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seeb8 1 / 3  
Oct 22, 2018   #1
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?

The Metamorphosis

"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."
Holt [Contributor] - / 7,660 1998  
Oct 23, 2018   #2
The approach that you have taken to discussing the prompt is interesting. The only problem I have with it is that you are being pretty technical in the opening presentation which might derail the reviewer who may or may not understand what you are saying in that portion of your writing. I suggest you simplify that introduction just to be on the safe side. Maybe open with your head hitting the laptop first, that way you catch the attention of the reviewer first. Then hit him with the jargon second so that he will better understand why you dozed off. We don't want the reviewer dozing off with you now.

Your presentation is clear. The titled topics make this come across as a chapter type presentation, adding to the flow of the story. It helps the reviewer keep his place while reading your paper and also allows for quick reference should he need to find something that you had written. It is a good format for a narrative presentation. The content is prompt specific and really engaging as you continue to read the essay. Like I said, it is just the opening I am worried about and that, I believe, you can easily fix.
OP seeb8 1 / 3  
Oct 23, 2018   #3
Thank you so much! I might edit it so the introduction is:

Chapter 3.3: "As long as there is silica remaining, the reaction proceeds down the discontinuous branch..."

This is a familiar format for a textbook. Do you think this would be too confusing for the reader?
Also, I feel that the short sentences keep the essay from becoming too convoluted, but at times I think this approach causes the essay to become choppy and the ideas to be disconnected. Any thoughts/suggestions?

Greatly appreciate your help.
Holt [Contributor] - / 7,660 1998  
Oct 24, 2018   #4
Anytime that the student uses technical information in an essay, you better hope that a professional in the field is going to be reading it otherwise it could end up being boring to the reviewer. That is why I was asking you to open it with a comical scene first. The preceding comical event can always cancel out the fact that the next part is technical in reference because the reviewer was already hooked and could care less about the scientific information being presented because he is already laughing at what happened because of the scientific presentation.

Yes, short sentences tend to get choppy. So write moderate length sentences instead that uses transition words and phrases to keep the paragraph together. Don't forget the complete transitional sentences to connect the paragraphs. That normally takes care of the choppiness and disconnected ideas in the presentation.

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