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"Oh... sometimes things happen." Something that didn't go as planned - MIT essay


rzj123 1 / 7  
Dec 25, 2009   #1
Tell us about the most significant challenge you've faced or something important that didn't go according to plan. How did you manage the situation?(*) (200-250 words)

The summer after freshman year I met Susan, her frenched nails, her religious addiction to Starbucks, and that horribly ironic nonchalance in her voice. Three days a week we sat behind the receptionist's desk adjacent to one of Children's Medical Center's recreation areas. It was there that I then met Brian, who carried his red ball on Mondays, his Lego set on Thursdays, and his perplexing optimism always.

The thing about Brian is that I don't think I mattered half as much to him as he did to me. He was one of those storybook children, with the baby blues and dimpled cheeks, and when he lisped his 'fank yew's, you couldn't help but to smile and smile.

It ended one day. A "Where's Brian?" offhandedly to Susan.

"Oh... sometimes things happen."

I blinked.

She sipped her latte.

The world spun on.

---

When I think about my summer at Children's, I think of Brian and a million others who vanish off the face of the earth because 'oh things happen'. I think of life, my life, my goals, my experiences, and I think of Brian and where he could have gone.

I didn't go back the next summer. Not because I lacked courage or will but because I felt as if there was so much more I could be doing to make a tangible difference. In the end, I don't think Brian taught me to live, but he might have just about taught me to live in the moment.

Be harsh, please. If you read mine, link yours, and I will gladly critique as well.
iRunShow 6 / 15  
Dec 26, 2009   #2
First off, the story is very unique and it was a fun read.

But this part really threw me off. "In the end, I don't think Brian taught me to live, but he might have just about taught me to live in the moment."

How did he teach you to live in the moment??????

Also this is just a suggestion. "who carried his red ball on Mondays, his Lego set on Thursdays, and his perplexing optimism always."

Instead of "always" change it to "everyday" cause it matches the monday,tuesday.etc.
It makes this sentence more..smooth.

And after reading this essay, you made me realllly want to ask this question. Did you ever find out what happend to Brian????]

Can you feedback mine too please???? thanks
OP rzj123 1 / 7  
Dec 26, 2009   #3
Thanks iRunShow. Yeah, the last line was kind of a filler because I wasn't sure what to write at 1 am in the morning. I'm still kind of mulling over what to put there, to tie this thing together.

Mm, he died. Was that not made clear enough in the essay, you think?
srandhawa 10 / 157  
Dec 26, 2009   #4
wow, this is pretty good, i like it, but i didn't really get the idea of where's brian question and how that influenced you. Maybe thats just me(i've never been great at reading comprehension) but it was a little confusing, and i dont think the oh things happen quote fits well w/ the seriousness of the next sentence. Also, it would be beneficial if you expanded a little, maybe only a line or two, but a little on how there are better ways of making a tangible diff. and why what you did wasn't the best. It would improve the focus of your essay.

Good luck, could you read mine when i rewrite it, thanks alot good luck
TimMill 9 / 63  
Dec 26, 2009   #5
Also this is just a suggestion. "who carried his red ball on Mondays, his Lego set on Thursdays, and his perplexing optimism always."
Instead of "always" change it to "everyday" cause it matches the monday,tuesday.etc.

I would leave it always... the variation is okay; it foils the horribly nonchalant Susan's description.

I loved this essay. I think it's one of the most powerful 200 word pieces I've read here yet. You really have found your voice.

That being said, MIT isn't a liberal arts school. MIT is a school of science, of engineering. What science and engineering are interested in are solving problems- the second part of the prompt. "How did you manage the situation?"

By all means, keep what's here, except maybe the last paragraph. But as you continue to try to conclude, remember what MIT is really looking for. How did you handle the situation?

You mention that you did "something more to make a tangible difference". This is tricky- I want to say that you need to back it up, and say what you did, but then you take the focus off your lovely story. You also probably don't have many words left. I think it would be better if you changed this line.

Also, you probably don't need to implicitly say "I didn't go back next summer". It doesn't portray you in a bad light, but also not in a good one. It doesn't really add much at all.

Nix the last paragraph, talk about how you managed the situation, and best of luck. Congrats on a great theme, you're almost there.
OP rzj123 1 / 7  
Dec 26, 2009   #6
Thank you srandhawa and TimMill!

srandhawa - What I was attempting was to convey that he died in that line and the next few. Is there anything I should specify that would make this clearer?

TimMill - Revised final paragraph below:

The next summer I found myself working with mentally handicapped children at a local recreation center, where I felt like I was making a tangible difference. Because in the end, I believe there's material success and then there's what you've really done in life. And that's what Brian taught me.

Sorry kind of lame, but is this any better? I'm literally at the 250 word limit right now.
srandhawa 10 / 157  
Dec 26, 2009   #7
i acutally think your original conclusion was better, stronger, strange as that might seem. The new ending doesn't really leave me thinking, it just kind of ends flat, know what i mean? I thought the last line in particular of the last para was particularly strong, you have a good message there. However, my suggestion to add a line or two about the tangible diff. what it was and its true meaning remains, i think its important for the reader to see that. That would really add to the essay, and again, if you need some space, i think you can cut a little of your intro. Still, this is very good for a short prompt.

btw, i think this is great for an MIT prompt, i think you should show more about the tangible change, but as long as you relate the rest to of your application to a more science oriented base, this is great. Think of how many essays MIT will get about science, how an experiment for example didnt go according to plan, heres something unique and as long as you still stay science oriented, i think MIT will appreciate this kind of essay. Good luck, btw, do you think you have an answer about how i could avoid the abstract for my essay because the topic kind of invites it? Thanks alot
mokie257 - / 1  
Dec 26, 2009   #8
This is really great, I really like the detail you gave on Susan and Brian, it made me feel like I was in that hospital with you. Maybe you could elaborate/show more about exactly what Brian did to impact you (teaching you how to live in the moment), other than him dying? Because what I got from this essay was that you only really liked Brian because he was really cute. I also read your alternate ending, and I think this ending is better-you just need more things to back it up and explain it better.

could you review my essay, please?


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