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"I am a problem solver" - Where to go with my common app main essay


opa 1 / 3  
Nov 4, 2010   #1
I have a bunch of different topics that I feel that I can write about for my main essay. I'm just trying to get some opinions on whether I should keep it similar to what it already is or narrow it down to specify on one particular story or two.

I am a problem solver. It's what I do. At my very core, whenever I look deepest, this is always what I find. It is the motivation behind all of my actions I have made and makes me see the world from a completely different perspective than other people. My personality has impacted any great or inspired idea I have ever had and my experiences have shaped me and helped me develop this skill to its greatest potential.

I find personal enjoyment in trying to find existing limits that people put on things just to see if I can break them. In other words, I am always looking for trouble, but only looking to find a problem so that I may develop a solution. I thrive on the critical thinking that comes from solving problems. These challenges - having to create solutions to all of the problems- have developed me into who I am today.

When I was in 8th grade, my parents told me that our family would be moving. At the time all it meant was that I would be losing all of the friendships that I had slowly built up throughout my childhood. I was ripped out of my comfort zone and tossed into a new unexplored world. This new world seemed scary, but in the beginning it was exciting - an adventure. Over the next few years my family decided that they were not satisfied in their new place and moved again, and again, and again. After five years, I had moved four times. Not only was I losing all of my friendships, but also I never had time to fully build new ones. For the awkward phase of adolescence, this stage was not easy on me. I knew that this would just be one obstacle that I would have to overcome, but it was so hard to get the motivation to be in the top 10% of my class when I knew I would not even graduate with my fellow student body. How was I supposed to compete against students that I had never even met? All of this moving was very difficult, but working through it and learning to readjust myself to new situations helped me become more competent at succeeding in other adverse situations.

One thing that I feel inspired this was the inception of my running career. In middle school we had to do the mile run and I wanted nothing to do with it. Forced onto the track by my gym teacher, I struggled around the track for the four laps and crossed the line panting utterly defeated. I looked at my failure and realized that at this moment I was weak and my body was limited to my out of shape aerobic ability. This ignited in me a passion to push the limits of my body and see just how far I could go. I joined cross-country and the track team and everyday I could see myself breaking the barriers that had previously held me back. Everyday I was getting stronger; better. I think what really attracted me to this sport was my love for breaking limits put on me. I get really frustrated and worked up when someone tells me that I can't do something or what I am trying to do cannot be done. All I want to do in that moment is prove to them that it is possible. Running was my way of proving to myself that I could break my own limits that I put on myself and discover the incredible things that the human body is capable of.

Last year I entered into a statewide business plan competition with my entrepreneurship class. My teacher told me that my idea had to be reasonable, but I really just wanted to solve problems, fix things and create a plan that would actually be worthwhile. My plan was to use photovoltaic concrete to essentially transform our nations hundreds of thousands of miles of highway into one gigantic solar panel. Energy can be transmitted through the air through radio waves so I figured why couldn't we transmit the power generated directly at the source straight to electric vehicles passing over it. This would eliminate most of the energy wasted normally during its transfer. I dreamed big, but still created an option that with enough capital could fix all of our energy problems. They must have been afraid of the high costs because I only got third place, but this was still a victory considering there were hundreds of applicants.

Overall there have been many problems that I have encountered throughout my high school career and I feel that my attitude that I have developed for them through experience will only help me to succeed in college and beyond. I feel confident that no matter what problems I face, I will have the positive attitude and experience to use them to make myself better. So how do I view the world, you ask? I view it as a problem that needs to be fixed.

any opinions would be greatly appreciated!!

OP opa 1 / 3  
Nov 5, 2010   #2
any help with picking the ideas with the most potential or the paragraphs that help my paper the most?
himaya 3 / 7  
Nov 5, 2010   #3
I like this story anyway.
The original one has too much info I really have to say, so you'd better narrow it down to a single story and develop it to a more complete one.
OP opa 1 / 3  
Nov 6, 2010   #4
so write my entire common app essay about my running career?
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,321 129  
Nov 14, 2010   #5
trying to find existing limits that people put on things just to see if I can break them.

I think we usually say "exceed limits" or "surpass limits" but breaking is what we do to records.

I am a problem solver. ----solving problems and exceeding limits are 2 different concepts. Maybe you should get focused on one theme.

I do like the theme of problem solvng, especially if you announce that you are going to pursue a career that is all about problem solving, such as political science, or something about law enforcement, or something about technology... some field where you can solve problems.

But this is not about problem solving: "One thing that I feel inspired this was the inception of my running career."---get focused on that problem solving theme. Just present all your subtopics as examples of problem solving, and also talk a little more about the future.
OP opa 1 / 3  
Nov 16, 2010   #6
I re-wrote the essay with a much stronger focus on the problem-solving aspect like EF_Kevin mentioned. I also tried to tie it all into the same problem-solving theme and cut out of the fat that did not relate well.

I plugged in the cable, flipped on the power, and cranked the volume. My amp hummed quietly as it waited. I struck a chord on my guitar and the amp responded with a very loud and beautiful sound. All of my hard work had finally paid off. I had been building this amp for months in my free time and now I had achieved the end-results that I had dreamed of when I first started. The process was not easy and it definitely did not work on my first try, but I worked out the issues and tweaked it until it was something I was truly proud of.

Although I love playing guitar through any amplifier, there is a feeling I get when I play something that I struggled to build myself that nothing I can buy compares to. It feels so rewarding to face issues and challenges and troubleshoot my way to incredible results. Now whenever I play guitar, I am using an electric guitar, effect pedals, and an amp; all of which I built myself. None of them came out perfectly at first, but all yielded the same incredibly satisfying feeling when the result was even better than I expected. I know that any product I see in the world does not exist because someone read a book that told them exactly how to make it; it required innovation and insight.

I am a problem solver. It's what I do. When I look deepest to the core of my being, this is always what I find. It is the motivation behind all the actions I have made and makes me see the world from a different perspective than other people. I find great enjoyment in trying to find existing limits that people put on things just to see if I can exceed them. This challenge has developed me into who I am today.

Wanting to apply problem-solving skills to the real world, I entered a business plan competition with an idea to solve our dependence on fossil fuels. Essentially it came down to using photovoltaic concrete to utilize tens of thousands of miles of highways in the US as a source of solar energy that could be directly transmitted through induction to electric cars traveling on top of it. It seems insane, and while it would require staggering capital, the technology all exists and it would revolutionize the world.

The only classes that get me through the day are the ones where I get to logically think through solutions like my AP Computer Science class. I would much rather think out how something is done instead of memorizing formulas or regurgitating definitions. I know that engineering and specifically bioengineering is the field that I want to go into because I will get to apply problem solving and analytical thinking. These are skills that come naturally to me and while I am not saying that I will be the best at it, I know I will be passionate about what I do.

Any thoughts?


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