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A Narrative Essay about a Personal Struggle - Common Application

khalid123 1 / -  
Jan 2, 2019   #1
This is what I'm about to submit for my common application, If there's any feedback you could give me for the following essay, I'd really appreciate it.

Are we ever going back to school?

"We have been unable to contact your parents, Khalid. Your fees are a month overdue. You and your brother cannot attend school starting tomorrow unless this is resolved," she said. I nodded silently, unable to explain that both my parents had been in jail for the past month.

I rushed home, skipping what was left of the school day, to continue what had become a ritual: crying, screaming, and sleeping on the floor beside my parents' unmade bed-hoping this would bring them back. I was sweaty, panicked, and drained of tears knowing the last remaining pillar of structure in my life, school, had crumbled.

I entered my little brother's room; his face lit by the pulsating lights of a laptop, as he sat slouched and submerged in his video game.

I wanted to tell him to stop but I couldn't blame him for choosing to escape to another world.

I called my uncle, explaining what the administrative officer said. He assured me that Ma and Baba would return in a few days, just as he had yesterday and the day before. At fifteen, I couldn't understand what was going on.

"Are we ever going back to school?" my brother mumbled, overhearing the call, while his eyes swelled with tears.

At that moment, I felt that I failed as a brother. I didn't know the answer to his question, but I knew I had a responsibility to do something other than weep.

The next morning, I put aside my despair and pursued the role of teacher myself. I downloaded syllabus material from our school's website and created a study plan. The problem was, I didn't know enough to teach; thankfully, we had some help: Google was our professor, Wikipedia our textbook, YouTube our lecturer, and Khan Academy our exam invigilator.

Our lessons eventually became routine. We were not going let a lack of a school end our education. Diving into academics removed me from a bleak reality and helped me stay close with my brother, but I recognized I had to do much more for us. Our landlord demanded the overdue rent and our fridge looked empty. I couldn't rely on the generosity of our extended family members forever.

With my pre-existing skills in graphic design, I took on freelancing. Online, nobody cared that I was a ninth-grader from Bangladesh without job experience; if they liked my work, they paid. Soon, I discovered the highest paying work typically required coding knowledge. Although I was initially learning to program out of financial need, I came to love the work. Far more difficult than I anticipated, software development challenged me with problems; problems that I had control over and could solve, unlike those with my family. The pay wasn't much, but it kept the lights-and more importantly, the router-on.

Still, sometimes I failed to find work, meet the deadline for the water bill, or properly clean the air-conditioner-there was a lot to adulting. But every day we had something to eat and enough 'schoolwork' to keep us distracted-that alone kept me content. For the next few months, this was our life.

Then, I received a call from my father.

"I'm sorry," said the familiar voice.

Overwhelmed, I couldn't breathe; they were coming home.

All the emotions I've been suppressing came out in full force when I saw them again. As the family reunited, it was apparent that those six months had taken a toll on all of us. My parents, whose businesses had withered away, decided to set up a new life in Malaysia. Everything had changed.

Yet, I'm partly grateful for this experience. Self-reliance, discipline, mental fortitude, autodidactism, coding, teaching-these skills continue to define who I am and what I do. But I only possess them because of the light that accessible education brought during my darkest times. That's why I decided to commit my life to further the spread of education.

Hawaiiiiii 4 / 7 1  
Jan 3, 2019   #2
Wow. This essay is amazing. It really captures your voice, struggles, and insightful revelations to give the readers a good sense of who you are as a person. From your essay, I learned that you're a caring brother, determined student, and ambitious 15 year-old. You're first sentence is captivating and the rest of ur essay is engaging to me. Maybe post the specific prompt you're addressing for some constructive feedback? But all in all, great job!
Holt - / 7,530 2001  
Jan 4, 2019   #3
Khalid, if you have written this essay for the obstacles that you encountered in life that you had to overcome, then you did a very good job of representing the obstacle and the way you overcame it. However, a little backstory is involved. You are starting the story in the middle. Give the reviewer a backgrounder as to how you ended up in this situation. I know that it will require you to present more personal information than you are comfortable sharing with a stranger. However, the sense of pride, the ability to overcome the obstacle, the importance of the topic, all relies on the backstory. What was your life before your parents went to jail? Why did they go to jail? How did you react to it? Only by providing the before will be aftermath make more sense to the reader. The special circumstances and how you overcame it will also gain a more significant sense once the reviewer gets to know why the things you did in order to survive is not something that you are used to nor did you ever expect to face.

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