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"Stronger" - Name an influential person: My Father (Common app essay)


"Oh my gosh! Absolutely brilliant! Fantastic goal! Rooney scores another one for Manchester United!"

Stronger

A sudden sharp, ear-splitting sound began to fill the empty house. My fingers frantically searched for the "off" button of the stereo. Before long, I understood the CD was not for any kind of musical pleasure. It was for my father to train himself to pain. Stunned, I placed the CD where I first found it, inside my father's coat pocket, where I, as a fourteen-year old, could always look for some coins.

My father heard a ringing noise in his ears, what the doctors called "tinnitus." It came as an unexpected side effect of a nose surgery he received seven years ago for his frequent sneezing. However, my initial worries about his condition gradually faded away, as he never expressed his pain in front of the family. At the same time, I grew distant to my "indifferent" father; he always came back late from work, missed the dinner with the family, and left early for work in the morning. It was only much later I realized he was trying to compensate for the time and money he lost in fighting his depression from the ringing noise.

Through his soundless struggle, my father taught me the value of inner strength that eventually guided my transition to a foreign country. My poor English listening skills and understanding of the American culture in the first few months of high school in America, were constant weights on my shoulders. But I knew everything would turn out better if I believed so. And what I believed came true; I met the most wonderful people by mustering up the courage to approach friends and teachers first.

When I was little, my father used to tell me stories from Aesop's fables. This one line from a story still vividly comes back to me: "The little Reed, bending to the force of the wind, soon stood upright again when the storm had passed over." Even though I will be away from home in the near future, like the little Reed, like my father, I will remember to be strong inside, despite the obstacles I may face.

I would love criticism!! :)

Dec 21, 2009   #2
great story :)
my advice to you: expand more on how your father has influenced you and shaped you into the person you are today.
Remember that the story is about you, not your father. Put more focus towards who you are as a person than your father's troubles and pain.
Dec 21, 2009   #3
Thank you!

I do think I need some of my story, but I'm not sure where to put that. Should it be somewhere in the 5th paragraph? I tried to put my perspective in all of the paragraph, but I guess there is no real-life detail to the perspective.
Dec 21, 2009   #4
Jiyoon, you have to include your story or else the essay will lose its meaning. What I'm saying is that you condense it and get rid of some of the trivial details Try to put your perspective throughout the essay rather than focusing about it in one paragraph.
Dec 23, 2009   #7
But I knew everything would turn out all right if I believed so. And everything did turn out all right

This takes away from the tone of the essay. "All Right" That has no real meaning. Its opaque. Try describe what "all right" is. I feel like you do, in meeeting wonderful people, so perhaps cut that line.

Even though I will be away from home at a college in the near future, I will remember the values of inner strength I have learned from my father. He taught me resilience. He taught me self-discipline. Yet, behind his stern, firm expression was a man that loved and cared for his family. It is with this kind of mindset and warm heart that I hope to walk new paths and meet new people.

I love this ending. The quote at the end is not personal. Its cliche, and honestly quite boring. Im left thinking about storms and trees, not about you. Use the ending to the first draft. It employs parllelism and a powerful conclusion. Yes.
Dec 23, 2009   #8
Hey! Nice way to start your essay. I like it! I read both of your drafts and I have to admit, the rewrite is much better. It's more concise and from the beginning, it catches my attention. But I think you need to write more about your relationship with your father. You mention that the relationship between you two have grew apart, but you should elaborate more on how your father influenced you. But this is a nice draft.

And I can totally relate to your story. I'm a Korean myself and I know how stressful it is for fathers.. :(
Dec 24, 2009   #9
I like the essay, although there are some places where the flow can be better. I made some edits:

It was only much later that I realized he was trying to compensate for the years he lost in fighting his depression that costed repeated trips to the doctor. This sentence was a bit confusing for me and I had to reread it a couple of times. Do you mean he lost a lot of years in his work because of his illness, which is why he's working so hard now? I'm still not sure...

The value of inner strength that my father taught me through his soundless struggle, eventually guided my transition to a foreign country. This sentence is awkwardly phrased. Maybe this would work better: "Through his soundless struggle, my father taught me the value of inner strength and this eventually guided my transition to a foreign country"

For the first few months of my new high school in America, because of my poor English listening skills and my lack of knowledgeunderstanding of the American culture in the first few months of high school in America, I constantly carried the sweat inside my palms and thewere constant weights on my shoulders. (I think you can take out the sweaty palms part

"The little Reed, bending to the force of the wind, soon stood upright again when the storm had passed over." I also love how you incorporated this quote, but don't just end the essay without explaining its significance to you. Give your essay a definite conclusion by using this quote to show something about yourself
Dec 24, 2009   #10
Thank you John and Ginny for your valuable comments! :)

And thanks swuvvy! Your revisions really help for the essay's flow. I received a suggestion that my ending of the first draft actually might work better, rather than ending with a quote that could be kind of cliche. What do you think?
Dec 24, 2009   #11
I received a suggestion that my ending of the first draft actually might work better, rather than ending with a quote that could be kind of cliche. What do you think?

I think it'd actually be really great if you combined them:

When I was little, my father used to tell me stories from Aesop's fables. This one line from a story still vividly comes back to me: "The little Reed, bending to the force of the wind, soon stood upright again when the storm had passed over." Even though I will be away from home at a college in the near future, I will remember the values of inner strength I have learned from my father. He taught me resilience. He taught me self-discipline. Yet, behind his stern, firm expression was a man that loved and cared for his family. It is with this kind of mindset and warm heart that I hope to walk new paths and meet new people.

Also, I was reading some of your other essays and realized we're both interested in pursuing Asian Culture studies! yay! :)
Dec 24, 2009   #12
Wow. Thanks! :) You seem to be a really good writer, based on my experience of reading your essays and your suggestions to my essays. If you have time, could you take a look at my another essay (was this the one you were reading?)?

I do really want to study Asian Culture in college.. :) Yay for both of us.
Dec 24, 2009   #14
Jiyooun, you did a great job in making the story more about you. You do a lot of telling but not showing of your growth. My advice to you is to maybe bring up a clear example of your father's influence on you.

And yes, the Reed story perfectly relates to your essay.


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