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'I was never truly exposed to poverty' UBC Undergraduate Entrance Essay

philliplombard 1 / -  
Jan 6, 2017   #1
Tell us about an experience, in school or out, that taught you something about yourself and/or the world around you. (maximum 200 words)

a privileged child from South Africa

Being born in Germany and growing up in Canada, I was never truly exposed to poverty. As a child I simply assumed that everyone had the privilege of being able to get up from watching T.V, and grab some food from the fridge. This drastically changed when my family and I took a trip to South Africa. Both my parents were born and raised in South Africa so I assumed it would be just as pleasant as Canada, but I was about to experience a massive culture shock. Landing at the airport and driving through beautiful Cape Town was fantastic, until we reached the outer parts of the city. Besides the fact that every single regular house had barbed, electrified fences in the poverty-stricken country, but what really left me in awe were the massive shantytowns. People packed under small metal roofs for as far as the eye can see. This experience taught me even to this day, to be extremely grateful for everything from safety and education, to simply getting a snack when hungry. I try to help slightly by sponsoring multiple children but I will forever acknowledge my privilege and be generous to those in greater need.

Holt [Contributor] - / 9,001 2708  
Jan 6, 2017   #2
Philip, the story that you shared is indeed enlightening. However, the last part, about how it taught you something about yourself and the world around you is not as remarkable a statement as it should be. The lessons learned on your part are pretty much run of the mill and common in almost all of the essays that will be submitted for this prompt. It would be better if you try to highlight the part about you helping others as best as you can instead. That is a more interesting response to the prompt in terms of lessons learned about yourself and the world around you. Simply saying that you don't take your life for granted anymore after that experience isn't really going to stand out while the reviewer reads the essay. We need a more relevant and significant statement in that particular portion in order to make the essay more interesting for the reviewer.
okorobiadimma14 6 / 82 50  
Jan 6, 2017   #3

I want to first all commend your effort in putting up a 199 word story about your experience.

I think that the idea you are trying to convey in your essay is not clear enough. You spent about 109 words in the first five sentences talking about you, your parents and the travel you embarked on. The message in your essay started from the sixth sentence and was not clear. It is very short. You need to write in clear terms with simple English grammar because the prompt is extremely word sensitive. You need not use all available words in opening statement. You have to find a way to go straight to the point you are trying to convey tactically to maximize the few word count.

I don't think that seeing "People packed under small metal roofs for as far as the eye can see" is sufficient as an experience to share. You mentioned 'Poverty' in the first sentence. You need to tell the reviewer, in clear terms, what significant difference you saw in the life of South Africans in relation to your experience in Canada that actually depict poverty. The prompt also requests you to relate it to yourself as important lesson in your life (paraphrased). Don't say that you helped children without expatiating the kind of help you rendered. That part should not come in at all because it will cost you a lot of 'words' meanwhile, it is really not necessary. Hence, review your essay and start up with the central idea of your essay in a rather creative and compelling manner.

Finally, try and present your essay in two paragraphs to enhance readability and coherence.


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