I think I read somewhere that using depressing experiences like rape or death is discouraged because it makes the reader feel uncomfortable, but there was a section where I needed to explain any gaps in enrollment for high school (I was withdrawn for a year). Any tips or suggestions would be much appreciated! Thank you in advance.
Rape. Such an ugly word. There are safety seminars filled with warnings and gruesome stories in the news, but we never give these things much though until we ourselves are victims. We think we're invincible. It happened to me during my junior year. Junior year, during which I was taking 6 AP/IB courses at once. Junior year, which is notorious at my school - and probably most schools - for being the toughest, gnarliest, most crucial year of our high school career. You either make it or you don't.
Before that fateful night, I was involved, driven, and confident. I sailed through the first quarter with A's, while actively volunteering within my community each week and dedicating nearly 500 hours to marching band practices and performances. I was raring to go; I was excited for my future.
I never would have thought that I would spend the next year struggling to get out of bed each morning. Facing my assailant each day in my Calculus class and in the hallways was an impossible task, and my attempting to hide the incident only contributed to feeling alone and helpless. Absences tallied up. People talked about me. Teachers wondered where I had gone, but were ultimately too caught up with the demands of their other students and deadlines. I stopped playing my beloved violin. Who knew that depression could hurt so much? The constant despair was so debilitating that it sometimes hurt to breathe. I spent every waking moment thinking of suicide. My mother, who referred to it as my "illness" like it was some kind of disease, shuttled me around to psychiatrists, therapists, and all kinds of specialists, trying to figure out what had happened, what had gone wrong.
That boy took more than my innocence that night; he stole two whole years from me. I will not let him sabotage my future. I used to look at these F's on my transcript and resent myself for letting it happen. Now, I look at them sandwiched between my A's and remember not the dark months I spent sobbing quietly into my pillow, but how I mustered the strength to fight back. Despite not having been in class, I still sat my AP tests and earned scores of 4 and 5 for all of them. I sought peace and solace in my volunteer work, and I painted a happy mask for outsiders to see while I healed my insides.
I ended up failing nearly all my classes for one term and was withdrawn passing for another. The letter from the psychiatrist excused my absences for the school year, but the rest of the world doesn't stop for you when you're down. You have to pick yourself back up, patch your wounds the best you can, and keep on fighting. It is okay to seek help from others. Although I had to repeat the same courses while my friends moved on, I find that I am grateful for the experience
Today, I sit here on the same bed I cried myself to sleep in so many months ago and fill out these college applications knowing that I am infinitely stronger than before. I have weathered through the darkest storm. Even after the pelting rain and the brutal winds, I remain standing. I know, deep down to the bottom of my toes, that I am ready for any obstacle, for whatever college may have to throw at me. I am still excited about future and I would very much like to prove myself to you.
My mother, who referred to it as my "illness" like it was some kind of disease
I feel like this part is awkwardly worded. Perhaps you could replace the first "it" with "my depression"? And if you do that, I think you should replace "my illness" as "an illness".
Junior year, which is notorious at my school - and probably most schools - for being the toughest, gnarliest, most crucial year of our high school career.
I would take out the "which".
I think it's really well written.
Oh man. Usually, I would say no, absolutely no, to using rape as a topic, but you have done such a good job with this essay that the topic doesn't come off as distasteful at all- in fact, your essay is beautifully written. I deeply admire your bravery for being able to write about a topic so close to your heart, and I think that any admissions officer will appreciate the raw honesty of this essay. It's a risk, certainly- but I think that, all things considered, it's a good risk to take.
Here are some grammar fixes for you:
"I never would have thought that I would spend the next year struggling to get out of bed each morning. Facing my assailant each day in my Calculus class and in the hallways was an impossible task, and my attempting to hide the incident only contributed to feeling alone and helpless."
Change that last part to "[...] my attempts to hide the incident only contributed to my feelings of loneliness and helplessness."
"I have weathered through the darkest storm"
Get rid of "through", since it's unnecessary and the placement is awkward.
" I am still excited about future and I would very much like to prove myself to you."
Please, get rid of this sentence! It sounds like such a disappointingly cliche ending to an essay that is anything but cliche. Just end with the sentence before ("I know [...] to throw at me"), which is much stronger.
The language I use in this essay is quite candid in that the sentences aren't as developed and I keep the words simple rather than scrabbling for long vocabulary terms. I thought it would be more spur of the moment and powerful this way.
But do you think this "choppier" presentation, in conjunction with the sensitive topic, may be detrimental? Are there any transitions I should work on? I typed this up in about 10 minutes and didn't spend too much time dissecting it for fear of "overworking" the content/taking the emotion away from it.
Thanks for your help, patorooni and Vulpix. :)
It's great that you've changed.. and that you brought back your As!!..
Hmm, but what was the point where you changed? I think you should focus more on the transition.. when did you think "OK, enough is enough, and HE is not worth ruining my life" ?? What happened?
You're essay is well-written, I agree with all of the above ;).. however, you can make it more powerful.. what I see in your essay is the before and the after, but I think you have to show the "how"..
Good luck!! and I think it is very brave to talk about this topic.. try to refine it, though.. an essay could always be better if you gave it more time and effort..
You're right, Mayada!
I would like to elaborate on how I overcame the crushing depression, but I feel like that may push it over the "too long" boundary. Did you feel uncomfortable or burdened in any way while reading my statement? I'm still apprehensive about using it because some admissions officers may shy away after reading the first word. =\
No.. Every student has the right to speak freely and transparently about the challenges..
Many speak about diseases, which may be more of misfortune than your essay. Just because the misfortune was caused by another individual it doesn't mean that it's a challenge that shouldn't be spoken of..
And about ur "getting over" this experience.. You should eliminate some of the before and after in order to put some more details on how you overcame it. This is the most important part of the essay.. because you don't want to talk about rape and leave your transitional phase unexplained.. since you are talking about a very sensitive thing you should put an end to any question a reader may ask.. plus, the admissions will see how you overcome a challenge to see if you can overcome their challenges.. ur kinda eliminating the most anticipated part of the essay..
Great job. Yes, you need to explain the bad grades. I agree that this is beautifully written. I think you might be able to make it better by doing a neat trick with your observation about the ugliness of the word:
If you write, in the intro, that you hesitate to use this as a topic because it is so negative, I think that will be extremely impressive. It shows such perspective, and it demonstrates how far-reaching the effects of rape can be.
I agree with Mayada, I am left with the question - how?
The essay is very powerful but I wonder at what point you decided to take matters into your own hands and start your healing process. What pushed you to change and not let things slide? And what steps did you take towards it?
Like Mayada said, this is the most important part of the essay. You can be briefer about what happened, but you need to elaborate on what the positive side of it all was. Since like she said, the Adcom will want to know how you will face the challenges and rigours of a university life. It is not always the ends that are important but also the means by which you achieve them.
Although you have some minor revisions to make (at least in my opinion), I really feel like you took an ugly topic and articulated it beautifully. At no point was I uncomfortable. I especially love this line:
That boy took more than my innocence that night; he stole two whole years from me. I will not let him sabotage my future.
because it shows that you've stopped letting the event change your life for the worse.
I agree with all the previous comments. Even if you feel nervous about submitting such a personal challenge, I commend you for your bravery.