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"Shouldn't I type this instead?" - On handwriting - Commonapp essay


august23vn 4 / 18  
Dec 10, 2011   #1
I don't know who moved my post to the writing feedback section, but I'm sure it's definitely meant to be here.

Please let me know what you think.

"Shouldn't I type this instead?", she paused, wondering if she should be on her best behavior. This was a college admission essay, after all. An entry for a beauty contest. They would expect her to be professional. Tidy, neat, standardized, and easy to read. She smiled, the smile of a goblin, full of mischief. She was no angel. Appalling others was her gift. She would like to know whether they could bear with her or not. In order to be admitted, she was supposed to write this essay. In order to get to know her, they are supposed to wade through her sloppy handwriting. Her world is highly selective too, just like their college. She was a vicious gatekeeper, and very few people were let in. As uncle Freud would have explained, unpleasant childhood memories results in distrust toward humanity.

Her handwriting is, disappointingly, not too hideous, and perfectly legible, which means that she still plans to play by the rule, walking the fine line between compliance and defiance. They are not even, however. The strokes vary widely, Stravinsky-style, cacophonous. Inconsistency permeates through her writing, her psyche. She finds herself metamorphosed through every word. Her spirits are never anchored still in time. Like the flutters of the butterfly, her thoughts palpitate. She came to understand why her scores fluctuate, running wild in a zigzag line, eluding all efforts of explaining, as she looked at her straight A friends' handwriting. Block by block, carefully crafted, one after another, the letters mirror the rhythm of their mental pulses. This is how they work, in chronological order, with consciousness wholly wrapped up in the present, flowing in peace with the current of time. Such peace has been a luxury that she could only afford once in a while, when ideas work like magnet, pulling her out of the maelstrom of emotions, crystallizing her fragmented existence into one. Yet those moments are rare. All too often her mind leaps in anguish, spanning the past and the future all at once. All too often she is seized in a flood of memories and prophecies. Confronted with a test, she would jump back to the time she did fine, the time she did wrong, and forth to what would happen if she failed. She paces frantically, gobbling up too much at once, in an unladylike manner. Her mechanics are inherently flawed. This was a confession. If the Admission Officers expect consistent performance, she's afraid she would fail them. Her mood is not to be trusted.

With her handwriting she interweaves other particles of her life, startled by the way they overlap one another. Her words orchestrate themselves in space with magnanimity, like minuscule islands surfaced from the vast sea of blankness, loosely stringed together. Then the white space seeps in, as a punctuation mark, as a lapse of silence, the silence that soaks up her uneventful life. Like a coffee filter, she savors life in small modicums, not chopping up time like carrot, not spreading herself thin over too many. She has a few close friends, living most of her life in Saigon, surrounded by her family. Nothing exotic happens, but she is contented. Humans often cram in more than they could digest. They travel too much and meet too many people. They shift from one place to another, feeding on samples, sliding on the surface. Once she heard a man bragging how he had met the egotist, the unassuming, the self-centered, the altruist, etc., citing a collection of labels rather than individuals. She smiled and replied that she had also met all of those, in one person. Perhaps that's all she could handle. Sacrificing breadth for depth. No one could have both. As life flashes through her eyes like a fast-paced movie, she needs the white space all the more, the lapse of silence in which she switches to her hibernation mood and replays her whole day, searching for the cues she missed. She is afraid that she did not see through the performance of happiness put on by those dearest to her, the smile they squeezed out in pain, the jokes they tossed to keep her off. She is afraid that they suffer alone without her knowing, and that she has been too busy to go beyond asking "How are you?", and would let it go as soon as they say "I'm fine". Negligence is a vice that she would not forgive herself, and she plans to continue with her life diet, determined not to cram full, and thus poison, her claustrophobic world.

