My first attempt at a college essay (I'm a junior)

<p>Hey guys. As you saw in the title, this essay is my first attempt at writing a college essay. I am planning to apply to Stanford, UCLA, UC Berkeley, Columbia, NYU, and Pepperdine next year. </p>

<p>It was like a bullet flying into a glass wall. I never realized that one simple word could shatter me so completely. It has been almost two years now since the doctor nearly destroyed me with that bullet. “Cancer,” he said. And so it was. I couldn’t understand it. I demanded to know why. The doctor, with all his years of schooling, couldn’t give me an answer; this type of the disease was so rare in an adolescent. My 14-year old mind couldn’t handle it. How could my mortality have become so apparent by the acknowledgement of one word? Cancer was for old people who had smoked all their lives. Not for a youthful robust teenager, just beginning to embrace the gifts the world had to offer her.
I was diagnosed in March of 2003. It was not known quite yet how malignant the cancer was. I visited specialist after specialist, taking all sorts of scans and tests along the way. I hated making up stories, lying to my friends who wanted to know where I always was, and why I was missing so many classes. The malignancy had originated in my elbow and possibly had metastasized to my lungs or my bones. I could not help but ask the unavoidable question: “Was I going to die?”
Would I be able to go to UCLA with my best friend like we had made plans to do when we were 9? “I never ever want this fun to end,” I had said so many years ago, as we were dressing our new Barbies for a dip in the pool, “Too bad you can’t move in and become my sister. What if something happens and we won’t be friends anymore?” My friend promptly brushed the notion aside, thoughtfully smoothing her Barbie’s golden ponytail. “It’s okay because when we grow up, we can live together in a dorm at college. We can go to UCLA, where ‘Drena [her older sister] is right now. Then we can move into a big house with our husbands and kids and be best friends forever.”
As I grew, that childhood fantasy had diminished slightly. We were still the best of friends and planned to go to college together. After my diagnosis, I had no idea whether I had encountered a slight inconvenience or a potentially fatal disease. I looked back on my childhood musings, longing desperately to return to those times of immortality and comfort.
It was worse not knowing, whatever the prognosis was. I would go through periods of confidence and then of pessimism, frequently separated by mere seconds. I would say to myself, “It will be fine. I am only fourteen. That is much too young.” Then the doubt would kick in. I would cry for hours on end still asking the unanswerable question: “Why?” Why has God chosen me? What have I done to deserve this?
I began to recognize how weak I had always been. Without knowing how bad my condition was, I let it destroy me, completely crushing any sense of optimism I had once possessed. I became a shell of my own self. I started to believe that what I had accomplished didn’t matter, that I wasn’t special, because anything could come along and erase everything. Fears of a dismal prognosis consumed my every thought and drained my happiness for weeks. As time progressed, I did not allow for the possibility that things might turn out all right.<br>
Unexpected relief came to me April 17th in the form of a voicemail. It was my father. “Kelly, you will be just fine. The cancer didn’t metastasize at all. You will have surgery on your elbow at the end of the month to remove it completely. Afterwards, you will be perfectly fine.”
And I was. Just as the May showers were beginning to fall, I began to appreciate their sweetness like never before. Though that false sense of immortality was taken away from me prematurely, I considered myself lucky. I still laugh to myself, for who in their right mind would consider a disease a form of luckiness. Cancer had given me an opportunity to acknowledge my feeble will and change it for the better. I vowed to become a stronger person. I opened up my eyes and my heart to my surroundings. I realized that one of the worst things in existence was a missed opportunity. I promised myself that I would never let anything effect me in that matter again. Recording artist Jewel had said, “If I could tell the world just one thing, it would be that we're all okay. And not to worry cause worry is wasteful and unless in times like these.” I had only just begun to appreciate the truth of those words, and would keep them near to my heart for years to come.
My doctor’s bullet had shattered me into a million pieces. I recreated that glass wall within myself, with bonds stronger than any before. If life throws me another bullet, I will be ready. </p>

