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'volunteering at Ability First' - University of Southern California Transfer Essay


essayheaven 1 / 3  
Jan 17, 2009   #1
Topic:
Newton's First Law of Motion states that an object in motion tends to stay in motion in the same direction unless acted upon by an external force. Tell us about an external influence (a person, an event, etc.) that affected you and how it caused you to change direction.

Living in Los Angeles, I am surrounded by a diverse group of cultures. In order to gain a better understanding of them, I volunteered at Ability First, a non-profit organization that helps children and adults with physical and developmental disabilities improve their quality of life.

When I first began volunteering at Ability First, I felt uncomfortable. Never before had I interacted with people so different from what society views as normal. On my first day as a volunteer, as the automatic sliding doors to the building opened, I walked up and saw two children running around and yelling unintelligible words at the top of their lungs. One of them was a 12 year-old boy named Eric. To my initial disappointment, he was the child assigned to me. Eric was diagnosed with down syndrome, a genetic disorder that impairs cognitive learning. At first, I couldn't help but notice Eric's small ears and mouth and his short legs and arms. His strange appearance made me feel incredibly self-conscious. Often, I would find myself unconsciously staring at him and would quickly look away to cover up my own unease and awkwardness. To my surprise, however, I gradually began to notice Eric's physical differences less and less.

Teaching Eric how to draw animals with crayons and how to swim helped me learn the true definition of perseverance. At first, Eric struggled to draw proportionate pictures and could not draw what other people would typically call a flower. Gradually, I helped him learn how to draw a rose and soon dogs and cats. In swimming, Eric could neither swim nor stay afloat. He tried hard, and eventually I taught him how to swim a proper breaststroke and float on his back. Eric's dedication to learning how to draw a "normal" picture and swim showed me the hardships that he had to face everyday. He had trouble talking, eating, and performing other tasks, which most people take for granted. As I taught Eric how to draw and swim, his dedication, kindness and innocence taught me how to break free of my own biases and ignorance.

I am very proud of my experience volunteering at Ability First. As a result of working with Eric, not only were my preconceptions proven false, I also learned to overcome my fear of the unknown, and had the opportunity to widen my perspective. I learned that "nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood."

No longer do I stereotype or make judgments about people without getting to know them first. I was able to understand the true meaning of the phrase, "no one can judge a book by its cover." I am now more open to new ideas and ready to explore the world. Ability First's staff and the children and adults the organization serves have given me a unique perspective on the world that I hope I can share with the USC campus community.

EF_Sean 6 / 3,491  
Jan 17, 2009   #2
This essay already seems very well-polished. It answers the prompt with a strong narrative full of specific details. There really isn't much you need to change here. A couple of minor points:

"down syndrome" should this be capitalized?

". . . performing other tasks that most people take for granted"
OP essayheaven 1 / 3  
Jan 17, 2009   #3
Thanks for the small tips. How well written and unique do you think the essay is for a transfer student? Do you think it is good enough?
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,334 129  
Jan 18, 2009   #4
You can improve it by expertly attending to the prompt question: Give one sentence to tell about the "direction" in which you had been moving prior to this experience, which was like an external force acting upon you to change your direction. Can you present the experience this way? As something that impacted you and changed your trajectory?
qwertyz15 - / 1  
Jan 20, 2009   #5
"Eric's dedication to learning how to draw a "normal" picture and swim showed me the hardships that he had to face everyday. "

It should be "every day" instead of "everyday."

Every day = every week, every month, and so on
everyday = ordinary
menamilad /  
Jan 20, 2009   #6
very strong essay good luck :)
Angela629 9 / 86  
Jan 22, 2009   #7
I agree with the others, you made your point and the essay sound great. There is just one suggestion that I am going to make: during your overall volunteering experience, at what point and how has it made you to see things different from what it was? Maybe you should specify on the particular thing, like the feeling you have when Eric first succeeded in something, blah.
OP essayheaven 1 / 3  
Jan 31, 2009   #8
I was wondering if I could get help on my short answers as well. I censored my current university and state it is in with (university) and (state). Thanks.