This has not been easy to read, she knew. She should have made herself more palatable, as her mother often complained. Still she wants to be accepted for who she is, spotted like a leopard, sandwiched with layers of good and bad. As the Admission Officers has limped to an end (congrats!), she confessed that she wrote her essay by hand not merely to appall, but to let them know that she was thinking about them, that she was writing for them only, the college she holds so dear, 'though Common app would not let spell their name. She slaves to reproduce piece by piece, for her love cannot be distributed indiscriminately, at a click. She guessed, after all, she could not be as nasty as she wished.
Guest /  
Dec 11, 2011   #2
Wow.You're a really good writer. But I can't see your point. How does your handwriting relate to who you are? Maybe it's just me though; I'm not a very deep thinker. What do you mean when you say "An entry for a beauty contest" ?

Well, i really like your essay and your style of writing. My only problem is that I cannot see what exactly is it that you want the college admission officer to know about you. Still, it is your essay, so if you don't want to be direct, go for it. I think it is unique the way you represent yourself through handwriting.

I'm sorry I can't give you a more helpful opinion, i hope the others can give better feedback:)
If you have time, comment on my essays too please!
OP august23vn 4 / 18  
Dec 11, 2011   #3
Well it was actually based on a line in my favorite movie "Little Miss Sunshine": " Life is one f***king beauty contest after another". Perhaps the metaphor did not work if you could not get it. Thanks for pointing it out. Will make sure to do sth about it.

It is slightly harder to visualize and grasp the message, since the essay was typed. I expect it to be much clearer/ more straight-forward if you guys could see the handwritten version and make the link between the two. Actually there are only 2 main points:

1. That my strokes are uneven and inconsistent-> I work to elaborate on it and match it with other parts of life. Inconsistent academic performance,etc.

2. That there are huge gaps between each word->Words are like events/people that sprinkle my life, gaps are the silence. I try not to cram up my life with too many things.

Thank you so much for your comment. You're the first one to reply. I'm really grateful that you have spared some time to read this monstrous essay.
OP august23vn 4 / 18  
Dec 12, 2011   #4
I would love to hear from others too. What do you guys think?
OP august23vn 4 / 18  
Dec 13, 2011   #5
Guys I'm pretty desperate right now and I really need your feedback so that I can decide if I should pursue the topic or work on another instead. Please help me.
kayleighlevitt 5 / 8  
Dec 13, 2011   #6
This essay is beautiful. I think that you're message is still conveyed without having to show them with your handwriting. The whole point of the essay is for the words to speak for themselves, which they do. I think that as far as putting this in your common app, it shows who you authentically are, therefore it stands out. I think it is a gamble because it isn't something that is palatable. I think it shows intelligence and creativity. You could write something else that would be less of a gamble (whether they'd get it or not) and it would still be good because you are clearly talented. It might not be as creative though. For common app, you have more than one essay though, right? So you can turn in another that shows a different side of your writing as well.

Another quote from little miss sunshine that may help you in making your decision. "Do what you like and f*** the rest." :) Hope that helps.
OP august23vn 4 / 18  
Dec 14, 2011   #7
@Kayleigh Levitt: Thank you so much for your encouraging words. I was about to give up before I read your comment. I've decided to go for it, and am working hard to revamp all the holes that may be poked. I'm really, really grateful Kayleigh. Hope everything goes well with you too.

Any other comments, please?
leviator 7 / 39  
Dec 14, 2011   #8
humans often cram in more than they can digest..

There's quite a few other grammatical errors. Give it a thorough read and I'm sure you'll be able to spot them.
You are a very gifted writer and this essay is unique. I love the way you have indirectly described yourself so vividly, in a way so novel.

Good luck to you!
Please do read my essays and give me your opinions :)
wintahtimee 1 / 9  
Dec 14, 2011   #9
Like others have said, I think this essay is beautiful. I am almost speechless because it says so much about you without you really talking about yourself if that makes any sense. It's also incredibly original so even if an admissions officer doesn't fully get the message, they'll still appreciate that you have creativity and intelligence to spare.
OP august23vn 4 / 18  
Dec 14, 2011   #10
I truly appreciate your compliments, man. But I need harsh criticism right now. Please be ruthless!
OP august23vn 4 / 18  
Dec 16, 2011   #11
I'm aware that you guys are extremely busy right now, but could you spare some time to read my essay and give me some harsh criticism? I'd be extremely grateful, really.