<p>Thanks so much for reading this and feel free to make any critiques on grammar or content. Please tell me if it flows well, and if the personal anecdote, as well as the Jewel quote, seem like they fit. Also, it is too over-the-top? Like too emotional or depressing?</p>

<p>Thanks again!</p>

<p>anyone? I really need some feedback to know where I stand in the admissions process.</p>

<p>You are a junior??Get a life</p>

<p>Hm... first of all... you're probably the first person I've seen to start their college essays in the BEGINNING OF JUNIOR YEAR. I guess all the best to you.</p>

<p>The essay topic is extremely personal, and therefore I believe the essay could be a LOT better written. I liked the intro analogy with the bullet and the glass, but the conclusion, which reflected the intro, didn't impress me as much. Perhaps because it's very abrupt. Perhaps because in your essay you do a WHOLE LOT of telling and not enough showing. Talk about what you did during your illness. Did you have anything special that you turned to that helped you deal with it and become stronger?</p>

<p>The bit about your friend is very good. It's very nostalgic and, again, does a good job of showing how the illness affected you rather than telling. The bit with Jewel is kind of redundant and useless. It doesn't really take your essay any farther and I usually recommend AGAINST quoting people in your essay unless they were a part of your life.</p>

<p>OK... well no need to be rude, Hoo.</p>

<p>I think it's a waste to write essays now. Next year you'll have more writing experience. And why do you not put spaces in to spare your readers eyes?</p>

<p>Actually, it's an assignment for AP English and my teacher said we should try to model it after a college essay for practice. And yes, I do have a life. Pebbles, I really appreciate your comments and I will try to use them in editing my essay. Sorry about the spacing bettina.</p>

<p>I think the idea is good, but it needs to be worked on (like any essay).</p>

<p>It's 841 words right now. That's too long. There are a lot of uneccesary words. Remember the words of E.B. White: "Vigorous writing is concise." You need to trim the fat. </p>

<p>For example:</p>

<p>"And so it was." How does this add to the essay.</p>

<p>"The doctor, with all his years of schooling, couldn't give me an answer." he really couldn't say anything?</p>

<p>"this type of disease is so rare." avoid using "so" as an intensifier...just use rare. </p>

<p>"Not for a youthful robust teenager, just beginning to embrace the gifts the world had to offer her." = fragment</p>

<p>do you need to say youthful robust? why not just robust?</p>

<p>"It was not known quite yet how malignant the cancer was."</p>

<p>This sentence needs editing. First you should not use the passive voice. Second, you should state the sentence in positive form. It requires fewer words and is more clear. For example:</p>

<p>"I needed tests to find out if the cancer was malignant."</p>

<p>Avoid ending sentences with "was," avoid having "was" twice in one sentence.</p>

<p>Then, you can delete the next sentece, "I visited specialist after specialist..."</p>

<p>avoid "all sorts of"...."along the way" Along the way? What way? Look up the definition of the word "way."</p>

<p>I hated making up stories, lying to my friends who wanted to know where I always was, and why I was missing so many classes. </p>

<p>Each time I missed class to see a specialist, I felt pain. something like that. Avoid so many clauses and phrases in one sentence. It's a runon.</p>

<p>"The malignancy had originated in my elbow and possibly had metastasized to my lungs or my bones."</p>

<p>Contradictory sentence. You said you did not know whether it was malignant or not yet.</p>

<p>"I could not help but ask the unavoidable question: “Was I going to die?”"</p>

<p>State the sentence in positive form</p>

<p>"I asked the unavoidable question..."</p>

<p>The next paragraph is strange, because it starts out with a question and the last paragraph ended with a question. It's almost like you're saying, "would I be able to go to UCLA..." was another "unavoidable" question like "was I going to die."</p>

