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things that even tenaciousness and dedication can't solve, Harvard Supplementary


Nandra 2 / 12  
Dec 21, 2009   #1
Here's my tentative essay for the Harvard supplement - they don't quite have a prompt, per say, but basically invite you to tell them a little more about yourself.

Critiques would be greatly appreciated, criticism even more so. ^^ Thanks for checking this out.

I've always approached projects with a tenacity that often crosses the fine line into sheer stubbornness; it's a trait that has served me well, although it may have caused its fair share of headaches, too. Once I set my mind on a task - be it solving a math problem, writing a program, or learning to use my hands as a flute - then there are few forces on this earth that have the power to shake that will.

One of the clearest instances of this is my most recent sewing project, a particularly finicky piece that suffered from the handicap of not actually being real: the original dress I was attempting to replicate exists solely in the digital world of a video game. Creating it in cloth and thread, therefore, posed its own peculiar problems.

It wasn't exactly a point in my favor, either, that I'd never actually designed a pattern from scratch before.

But, I reasoned, there do in fact exist people who have the ability to draft patterns - people who undoubtedly had to learn this skill, at one point in their lives, through dedication and hard work. Therefore, there must be a learning curve. And therefore, I could do it too.

With that resolution, I set my will of iron to the task and commenced work. Headaches abounded as I sorted through the multitude of problems and contradictions, trying to tease out their solutions largely through the power of logic alone. My heap of discarded drafts and scrap cloth grew larger, but slowly, if not steadily, I came closer to the three-dimensional form of a dress originally envisioned by a CG designer.

All told, that dress consumed at least four months of very frustrating, but immeasurably gratifying time.

But by the end of those four months, something wonderful, something almost miraculous had happened: I had gained experience. It was true that I'd earned a dress with my efforts, but that was practically a by-product of the real reward. In less than half a year, I had foraged into the mystifying wilderness of darts, interfacing, lining, and bias - and I had come out victorious. Undoubtedly, if I'd had a little more knowledge of draftsmanship going into the project, the journey would have been far less convoluted, but ultimately, I had made my way through. And now, because of the very challenges that nearly reduced me to despair, I had an invaluable base of experience to draw upon.

The next time - and there would be a next time, I was sure of it - would have its own complications. But now, maybe, I would be a little more prepared to face them; my knowledge, won in the face of headaches and tears, would be my sword.

And I'd gained one more thing, too - faith. My perseverance had been put to the test, and it had passed gloriously; even in the face of overwhelming odds, my dedication and industriousness hadn't wavered. The dress, therefore, became the physical representation of my faith in my own abilities: the belief that I do possess the capability to conquer these obstacles, that I ultimately can accomplish anything I set my mind to.

Thinking about it logically, I suppose there must be some things that even tenaciousness and dedication can't solve. But if there are, I've yet to find them - and I welcome the challenge.
mmmargarita 10 / 79  
Dec 22, 2009   #2
Returning the favor!

First, I enjoyed reading this. Really nice ending. Some small things:

All told, that dress consumed at least four months of very frustrating, but immeasurably gratifying, time.

It was true that I'd earned a dress with my efforts "produced
or "created" seems like a more fitting verb, as "earn" seems...more indirect, somehow.


And now some bigger things. I think your essay would be better off if you cut the first paragraph and jump right into the story. For example, the "although it may have caused its fair share of headaches, too" raises some unanswered questions you'd probably rather not address. If you cut it, though, you'd have to rework the sentence that starts "One of the clearest instances of this is my most recent sewing project" Hmm...maybe start off with a particularly memorable moment of the whole experience/bit of narrative?

Headaches abounded as I sorted through the multitude of problems and contradictionsI don't know how much room you have to work with, but it would make the piece more interesting if you provided specific examples of these problems.
OP Nandra 2 / 12  
Dec 22, 2009   #3
Thank you so much for the advice! That's a really interesting idea, cutting out the first paragraph - I'll have to play around with that. And I think I might have room to elaborate on the problems, so I'll add that in, too.

Many thanks! ^^
anhammond 3 / 28  
Dec 22, 2009   #4
i really like the imagery you use!

Undoubtedly, if I'd had a little more knowledge of draftsmanship going into the project, the journey would have been far less convoluted, but ultimately, I had made my way through. And now, because of the very challenges that nearly reduced me to despair, I had an invaluable base of experience to draw upon.

maybe instead talking about the actual challenge talk about the feeling it felt when you finished or the determination it took despite the convoluted nature.

because now instead of saying that you have an invaluable base of experience, you have an incredible feeling that you want to continue to have through more challenges. it shows harvard your determination much better than a simple sentence saying that you like challenges and the lessons you learned from them

also dont be negative. words like despair can make you sound melodramatic.


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