Thank you so much.
super57 6 / 23  
Dec 16, 2011   #12
is this a common app essay? isnt it above word limit?
OP august23vn 4 / 18  
Dec 16, 2011   #13
Sure it's above the word limit, but I'm willing to take the risk. Any comments?
namato 7 / 16  
Dec 17, 2011   #14
This is amazing august23vn! As kayleighlevitt said, your essay does really convey who you are and brings out the authenticity of your personality. And there is no doubt that you are a brilliant writer. However, again, I must agree with kayleighlevitt that it is a gamble, especially if you plan to use it for the common app....and being over the word limit as you are, in my opinion, makes it a bit risky. There is a reason that the word limit was set to 500 words maximum, and failing to follow simple instructions may instantly put you in the AO's bad books. I think it would be more impressive if you could portray the same creativity as you have in this essay yet still keep to the word limit. You can do it!! You can!! :))))

Then again, this is just my opinion.
Good luck to you though!! :)))

P.S I'd be happy to look over any of your other essays if you want.
Alicegz 2 / 25  
Dec 17, 2011   #15
WOW! You're essay is so eloquent, descriptive, and just really well written!! What colleges are you thinking of applying to?
I agree with the others in the fact that this essay is a bit risqué just because it's not talking about your accomplishments or anything. Instead, it is talking about one of your flaws. However, it still manages to give us a great sense of who you are and it tells us that you embrace yourself. So I think you made this topic work great and honestly, I love it.

There are alot of run-on sentences in this essay though. I corrected most of them, but the ones that I didn't correct I just put in green, so you can just correct those yourself. Also your original word count was over 800 words. I understand that to get across all of your thoughts, you want to keep every sentence. But 300+ words over is not ideal. There are definitely things here that you can delete.

Good job on the essay and I would be so happy if you could give me some feedback on my essay:) My essay is called "We are so small but yet so powerful" Thanks!

"Shouldn't I type this instead?", she paused, wondering if she should be on her best behavior. Since the common app essay should, and in this case, will, be typed. Maybe you can change this to "should I write this by hand instead?" Then tweak the following sentences a bit. You could say "though a typed essay is Tidy, neat, standardized, and easy to read, a handwritten essay would showcase me better."

I also suggest cutting out the word tidy in "tidy, neat, standardized, and easy to read" because since tidy and neat are synonyms, it is redundant.


This was a college admission essay, after all. An entry for a beauty contest. They would expect her to be professional. Tidy, neat, standardized, and easy to read. She smiled, the smile of a goblin, full of mischief. She was no angel. Appalling others was her gift. She would like to know whether they could bear with her or not. In order to be admitted, she was supposed to write this essay. In order to get to know her, they are supposed to wade through her sloppy handwriting. Her world is highly selective too, just like their college. She was a vicious gatekeeper, and very few people were let in. As uncle Freud would have explained, unpleasant childhood memories results in distrust toward humanity.

Her handwriting is, disappointingly, not too hideous, and perfectly legible, which means that she still plans to play by the rules ], take out the comma and replace it with 'by' walking the fine line between compliance and defiance. They are not even, however. try replacing that with "However, the line is not even . The Stravinsky-style and cacophonous strokes vary widely. Inconsistency permeates through her writing and her psyche. She finds herself metamorphosed through every word. Her spirits are never anchored but still in time. Like the flutters of the butterfly, her thoughts palpitate. She came to understand why her scores fluctuate, running wild in a zigzag line, eluding all efforts of explaining, as she looked at her straight A friends' handwriting. Block by block, carefully crafted, one after another, the letters mirror the rhythm of their mental pulses. This is how they work, in chronological order, with consciousness wholly wrapped up in the present, and flowing in peace with the current of time. Such peace has been a luxury that she could only afford once in a while, when ideas work like magnet, pulling her out of the maelstrom of emotions, crystallizing her fragmented existence into one . Yet those moments are rare. All too often her mind leaps in anguish, spanning the past and the future all at once. All too often she is seized in a flood of memories and prophecies. Confronted with a test, she would jump back to the time she did fine, the time she did wrong, and forth to what would happen if she failed. She paces frantically, gobbling up too much at once, in an unladylike manner. Her mechanics are inherently flawed. This was a confession. If the Admission Officers expect consistent performance, she's afraid she would fail them. Her mood is not to be trusted.

