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"Sparta and Survival Instinct" - Stanford Short Essay. Intellectual Vitality.


essceejay216 4 / 51  
Dec 26, 2010   #1
PROMPT: Stanford students are widely known to possess a sense of intellectual vitality. Tell us about an idea or an experience you have had that you find intellectually engaging.

I am a huge fan of the movie 300, a fantastical retelling of the battle of Thermopylae between Sparta and Persia. Most of my fascination stems from my perception of Spartans as invincible. When I first learned about the Greek city-states in sixth grade, Sparta was the one that really caught my attention. Spartans were the hard, relentless people. They represented extreme loyalty to the state and, above all else, strength. This movie magnified those characteristics, zoned in on the already prominent militarist culture of the state.

Sparta was a militarist state in essence. Naturally, their...
...

I think I'm a little bit over the word limit, so if you can please tell me if it's too wordy or how i can reword something I will greatly appreciate it.
deenz - / 5  
Dec 26, 2010   #2
I think you are writing too much about the spartans, the essay is supposed to be about you, so maybe cut down on all the descriptions of Sparta (since I'm sure the admissions officers know about it) and add to your own thoughts and conclusions
Rahsadara 1 / 3  
Dec 26, 2010   #3
I agree with deenz. You need to talk more about YOU in the essay--the Spartans are not trying to get accepted into Stanford. Also, i see how the topic could be found as intellectually engaging but try to tie it back into how it is intellectually engaging to YOU most importantly. How did 300 make you THINK about the Spartans? Did it cause you to question anything? The world? Yourself? What you want to do?
theloniusjaz 3 / 5  
Dec 27, 2010   #4
First of all, thank you for helping me with my essay!

Okay, anyway, I agree with the others. My suggestion would be for you to open on the scene of a young 6th grade you first learning about the Spartans. Maybe go into what you learned about them.

Then move into how it affected you, and spend most of the essay on that. You say what it is that you find to be interesting, but you should expand on why you find it so interesting.

(Also, remember that Stanford's mascot is a tree. If you make it seem too much like you want to be a Spartan, they may think you just took an essay from USC or San Jose State and modified it to fit their prompt. Careful with that.)
OP essceejay216 4 / 51  
Dec 27, 2010   #5
I initially started it off with me learning about Spartans in sixth grade, but I have this weird thing where I really don't like most essays that start with anecdotes and I was trying to tie in the movie into it to because this idea came because of it. I'm not sure how I can effectively do all of these things at the same time.

I see that you guys want me to talk more about me in the essay, but I thought that it was supposed to be about my thought process because the prompt doesn't actually ask for me to tell how it affected me.

Also, the Spartans are just an example of people who did unfavorable things (killing infants) for the benefit of their own state and themselves. In essence, this is what I meant for the essay to be about. Sparta was just the thing that triggered this thought, so I had to put it in. What do you guys think?

@theloniusjaz
What do Spartans have to do with Stanford? Stanford has not had a mascot since the 1970s. USC's mascot is a Trojan. And to be honest, I thought San Jose State was in New Mexico. I don't think that I have too much to worry about. Also, I didn't want to at all make this essay about wanting to be a Spartan, so if you read something that made you think that, then I would appreciate for you to point it out to me. Thanks :)
theloniusjaz 3 / 5  
Dec 27, 2010   #6
First off, I live in San Jose. San Jose State is definitely in California, though there may be one in New Mexico as well. Now that I read it again, it doesn't seem like you're wanting to be a Spartan. My apologies.

About the opening on an anecdote, I wasn't saying that was what you had to do. The reason a lot of people do it is to grab the reader's attention. If you can reword the opening sentence to make it stand out, that would be fine too.

I realize that they never specifically ask for you to talk about why you find it intellectually engaging, but I'm sure they'd like to know why you chose that to write about. I'm still not sure why you find it so cool that people killed babies for their government.
OP essceejay216 4 / 51  
Dec 28, 2010   #7
I began to question what it is that triggers one's allegiance to their government to overpower the innate characteristics of humanity, such as the want to protect one's child.

- It's not that I found it to be cool that they killed babies. Actually, it's the exact opposite. But thanks for pointing that out to me, because now I know that I need to be more clear on what my actual purpose was: to question why these ancient people would do something like that. Any suggestions?
sidbush 3 / 26  
Dec 28, 2010   #8
Spartans were thea hard, relentless people.
diboy2 6 / 23  
Dec 28, 2010   #9
Spartan loyalty was to sparta.

