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"A story with no conflict at all" - Stanford SOP


witty_bugs 2 / 5  
Dec 29, 2010   #1
Stanford SOP : Personal Essay : Topic of you choice.

I really need an opinion on my essay!! My mother said she didn't like it, but she can't come up with a way on how I can improve it. Do let me know if it's interesting or boring! I need suggestions on the ideas developed in the essay!

Has there ever been a story written in which there has been no conflict at all? I've always wondered if I would ever find a story like that. Maybe even if I did, it would be excruciatingly cheerful and downright predictable, and boring. Even the utopian "fairytales" nearly always begin with lovely girls being trapped in towers or being mistreated by their step-sisters. In fact, if I actually look down to it, the best stories of time possibly have the worst situations to be dealt with.

I remember the time when I was in a considerably knotty situation. I was in my eleventh grade - the time when things and you had to get really serious. It was a year in which we had to give board examinations (state/national level examinations) as our finals. Having done well in exams for the past ten years, people began telling me they were expecting me to top the school this time. Having done well in exams for the past ten years, I, too, had arrogantly assumed the task to be easy. I became fairly lax in my study habits and thought I could somehow manage wonders in the last moment. In the last moment, however, the most unexpected turn of events surprised me. Or rather, shocked me.

For starters, my aunt said she had enrolled me for a local beauty contest for the fun of it. I had been hoping to study during this period of time, not participate in competitions I was reluctant to take part in. But this wasn't so much of a problem.

The next issue was a project my friends intended to do. I had already given their Christmas Charity Party a miss. I agreed to do the project and signed up for it. The project was on environmental science and involved considerable work. Deep down, I felt I was losing valuable time that I could use for studying, but this wasn't a big deal either.

The biggest issue that I thought would put a full-stop to all of my activities was that I came down with chicken pox.

"Why now?" - I constantly asked anyone I got to see once in a while. For nearly a month and a half I was bed-ridden. It was not the infection that was giving me the real pains. What did give me real pains was the question that kept coming back to me - "How on earth am I going to cope up with all the classes I'm missing and when will I get the time to study?" There was hardly much time left for the finals.

In my bed-ridden state, I began thinking I needed to prioritize. Chicken pox during a beauty pageant? Oh, the irony. There was no way I was going participate in the beauty contest. It was to begin two days after I caught the infection.

I could not back out of the project. I had after all signed my name for it. So I called up my friends and volunteered to do the funding for the project, and buy the materials they needed for it. I made lists of the materials and gave them to my mother to buy them. Without her help, I don't know what I would have done.

As for the finals, I could only begin studying once I was fully recovered. There was no other go for it.

Once I got out of bed and was completely healthy, I wasted no time. I began collecting the notes I missed and stayed for extra hours at school clarifying doubts from the teachers. I was troubled to see all the others students way ahead of me. I prepared day and night, and was extremely nervous before the exam despite having almost covered the entire portion. The exam day came and went. When the results were out, I noticed I had not topped my school but had come school second. I was fairly disappointed at first and was taken aback when people began congratulating me. The fact that I had come second in school despite having had chicken pox made an exceptionally good story among my friends and family. Sure the experience made a good story, but I also learned things from it. I always knew that a stitch in time saved nine and that it was never a good thing to take your intelligence for granted, but this experience made me realize what these morals actually meant.

"The best stories of time possibly have the worst situations to be dealt with." This was just a good story. I'm waiting for the best stories of my life.
nritya 6 / 22  
Dec 29, 2010   #2
To be honest, I came away from this with a little disdain for the writer (sorry! not in a mean way)

I don't think its your style - that seems ok - it might just be the topic. The incident itself (being signed up for a beauty contest, getting chicken pox, having to study for an exam with a project to do as well) is very commonplace, so much so that it seems like you're whining about nothing.

Pick a different topic would be my best advice.
link3343 1 / 1  
Dec 29, 2010   #3
The essay is well-written but something i feel like you should take into consideration is that Stanford probably receives a few essays about people and their grades. Stanford wants people who stand out, who aren't only focused on academics. They want people who WANT to learn just to learn, not just to be competitive. Try showing that in your essay.
afwebb 6 / 17  
Dec 29, 2010   #4
"The best stories of time possibly have the worst situations to be dealt with." This was just a good story. I'm waiting for the best stories of my life.I'm anxious to see what others life has to throw at me.

Too be honest i'm not a fan of the topic. It seems a little petty and dull. You should try and shorten it quite a bit; i would just get rid of the whole beauty pageant thing and expand on how you were conflicted between your commitment to the project and your studies. I love your beginning and end, very unique and interesting way to begin an essay that is less unique in subject.

I would recommend making major changes to the length and content. Make it more interesting in the middle. Hope you could find something useful in all my harsh criticism.

Best of luck
simardownn - / 20  
Dec 29, 2010   #5
I agree with the above comments. I think it might be the topic.

Although you could still make it work, if you focus it more. Instead of talking about the whole grade fiasco (which I am sure most Stanford applicants talk about), talk about getting chicken pox during the beauty pageant and your experience. I think the irony in it sort of amused it.
OP witty_bugs 2 / 5  
Dec 30, 2010   #6
Hey thanks for the healthy criticism! I've made the suggested changes.

Is there any way I can edit my first post? I am unable to do so. Please do let me know how to do it :(
abesha100 1 / 6  
Dec 30, 2010   #7
If there is one thing I learned while reading all the college essay books I have in this stressful application it is to NOT EVER write about religion.

You can't even sound like you are trying to convert others.
Proselytizing does NOT work.
Even a slight hint that you think your religion is better that others and you are out.
Even if you are applying to a religious college it is ill advised to write about your discovery of religion.
I was very tempted to do this, but I had to go another route and suggest you do. This essay topic can lead you down a VERY slippery slope. However tolerant you try to make it seem it just does not look good. Don't do it.

I would strongly suggest another topic.

And just so you are aware here are some points in your essay that may cross some peoples boundaries:

"There was no god at all. If there was, there wouldn't be people suffering in the world, or hungry children on the streets,... "

...

"There at least had to be an epicenter of creation. How else could anyone explain the existence of anything? "
MANY people could explain it in MANY ways...

"If the answer was spiral nebulae leading to the big bang, well how could anyone explain the existence of the reason as to why the universe had to come into being using that approach? "

you risk offending people that believe in the big bang...

"Yes, there was an epicenter of creation. "
proselytizing?

"No one knows what it/he/she is, so let us name it/him/her "god". "

Let's just not go with this topic... As much as you try to make it acceptable with him/her/it/anything... someone it NOT going to believe what you believe... YOu don't want to risk offending a reaaders beliefs...

sorry for being harsh... :( really just trying to help...
good luck...
Hope you do well :D


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