With her handwriting she interweaves other particles of her life, startled by the way they overlap one another. Her words orchestrate themselves in space with magnanimity, like minuscule islands surfaced from the vast sea of blankness, loosely stringed together. Then the white space seeps in, as a punctuation mark, as a lapse of silence, the silence that soaks up her uneventful life. Like a coffee filter, she savors life in small modicums, not chopping up time like carrot, not spreading herself thin over too many. She has a few close friends, living most of her life in Saigon, surrounded by her family. Nothing exotic happens, but she is contented. Humans often cram in more than they could digest. They travel too much and meet too many people. They shift from one place to another, feeding on samples, sliding on the surface. Once she heard a man bragging about how he had met the egotist, the unassuming, the self-centered, the altruist, etc., and citing a collection of labels rather than individuals. She smiled and replied that she had also met all of those, in one person. Perhaps that's all she could handle. Sacrificing breadth for depth. No one could have both. As life flashes through her eyes like a fast-paced movie, she needs the white space all the more, the lapse of silence in which she switches to her hibernation mood and replays her whole day, searching for the cues she missed. She is afraid that she did not see through the performance of happiness put on by those dearest to her, the smile they squeezed out in pain, the jokes they tossed to keep her off. She is afraid that they suffer alone without her knowing, and that she has been too busy to go beyond asking "How are you?", and would let it go as soon as they say "I'm fine". Negligence is a vice that she would not forgive herself, and she plans to continue with her life diet, determined not to cram full, and thus poison, just delete that comma her claustrophobic world.

This has not been easy to read, she knew. She should have made herself more palatable, as her mother often complained. Still she wants to be accepted for who she is, spotted like a leopard, delete the comma and add "and" sandwiched with layers of good and bad. As the Admission Officers has limped to an end (congrats!) delete , she confessed that she wrote her essay by hand not merely to appall, but to let them know that she was thinking about them, that she was writing for them only, this part is unnecessary. the college she holds so dear, 'though Common app would not let spell their name. this part is confusing and it doesn't really connect to anything She slaves to reproduce piece by piece, for her love cannot be distributed indiscriminately, at a click. I understand what you're saying...but since you are sending it through the common app, it will be through a 'click' She guessed, after all, she could not be as nasty as she wished.
OP august23vn 4 / 18  
Dec 18, 2011   #16
I've worked on it a little, and, well, make it a bit longer. I'm not trying to torture my reader, but this is how "the flow" took me.

The conclusion and the introduction was changed. Please tell me if they are better or worse. I 've also added a few lines in the middle to smooth the flow of the story.

I realize I'm in dire strait right now. And thank you for helping me. I love your criticism. I 'm simply clueless about how to trim it. Everytime I look at it it just seems sorta lacking, and I keep adding more stuff. The essay is verging on obesity, really.

The page lies before her, innocent and full of suspense, like a sleeping beauty, hovering at the beginning, where all possibilities bloom, yet nothing materializes. She would have loved to submit it as it is and thus, remain a myth, an inscrutable face open to all divination, a secret chamber behind the closed door. To wrong the perfect blankness with her hideous handwriting, to smear the impeccable innocence with dark blots of complications is a sin, indeed, but one she has already committed by starting to write. She begins to unravel, despite the humiliation of being scrutinized, the glaring spotlight of judgment, for writing is her only means to connect to others. Her trembling thoughts refuse to be cleansed and clothed by MS Words, in tidy and standardized attires, insisting to be presented with their master. She quietly assents. This will be a naked exhibition. Over her handwriting she has no control.

Unconsciously, in her handwriting she interweaves other particles of her life, startled by the way they overlap one another. Stories envelope stories; universe unfolds within universe. She remembers the teacher at the calligraphy school, his iron hand clasping around hers, determined to dictate where the letters stand on paper. Yet all he could manage was to atomize the amorphous mass of strokes and curves into identifiable alphabet characters. Aesthetics was simply beyond reach, and he resigned, just like her mother did, after trying in vain to instill in her daughter feminine graces. There she lies, obdurately, with her handwriting, as a tattoo engraved by God, untouched by the grasp of will, unable to remove. She is nasty by nature.

