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Discus: College Search and Selection: August 2004 Archive: A LITTLE ESSAY HELP, PLEASE?
By Astrangegirl (Astrangegirl) on Saturday, July 24, 2004 - 01:26 am: Edit

this is my essay for stanford transfer for next year. it seems a little short, but it has to fit into a prescribed space on the application form. can you guys tell me what you think? please be honest (even perhaps brutally so...), i REALLY want to go to stanford next year!!!!

[yes, i posted this elsewhere, but i want a little more feedback-- although what i got earlier was a big help!]

also, i forgot the prompt: select a quote or saying that is particularly meaningful to you and comment on its significance.
When trying my hand in the field of Urban Planning and Design at Harvard this past summer, we were told of a suggestion that Dutch architect and former head of the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Rem Koolhaas, gave to solve the problem of the Charles River bisecting the main Harvard University campus- “move the river.” These three simple words invoked a mixed reaction from the crowd. As I looked around the auditorium, some people were stricken with disbelief; some chuckled and shook their heads at the idea and a few people looked inspired. Whether dumbfounded or amused, each reaction was a manifestation of intrigue at the sort of mind that could come up with such an idea.

“Move the river” became sort of a maxim for me when I felt trapped by the constraints of an assignment or my own imagination. The ideas that are the most successful tend to be the ones that invoke the widest array of responses and reactions. The suggestion of a portable phone surely must have made people both scoff and furrow their eyebrows with pure fascination. The television certainly must have been a hard sell in some areas. Truly great thinkers-- those who “move the river”—don’t care about the reactions they get from other people. They’re willing to be the square pegs and undergo the daunting task of breaking shape and changing the woodwork itself.

Personally, those three simple words have inspired me to move rivers. So to speak. Whereas I used to be the type who colored inside of the lines and went inside when it rained, I see the beauty that can be made of a few stray colors blending together or getting your hair wet. And while I know that life is full of rules that we have to abide by, life in the creative world is a little bit different. Moving the river means not being afraid to think outside of the box, not being afraid to color the sky yellow. This is the sort of passionate revolutionary thinking that has attracted me to the field of urban planning and design. In this field, one need not follow any particular formula. The urban fabric is one that is always changing; constantly evolving. The ability to fit square pegs into round holes is what the profession is based on, and one of the aspects of it that makes it so consistently appealing. How do we create amazing cityscapes, breathtaking skylines and iconic metropolitan areas? The answer could just be as simple-- or as complex-- as moving rivers.

By Jamimom (Jamimom) on Saturday, July 24, 2004 - 02:10 am: Edit

Essay is well written. I am curious. What did they do about the river bisecting the campus? Did they move the river?

By Astrangegirl (Astrangegirl) on Saturday, July 24, 2004 - 02:27 am: Edit

no, a more practical approach was taken and they just opted to build a bridge and expand the campus onto the opposite side of the river, into another city called allston. moving the river would cost billions of dollars, not to mention manpower and community battles. thanks for your advice!

By Vigo (Vigo) on Saturday, July 24, 2004 - 06:48 am: Edit

What a great essay -- one of the best I've read on CC. Congratulations!

By Pattykk (Pattykk) on Saturday, July 24, 2004 - 04:57 pm: Edit

Nice essay. I think you need to give an example of how you have "moved the river" in order to give the admissions committee a clearer picture of you. The next to the last paragraph needs a little work. The topic sentence implies that you will be talking about how you have moved the river, but the rest of the paragraph is general stuff about great thinkers, the portable phone, etc. Do a separate paragraph talking about yourself and how you have moved the river. Don't roll the generalities and the personal stuff into one paragraph.

By Willywonka (Willywonka) on Saturday, July 24, 2004 - 06:08 pm: Edit

I have no idea about writing a good essay for admissions- I'm still trying my hand, too- but that was beautifully written. I love the part about letting colors go outside lines.

By Bettina (Bettina) on Saturday, July 24, 2004 - 07:19 pm: Edit

Instead of saying "must have made people", why don't you say it did make people--do a little research if necessary. Maybe you could find a stronger way to give an example.

I would avoid the cliched "outside the box"--people will "get it" and you can avoid a cliche.

By Shjanama77 (Shjanama77) on Sunday, July 25, 2004 - 10:19 am: Edit

i love how you tie in the colors with why you want to study urban planning!!...good job!

By Destinypath (Destinypath) on Tuesday, August 03, 2004 - 09:17 pm: Edit

A few small grammar corrections. You want it tip-top. :-)

" “Move the river” became sort of a maxim for me..." Change to: "Move the river" became a sort of maxim for me..."

"Personally, those three simple words have inspired me to move rivers. So to speak." Change to: "Those three simple words have inspired me to move rivers, so to speak." The personally is redundant and so to speak is a widow sentence if not combined.

"...life in the creative world is a little bit different." Change to: "...life in the creative world is a bit different." Or you can strike the "bit", either way, little and bit mean essentially the same thing and having both in the sentence to modify the same adjective is redundant.

"...is always changing; constantly..." Eliminate the semicolon and replace it with a comma.

Overall, wonderful job. It came alive in my mind as I read. :-)

By Lax46 (Lax46) on Thursday, August 05, 2004 - 02:34 am: Edit

Delightful and creative. I think the best essays are products of a fruitful saying that is then translated and interpreted personally, in your own mind. You did that. KUDOS!

Pack your bags for Palo Alto.

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