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One Foot in Front of the Other (COMMON APP ESSAY)

Lydmeister 6 / 17  
Oct 20, 2013   #1
Hi guys. I need to submit this really soon so any feedback would be super helpful. I am especially looking for things to delete and removing any useless details or redundancies. Thanks for your time!

650 words is your limit, not your goal. Use the full range if you need it, but don't feel obligated to do so. (The application won't accept a response shorter than 250 words.)

Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

One Foot in Front of the Other

One look at the towering summit that lay before me and a sense of dread began to take over. I had only just arrived at the base of Mount Meru, a peak near Mount Kilimanjaro, but I was already feeling dangerously lightheaded. A look ahead revealed a steep terrain alternating between dense forest and jutting, scraggly rock. The trek was a three-day excursion during a two-week group service-learning trip in Tanzania. You've trained for this, I told myself, It's only for three days; it'll be over before you know it. But as I inspected the colossal mountain, part of me knew that my meager biweekly strength training sessions weren't exactly going to make this a breeze. As someone who usually chose books over sports, I had never faced a challenge quite like this.

The first day was the hardest. My pack seemed to get progressively heavier, the trek progressively steeper, and the sun progressively hotter. By the time we took a break for lunch three hours later, I felt like I was on the brink of collapsing. I inhaled a surprisingly satisfying ham and cheese sandwich, and then reclined against a nearby tree, desperately searching for the energy that would be needed to haul myself the rest of the distance to our camp. Seeing my exhaustion, one of the tour guides approached me and offered to carry my pack the remaining distance of that day's hike-an offer I gratefully accepted.

"Hakuna matata," he grinned, "not a problem." I couldn't believe I was having a complete stranger carry my belongings for me, and I felt a little guilty-until he also grabbed the pack of the hiker beside me. Then he scampered up the path and out of sight, returning, unfazed, a mere half hour later. The same distance would take my group about four more hours to cover-at a pace I could barely maintain.

My memory of the remaining climb gets somewhat hazy from that point onwards. I stopped counting down the hours and steps to the nearest checkpoint and put all my effort into focusing on the only thing I could handle: putting one foot in front of the other. Ascending Mount Meru essentially boiled down to taking it one step at a time. Regardless, by the time we finally reached the peak at dusk on day two, I could hardly believe I had made it. The exhilaration and elation of reaching the top and realizing how much I had accomplished was worth it. The feeling was entirely incomparable to my other experiences of success. Unlike acing another biology test, simply reaching the peak felt like an incredible accomplishment.

The time I spent trekking Mount Meru allowed me to discover an entirely new kind of perseverance. Pursuing my studies had always come somewhat naturally, but endeavoring to climb a mountain, something I'm not particularly apt at, was a whole new ballgame. The experience was arduous and painstaking. I was far from the best and eventually had to rely on the support of others in order to succeed. But when I did succeed, the sense of accomplishment (and admittedly, relief) was like no other. On that third day when we finally returned to the base of the mountain, I felt unstoppable (just as soon as I got a good night's sleep). What I overcame then has helped me to persevere through almost anything. After all, if I could survive those three days, surely I can pass Statistics, right? Hiking up Mount Meru has made me confident that I will be able to approach any challenge or obstacle in the same way-keeping the summit in sight and focusing on putting one foot in front of the other.

Ghadah - / 5  
Oct 22, 2013   #2

Good choice of subject, you developed it well. Also good that you used much of the space you are allowed because it is important to let the admissions officer know as much as possible about you. The last sentence of your last paragraph is very good, except that you should change "overcome any challenge or obstacle" to overcome challenges or obstacles, this is to sound less haughty. The sentence before the last one in the last paragraph does not make sense, because you were already doing good at your exams so how does climbing the mount signify that you will be able to pass your exam? Honestly I think it is not a good addition. Try thinking more if you have time, to add another significant lesson you learned thanks to this experience, for example how you may have liked bonding with nature or something you learned from the strong genteel stranger who carried your bag or that you plan to do more activities like that one. If possible put the essay away for a while, the duration depends on how much time you have until you submit the app, and take a look on it again. This will enable you to look at the essay with a more critical and objective eye.

You mentioned "the experience was arduous and painstaking", how can an experience be painstaking? You might want to say that it drained you off, honestly I am not a native speaker but I do not think it is right to describe an experience as painstaking. I believe you should change "I felt unstoppable" to that you felt enthusiastic and had pride in yourself for accomplishing this feat, that you liked this feeling and would like to feel it more often perhaps. You could say that someday you might even be in the place of the stranger who carried your bag. You might also want to explain what it means to put one foot in front of the other, does that mean you should be organized or carry out a job carefully step by step, I believe it is not quite clear what that sentence mean.

Overall, I think it is a good essay and it says a lot about you, that you are a persistent and determined person. Good luck and please take a look on my two essays that I will upload tonight.

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