Unanswered [7] / Urgent [0] / SERVICES
  

Undergraduate   Posts: 7

Personal statement: Lessons learnt from baking


jcgdbb 1 / 4 1  
Dec 29, 2016   #1
Prompt: The lessons we take from failure can be fundamental to later success. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

baking lessons



*I have been struggling to express myself through my personal statement and would be extremely thankful for any feedback especially with the flow and conclusion of the essay.The conclusion is the part of the essay that is lacking the most and I'm still not sure how to end it.

Sold at Costco, Kirkland's "Gourmet Chocolate Chunk Cookie" was a piece of heaven that my mother didn't like to buy for me (probably because I finished the whole box within 2 two days). To make sure I was able to indulge in the chewy, chocolaty goodness, I decided to bake them myself.

My craving for Costco's cookies had stayed with me after I had moved back to Russia. There were no cookie mixes and there definitely was not and aisle dedicated to baking ingredients at the grocery store. When you read a recipe it says preparation time 1hr but if you take into account the time spent in taxis and grocery stores in an attempt to find ingredients, 8 hours would be more accurate.

After going to 4 different stores, I had bought overly priced American brown sugar, cheap chocolate bars, vanilla sugar (alternative to vanilla extract) and salted margarine (alternative to butter that does not taste like butter). From having to convert the measurements to grams, to making sure the cookies don't stick to the pan, to trying to measure all the ingredients with an old Russian measuring cup, everything I did seemed to fail miserably. I learned on the spot that Margarine shouldn't be used for baking, cheap chocolate tastes like cheap chocolate and besides the inadequate ingredients, my grandparents' over 20 year old oven did not cook evenly. You'd think I was crazy because when I took the pan out of the oven I was excited, excited at the 6 burnt and 6 under cooked cookies that were a result of hours of mixing and measuring. The failure was a reason to bake again. I would never know what taste the cookie would have but I certainly put all my heart into making it taste the best. The charm of baking was in that uncertain result.

Almost every weekend I would try new recipes for chocolate chip cookies, brownies, and baked chicken. The number of desserts and dishes I had cooked were limited because I wanted to make the recipe my own. I may have followed a recipe at first but every time I cooked or baked that recipe again, I switched the regular dark chocolate for a mix of white and milk chocolate, made my own oat flour and replaced regular flour. These changes made the recipe mine and expressed my tastes and personality. I didn't know if these little experiments would turn out to taste delicious or outright disgusting, but I absolutely had to try. Each burnt cookie was a learning experience.

I'd become an experience cookie burner but came to realize that my passion could easily overcome the many obstacles in my way. Messily mixing the dry ingredients and getting my hands dirty trying to shape the dough was all a part of creating a part of me and after almost four years filled with spilled ingredients and a messy kitchen I had made the perfect cookie. What started off as an attempt to recreate the Costco cookie, became a greater search for myself. Beginning by recreating others' recipes I began to add my own ingredients and spices. The uncertainty and risk of trying new ingredients and recipes was what sparked my passion and made the whole experience fun. In the kitchen I crafted a wonderful cookies recipe and continue to tweak each of the ingredients. I began to create my recipe ingredient by ingredient and every time I was in that kitchen, I was changing for the better. However, I cannot settle for this one success and will continue to develop the recipe.

Hthmn 6 / 17 3  
Dec 29, 2016   #2
@jcgdbb
I can see that you have a good experience with baking, but as far as I know, this essay would not help you get an acceptance. Because when a university ask you to write about a difficulty that you faced in your life and what did you learn from it, they want to see how far you can think of life in university, and the way you can think outside the box of other types of admission essay.

This have been said, now, you have to come up with another story and it is better be about a difficulty or a problem that you faced while in high or even in elementary school. An example of such problem would be about fear of speaking in front of large audience, or a difficulty of getting along with new friends.

