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"student and faculty learn from each other" - My Villanova Supplement Essay

JoNnS113 1 / -  
Jun 24, 2011   #1
Thanks for taking the time to read and help me with my essay! First, just see if you like the whole message of it and if it makes sense. Then second, I think it is a little too long and I'm trying to find a good spot to cut some stuff out so see if you can find a good spot. (or if you think that nothing should be cut, just tell me that haha) Thanks again!

One of the core values of Villanova, as an Augustinian university founded on the teachings of St. Augustine, is that student and faculty learn from each other. As you imagine yourself as a member of the Villanova community, what is one lesson that you have learned in your life that you will want to share with others?

It was the end of my freshman year and time was running out. Both the teachers and students were preparing for summer and the halls were filled with excitement and joy. However, why wasn't I feeling this same euphoria? I love summer vacation just as much as every other student, so what was the problem? It then began to dawn on me. I had put myself in the biggest hole academically that my dreams and aspirations for the future should might as well have just vanished. Although my courses were challenging, due to the fact that I did very well in elementary school, my grades were below my standards and the standards that everyone had expected of me. I had failed myself, and it was completely my fault. So why do I begin my essay with this troubling memory from my freshman year? The answer is two-fold: to acknowledge the below-average grades I received my freshman year, but also and much more importantly, to introduce the biggest lesson that I have ever learned in my life: the importance of perseverance and never giving up.

Throughout my Catholic elementary school years, academics came to me just as an instrument comes to a musician: with hard work to master, but praise and honor when you have done so. Ever since I can remember, I was always at the top of my class and everyone had known me to be "the smart kid," or "the one who can always answer your question." The praises and honors never got old and, although I was sometimes embarrassed, I was always proud of myself because I was probably the only person who really knew how hard I had worked to receive those achievements. However, during my eighth grade year, the issue of where to attend high school became a recurring thought in everyone's mind, everyone's except my own. I knew where I would be attending and I was excited, but I did not want to worry about it because I figured once I was there everything would turn out alright. This thought was one of the biggest mistakes I have ever made. I had everything to worry about because, unlike my Catholic elementary school, I was about to be thrust into a new environment that included peers who were much smarter than I, and little did I know of the massive effect it was about to have on me.

On my first day of high school, I received my class schedule and was surprised to learn that almost every single course chosen for me was the highest level possible for a freshman. Even the ones that weren't the highest level possible were still considered "honors" courses and were sure to challenge me in their specific subjects. My initial reaction to this was a sense of achievement because I had performed well enough to be admitted in these courses. However, this is when the trouble of my transcript began. I did pretty good the first few weeks, but started to become discouraged when I saw the other students' marks. They were doing better than me, something that, as snobbish as it sounds, I was not used to. My grades then began to drop and I turned into the exact type of student I loathed and despised: the type who did not care. My grades continually fell lower and lower and before I knew it, the end of the year had come and the moment I began this essay with had come to pass. This may seem like a lot of pointless back story to my lesson of perseverance and never giving up, but in order to understand the exact magnitude of how much that lesson means to me, one needs to understand the exact situation I was in and the depression that faced me, because that is exactly what it was. I knew it would take a miracle for me to get into any of colleges or universities I had dreamed of, especially Villanova, and I had little hope that the miracle would come true. However, I did not realize then that it did not take a miracle for me to get back in the running for a successful future; it took something much greater and something only I could control.

I spent the summer between my freshman and sophomore years doing a lot of thinking. I thought about college, my future, and most importantly, how to achieve my dreams even though I had completely messed up my high school career thus far. I took a good luck at myself and made myself a commitment: "I will spend the rest of my high school years doing the absolute best I can to get my grades up." Over the next two years of my high school career, I tried my best to get my grades back up to where they should be. Although spending most of my freshman year not caring about my grades made it extremely difficult, I was determined to fulfill my commitment. Although I obviously do not know yet whether Villanova or any of the other universities I was looking into will accept me, I do know two things: I tried my absolute hardest to raise my GPA from the slump it took my freshman year and I turned my form of depression into happiness and achievement. I worked hard to achieve these things even though just giving up would have been a much easier route. I persevered.

Perseverance, by dictionary definition, is the effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition. As the events and situations I have described make very clear, that is exactly what I did and I will share this lesson I have learned with everyone I meet for the rest of my life. As cliché or unrealistic as that sounds, sharing the message of perseverance does not have to be so. Just simply encouraging someone to do his/her best is a way of sharing the message of perseverance. A teacher telling a student to raise his/her grades, or more importantly that he/she believes the student can raise his/her grades encourages perseverance. A coach continually making his/her team practice because he/she knows it will benefit them during games encourages perseverance. These are simple, yet wonderful instances that are exemplified every single day. If people persevere, not only will they find themselves closer to their goals, but they will give themselves a sense of pride and accomplishment because they will have achieved something, no matter how great or small it is. That is exactly how I felt after I raised my grades, and I continue to thank God for giving me the strength and determination to follow through with it.

Life is not easy, and every day we are faced with challenges that may seem too difficult to overcome or too treacherous to escape. Some things may just be a misfortune thrown upon us that we have no control over, but many times we cause them ourselves, just as I had with my grades. Because of this, we may lose confidence in ourselves or lose hope in a better future. However, one must always remember that the future is never predictable nor permanent. If a person does not like something and wants to change its future course, with perseverance, he/she has the ability to. As Thomas Edison once said, "Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time." Out of every lesson taught to me during high school, including academic ones, learning the value and benefits of perseverance was the most important. Now, if I make a mistake, I know that there is always hope for things to turn around and always a chance for them to get better--if I choose to try and make them so.
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,321 129  
Jun 27, 2011   #2
the importance of perseverance and never giving up.

No, that cannot be the lesson! It is too cliche. If you make that the focus of the essay, you limit its coolness. It can't be very cool if it just makes that same old assertion, "Never give up!" People stop paying attention when you tell them what they already know.

I had everything to worry about because, unlike my Catholic elementary school, I was about to be thrust into a new environment that included peers who were much smarter than I, and little did I know of the massive effect it was about to have on me.

You have such a beautiful writing style! I am impressed. Still, I demand that you revise! The theme needs to be unique. It can't be just a simple perseverance theme. :-)

Yep, as I continue to read I see that you use a lot of words. Powerful writing uses few words. Use fewer words. Revise, and distill this stuff. Keep only the best content, the unique sentences.

Strunk and White say, "Do not affect a breezy manner."

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