College Essays: The World I Came From

College Essays: The World I Came From

By Lauren Passell

The Prompt:

Describe the world you come from, for example, family, friends, school, city, etc., and describe how that has shaped your dreams and aspirations.

Our Sparkler's Essay:

Think of a city where you are a good student only if you get great grades. That’s where I grew up. Think of a school where teachers measured you only by your marks, not by your antics. That’s where I studied till sophomore year. Think of a classroom of 40 students where you know that 20 are as good as you, academically. That was my class.

If you could imagine all of that and create a scenario with it, you know me. Everything was about studies. It was only when I entered high school did I realize I needed to play a sport to keep me sane. I found that sport to be basketball. I dragged all my friends to the court every day during lunch break to have a matchup. Soon, we were all in love with it.

Also during high school, I started realizing how drab and boring the education system in my country was. Even though it was all about academics, the stuff we studied was old and outdated, and usually not at par with the recent discoveries that were being made. I got to know about them through Discovery Channel and science blogs on the internet, which were the main reasons for my ever increasing scientific curiosity. I tried sharing them in my school, and found out that my friends shared the same curiosity. Soon, we were discussing exciting ideas with our science teachers, and they really appreciated our zeal.

In the middle of this, I had made up my mind to go to an institution in which everyone was crazy for science, and for scientific breakthroughs. I actually started building on this crazy idea, in which I discover something that has the potential for global impact, for example, a whole river purifier, and then introduce my country to it, and with the money I make, build up a business that employs likeminded people breaking norms and discovering exciting things. A childish idea, but an idea nonetheless.

Our Thoughts:

You clearly are driven by an impressive, admirable, lofty dream and a fascinating background, and that’s a wonderful subject for your essay. But we think your essay could do a better job supporting that idea.

First paragraph: Here, it seems you want to stress that you come from a very competitive school. You give three examples that strongly support that. Good work! You could be more clear in saying that these things shaped what kind of student you are. Instead of saying “If you could imagine all of that and create a scenario with it, you know me,” say something like “If you can imagine all of that, you will have a good idea of where I came from and who I am.” “Create a scenario” is a confusing way to describe what you are asking the reader to do. Additionally, the word "antics" is misused. Try "intellectual and interpersonal curiosity" instead.

Next you go into how you loved to play basketball, and how that was almost an escape from your kind of stifling education. But what does that have to do with where you came from and what your dream is? Since that is what the essay is about, everything in your essay must support it. Did you dream up this idea while you were shooting hoops? Did something about basketball make you think of this idea? Make sure that connection is 100% clear and that is impossible for the reader to be confused as to why you are mentioning basketball.

In the third paragraph you do a good job with pacing, describing how you went from not getting a proper science education to be obsessed with exploring science on your own. This example could be strengthened with some specific examples. When you say, “I got to know about them through Discovery Channel and science blogs on the internet,” replace “them” with specific discoveries and fields of research that you are referring to. Also, the phrase is “on par”, not “at par.”

In the next paragraph “In the middle of this” is not as clear as it could be. Just say “during this time” or “It was then that I made up my mind...” The sentence “I actually started building on this crazy idea, in which I discover something that has the potential for global impact, for example, a whole river purifier, and then introduce my country to it, and with the money I make, build up a business that employs like minded people breaking norms and discovering exciting things” could be broken up. You also use the word “crazy” twice in a row. Replace one of those “crazies” with a stronger word. (Maybe even both. “Crazy” can be kind of vague.) For example, in the first place, you can say “passionate about science.”

Finally, your ending is somewhat abrupt. Maybe you could spend one paragraph driving home the connection of your background, your “crazy” dream, and how that has made you who you are and how you plan to live your life. Think of that paragraph as kind of a summary paragraph. (Like, “so in conclusion...”)

Great work! We enjoyed this one, and we think this strong example is just the type of thing they are going to be looking for if you can clean it up and clarify a bit.

What advice do you have for this Sparkler?

Topics: college, sparklers, college applications, writing, college admissions, college application essays, writing help, college essays

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