Best of luck.
Holt [Contributor] - / 7,323 1847  
Dec 30, 2016   #3
Khongorzul , the essay doesn't really need such an intricate backstory about why you wanted to bake the cookies. If you just remove the reference to Costco, your essay focuses more on the failure and the succeeding lessons that you learned from it til you became a success by baking one cookie recipe properly. Remove the first paragraph and just start with the current second paragraph. Such an adjustment makes the essay more prompt responsive and eliminates the need for you to write a totally new essay. The essence of the prompt is very strong in your written work. I would not want to change anything about it because it totally shows your journey from failure to success in an interesting manner. In my opinion, a simple change to the content and format will be more than enough to make this essay qualify for use with this prompt.
OP jcgdbb 1 / 4 1  
Dec 30, 2016   #4
@Holt Thank you for the feedback. How is the conclusion, I felt that it is a bit all over the place? I also tried to say that as I developed the cookie recipe, I also developed myself and that the cookie represents me. Though I have successfully baked one recipe, it does not mean I will be content with that success and I will continue to improve and develop myself. Is this idea clearly represented or does it get lost within the conclusion?
Holt [Contributor] - / 7,323 1847  
Dec 30, 2016   #5
Like I said, some adjustments can be made to the content of the essay to make it more usable. Refer to my comments in post # 3. That should help you revise the essay without having to change too much of the content. The conclusion is fine. Don't worry about it. The essay just needs to lose a few paragraphs and adjust some content in order to serve the purpose of the essay. Yes, it was a bit all over the place at the start. However, my suggestions for the revision will help to make it more focused and on target in terms of the essay prompt. A little more work has to be done in the conclusion. Focus more on clarifying the point that you are the recipe in progress and that you are still trying to find the perfect recipe that will best help you achieve success.
OP jcgdbb 1 / 4 1  
Dec 31, 2016   #6
@Holt I've tried to make the essay more personal and tried to focus more on the content rather than the story. Here it is.

I am a professional cookie burner. After spending hours buying overly priced American brown sugar, cheap chocolate bars, vanilla sugar (alternative to vanilla extract) and salted margarine, the result of my chocolate chip cookie recipe was nowhere near the chewy, chocolaty goodness I had imagined?. Not quite disappointed in myself, I was confused at how hours of careful mixing and measuring could lead to trays of burnt cookies.

Group projects, class meetings and volunteer work, I was known by my peers to give anything and everything my all. The numerous posters, the class decorations for fall were a product of my heart and soul. Pouring my thoughts, emotions and time into my schoolwork, volunteering and going an extra step beyond what was required had continuously brought rewards and successes so I was utterly confused at my burnt cookies. The path to success that I had always followed had failed me this time.

Confused but excited, the failure was a reason to bake again. Sulking over a few burnt cookies would be a waste of time I could've been using to bake another batch. From having to convert the measurements to grams, to making sure the cookies don't stick to the pan, to trying to measure all the ingredients with an Old Russian measuring cup, something always went wrong. Every weekend I would attempt this recipe and failed but, I was still excited because it was fun to stir and get a little messy.

I may have followed a recipe at first but every time I cooked or baked that recipe again, I switched the regular dark chocolate for a mix of white and milk chocolate, made my own oat flour and replaced regular flour. I started to make the recipe mine with these little changes that expressed my tastes and my personality. I didn't know if these little experiments would turn out to taste delicious or outright disgusting, but I absolutely had to try. Each burnt cookie and each improved recipe was a learning experience. I had begun to fin d my own "style".

What started off as an attempt to recreate the Costco chocolate chip cookie I had loved, became a greater search for myself. I was lost in the pressure of choosing a major that would keep me financially stable and even questioned what my years of education had lead me up to. I was lost in floods of questions asking "What do you want to do when you grow up? DO you want to work in Mongolia what is your passion to which the answer was "I don't know"? Baking and cooking seemed completely irrelevant to my future but it was in the kitchen where I truly realized what finding a passion and finding myself meant.

Following a recipe and copying it perfectly was meaningless. This was the answer to my confusion. All my life I had been copying the things I had liked but failed to make those interests and abilities my own. I was just a combination of many "things" that was incoherent which is why even if I poured my heart and soul, it didn't amount to anything. Through the many mistrials of baking a chocolate chip cookie, I found a passion and I began to create my identity with the resources that had been given to me all along. I began to make full use of all the ingredients and tools in the kitchen to create the best chocolate chip cookie. The recipe was the foundation to work off of and the kitchen gave me all the resources to do so.

College is the next kitchen I want to tackle. The diverse community, experienced professors and thriving minds of young individuals is where I want to put my thoughts, the "me" I've created up until this point to the test and develop my next recipe, a recipe for ...
Holt [Contributor] - / 7,323 1847  
Jan 1, 2017   #7
This is an acceptable revision. I particularly like how you were able to insert the Costco conversation at the most opportune moment in the essay. The reference to the Costco cookie at the point where you placed it allowed the information to better illustrate the reason why you refused to give up on developing your first batch of good cookies. The lessons that you learned and the realizations that the process of baking cookies truly helped to make this essay a very well thought out and developed piece of writing. You should be proud of yourself. Definitely use this essay in this current form. I believe it is the strongest version that you have developed and can help your application at this point. It really shows a clear development of a character trait within you. Which is exactly what the reviewer is looking for in the response.


Home / Undergraduate / Personal statement: Lessons learnt from baking