Tell us about an activity that is important to you, and why.
Having played tennis for over eight years, I naturally joined my high school's tennis team. For two years, I was my high school's J.V. tennis team captain. I chose to be captain not because I had the most experience out of anyone on my team, but because I wanted to learn responsibility, teamwork, dedication, and motivation. On weekends, I would push my team to practice in order to hone our skills and to also build a better team relationship. In order to develop enhanced teamwork, I made our doubles rotate partners every game, thus improving cooperation. Although many of the players were from different grades and were not originally friends, as the season progressed, we learned to become each other's motivators. By leading the tennis team as captain, I discovered that teamwork is an essential component of success.

Describe your academic interests and how you plan to pursue them at USC.
My Economics professor once said in class that, "economics is the study of scarcity" and therefore we have to make choices based on cost or trade-off. Often my friends criticize me for being frugal with my money but in my eyes I see myself as an economist trying to use utilize every last scarce resource available.

Economics interests me because the world revolves around resources that are scarce. Through economics, I can learn how to get the most out of these resources efficiently and help not only my own life prosper but also the lives of others.

USC's economics program can help me by offering me access to world-class research centers such as the IEPR, known faculty members such as Richard Easterlin and his study on the income-happiness paradox, and an economically growing major city to study and research in. By using these resources efficiently I will be able to not only succeed in economics but in life as well.

Why are you planning to transfer to USC?
During my senior year in high school I applied to many East Coast schools because I wanted to be independent and experience a different lifestyle. However, coming to (University) was a completely different experience than what I had originally expected. Before coming to (University), I researched online about the city. (University) is the third largest city in (State) and was ranked the 6th most livable city in 2007. Pictures of downtown (University) also showed "large" buildings in an urban setting. I was excited to experience a new lifestyle but in an environment I was used to back at home. My vision of (University) was however broken after attending the university for a semester. The large city I had envisioned was in actuality a ghost town with barely anything going on. For being the 6th most livable city the weather is below freezing the majority of the time and going outside becomes a hassle. For a California resident like me this was an uncomfortable change and I could not focus on my studies.

One of the main factors that attracted me to USC was its location and diverse student population. USC is located only a few miles from downtown Los Angeles. This gives the university numerous resources such as the many investment-banking firms like Goldman Sachs and major historic landmarks such as the Griffith Observatory. USC's location also provides its students with many internship opportunities within the city where I can both gain experience and build my resume. USC also has the largest international student population in the U.S. This diverse community will allow me to meet many new people and expose me to new cultures, giving me the opportunity to learn new things and create a broader outlook on life. Overall, I believe that USC can provide me with an excellent education that will help me to succeed in whatever field I choose to pursue.
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,334 129  
Feb 1, 2009   #9
For the first one, you can omit the first sentence and get right into it: For two years...

What I got from that was that tennis is important to you because it creates new friendships and because it taught you the importance of teamwork. Can you segue into talking about the roles that leadership and teamwork will play in your intended major or career? Why is tennis really important to you? Say it directly somewhere in the essay.

And did you really become captain because you wanted to "learn responsibility, teamwork, dedication, and motivation," or are these the qualities that you began to develop AS A RESULT OF taking this leadership role?

Next one:

My Economics professor once said, in clas s that , "Econo mics is the study of scarcity," and that means we have to make choices based on consideration of cost or trade-off.

This is great stuff! You seem clear headed about your aspiration.

For the third one, consider switching the order of the paragraphs, so that you focus on positive things about this school before talking about the negative things (i.e. the ghost town). All of this seems very genuine and impressive.
OP essayheaven 1 / 3  
Feb 2, 2009   #10
Alright thanks, sent in the app. If possible please delete this thread or edit my posts to remove my essays if possible. Thanks!


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