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My reflection on the novel written by Leo Tolstoy; the supplemental essay for Boston College


nicolezmh1997 6 / 30 8  
Oct 8, 2014   #1
Hi, everyone! My name is Nicole and I plan to apply to the earlt action in Boston College.
FIrstly, I really apprecaite everyone's help for my personal statement, especially Vangiespen's help. I am still revising it by the way.
Secondly, below are four essay prompts for the supplemental essay. Personally, I choose the last one. The word limit is 400.

1. What contemporary issue or trend relating to politics, culture and society, or foreign policy particularly concerns you and why?

2. Many human beings throughout history have found inspiration and joy in literature and works of art. Is there a book, play, poem, movie, painting, music selection, or photograph that has been especially meaningful for you?

3. Contemporary higher education reflects a tension between preparing for a meaningful life and preparing for a career. What are you looking for in an undergraduate education? Which emphasis is important to you at this moment and why?

4. "Magis", a Latin word meaning "more," is often cited in reference to the goals of Jesuit education, which seeks to help students become better, do more, and have as much impact on society as possible. How do you hope to achieve the Magis in your life?


Here is my essay.

The Death of Ivan Ilyich, by Leo Tolstoy

"The anguish and fear I felt are unjustified since I have lived a good life." What Poor Ivan thought on his deathbed, like a thunder, struck me, sparking my first serious contemplation on the meaning of life.

When Ivan hurts himself because of an occasional fall, he is brought face to face with mortality. What unsettled me most is not Ivan's destiny of death, but his conviction of not deserving the suffering because he had lived "correctly". Like those who constantly pursue self-interest, Ivan found pleasure by chasing frivolous goals and climbing the social ladder. His ignorance and contempt toward altruism disturbed me as I went through every pages.

Having gotten lost time to time in the webs for thought, I seriously doubted Ivan's definition for a "good" life. If individuals only emphasize their self benefits, no one would willing to contribute to the booming development in the world. Yet, shouldn't individuals promote personal well-being and social progress at the same time?

I recalled my participation in the environmental club for nearly three years in the high school. Volunteering for recycling second-handed books, carrying books from thirty-three classrooms downstairs, organizing them orderly to cabinets, and selling them eventually on the weekends, we collected the money and donated them to poor children in China. Though our effort is too trivial to be called as "altruism", we truly contributed the time and sweat to help others, not merely for self-interest. The process of devotion, to Ivan's definition of a "good" life is extremely mundane. But that's what I regard as a "good" life attaining "magis", Latin word meaning "more".

The meaning of one's life is to make impact on the society as large as possible. I closed the book and called my partners in the club.
OP nicolezmh1997 6 / 30 8  
Oct 8, 2014   #2
SORRY for my mistake!!!!!
I choose the SECOND prompt actually.

2.Many human beings throughout history have found inspiration and joy in literature and works of art. Is there a book, play, poem, movie, painting, music selection, or photograph that has been especially meaningful for you?
vangiespen - / 4,137 1449  
Oct 10, 2014   #3
- Nicole, Rather than narrating the passage from the story, you should somehow find a way to connect it to your personal experience. That way you will create the reason as to why this particular novel by Tolstoy is important to you. The more you connect with the story, the better the admissions officer will be able to develop an idea about what you are like as a person. Remember, every essay is a part of your preliminary interview. So you have to make your personality stand out in each paper you write. I am not saying this is a bad opening statement, I am just saying it can be better :-)

- These passages do not resonate as answering a part of the question being asked. You are being asked about why a particular novel is meaningful to you. You deviated from the prompt and spoke about yourself instead. Towards the end you mention Ivan's lifestyle but it is too late, you have already deviated too much from the topic. If you wish, you can do a comparison of yourself with Ivan instead. Do you mirror his strengths and weaknesses? If so, explain how and remember that it has to relate to the importance of the novel to you.

Thanks for this novel, I have a chance to seriously consider and plan for my life.

- How exactly did the novel help you plan your life? Why do you doubt Ivan's conviction? How does that doubt apply to you?

For your conclusion, you should try to sum up the importance of the novel to you again, this time using one strong word if possible, Altruism.


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