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(volunteering) COMMON APP -- General Essay, significant achievement, risk

jkstumpf 2 / 1  
Oct 28, 2010   #1
---Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.

---Discuss some issue of personal, local, national, or international concern and its importance to you.

---Topic of your choice

"We make a living by what we do, but we make a life by what we give." -Winston Churchill

Sweat and grime, rust-stained hands, my favorite shirt: ruined. As part of my freshman year civics class, I was required to participate in a service learning project as part of the curriculum. A mere twelve hours volunteer work was needed and yet, somehow, someway, it got put off. One month, two months, six months went by without progress. With the upmost resistance I finally picked up the phone. After exhausting all of the usual suspects, hospitals, food banks, and soup kitchens who all claimed they did not need me or said I was too young I began to look outward to more obscure organizations. I finally settled on the Museum of Transportation, one of the largest collections of historic railroad locomotives, railroad cars, and classic automobiles in the world. And you would have thought I was in heaven.

Like any other boy growing up, I had a maniacal obsession with anything and everything that moved. Planes, trains, and cars covered everything I owned, from my bedroom walls to pillow cases, t-shirts to lunch boxes, but my prized possession was something very different. What I held near and dear was a train set that I had received for Christmas one year as a boy. I spent countless hours painstakingly building mountains, constructing models, and painting my town's miniature inhabitants. Over the years my collection grew to include dozens of historic locomotives and train cars. It seems I was destined to end up working there.

Upon arriving, I had no idea what to expect. At first glance the staff appeared as old as the exhibits themselves, as if stuck in an earlier era. What I did not see upon first impression was their driving spirit and passion for a time past and a deep respect for the history the museum contains. During my time there it was inevitable that this passionate attitude would begin to rub off on me.

At the museum I ended up working behind the scenes, out of the public eye, in the complex of service buildings. I spent most of my time apprenticing; shadowing another volunteer who had years of dedication. It was our job to help restore the recently acquired train locomotives, train cars, and classic autos to their former appearance; their former glory. Mostly my job consisted of manual labor, to assist the veterans in any way possible, with most of the skilled work going to them. However, before long I found myself learning to upholster seats, wire, and even weld like an expert.

During my time there I met tons of interesting people, many of whom I still consider friends, but I worked primarily with two individuals. First, Larry Thompson: a retired engineer who offered his services for the sole reason of doing something he loved (and to get away from his wife twice a week, he once told me) and a man I had much respect for. Also helping was a man I only knew as John, except his situation was much different. His service work was court ordered. For what exactly I never found out.

At first I was disappointed that I would not, in my opinion, be directly helping people. I felt my work would not be appreciated or would have no true effect. But I soon realized that my effort I did have benefits; to myself, to those around me, and, indirectly, to the public. Through my contribution I helped make the museum experience better for all and even, in some small way, helped to preserve history. By working closely with John, I was able to see other positives associated with service work. Through sentencing community involvement, those convicted of lesser crimes are able to benefit society while learning what constitutes ethically acceptable behavior. For myself, a student and your average citizen, the benefits were more implicit. Through my volunteer work I was able to see that the true joy in life was not in pleasing myself, but in pleasing others. If all of humankind would just give up a little time a day and help another human what a wonderful world this would be, and what a treasure of happiness in the joy of helping others they would find.

It is my belief that everyone who is able to contribute themselves to others through volunteer work should do so. Anyone can find their personal niche and have an enjoyable and rewarding experience. I was disappointed at my level of commitment, or lack thereof, at the beginning of my service project. However, through this valuable experience I learned to be more open to new and unfamiliar adventures whatever form they may come in.

First, I need help in deciding exactly which prompt this essay falls under.

Also, I feel like I don't do a very good job of introducing exactly what I want to talk about and the essay drags on too long before getting to the point.

Thanks in advance to everyone!!!!
uytran12 - / 1  
Oct 31, 2010   #2
I would say this essay fall under the first topic: Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.

The intro is wonderful. I think you should change the last sentence from And you would have thought I was in heaven. to I thought I was in heaven. just because I don't think you should use second person in an admission essay.

Best of luck!
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,321 129  
Nov 5, 2010   #3
I think it is supposed to be utmost instead of upmost.

What is the most important message to the reader? Is it this?

It is my belief that everyone who is able to contribute themselves to others through volunteer work should do so.

What do you want the reader to be thinking about when finishing up the essay. I think you can change some sentences... maybe the first and last sentences of some of the paragraphs... in a way that plants an important message in the reader's mind... a message based on a particular theme.

Also, it is good to go back and try to cut out at least 3 sentences. Try to cut out the least important details. Get this essay focused on the UNIQUE theme, so that the reader will associate you with this theme. Most importantly, mention your current plan for what you will be doing in the next 12-24 months... maye as part of the conclusion of the essay you can bring the reader's attention back to what is going on now as you apply for college.

mariatateno 6 / 35  
Nov 6, 2010   #4
During my time there I met tons of interesting people
the word "tons" does not really fit into the sentence, change it to many , and change the many in
"many of whom I still consider friends" to something else? It might sound better, but hey, it's just my opinion.

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