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Robot "02618" - Common App Essay (Setback/Failure) - Is it to cliche? Is it any good?

iswhars 1 / -  
Oct 22, 2019   #1

I posted this a few days ago and got no response, but since I have updated and edited my essay, so I have removed the previous post and made a new thread.

Any suggestions and/or advice would be greatly appreciated.

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?

"02618" - my dazzling robot

I can feel the cold air brush against my cheek from the frosty, autumn morning, and the soft humidity of morning dew fresh in the air. A school building peeks into my view from the foggy distance and a tinge of excitement buzzes through my veins as we drive closer. It was finally here, the day of the TSA (Technology Student Association) State competition. As we inch closer, ever so slightly towards the school, I can suddenly envision the next few hours of my life: All of my group's blood, sweat, and tears for the past six months would come to a head at this moment. Our greatest creation yet, a hunk of metal lovingly named, "Robot 02618" would be going up against another competitor's creation in a fierce, jaw-clenching battle of the ages. Parameters of the duel? Who can chuck plastic balls at a target better.

As I walked in, I spotted my group in the far corner; the same people that I worked with week to week, meeting every Thursday afterschool, to build our VEX robot. There, behind my group, sat my dazzling robot, 02618, in all of its glory. Isn't there something so beautiful seeing months of hardwork all in one place, in one polished product?

I stopped in my tracks to admire the amalgamation of my group's creativity and brilliant ingenuity when I hear my groupmate say the fateful words:

"Uhhh I think our robot is broken"
Besides being unable to compete and having 02618's cold, soulless body lying in my hands, I found myself that day.
All my life, I had feared failure. And now, there it was, on the floor with its dead, cold aluminum skeleton. While sitting there thinking of everything I could've done differently, everything I could've planned, everything I could've checked beforehand, I realized I was delving into useless antics. Something clicked. What was this going to do for me?

It was at this moment that I realized failure is not a sentence to perdition, but instead a means to find the right step. Having failure as not a deterrent, but a motive, I couldn't help but strive to do more. I turned to other opportunities that weren't apparent before, once covered by a veil of fear, but now, something to look forward to.

I reached outside of TSA, taking my failure to heart, I looked to other places, other clubs, other chances that I once thought was too scary to pursue. Not willing to fall under the weight of rejection, I tackled different opportunities to see how far I could go.

Whether that be trying to make an impact in my community through working hand in hand with the local American Red Cross to set up blood drives or tackling personal weaknesses like public speaking by delivering speeches to hundreds at the TSA State conference, I pushed farther with what I could do, knowing that even if I were to fail, I would only learn from that failure. While these opportunities have garnered recognition and scholarships, I feel more pride in knowing that I seized these opportunities without a shred of apprehension and, ultimately, drove to make an impact.

Having lived a duality of fearing fear and facing it head on, I've learned to find a balance in not only trusting myself to avoid getting lost in ambition, but to also look back and find the flaws in my mistakes. To find out who I am not by confining to social expectations or personal doubt, but to move forward and only forward.

Everyday, I pass by the very same engineering classroom where my robot was assembled. Everyday, I replace the footsteps of a once hesitant person with those of someone who can take pride in his own actions and call defeat, a triumph. As I pass that classroom once more, my eye catches a laminated poster that reads "Fail forwards". And as soon as I turn my head, five little numbers pop into my head: 02618.
Maria - / 1,098 389  
Oct 24, 2019   #2
Hello! Apologize for not getting a response last time. I'm here to give a feedback on this particular essay of yours. I hope that this one gives you more of an idea on how to improve your writing.

Firstly, the creativity in the first sentence appears to be rather lost in all of the content. I have observed that you fluctuate quite frequently between casual and professional writing. While this is okay, it certainly doesn't improve the overall flow of your writing. It is mostly important that you are able to dissect the details in a more concise manner. While I know that you feel as though inputting all of the small details improves the substance, this is not necessarily the case all the time. Prioritize more than you expound.

Furthermore, the structure of the composition also appears to be rather outdated. Notice how the second half of your writing simply does not have that symmetrical composition. I would recommend sticking with a more basic structure, considering that this is an undergraduate essay.

The last paragraph also needs to hammer down more (by the end of it) what the essay itself is supposed to be about. Be more straightforward in this part as it can help clarify what you truly mean by specific parts of the content.
Tuguldurgnrdn 1 / 4 1  
Oct 24, 2019   #3
Try to write like you talk. The descriptive writing you're going for is not working out that well for you. I know how those Ivy League essays on the internet look but trust me, it's better to stick with your style.

This shot at beautiful writing is just making everything sound a bit too much. If you think about it, half the information in the first half is completely unnecessary and it just makes very hard and boring to read the essay.

I read this cool tip on an article to see your essay from the admission officer's perspective. Is your essay exciting to read? Is there anything memorable to stick in the admission officer's head? (This guide is very helpful, I suggest you to try it out:


Overall, I do think the topic is very cliche that probably every student majoring in science would write something like this.

And the complex words in there don't help either, it just makes you look like you're trying a bit too hard.

"It was at this moment that I [...], something to look forward to."

Here for instance, you don't sound like a person. It's extremely inhuman to use words like "sentence to perdition" or "deterrent". I would give you the same advice again: Write like you would talk!

Also the turning point of your essay is the fact that you realized failure was motivation and started striving for more. The thing is it's very vague as to how you understood this. It's almost as if you just pushed a button and got motivated all of a sudden. I think your essay should focus more on how you got this understanding and not what happened before and after that.

As a final note, try to sound a bit more uplifting and warm. Because that's apparently what they're looking for as well. If you're just stuck, try coming up with new ideas because coming up with new ideas is much better than just building upon a single idea over and over again.

It is cliche now, but there could be ways to fix that

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