<p>You need to shorten the barbie dialogue. It sounds unrealistic and forced. Even if did happen, it needs to have fewer words. Dialogue in a college essay is a tricky thing. It should in general be avoided, since it adds so many words. You don't need to write that much, you can cut at least 100 words from that paragraph. It sounds melodramatic and corny--and the part about "we can live in a college dorm at UCLA" sounds so unrealistic. If this is an essay for UCLA, I would try to rework this. </p>

<p>"I began to recognize how weak I had always been. "</p>

<p>Avoid "how" clauses.
Avoid ending a sentence in "been."</p>

<p>'I started to believe that what I had accomplished didn’t matter, that I wasn’t special, because anything could come along and erase everything. "</p>

<p>Avoid "what" clauses.</p>

<p>"As time progressed, I did not allow for the possibility that things might turn out all right. "</p>

<p>Avoid using the word "thing" unless you really mean it.</p>

<p>Unexpected relief came to me April 17th in the form of a voicemail. It was my father. </p>

<p>You can cut that down.</p>

<p>I found relief on April 17th when my dad told me the cancer was not malignant.</p>

<p>And I was. </p>

<p>delete</p>

<p>I still laugh to myself, for who in their right mind would consider a disease a form of luckiness. </p>

<p>delete</p>

<p>I realized that one of the worst things in existence was a missed opportunity. </p>

<p>Awkward. Avoid using "thing" unless you really mean it.</p>

<p>I promised myself that I would never let anything effect me in that matter again</p>

<p>Avoid "thing." </p>

<p>Use of "effect" is wrong--it's affect.</p>

<p>Recording artist Jewel had said, “If I could tell the world just one thing, it would be that we're all okay. And not to worry cause worry is wasteful and unless in times like these.” </p>

<p>You don't need this. Delete</p>

<p>Hint: Focus on school work, grades, and SATs junior year.</p>

<p>The summer AFTER junior year is plenty of time to get your college essays done.</p>

<p>Ah!! Please understand something: THIS IS AN ASSIGNMENT FOR A CLASS in which the teacher wants us to write a practice essay.</p>

<p>I liked the essay... I actually read the whole thing...it captivated my attention from the beginning to end...You actually managed to talk about how it affected you, and how it reflects on you today...Maybe I'm weird,but I think it's wise to start writing essays for colleges and scholarships early..since a lot of colleges keep the same essay prompt for a few years (but colleges do vary)..or they accept the common application..so you can re-use this essay that was an assignment for your class...</p>

<p>lol what is wrong with these people? The poor girl had to write an essay for her class, and she did an amazing job at it. Back off. What if she's busy during the summer of her jr yr? Not all of us sleep in till 1 PM and go to the movies during the summer.</p>

<p>Enco--
what great suggestions! I hope every applicant reads your post and learns from it</p>

<p>I know! Thanks so much Enco!! You are a lifesaver!</p>

<p>Your beginning statement is very good, but your intro paragraph, though short, simple, choppy sentences are good to throw in once in awhile, you have way too many simple sentences in your first paragraph. It seems very choppy when you are reading it, try to connect a few of the ideas and what not.</p>

<p>you also have a lot more fluff. remember, if you are trying to write a college essay now, you have to know that the longer ones should be around 500 words and as enco said this is close to 834. take out what you dont need, which there is a lot of. </p>

<p>A college essay is used to find out AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE about WHO you are, WHAT your traits are, what makes YOU you, unique, so on. you want to jam as much information into a college essay as possible, telling them perhaps your hobbies and what not. In this essay, you can do that by say perhaps telling them how you got ur mind off thinking about cancer (talk about a quick hobby), talk about how since you have always been there for your friends, they returned the favor and were very supportive. you want them to know as much about you as possible. from this essay i learn that you are weak and suffered cancer and then learned from this experience to become stronger. many ad coms suggest that you should not portray yourself in a negative light (saying that you are super weak) you can avoid this by saying you felt destroyed, weak YET you were DETERMINED to overcome this obstacle in your life. you arent a weak person and u arent going to give up rite now. </p>

