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Perfume, Fire, and A Glass Jar


MRob 1 / -  
Dec 11, 2022   #1
This is the leading essay for the Common App. This will be submitted under the prompt

The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success.


Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

I am unsure if I am executing this essay with the significant impact I want it to. I feel like it could be stronger, but I do not know how to get it there efficiently. I have a habit of talking in circles, so that may be a cause for concern.

"What do you want to be when you grow up?" is a question that ponders the minds of children everywhere. For some, it invokes a sense of uncertainty; for others, it brings exhilaration and hope. I was always the second type. Ambitious and full of dreams, eager to see what I would reach at the end of the road of possibilities. I always had a different answer to this question, but it never danced too far off the sound of "I want to be a scientist." I went through many childhood interests, but a burning curiosity about the physical and natural world around me never seemed to dull, all but once. This is where my story starts; when the flame dwindled to nothing more than a soft glow.

I fell in love with science about six years ago. At twelve years old, I did not yet understand the marginalization I would face. I first encountered this reality during a seventh-grade Robotics class. I was the only girl in a class of roughly 25 students. On the first day, the teacher challenged us to see who could build the longest-standing bridge out of a set of materials given to us. I still remember my classmate's reaction when I won. The utter disbelief smeared across their faces, and the denial that they had just lost to a girl was enough to tell me that I would forever be chasing acceptance. Just as one can smother a flame by placing a glass jar on top of it, my spark was extinguished by the glass jar of doubt others bestowed upon me. I was on the inside, looking out into a world of possibilities I thought could never truly be for me. How could it be? My presence in the classroom was deemed negligible by my long hair, soft smile, and the sweet scent of vanilla perfume that trailed behind me. Everything that was me, a girl.

Although, just as fast as that flame died, a new one began to glow. A flame of perseverance and self-advocacy. I had a new mindset by the time I entered high school. I persisted and continued taking all the most complex science and math classes my school offered. I refused to hide the feminine part of myself; instead, I was unapologetically me. Those who once doubted my academic ability and intelligence faced the reality that women can have a future in STEM and not be any less feminine while doing it.

Before long, my interest in science slowly became more accepted among my peers. The looks of doubt faded in their eyes as they realized and accepted that I had the capability of accomplishing what they could in the classroom. I remained among the top in all of my classes throughout high school, and I did it with the color pink being a regular part of my wardrobe, my soft smile never fading, and the scent of vanilla forever surrounding me.

The shattering of the glass jar led to the re-ignition of a spark that never truly left. This time, the flame grew too big to be smothered by a glass jar and instead spread more like a wildfire. I broke free with a new goal of continuing to practice science and advocating for women pursuing STEM as well. Although I understand that I am only still in high school, I am also aware that I am a person who has high hopes. I hope to help light the way for the young girls I will encourage and continue to advocate for. The spark of passion should not be put out on the shallow basis of gender. After all, perfume is quite flammable.
Holt  Educational Consultant - / 15036 4827  
Dec 12, 2022   #2
The problem that I see with this essay is that the narration does not relate to a single setback, failure, or obstacle. Yes, being a female in this field is an obstacle. It is an obstacle that the applicant has yet to fully overcome so it does not really fall under the prompt requirement. The approach in relation to the title is also unclear.

The writer chose the title before the content was written so the title comes across as forcing through. The title should be developed after the essay is written. Truth be told, a title is not necessary when writing college application essays. It is the relevance of the response that matters. In this case, an actual situation that has been overcome with finality is necessary.


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