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"To succeed, to leave the world a bit better" - FSU admissions essay

catagon 1 / 2  
Sep 15, 2009   #1
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For almost one hundred years, the Latin words, "Vires, Artes, Mores" have been the guiding philosophy behind Florida State University. Vires signifies strength of all kinds - moral, physical, and intellectual; Artes alludes to the beauty of intellectual pursuits as exemplified in skill, craft, or art; and Mores refers to character, custom, or tradition. Describe how one or more of the values embodied in these concepts are reflected in your life.

Vires, artes, and mores are powerful words; particularly since they sound like their English, Spanish, French and other European language translations. FSU chose a great guiding philosophy, since it clearly makes one ponder on his/her skills and traits. Vires and mores are my favorite of the three words not only because of how they sound, but because of how much of these two are reflected in my life.

I feel one of my greatest Virtes, or virtues, is I'm a fast learner, and because of this I've always been great at school; particularly in the areas of math and science. When the instructor explains something, like a new formula or concept, I usually get it right off the bat; and I'm easily able to apply it. When something doesn't come to me right away, I make sure I clarify my doubts right away. I'm unafraid of attempting to answer impossible questions, or asking questions that so many may think they know the answer to. I just make sure that I understand. Another of my major strengths is that I can handle massive quantities of stress and pressure. In fact, sometimes I feel as if I'm actually fueled by it. When I'm under pressure, like taking an important A.P test; or struggling to meet the deadline of a project, I only focus on what needs to be done. I can pat myself on the back, or think about what I'm going to do after I finish, when I finish.

I don't think one can judge one's character as being right or wrong, but I know I can say I have strong Mores. I don't let people put me down, they are no better than me, and I don't put myself above other people, I'm not all better than them. I feel everyone when evaluated is equal; its how one applies one's skills that make them more successful than others. When someone is using their skills for the benefit of others, I see that as successful. My Brazilian heritage focuses on helping people, since what you do to others reflects the community you life in, indirectly affecting yourself. I feel a sense of purpose when I use my skills to help other people, from helping someone move a couch from one home to another, to helping someone else understand how to do a math problem." I don't expect a reward or even a thank you (but of course I do like being thanked), as long as I can rest assured it wasn't an act of selfishness.

If I'm accepted into Florida State University, I know my personal skills and qualities will be a positive influence on the campus. My goal is to succeed the way Ralph Waldo Emerson describes success, "to leave the world a bit better," and I want to start this at FSU.
EF_Sean 6 / 3,491  
Sep 15, 2009   #2
Paragraph 2:

Yay! You're a great person! We know this because you say so, which means it must be true! Oh, wait, no, that doesn't follow at all. If you want your claims to be credible, you must show their truth with specific examples and anecdotes.

Paragraph 3:

I feel everyone when evaluated is equal;

You really don't want to say this. It makes you sound either dishonest or careless. You know perfectly well that when a group of people are evaluated (say by taking the same test) they do not in fact all get the same marks. You presumably also know that someone with, say, Down's Syndrome, does not have an equal capacity for intellectual activity as someone without Down's Syndrome. And so on. So, either you are trying to sound modest by saying something you don't believe, or you meant to say something else but phrased it poorly. Neither reflects well on you. Revise.
EF_Simone 2 / 1,986  
Sep 15, 2009   #3
Sean is right. You need to start over. Start where you now conclude:

My goal is to succeed the way Ralph Waldo Emerson describes success, "to leave the world a bit better," and I want to start this at FSU.

By this, I don't mean that you should start with the boring phrase "my goal is to..." but, rather, that you should start with the concept that you want to leave the world a bit better than you found it. If that is truly your aim, rather than something you are saying to sound like a good person, then show this to your reader by starting with an anecdote or fact about yourself that demonstrates this. Also, follow Sean's advice to use specific facts to back up your assertions about yourself. You can manage massive amounts of stress? Prove it. Tell us about a time you did that.

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