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Both Sides of the Gap: A Princeton Supplement Essay (Option 3)


swimmer400 4 / 10  
Nov 1, 2010   #1
Is my essay:

1. Coherent and Clear?
2. Sincere with a personal voice?
3. Telling a unique story (memorable)?
4. Grammatically correct?
5. Smooth?

Any comments on how to improve this essay will be greatly appreciated.

Option 3 - Using the following quotation from "The Moral Obligations of Living in a Democratic Society" as a starting point, tell us about an event or experience that helped you define one of your values or changed how you approach the world:

"Empathy is not simply a matter of trying to imagine what others are going through, but having the will to muster enough courage to do something about it. In a way, empathy is predicated upon hope."


Both Sides of the Gap

The problem is simple-find x. Yet Andrea starts by dividing both sides and reversing the order of operations. Andrea is my Calculus Club mentee who emigrated from Central America. I explain to her that she needs to add seven in order to isolate the variable, resulting in x = 7+7. Andrea rolls her eyes upwards, her fingers slightly moving as if pressing the keys of an imaginary piano. She mutters "thirteen."

"Not exactly...Let's try again," I say slowly, making sure she would understand the foreign sounds coming out of my mouth.

My thoughts drift away from the worksheet as I wonder if Andrea will pass her high school assessment. Minority, poverty, uneducated parents, and a language barrier: her figures are aligned for a grim future. Looking back, I can remember myself at a community education program for new immigrants. A white-haired lady was flashing number cards at me, phonetically pronouncing them so I could learn simple arithmetic in English. As a white middle-class female who grew up in a stable environment, my volunteer mentor was never able to fully understand my feelings. But she was aware of my family's problems, and her sympathy made a difference.

Andrea shakes her head, meaning she has given up. I lend her my TI-83 and she timidly nods her head, as if ashamed. These tutoring sessions often left me feeling frustrated and discontent for not being able to teach her all the essential concepts. I should be the one ashamed. Having been fortunate enough to overcome academic obstacles at a younger age, I was apportioned with more attention and better resources in school. In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell talks about how it is the successful that are most likely to be given the special opportunities that lead to further success, "a result of what sociologists like to call accumulative advantage."

Here I was, the Student Member on the Board of Education, chosen by my peers to represent their voice. Yet complacent and isolated within my group of privileged IB scholars, I have been aloof to my disenfranchised peers who were given lesser educational opportunities. Forty-four percent of the students in my county received free or reduced meal prices, yet I was the only student out of the forty-four percent who was a member of the National Honor Society. It was not fair. Andrea was a wake-up call: the achievement gap still exists.

My mind shifts to a board of education meeting where we discussed this inequity: Fifty percent of the drop-outs are African Americans, and seventy-five percent of them will end up in jail. The problem seemed monstrous, and I wish I could have offered a solution. But no one had the panacea, not even the specialists. I felt helpless.

This is a sad story. I am afraid that I cannot say I have overcome this challenge. When I grow up, my generation will be expected to tackle many social problems, but having been on both sides of the achievement gap, I can empathize personally with this matter. Perhaps solving educational issues will be my way of contributing to humanity. I have hope that when I become college educated, I will be more empowered to undertake this subject.

Andrea nudges my arm. "Fourteen?" she mumbles as our eyes meet. We exchange a smile and move on to the next problem.
lizziem 3 / 5  
Nov 1, 2010   #2
I like your essay. I don't think it is great in that it does not flow fluidly BUT it is very good because of the message. You sound sincere in your convictions and determined to help be a part of bridging the divide.

My only advice is to edit to make more concise. Delete the first paragraph. The essay works without it. And maybe the second too.

The problem is simple-find x. Yet Andrea starts by dividing both sides and reversing the order of operations. Andrea is my Calculus Club mentee who emigrated from Central America. I explain to her that she needs to add seven in order to isolate the variable, resulting in x = 7+7. Andrea rolls her eyes upwards, her fingers slightly moving as if pressing the keys of an imaginary piano. She mutters "thirteen."


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