Unanswered [6] / Urgent [0] / SERVICES
  

Undergraduate Posts: 4

"The World in a Magazine"- CommonApp Personal Essay prompt


lehte  
Jul 1, 2018   #1
Prompt: Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

THE WORLD IN A MAGAZINE



Essay:

I had just come home from my first week of high school when I first stumbled upon a copy of The Atlantic. What caught my eye was superficial: striking red beneath an eloquent yellow font and a melodramatic headline alerting everyone about the "Plot Against America!" But the bold lettering gave off the impression that something of great consequence lay underneath that fancy cover. Absentmindedly, I grabbed the magazine and flipped through the glossy pages. And surprisingly, I was instantly hooked.

A new world was laid out before me. Biting social commentary. Emotional letters regarding impactful issues. Intriguing reviews of best-selling books. Fresh, urbane views on world politics. Full-page arrays of Technicolor photographs. Risky exposés of political figures. Even the prose was sharp, lucid, mesmerizing. Then and there I told myself, "this is what education looks like." Just like a child standing outside of a chocolate store, face squished against the glass, I now hungered to be a part of that accomplished adult world. Growing up in a low-income household, where neither of my parents went to college, and in which my father had passed away, the primary focus was always on getting a job to support the family; there was never enough time to focus on intellectual pursuits or a college education. School was just a requirement that we were forced to fulfill, while true education was an abstract concept, a possibility, something for others to achieve. But there I was with what a young, impressionable version of myself perceived as education, intellect, and curiosity, physically in my hands. So I read that magazine cover to cover. Three times. And with each flip of the page, I felt a crack in the dam holding back the deluge of knowledge and questions the world offered.

It was an incredibly humbling day for me, as I had an awkward epiphany: that I really knew nothing about the world. The article questioning political correctness made me understand that there are two reasonable sides to every single issue, and that it is only through understanding the other side that you can work through the issue. The letter concerning police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement made me realize how much politics influences actual lives, and made me aware of issues that do not even affect me personally. A look into anachronistic Havana, the Republicans' framing of the Iraq War, and several articles discussing world politics in China, Namibia, and Belgium sparked an interest in international relations. It was the closest thing to spiritual fulfillment a teenager could even feel. The Atlantic had kindled my intellectual curiosity and global awareness, along with an actual interest and picture of an educated future in international economics, filling a hole in my soul that I didn't even know existed.

Although it may be amusing now that I found simply reading a magazine article to be such a formative event of my adolescence, that seemingly unextraordinary day formed my values and set me off on an endless journey through curiosity and knowledge. I refused to accept complacency, since there was always something I did not know. I learned to become independent, since I started to seek out information and attempt to solve problems on my own. I learned to look at both sides of an issue to be completely informed before taking a stance on it. I spent morning after morning reading random articles, then whole magazines, then entire books, building up dreams and interests, watching them fall, then building them back up again, and hours morphed into days morphed into years and before I knew it this was my life.

At 14, I caught a sight of where the bar was set. It always appeared unreachable, until it became just out of my grasp, and yet in my grasp all along as a magazine article.
Phuongnguyen256 1  
Jul 2, 2018   #2
Nice but your freestyle essay is such a flood of emotions that I can't handle it properly 😂 ! I personally prefer the third paragraph to be a place where you can develop your own rational views on these political issues & reduce emotional expressions. Also, I kindly suggest

a college education -> higher education
...had passed away, I was always focusing on the primary focus was always on getting (...) never enough time for me to focus ... (cohesive sentences)

, physically in my hands -> were
the world offered-> raised
I really knew nothing about the world -> barely
picture of an educated future
to be such
Holt [Contributor] 1530  
Jul 2, 2018   #3
Lida, this is an overly dramatic but pointless essay. I do not see a period of personal growth or development within you that was spurred by your reading of that article. Sure you had somewhat of a personal realization, but along with that personal realization should have been a moment when you began to change as a person. No, I am not talking about the enlightenment that you had from the article but rather, the epiphany of you realizing that you had to make a change and you actually went out and did something about it. There is a lack of clear reference to personal growth based on the article content and its effect on you. All I understood from this essay was that you learned about world politics, but you were not, at that age, in a position to do something about it.

Don't aim for shock value in this prompt. That is what made this essay useless. Instead, go for a point in time when you actually had a personal realization regarding something that you could address in your life and then explain how the steps you took to change that moment resulted in the person you have become. Depict your growth through enlightenment and action. Not just enlightenment. As you proved in this essay, you can be enlightened without personal growth. You can learn things from reading articles and understand the intricacies of certain events, but unless you actually take action to show how you were affected by what you read, then you cannot qualify this moment as a time that sparked personal growth on your part.
OP lehte  
Jul 5, 2018   #4
@Holt
Thank you for the suggestions!
I revised it to include the actions I took after I read that magazine

It was the closest thing to spiritual fulfillment a teenager could even feel. Even practically, I started to become more engaged with my community: volunteering for social justice movements, interning for the local government, engaging with other youth from sexual minorities, reading poems from all over the world, and travelling to encourage sustainability in Chinese farmlands. The Atlantic had kindled my intellectual curiosity and global awareness, along with an actual interest and picture of an educated future in international policy, filling a hole in my soul that I didn't even know existed.

Although it may be amusing now that I found simply reading a magazine article to be such a formative event of my adolescence, that seemingly unextraordinary day formed my values and set me off on an endless journey through curiosity and knowledge. I refused to accept complacency, so I widened my horizons by learning coding from my school's technology club. I started to become independent, so I sought out opportunities and volunteered on my own. I learned to look at both sides of an issue to be completely informed, so I created a Youtube series about the common ground conservatives and liberals can reach about major issues. I spent morning after morning reading random articles, then whole magazines, then entire books, building up dreams and interests, watching them fall, then building them back up again, and hours morphed into days morphed into years and before I knew it this was my life.


Home / Undergraduate / "The World in a Magazine"- CommonApp Personal Essay prompt