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UofT One Idea Supplementary Essay (similar to the common app essay) - learning from failure


bhcc21 1 / -  
Sep 26, 2018   #1
The question that I decided to answer was:

Tell us about a time when you learned from failure.


There is a maximum of 650 words, but I have gone over the limit and have written 813 words and I don't know what I can cut out of my application essay.

Storytelling has always been a passion of mine since I was little. As someone who is naturally quiet, my imagination has always been all over the place, and what better way to note things down than making them into little stories?

When I found out about a story writing competition at my school, I was ecstatic. I was so excited to win the prizes that were available that I got to work right away. I was going to prove to my younger self that I was capable of winning something like this, and that the stories I wrote were worth someone's time, not just for display in my own house. This competition was going to be my first opportunity to showcase my passion and talent for writing, and I was going to succeed, because I didn't know if I would be given any more chances like this ever again, so I had to make this one count. At the time, I knew that this was also the first big step that would lead me to become a published author, so I needed this to be perfect.

In the weeks that led up to the submission date, I spent so much time working on this short story. I would finish my homework quickly so that I could have more time to write, and when I was finished with it, I read it again and again, just to make sure that it was going to be worthy of an award.

After I submitted my work, I waited weeks for the results. The days that led up to it were some of the longest ones I had ever experienced, because I was dying to know what place I had gotten. Finally, when they announced the results in a school assembly, I saw that my name wasn't on the powerpoint slide, I hadn't even made it into the shortlist. Needless to say, I was devastated. I thought that my story was interesting and hooked readers into wanting to know what happened after the cliffhanger. Even the people around me felt sorry that I wasn't being awarded for my work. The dismay that I felt slowly burned into an overwhelming wave of sadness, and I didn't think that I was ever going to write another story ever again.

When I got home that day and opened up my laptop to see the opened, unfinished novel I was writing, I immediately closed it. I wasn't going to continue writing if I knew that my experience didn't bring me any success, and I tried to forget about the whole hobby altogether.

It took a few days to accept that I wasn't always going to be the best at what I enjoyed, so when I was ready to read my essay submission again, I read it with open eyes and a new perspective. I hadn't read it in weeks, so I wasn't going to remember every single detail that I included. When I read it, I saw how unfamiliar it looked to me. It didn't actually follow the competition's guidelines. This was supposed to be a short story, but instead it seemed like a snippet of a longer one. This wasn't a 500 page novel I should be writing; this was supposed to be a 100 word story that is able to engage the reader in the time needed to read all of it.

This, to me, was a massive failure. I had spent years preparing for something like this only to fail. I took this moment to research how to actually write a compelling story in a limited number of words, and I took so many notes that evening that I thought I would be ready to include these important things in the next story that I would need to submit.

I kept telling myself the things that I needed to remember, and when I entered my school hall for one of my first real exams, it was an English Language exam with a creative writing component. I knew that I was going to do better than the last time, and I took the time to read what the question wanted me to write about. So, when we got our exam results months afterwards, I felt like I had accomplished a lot more than I did. This was a final grade that I was seeing, not just an intraschool competition. I knew what was going to help me be more accomplished as a writer, and I did just that.

When someone grows up in an established environment where they are given so much help and support, it feels as if you will always succeed. But in order to actually achieve success, you have to learn from your mistakes and failures, because it is these things that will help you persevere in the area of life that you really care about.

Holt [Contributor] - / 7,323 1847  
Sep 27, 2018   #2
Ophelia, consider shortening the backstory for your essay. It is way too long and creates a really boring component to your presentation. You are writing an application essay. That means you need to catch the attention of the reviewer within the first paragraph or 5 sentences of your essay. If it takes more than 1 paragraph for you to get to the point, you will have lost the interest of the reviewer.

The best way to tell this story is simple, tell the reviewer that you love writing stories and decided to enter the competition at school. You learned that you failed to make the cut 3 weeks after submitting your story and you were devastated. This led you to review the contest requirements and you found out that you had violated the rules... You get the idea. Compress the failure into one paragraph then use the rest of the word count to explain what you learned and what resulted from it. This should not take more than 5 paragraphs to write, 6 at the most.


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