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"How I spent $1000 making a fire starter" Common APP essay

richieard 1 / 1  
Dec 20, 2014   #1
Common app prompt: Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn?

I closed the side panel and pressed the power button. A blue light next to the power button flickered on and the sound of fans resonated throughout the case. The machine grunted and creaked as it struggled to keep itself powered on for two long seconds before all of the lights went out and everything came to a halt. I pressed the button a second time; it powered on for one second and turned off with an unenthusiastic whine.

vangiespen - / 4,137 1449  
Dec 20, 2014   #2
Richard, this is a very interesting essay in response to the prompt. the only problem I see is that you spent so much time discussing how you built the computer that you were not able to fully develop the idea that you learned a number of lessons along the way, most specifically after the failed presentation. It would be in your best interest to better discuss how the failure truly affected you. If it was in this lighthearted manner, then explain why you think you took it so lightly. What were the first thoughts that crossed your mind after the failure? Did you immediately want to try again? There was no need to tell us about how you waited to settle the claim with RMA. That is irrelevant. What we want to learn about in this essay is how the failed experiment affected your mindset and influenced your outlook for your future. Build and develop that part of the essay response.
admission2012 - / 481 90  
Dec 20, 2014   #3
This essay is just not a good fit for the Main Common App essay. Since this essay will be sent to all the schools you apply to, it needs to be more substantial. As you have it here, this was just another day playing around for you. We need to get a sense of true dedication, something that you worked on across a decent span of time. Something that you really had a vested interest in and it did not turn out well. Tell us what did you learn from the initial experience, what did you learn from the failure and what did you learn about yourself? - Admissions Advice Online
OP richieard 1 / 1  
Dec 27, 2014   #4
Hey guys, thanks for helping me!
I spent the last few days revising the essay, I changed a lot!
However one problem is that I am 6 words above the limit, and I cant seem to get rid of any!
Once again, thanks for reading

I closed the side panel to the computer tower and pressed the power button. Lights flicked on and the sound of fans resonated throughout the tower. The machine grunted and creaked for two long seconds before all of the lights went out and everything came to a halt with an unenthusiastic whine. I crossed my fingers and pressed the button a second time and began counting slowly. "One, two, three ... nine, ten," I felt a bit of relief and continued counting "fourteen, fifte-" Suddenly, the machine gave out a long screech. Before I could disconnect the power, a flash illuminated the room that casted brief shadows of everything around it and formed a trail of smoke.

That was my first attempt to build a computer and I was in eighth grade during the time. Why was I building computers in eighth grade you ask? Well here is why... by seventh grade, our archaic Dell computer had withered to a slow crawl and eventually stopped working altogether the next year. While my parents went head over heels trying to figure out how they were going to afford a new computer, I humored myself with the idea that I could build a replacement. I revealed my ambitious plans to my parents and so I began my innocent journey with tutorials on YouTube and lengthy forum pots. One link directed to another and I found myself up at 2 o'clock in the morning staring at 25 tabs opened on my browser. Two weeks later, computers became nothing more than a high tech Lego contraption to me.

I had always been able to meet success through self-motivated preparation; I never needed any help from others. Thus, I was quite surprised when the computer failed. Did I not take every precaution? I began questioning and replaying the build process in my head over and over again like a broken record. However, no matter how hard I tried, I could not find where I messed up. "It was just a high tech Lego contraption," I kept telling myself while twisting and tossing around in bed. My frustration grew exponentially over the course of the next few days as midterm testing began.

Needless to say, my academics plunged and so I finally made the decision to swallow my pride and sought professional help from a local computer repair shop. Apparently, the flash and smoke came from a defective power supply and had nothing to do with how the computer was assembled. The shop owner was able to diagnose the problem within minutes! He offered us a replacement and would not even accept a labor fee for the diagnosis. I could not believe it, I was frustrated over nothing! My face must have been rose red at the time because I was asked by the shop owner if I had a fever while I paid for the power supply.

I smiled on my way back home as I recapped the whole incident and became conscious of my hubris. Throughout the whole ordeal I was obsessed with myself and believed that only my actions mattered. I was trapped by my own closed-mindedness (no pun intended) and unable to account for other factors that could affect the functionality of the computer. Ironically, I did nothing wrong in the assembling process, I was blinded by my perfectionist ideals and could not let my go. Additionally, I also learned that the world is not just about me, there are people who I can rely on for help. Had I sought help from the shop earlier, I would have gotten better scores on the midterms. Although the scores did not affect me in the long run, the dip in test scores would continue to haunt me mentally to this day.

I arrived home and carefully replaced the power supply. I closed the side panel to the computer tower, pressed the power button and started counting "one, two, three..."
DinoRules 5 / 14 3  
Dec 27, 2014   #5
I personally think you can expand on the afterthoughts a little bit. Find something most people could possible ignore or not realize.
vangiespen - / 4,137 1449  
Dec 27, 2014   #6
This essay should be all about the time when you met with failure and learned a lesson. Instead, you wrote an essay that recounts an event in your past that led to your interest in computers. That is not the correct response to this essay. You need a more serious anecdote to tell. One that had a profound effect on your life that caused you to change your way of thinking or the method by which you conduct your life at present. Remember, there needs to be a lesson learned. That lesson, if you did learn if from building your first computer and failing to get it started, is not very clear in this version of the essay. It is unimaginable that failing to get a computer started because you built it from scratch would cause your academics to fail. This is not a year long event that you were involved in. The story is basically shallow, has a lot of loopholes, and is basically, not convincing enough as a response to the prompt.
Coco0729 2 / 2  
Dec 29, 2014   #7
Hi, I think you can be write a better one because it is not deep enough which it needed to be improve. Still, it is not convincing enough I think you can do better.

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