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Setback College Essay

Sample College Application Essay - Before

Describe a setback that you have faced. How did you resolve it? How did the outcome affect you? If something similar happened in the future, how would you react?

Like other boys, I enjoy water. Ever since I was five years old, I spent many summer days in YMCA swimming pool. When I was 13 years old, I felt that I need something more challenging than just enjoying the water so I joined high school development team of Badger Swim Club. On the first day, as soon as the coach gave order, all the team members quickly dived into the water except me jump into the water. After a few laps, I was way behind all the others. While I was trying to catch up; I was already out of breath. To make things worse, the coach was constantly correcting my techniques. My stroke, my somersault, my diving, nothing I did seemed right to him.

The whole first week, I was stuck with him to improve my diving. He pointed out that "I should dive with my head instead of my whole body." While my body and my mind gave me the message "Quit! Quit!" In my heart, I felt that quitting wasn't right thing to do. I craved to become as good a swimmer as the other team members. So I kept practicing. Quite a few times, I felt as though I had pushed myself to limits and I couldn't do it anymore. My goal want to be a good swimmer have me keep Practice! Practice! Practice! Finally, I conquered physical and mental challenge. After a couple of months, I swam as well as the other team members.

When facing challenge, it is easy to quit. But if you want to achieve something, stick to it. Make a commitment. Being consistent in effects, you will succeed.

This is my senior year so I have a heavy load with classes, leading clubs, my job, and volunteering so sometimes I feel overwhelmed. That brought my memory of struggling in swimming pool. Last week I had AP chemistry and humanities AC test on the same day while I was thinking which one I should approach, my phone rang. My boss asked me to update some information right away because there is some conference the week after. I wanted to say "No, I have too many things to do!" Then I thought: why did I take the job in the first place? I felt it is very important to be responsible as an employee so I decided to postpone my homework for a bit and finishing updating the site. One hour later after I reviewed all chapters of chemistry, I did some practice quiz. I was way too sleepy to study so I went to bed. Can I stand that I will have a bad grade? No, so I set up my alarm clock to 5 and wake up early in the morning to finish my reviewing of humanities.

Weaknesses, setbacks and failures are part of life. In future, through my experience swimming, I believe that I now know how to manage these imperfections so that they do not dictate me but instead, I can look past them.

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Many of us faced challenges in our formative years and we struggled with them. Some of those struggles might have changed who we are or how we later approached life. Marilyn Campbell is an overcomer. She wrestled with shyness in her young years. Before you read her essay, learn a little more about Marilyn’s background from an update she sent to me:

“I never did quite get the opportunity to thank you [for helping me develop my essay]. Regarding my college process:

I applied to three schools early action: Harvard University, Brown University, and Georgetown University; I applied to Tulane University as a backup school regular decision (it can be considered a backup for those people who reside in-state).

I am happy to say that I was accepted at Brown, at Georgetown (thank you very much!), and at Tulane; I was deferred from Harvard; I am not applying to any more schools.

If there’s something I learned about applying to colleges and watching my friends apply to them, I would recommend applying to as many early action schools as possible by the deadlines. This takes away the stress and work of doing several applications at a very busy time of the year (one is taking exams or they are hanging over our heads).

At the very least, if one applies to one school early action or early decision, s/he should not wait until they receive that school’s response to begin filling out all the other applications waiting in the wings. I know that it is very tempting to wait, but after seeing what this has done to several of my friends, I highly recommend getting an early start.

Finally, I suggest that students don’t blow off their freshman year. If that happens, one will spend the next three years trying to bring up those grades.

Thanks again!

Marilyn

* * * *

Marilyn’s essay:

When I was a young, awkward adolescent, I considered myself to be a shy person, especially around boys. Because of this, my experiences at a coed middle school intimidated me somewhat. So, for the past five years, I have attended an all-girls school, which has helped me to become a stronger person. I have overcome my shyness and insecurities and developed much more confidence.

Ironically, I believe that my shyness, something that I consider a communication barrier, has ultimately led me to focus on a field for my life’s work: communications. Despite my aversion to it early on in life, I now love speaking to and interacting with people, be it as a friend, teacher, or public speaker. I now have a passion for stimulating conversation, and that enthusiasm manifests itself in three different and important aspects of my life outside of the classroom: peer support, volunteer work, and music.

Peer support is a high school-sponsored program through which juniors and seniors are selected to work with eighth graders who attend Sacred Heart. It involves an intensive three-day workshop where student leaders learn how to listen effectively to and become mentors for the younger students. I love this work. Once a week, I get to speak to these impressionable boys and girls about anything that I feel is important. I enjoy learning about their lives and their issues and exploring possible solutions to their problems. We study today’s society and its impact on them. I see much of my old self in these young people and that memory has helped me to help them become more confident about their everyday lives.

My volunteer work centers on teaching, through a program called Summerbridge. After school, I go to a nearby public school and tutor learning-disadvantaged preteens. Instead of dealing with the students’ personal issues, as I do in peer support, the Summerbridge focus is more on communication through education. By working with these younger students, I have come to understand the importance of helping them comprehend and apply what they learn in the classroom. Their motivation, given their circumstances, is remarkable. We discuss in detail what they are learning so that I can keep them interested and motivated. Summerbridge is another example of how communication issues are very important to me.

Not surprisingly, music has emerged as another, perhaps indirect, avenue for me to communicate with others. Singing allows me to convey my deep and personal emotions with others. When I sing, I am transported to another realm. The mundane everyday world around me disappears, and I am enveloped in my own, new space, especially when I am performing onstage. When I act, I am transformed, feeling the happiness, sadness, impishness, or even confusion that my character feels. My performance taps into that part of me where those qualities dwell, and I love sharing it with my audience. Music is a very special form of communication for me.

Perhaps the person I am today is a compensation for who I was years ago. That awkward twelve-year old, however, is no more. Now I want to show the world what I can do. Communication has become my passion. It will be my future.

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