiled, and nodded. From the sparkle in his eyes, one would have thought he had just achieved the impossible. What one did not know, however, was that for the boy, he had done just that.

His name was William. My brother was friends with his parents. His father was in the service and had just been shipped to Iraq. His mother held a full-time job, went to school part-time, and had a baby to take care of. She truly meant well, but penciling William's school work into her schedule was futile. Consequently, my mother asked me to tutor him. She said it would help me. I did not understand at the time. Wasn't I supposed to be helping him, not the other way around? Either way it did not matter, as the following day I found myself with a book in my hands attempting to teach William basic arithmetic.

I quickly realized why I was asked to tutor him. The boy's lack of knowledge in mathematics was daunting. Not only did it elude me as to how a fifth-grader could not understand concepts that I had grasped by the time I was in third-grade, but it also scared me into thinking I could not bring him up to par with the other children. Furthermore, it did not help that I was never one to take the initiative. If I ever got into a situation that was too demanding, I would either back down or make excuses. I was afraid to lead people, make a wrong decision, and then watch them wander down the wrong path. It was an obstacle I needed to overcome yet tried my hardest to pretend did not exist. My freshman year, plus William, was not going to allow me to continue that pretense anymore.

William seemed to make no progress the first few weeks. It turned out that I had taught one of his main lessons incorrectly. Since I felt like I was just setting him up for failure, I was ready to give up. However, one day William came to me with a grin on his face and a graded test in his hands. Now, I did not think the grade itself was that great, as it was barely a B, but I could not help but grin with him. The grade may not have been fantastic to me, but it was to him. That was all that counted.

After the first month, William finally brought home his first A, and once again, I smiled right along with him. Near the end of my freshman year, as I was teaching William what would become our last lesson, I realized something. The fact that he continued to fail at the beginning because I led him down the wrong path for a moment did not matter. What mattered in the end was that grin and that graded test.

I am still tutoring.

beccalevesque - / 45  
Nov 7, 2011   #2
It was an obstacle I needed to overcome, yetthough I tried my hardest to pretend it did not exist.
good job :)
OP eagles05 1 / 1  
Nov 8, 2011   #3
Thanks for the feedback. :)
nippycan 2 / 2  
Nov 8, 2011   #4
That first paragraph is truly terrific. The details about William's eyes are magical. It makes me want to keep reading! The essay isn't bad by any means, but the one thing my English teacher keeps telling us about this particular common app prompt is that it tells us to EVALUATE the specific experience. Your description of the experience is great, but it just needs a little more description on the impact it had on you, rather than the plain description of the significant experience. ( I, too, have this problem!)

Also, I would omit or revise the last little sentence, "I am still tutoring." It just seems a little unnecessary to me.
Hope this helps! And PLEASE read my Common App essay that I posted! Feedback is always appreciated.

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