<p>your essay is a very strong topic and once you perfect it it should be great. i think its great that you are starting this your junior year, even if it is for a class or not. you will be ahead of everyone else. props to you. but remember, your writing skills WILL improve dramatically over the course of junior year so you should take this back out the summer before senior year and work on it then</p>

<p>Here is the revised version, after taking in and using all of your great advice:</p>

<p>It was like a bullet flying into a glass wall. I never realized that one simple word could shatter me so completely. It has been almost two years now since the doctor nearly destroyed me with that bullet. “Cancer,” he said. My 14-year old mind couldn’t grasp it. I demanded to know why. The doctor, with all his years of schooling, couldn’t give me an answer; this type of the disease was rare in an adolescent. How could my mortality have become so apparent by the acknowledgement of one word? Cancer was for old people who had smoked all their lives. Not for a robust teenager, just beginning to embrace the gifts the world had to offer her. </p>

<p>I was diagnosed in March of 2003. The malignancy of my cancer was unknown, and would be determined by numerous specialists and body scans. With this type of cancer, metastasis to the lungs or bones was common. I asked the unavoidable question: “Am I going to die?” </p>

<p>Would I be able to go to college with my best friend as we had planned to? “I never ever want this fun to end,” I had said so many years ago, as we were accessorizing our new Barbies, “What if something happens and we won’t be friends anymore?” My friend promptly brushed the notion aside, thoughtfully smoothing her Barbie’s golden ponytail. “It’s okay because when we grow up, we can move into a big house with our husbands and kids and be best friends forever.” </p>

<p>As I grew, that childhood fantasy had diminished slightly. We were still the best of friends. After my diagnosis, I had no idea whether I had encountered a slight inconvenience or a potentially fatal disease. I looked back on my childhood musings, longing desperately to return to those times of immortality and comfort.</p>

<p>I began to recognize the weakness of my will. Without knowing the severity of my condition, I let it destroy me, completely obliterating any sense of optimism I had once possessed. I would go through periods of confidence and then of pessimism, separated by mere seconds. I would say to myself, “It will be fine. I am only fourteen. That is much too young.” Then the doubt would kick in. I would cry for hours on end still asking the unanswerable question: “Why?” Why has God chosen me? What have I done to deserve this?</p>

<p>The following weeks were filled with uneaten meals, evening crying spells, and repeated lies to my friends. I built a fortress around myself; No one would know my vulnerability. “What’s wrong?” my friends would ask. “Nothing. I just didn’t get enough sleep last night.” But they knew me better. Their eyes, narrowed in skepticism, bored hard into me. I had always been there for them, through their sticky breakups, failed history tests, and fights with their parents. They wanted to return the favor. My pride wouldn’t let them. </p>

<p>Even ballet, my one refuge from all of life’s problems, couldn’t liberate me from this. “Cah-dee,” my ballet teacher said in her rich French accent, “ You are not feeling zee music. You are stiff in your movements. This iz not like you. Do you have proh-blahmes at haume?” </p>

<p>Unexpected relief came to me April 17th in the form of a voicemail. It was my father. “Cady, you will be just fine. The cancer didn’t metastasize at all. You will have surgery on your elbow at the end of the month to remove it completely.”</p>

<p>Just as the May showers were beginning to fall, I began to appreciate their sweetness like never before. Though that false sense of immortality was taken away from me prematurely, I considered myself lucky. I still laugh to myself, for who in their right mind would consider a disease a form of luckiness. Cancer had given me an opportunity to acknowledge my feeble will and change it for the better. I opened up my eyes and my heart to my surroundings. I realized that one of the worst things in existence was a missed opportunity. I vowed to become a stronger person and that I would never let anything affect me in that manner again.</p>

<p>My doctor’s bullet had shattered me into a million pieces. I recreated that glass wall within myself, with bonds stronger than any before. If life throws me another bullet, I will be ready.</p>

<p>Do you see an improvement? I really tried to focus on the "showing not telling" aspect a lot. Are there any areas that still need additional improvement?</p>

<p>I don't know what i would do without this board!</p>