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Night Flying - Common Application Personal Essay.

madcaodisease 3 / 6  
Dec 31, 2010   #1
Considering it's due in less than an hour, I'd appreciate any quick feedback you might have.

Prompt: Topic of your choice (unless you have a better idea - I couldn't think of any option this essay could fit under)

I can fly.

No, seriously. I spread my arms, take a running start, jump as high as I can, and I'm flying. The ground falls away beneath my feet, and suddenly the world is made of toy cars and dollhouses. I'm floating, I'm falling up, I'm flying until my mother throws off the covers and demands to know just what the hell I'm still doing in bed when school started half an hour ago.

"Go 'way, Mom. I'm trying to fly," I mumble, clutching my pillow in a dream-fogged stupor.

"You're not flying, and if you don't get up in five seconds you'll be grounded."

With a start, I realize that the fetal position is conducive neither to flight nor mother's delight. In four seconds flat, I'm stumbling groggily into the bathroom. A glance out the window at the gray Monday sky confirms that the universe hates early mornings as much as I do. Today, a thought has half-formed in my still-hazy mind: I don't have to stop flying if no one says otherwise. A splash of cold water washes the notion out of my head for the rest of the day.

I have a piano audition after school. As we pull into our parking spot, my dad turns around and gives me the dreaded Serious Look. "Look," he begins, "I know you practiced this piece a lot. You've been working really hard to learn it, and I'm proud of you for doing so much, but you just started learning this piece last month. I know your teacher's been cramming in two or three lessons a week for you, but even so, you know you're not ready. I really don't think you should even enter this competition."

I give him another moment to make sure he's finished with his monologue before I respond. "Bit late for that now, Dad. Don't worry, I'm sure I'll do fine," I say, flashing him a smile full of false cheer. I hop out of the car and head over to the front doors, where my piano teacher is waiting anxiously. "Come on, you're up soon," she says, ushering me hurriedly inside. As we wait outside the audition room, I can feel my sweaty palms wrinkling the sheet music. She notices my restless shifting. "What's wrong?"

I scratch my head sheepishly. "Ah... to be honest, I'm pretty sure I'm not ready for this audition."

My teacher snorts derisively. "You can't think like that while you're walking into the room. I spent ten hours with you on this piece; there's no way you're not getting in."

I'm not sure if that's a promise, a reassurance, or a threat; whatever it is, her careless confidence is contagious. I enter the room, fully certain that I can't fail. All the way up to the piano, past the panel of judges with expressions of supreme boredom plastered across their faces, I'm walking on air.

It's not flying. It's pretty close, though.

My teacher calls later that night to report a successful audition. "Was there ever any doubt?" I ask smugly.

"Oh, definitely," she replies. "I thought for sure you wouldn't make it in. Good thing I didn't say that; you definitely would've failed if I had."

I shrug. I take my victories where I can.

As I curl up in preparation for another night's flight, my morning's fragmented musing finally pulls itself together into a more coherent thought: flying isn't about believing you can. It's about not believing you can't.

Comments, please - the harsher the better.

Anonymoussenior 17 / 133  
Jan 1, 2011   #2
I would advise against any form of cursing in a college essay because cursing is seen as informal language that you would use with your friends.

truancy is not generally the best route to take when writing an essay- it makes you look undedicated or a bad student

With a start, I realize that the fetal position is conducive neither to flight nor mother's delight.- did you rhyme this on purpose?

her careless confidence is contagious- I wouldn't use careless considering her previous statement (I practiced this with you for 10 hours). Pick a difference adjective

fully certain that I can't fail- do not use contractions in a college essay they are less formal

Great essay overall. I love how you begin and end with flying and reference your flight throughout the day. Good job and nice story.

Please read my Northwestern essay
OP madcaodisease 3 / 6  
Jan 1, 2011   #3
Well first off, I've been told that, considering the essay is supposed to be a personal statement, it's really not even supposed to be formal. That means contractions are fair game - at least, no one else has cited them as an issue. I agree that "hell" in this context may have been pushing the boundaries a bit, but I talked that one over specifically with my guidance counselor, and she says that part's fine.

Truancy would of course be an issue if I was deliberately skipping school - I only overslept, though, and who hasn't? I would prefer not to avoid my personal flaws in my essay. In my opinion, it seems more realistic and relatable if I don't try to portray myself as a perpetual model student.

Yes, I rhymed that on purpose. "Mother's delight" would've been a weird phrase to use if I wasn't trying to rhyme, wouldn't it?

The adjective "careless" in this case refers to the casual way she expresses her certainty. It's not talking about the time and effort she put into working with me, but rather the dismissive attitude she has toward my negativity.

I know I just turned down every single one of your suggestions, but I don't think they're bad at all! Honestly, I'm grateful you took the time to look over it. More comments are always welcome.

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