Without proper tending the strokes run wild, like an ivy tree in the long-deserted garden, a cacophonous Stravinsky symphony. Inconsistency permeates through her handwriting, her psyche. Echoing the flutters of the butterfly, her thoughts palpitate. She came to understand why her scores fluctuate, running in a zigzag line, eluding all efforts of explaining, as she looked at her straight A friends' handwriting. Block by block, carefully crafted, one after another, the letters mirror the rhythm of their mental pulses. This is how they work, in chronological order, with consciousness wholly wrapped up in the present, flowing in peace with the current of time. Such peace has been a luxury that she could hardly afford. All too often her mind leaps in anguish, spanning the past and the future. Memories and prophecies burst, springing out of submerged consciousness, totally unbidden. Confronted with a test, she would jump back to the time she did fine, the time she did wrong, and forth to what would happen if she failed. Sometimes she burst into tears, when her mother kissed her goodnight, as her mind raced ahead to the time of loss. She paces frantically, gobbling up all at once, in the most unladylike manner. Her mechanics are inherently flawed. Floundering through the morass of tenses, she tries in vain to label her experience, yet never succeeds. The past, the present, the future, one engulfs another. She is a time vagabond.

To tread water in the chrono-maelstrom, she sips life in small modicum, filtering reality like coffee. Words sprinkle the page sparingly, as the white space seeps in, submerging them with long lapses of silence, the silence that soaks up her uneventful life. As life flashes through her eyes like a fast-paced movie, she needs the white space all the more, the lapse of silence during which she switches to her hibernation mood, replaying her whole day, searching for the cues she missed. The performance of happiness put on by those dearest to her, the smile they squeezed out in pain, the jokes they tossed to keep her off. She was afraid that they suffered alone without her knowing, that she has been too busy to go beyond asking "How are you?", and would let it go as soon as they say "I'm fine, thanks". Negligence is a vice that she would not forgive herself, and she plans to continue with her life diet, determined not to cram full, and thus poison, her claustrophobic world. Humans often cram in more than they can digest. They travel too much and meet too many people, feeding on samples, sliding on the surface. She once heard a man bragging how he had met the egotist, the unassuming, the self-centered, the altruist, citing a collection of labels rather than individuals. She smiled and replied that she had also met all of those, in one person. Perhaps that's all she could handle. Sacrificing breadth for depth. No one can have both.

She has left the page scarred, as she chronicled the tale with her sprawling handwriting, the story of a warped, restless mind striving for balance. It was not a pretty story unfurled with an end in mind, a solution to smooth things out, for she fails constantly in her endeavor, for life is no blank page but a laboratory dedicated to a long-time struggle, sandwiched with layers of good and bad. This is how she wants to pack herself up, in time and space, as an unfolding project, writing at a cozy dinner table with her sweaty palm, while the rosy night of Saigon brushes lightly on her nose, and everyone must already be fast asleep. She is writing here, in the knowledge that they will be there, caressing over her words, and somehow in the flow of inconsistency, of time flooding and distance widening, both are reconciled, with hands touched and eyes met.
OP august23vn 4 / 18  
Dec 18, 2011   #17
Ah, I forgot to mention. I'm going to write the essay by hand and send it by post, to clear up all misinterpretations. Still, that means I'm going to reproduce 4 pieces in a row (sigh).

@Alice Hou: I'm applying to Smith ED. It's a fascinating women's college and after reading the institution's history, I couldn't think of myself being anywhere else. Hope that you'll apply there too.
Alicegz 2 / 25  
Dec 18, 2011   #18
I'm glad you are applying to an all-women school! These liberal arts colleges are a bit underrated, but they should be celebrated. I'm also applying to a all-female school! I'm applying to Wellesley, which is also in Massachusetts. So we might be in the same state next year! Btw, isn't Smith's early decision deadline November 15th?

Good luck with your essays!


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