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FOR QUESTBRIDGE: The Christmas Present that Got Away

issaessay 1 / 2  
Sep 23, 2017   #1
Questbridge App: Reflect on a significant risk you have taken or an ethical dilemma you have faced. What action did you take and how did it change you?

(The word limit is 500 words, and this is 695, so PLEASE give me advice on how to cut it out. Let me know if there are any parts I should focus on more or less. The app is due in less than a week, so please give your most constructive criticism. Also, let me know if you think I should change the topic to something else if this one does not answer the prompt effectively.)

12 years of waiting for my sister

Having to wait 12 months for something I want is one thing; 12 years is another.

Growing up as an only child for 17 years was a blessing and a curse. I got the last fry, the first pick in movies, and my own room. But my life got lonely when it's only me performing the role of the mom, dad, daughter, daughter #2, and dog in a game of house. When my 5-year-old-self learned about Santa Claus, the word "SISTER" in bold letters was stamped on the top of my list every year. Of course, once I got older, I ceased challenging Santa to produce and drop a neonate in my stocking, but I never stopped wondering what it would be like to have a sister, until this year in February when my mom announced her pregnancy.

My parents work 12 hours a day in a Chinese take-out restaurant. Due to their inflexible schedule, they decided it was best to have my sister, Audrey, live with my grandma for a couple months. Over the years, sacrificing my own desires for the sake of the restaurant became a form of custom, but my selfishness for Audrey fermented an inner tug-a-war between my reason and emotion, making it difficult for me to accept my parents' decision. Since the day my mom told me about her pregnancy, I was beyond happy that my 12 years wait for a sister had finally come to an end. During those nine months, I itched with anticipation to get to the day when my life no longer revolved around the word "wait," but now, my expectation of being able to spend an unlimited amount of time with Audrey was put on hold by a two-hour car ride.

It has almost been a year, and Audrey is still living with my grandma. Because of the distance to her house and my parents' job, I am lucky if I get to see Audrey more than once a month. Although it is difficult to witness her growth through pictures and videos instead of in person, I have learned to overcome my own needs, but this time it wasn't solely for the restaurant, it was for my parents. When I was born, my parents were also in the same situation as they are now. Since they had just come to America then, they obtained multiple jobs to sustain a living, and it was impossible for one of them to take a break without putting a financial strain on the family. At that time, my grandma was still in China, so when I reached 6 months, I was brought to China by a relative and raised under my grandma's care until I was 5. I was aware that I did not know my parents for the first 5 years of my life, but I really thought about how they must've felt during that period of time. Because of their efforts to provide a more comfortable life and an education for me when I arrive in America, they were robbed of 5 years with their child. Now, it is my chance to restitute those 5 years to them. I insisted on taking on more shifts in the restaurant so that my parents can alternatively take a few days off a week to spend time with Audrey. I also created a fund for Audrey's education and secured a paid internship this summer, so that my parents won't have to work as hard to relieve their financial burdens. These past couple of months have precipitated a great sense of independence upon me. My parents have always prioritized my education by letting me stay home if I had a heavy load of assignments or a big exam, but it is now my responsibility to maintain a high average and stay on track with my college applications while working full-time at the restaurant after school and on weekends. I was used to getting what I want since I was an only child for so long, but it is now time for me to give my parents what they deserve; Audrey's birth was not Santa's present to me, but to my parents.

Holt [Contributor] - / 8,819 2620  
Sep 23, 2017   #2
Joyce, there is no risk or ethical dilemma in this essay that you wrote. This is in fact, an essay that does not belong to this prompt. Maybe you would like to consider changing it to one of the other common app prompts? I would suggest changing the prompt from this current one to the following:

Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

The reason that I asked you to consider this prompt first is because of the "background" reference. I believe that this story will safely show off a background in relation to yourself and your family that the other prompt requirements may not have allowed you share. If you don't feel comfortable using the prompt I presented, or, if you would just rather use the open topic essay for this written work then go ahead and do that. You will just have to come up with your own prompt requirement in relation to your written essay though. Whichever prompt you choose to use between the two that I suggested will work for the essay that you developed.
OP issaessay 1 / 2  
Sep 23, 2017   #3
Hi, I considered your advice and drafted a new response to be the prompt. I would appreciate some feedback. Thanks!
(By the way, this is for the QuestBridge National College Match Application, not for the Common App. Sorry for any confusion)

"The answer is not -2, and I will prove it to you."
I was the only junior sitting among a sea of seniors in my third period Algebra 2 class, when a World War III broke out between me and another student. Our class was learning how to use matrices to solve a system of equation, and as we were reviewing the assignment from the previous night, one exercise elicited a heated debate. One girl, along with more than half the class, resulted with -2 as the final answer, while a handful of others, myself included, ended up with -1. The teacher's edition of the textbook was known to be erroneous at times, so to reach a final verdict, our teacher had the two of us display our work on the board. I was the youngest in the class, therefore to some of the students, my credibility was tainted. However, I was confident that my answer was correct since I had confirmed it algebraically and graphically. Ignoring the judging stares, I walked up to the chalk board and laid out my work with a step-by-step explanation. As I returned to my seat, I waited for a unified "Ohhhh" from the class, but the only words that broke the silence were: "You forgot the negative sign for the first equation."

I could almost hear my pride shatter. Turns out, my answer was right for the equations I had copied down, but the correct answer for the exercise in the book was indeed -2.

Although that moment made it to the top of my "Most Embarrassing Moments" list, it was one that highlighted my courage to take the risk to challenge the status quo rather than succumb to it. Instead of letting that moment induce a phobia for failure, I became an even more avid participant in class discussions and the first to raise a hand to answer a complicated math problem, despite the chance of being wrong. By the end of my junior year, I received the Award of Excellence for Algebra II. It was not my average that made me a candidate for the award; it was the hours I spent studying a confusing theory and the after-school sessions of inquiring my math teacher on a math problem I did not understand. From that day, I extracted a crucial life lesson that has shaped me into the student and person I am today. I learned that achievements are not the sole factors that foster growth and development, rather it is acceptance to failure and openness to mistakes.

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