Sample College Application Essay - After

Final Essay

Like many other boys, I love to swim. Since the age of five, I have spent many summer days in the YMCA pool. When I was 13 years old, I desired something more challenging than casual swimming, so I joined the high school development team for the Badger Swim Club.

On the first day, all the team members dived into the water as soon as the coach gave the order. I was the only one who jumped in. After a few laps, I was far behind all the others. Although I was trying to catch up, I was out of breath. To make things worse, the coach was constantly correcting my technique. From my stroke to my flip turn to my dive, nothing I did seemed right to him.

The entire first week, I was stuck with the coach to work on my diving. He kept repeating that I should dive with my head instead of my whole body. While my body and my mind told me, "Quit! Quit!" in my heart, I felt that quitting was not the right response. I wanted to become as good a swimmer as my teammates.

So I continued to practice. Many times I felt as though I had pushed myself to my limit and could not continue. My goal of becoming a good swimmer was what kept me repeating, "Practice! Practice! Practice!" Finally, I conquered the physical and mental challenge of the sport. After just a couple of months, I swam as well as the other team members. When facing a challenge, it is easy to quit. But in order to achieve something, persistence and commitment are essential. By being consistent in my efforts, I know success will be likely.

Since this is my senior year, I have a heavy workload consisting of taking classes, leading clubs, working, and volunteering. When I feel overwhelmed, I remember my struggles in the swimming pool. For example, last week I had an AP chemistry and a humanities AC test on the same day. As I was deciding which subject to approach, my phone rang. My boss asked me to update some information immediately for a conference coming up in the following week. I wanted to say, "No, I have too many things to do!" Then I asked myself why I took the job in the first place. I believe it is important to be responsible as an employee, so I decided to postpone my homework for a bit and finish updating the website. One hour later, I had reviewed all of the chapters of chemistry for the exam and taken a practice quiz. Because I was too sleepy to study, I went to bed. However, I cannot stand the thought of a bad grade, so I set my alarm clock to 5:00 a.m. and woke up to finish reviewing humanities.

Weaknesses, setbacks and failures are a part of life. However, due to my experience swimming, I now know how to overcome these imperfections, not be dictated by them.

Critique

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Dear Valued Customer,

You have done a great job answering each part of this question in a balanced way. I like that you broadened the swimming subject to include how you responded to the demands of balancing work and school and extracurricular activities. I would suggest adding maybe one more sentence to your concluding paragraph about how you would respond in the future.

Below, please find some grammar/phrasing mistakes. The others I have corrected directly on your essay.

P1: "I felt that I need something more"

Here you have a conflict of verb tense. "Felt" is past tense, while "need" is present tense. Each sentence should use the same verb tense.

P2: "I joined high school development team"

Here and in several other spots in the essay (see edits) you are missing a "the" or "a" before your nouns. This was a similar problem you had in the previous essays and should be something that you are aware of in all of your writing. I find it to be very effective to read each sentence out loud — it will be obvious that you are missing a word.

Now I will discuss larger changes and additions you can make to improve your essay.

  1. In Paragraph 3, can you talk about how you felt when your coach was helping correct your diving? From what you wrote, it sounds like you didn't understand what he meant by diving with your body instead of your head. Did you feel frustrated? Annoyed? Helping the reader understand your emotional response will enable him or her to connect with you on a more personal level.
  2. Paragraph 4 would be improved by details about what the practice included. Try to give your reader a visual for what you were doing. How many times per week did you practice? For how long? Was each practice a mix of drills, distance, and strength training?

    Also, I'm curious how you overcame the physical and mental challenges? Was it your persistence in practice? Growing muscles? Conquering a fear?
  3. In Paragraph 5, you use the word "you" ("But if you want to achieve something") when you are trying to make a general statement and are not actually trying to tell the reader what to do. I recommend cutting out all uses of the word "you" unless it is in dialogue because you aren't actually telling the admissions officer something about himself. See my edits.
  4. I'm not familiar with what humanities AC is. Perhaps an admissions officer will know, but when in doubt it is better not to use abbreviations that may not be understood.
  5. I would include a brief description of what kind of a job you have in Paragraph 5. You could just say something simple like, "taking classes, leading clubs, working at a software company, and volunteering." Obviously I don't know if you work at a software company — substitute in your actual job there. This will also make more sense of the following sentence "My boss asked me to update some information immediately for a conference coming up in the following week" which at the moment seems vague because I as the reader have no idea what kind of information needs updating. Last, you ask yourself in this paragraph why you decided to take the job, but you haven't provided an answer. The next sentence says you think that being responsible is important but you don't answer the question. I recommend either adding a sentence talking about your motivation for the job, or deleting the sentence "Then I asked myself why I took the job in the first place?" altogether.
  6. I think you can strengthen the conclusion in several ways. First, you need to tie it to the previous paragraph by using a transition sentence. You could say something like, "My ability to balance the numerous responsibilities I currently have is a result of the strong work ethic and persistence I gained from swimming." You can also talk about how you might respond differently in the future. Did you learn not to lose hope easily like you did on that first day? Do you have more confidence in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges? You should add at least two more sentences so you have a robust conclusion to your essay.

I think this is a great essay. Tom. I am impressed with how you discussed a lot in not very much space.

When editing your essay, I used the "Track Changes" option offered by Microsoft Word. If you would like to view all the changes I made, you can use the Track Changes feature. Once in Microsoft Word, Click "Tools," then "Track Changes," then "Highlight Changes," then check "Highlight Changes On Screen."

If you are using the Microsoft XP version of Word, click "Tools" then "Track Changes." A Track Changes drop down menu and icon will appear. Make sure the icon is selected (depressed), and then use the drop down menu to select one of the following versions to view:

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