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"He struggles with reading and writing" - Common app- Personal issue about brother


soccer26 2 / 4  
Nov 23, 2010   #1
"Discuss some issue of personal, local, national or international concern and its importance to you"

Please share any and every suggestion that comes to mind and please help with a powerful closing sentence. Thank you so much in advance :)

He sits in his room flipping page after page of the short novel. After he has finished a chapter or so, he turns to a sheet of study questions pertaining to what he has just read. Soon, it becomes evident that he failed to comprehend the section of the story, leaving many questions blank or answering them incorrectly. He was reading the novel Number the Stars by Lois Lowry, a common book choice for fifth grade students. However, he is a freshman in high school. My brother, Ryan, is fifteen years old and has the reading level of an eleven year old.

Not only does he struggle with reading, but he also struggles with writing. He is still unable to properly write a formal essay. Year after year he fails the state mandated testing, because he cannot understand the reading passage and he cannot write the timed essay. It has become quite evident that Ryan's teachers cannot give him the help he requires due to his language based learning disability. It is unfortunate that the school system has to focus on ways to save money, due to the statewide budget cuts, rather than provide Ryan with the assistance he needs.

I constantly worry if Ryan will be able to handle college level work or if he will even go to college. My parents, who do not obtain four year degrees, have taught my brother and me to value education. They have been turned away from many job opportunities when their prospective employer learned that they did not have Bachelors degrees. Due to their lack of education, they were forced to work in factories and faced multiple lay-offs. My parents constantly note how much easier and more enjoyable life is when you have a well-paying, secure job that you received because you obtain that coveted, four year degree. I've come to realize the power of education. I know that I must attend college so that I can attain a comfortable lifestyle. However, I'm worried that my brother won't be able to do the same.

In order to increase Ryan's chances of attending college, I frequently offered to help him with his homework. Yet, he always declined. He felt embarrassed that he was having difficulties with the work in, what should have been, easy classes. When report cards would arrive home, he would look at his with dismay when he found that he received C's and D's in the lowest level classes. He would then ask to see how I did. Needless to say, comparing his C's and D's to my A's and B's did not boost his morale. He was reluctant to let me see him struggle with his work, while knowing that I was succeeding with mine.

Since Ryan preferred to have my mom assist him, I decided to reach out and help other students. From watching my brother, I was able to understand how frustrating it is to struggle in school and not receive the help that you need. I was confident that I could work well with other students because I had the patience to explain things slowly and in different ways; skills I learned from watching my mom help my brother. During my sophomore year, I was selected to participate in the peer tutoring program through school and tutored an eighth grader in Spanish. Later, during my senior year, I began tutoring a sophomore in Geometry and Spanish. With my help, these students saw their grades go from low C's to high B's. It was very rewarding to make a difference in the lives of others and help them in a way that I couldn't help my brother.

Although it was gratifying to help average students, I really wanted to help those who needed it the most; the disabled. During the summer of my sophomore year, I volunteered at a day camp for disabled people of all ages. Every day, I was assigned a different camper to look after. Their ages ranged from five to twenty-five and their disabilities ranged from mild autism to severe mental retardation. It was a long and tiring six hours a day, but it was most definitely worthwhile. Seeing the campers smile and feeling their warm embraces proved to me that I was truly changing their lives for the better. Having these opportunities to help others in need ...( still working on a powerful final sentence).

Kiraw - / 10  
Nov 23, 2010   #2
hello there,
you have a really great intro. It is very attention grabing!
I really like your essay overall. it is a unique topic. however, you don't start discussing yourself until the 5th paragraph and spent all of the previous paragraphs describing your brother. I would try to shorten the description of your brother a little...

Also, I have one grammatical suggestion:
Although it was gratifying to help average students, I really wanted to help those who needed it the most:the disabled. (i think a colon is more appropriate there)

As for the closing sentence, I would try to tie in the introduction's image of your brother "flipping page after page" in his room. Maybe you could say something like "I dedicate myself to helping people flip the pages of their lives/struggles until they reach a point where they can do it on their own..." Something a little more sophisticated than that, but I hope you can see what I am getting at.


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