There's some sentences that emphasize the wrong words. Think about which words are important.
OP essceejay216 4 / 51  
Dec 29, 2010   #10
Here's my revised essay:

When I first learned about the Greek city-states in sixth grade, Sparta was the one that really caught my attention. Spartans were the hard, relentless people, loyal to their state and strong. Me being me, I exaggerated these characteristics in my...

...
simardownn - / 20  
Dec 29, 2010   #11
Me being me Seems grammatically wrong

...Sparta was born againreborn

such as the want to protect one's childprotecting one's child

Relate the ending back to yourself. Although, I think it was good! Great word choice!

PLEASEEE, look at mine!
OP essceejay216 4 / 51  
Dec 30, 2010   #12
thank you so much. I don't know about the "me being me" thing, though. It makes sense to me, but it seems wrong in a way too.

anyone else??
etaang 4 / 40  
Dec 30, 2010   #13
^Yeah, in line with that train of thought, your essay has a lot of awkward phrases and poor syntax, highlighted below.

But moving on to the content, you spend far too much time providing some background information in the introductory paragraph of your essay. You need to be concise with these short supplements; the fact that your longest paragraph was also the one that had the least amount of substance and purpose is not a good sign for where the rest of your writing is headed.

Additionally, I think it would be wise for you to take a step back and think about what you are going to be telling Stanford. You approve of eugenics? Really? Regardless of whether or not you are heavily opinionated in this field, this isn't something you want to be sharing with an adcom.

As a whole, your essay just doesn't reveal much about the author; we are looking for insight into your character and mind, not a biography about Sparta.

And on a final note, 300 came out in 2007, so I don't understand how you could have seen the movie when you were in 7th grade.
OP essceejay216 4 / 51  
Dec 30, 2010   #14
awkward phrases and poor syntax

where? you said they were highlighted below, but you didn't actually highlight any. point them out to me please.

You approve of eugenics? Really?

No, I don't approve of eugenics. I didn't say anywhere in this essay that I approved of it.
-"one of Sparta's unpleasant qualities was also put on display"
-"I had to take into account that the modern world is much more agreeable than the ancient one." -"Infanticide is unacceptable, but the eradication of certain phenotypic characteristics was a necessary evil."

And on a final note, 300 came out in 2007, so I don't understand how you could have seen the movie when you were in 7th grade.

I'm graduating from high school a year early, to answer your question.

also, i still need help on the "me being me" part. i can't think of a way to rephrase it.

anyone else??
etaang 4 / 40  
Dec 30, 2010   #15
I don't have time to go through your work with a fine-toothed comb (it should be obvious where you have ungrammatical phrases), but here's what I can list for you after a quick read.

When I first learned about the Greek city-states in sixth grade, Sparta was the one that really caught my attention parallel structure needed, When I ... I was...

Spartans were the hard, relentless people, loyal to their state and strong.

Me being me , I exaggerated these characteristics in my mind--Spartans were nearly immortal by the time my teacher separated the class into "city-states". However, that chapter in our social studies book was done after while and it wasn't until I saw the movie 300 a year later that my interest in Sparta was born again. The movie was incredible. It magnified the characteristics that I admired about Spartans, zoned in on the already prominent militarist culture of the state.

Just as the ticket-selling characteristics attributed to Spartans were milked in the movie, one of Sparta's unpleasant qualities was also put on display. Spartans practiced eugenics through infanticide. It was Spartan law to get rid of weak infants, for they weren't useful to Spartan society. They could neither bear strong warriors or be them .

I questioned what it was that triggered one's allegiance to their government to overpower the innate characteristics of humanity, such as the want to protect one's child. I had to take into account that the modern world is much more agreeable than the ancient one. Their laws maintained them; Spartan loyalty was to Sparta, but it was ultimately to their own will to survive . Infanticide is unacceptable, but the eradication of certain phenotypic characteristics was a necessary evil. Only the fit survive.

As for your second question, a quick look to the last sentence of your work should be enough to see what I'm talking about; you said verbatim that you approved of eugenics.

Hope that helps!
OP essceejay216 4 / 51  
Dec 30, 2010   #16
I posted my essay here because I knew that I had overlooked some errors and I needed help. If there is anyone who can help me to get rid of mistakes and has suggestions on how to make this essay better, they will be greatly appreciated :)


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