Please help! I need edits for my Common App essay submitted Nov. 1. Thanks!
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?
"As long as there is silica remaining and the rate of cooling is slow, this proceeds down the discontinuous branch: olivine to pyroxene..."
My eyes watered ... "pyroxene to amphibole" ... my heartbeat slowed ... "amphibole to biotite" ...my breathing steadied ... "biotite to" ... thump. My forehead hit the edge of my laptop, jolting me awake. Again: "As long as there is silica remaining ..."
I can balance redox reactions in my head and name each lymphocyte of the immune system. I've mastered kinematics and magnetism units. I enjoy the physical sciences-just not Geology.
So why was I up late memorizing the Bowen reaction series?
Two words: Science Olympiad.
As the newbie on the team, I was assigned the least popular subject. I was supposed to be mastering the required material the day before the local competition. Instead, I spent the dwindling hours of the night in the margins of the text, embellishing doodles drawn by previous prisoners of Physical Geology. Blame it on the confusing diagrams or the absence of caffeine in my system-the textbook was more soporific than any sleeping pill.
The day of the competition, flipping the pages of the test booklet, I racked my brain for answers that didn't exist. When the winning scores were displayed, my lack of preparation was exposed-I was not even on the scoreboard. My face turned red, hot like lava. I felt the silent reproach of my teammates. As I offered hollow excuses, I realized my lack of interest in the subject was at fault.
I hit rock bottom.
"I definitely need help."
Reeling from the embarrassment of failure, I mustered the courage to ask the team biologist to work through the tedious material with me. The following day, I met with her to review the test questions. Each member of the team contributed, whether by sharing their expertise or simply sharing their donuts. Tolerating the resident mathematician's Yoda impression-"Equilibrium you seek? Determine the oceanic crustal mass, you must!"-and persisting through the textbook, facts and figures began to sink in. Walking back from school one day, I saw a familiar shape in an ant-hill. I immediately pointed to my friend and exclaimed, "Syncline!"
"You wouldn't understand. It's a Geology thing."
Week after week, devouring news articles about volcano eruptions, tsunamis, and climate change, I began to appreciate the dynamic planet we live on as well as the necessity of the subject.
The day of the state competition soon arrived. Leaping on the test packet, tearing the answer sheet off in one fluid motion, I was an athlete sinking a three-pointer to tie the game, a soloist nailing the cadenza in her concert piece, a geologist sharing her discoveries with the world.
How did my name appear, brilliant in neon, at the top of the rankings?
Two words: peer pressure.
The good kind. The kind of tensile stress that shifts plates, that moves mountains. Like an undersea earthquake creates a tsunami, so my actions impacted my teammates. When the first-place team was announced and the sea of red-shirted kids around me erupted in cheers, I attributed the gold medal to each person who helped me along the way.
However, I have a confession: I still fall asleep reading Physical Geology. But do star athletes really enjoy cardio? To what extent can a human being pretend to like kale?
At times, learning can be a grueling process. But my responsibilities to my teammates, to myself, and to my future patients push me to discover the diamonds in the dust. Today, as the leader of Science Olympiad, I perfect my Yoda impression while coaching others. I challenge myself to explore every crevice and cavern of knowledge to be found. And when I inevitably find a junior teammate using a textbook as a pillow, I am sure to let them know: "You definitely need help."