What about this essay idea?

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Discus: College Admissions: 2002 - 2003 Archive: August 2003 Archive: What about this essay idea?
By Saccharine (Saccharine) on Thursday, August 28, 2003 - 10:42 am: Edit

I know it's rather late but I haven't written my application essay yet. I'm thinking about writing about my home town. (it'll be long, so be patient with me but I need to give you some background information).

My town is not so big - 54,000 but it's famous around Poland. Or I'd better say infamous. Good old days when it was best known for the great psychiatric clinic are now gone. I feel a kind of nostalgy for comments like "Do you live there of your free will or were you put there?". Now I can hear things like "What rank does your father have in mafia?" or "You live there?? I have to keep a close watch on my mobile phone". Yeah, in Poland, my town's name became a synomym for mafia and/or thieves, murderers and so on. "Our" mafia was the most powerful in Poland, practically terrorizng the region. Fortunately, after 10 yrs the police eventually did sth about it - many bosses are now in jail, waiting for the biggest-ever trial in Poland. But the remnats of mafia soldiers are still present in my town and new criminals appear. As it was stated in Polish edition of Newsweek, my neighborhood is "an incubator for young criminals" and my elementary/middle school - "a place of young crooks' social meetings". Sadly, enough this is all too true. Only about 15% of the school graduates go the high school - the rest attend a vocational school at best. With the unemployment rate of 20% in the country, they cannot find work and many resort to crimes. Shoplifting is rather standard but they not confine themselves to this (one of my schoolmate got life imprisnonment for murder of 2 people).

I'd like to write how despite all this negative models I've seen and I'm seeing all the time, I didn't give up my goals - I managed to get to the IB program to one of the best school in the country and I stayed an honest person. Moreover, the fact that I haven't grown up "in a greenhouse" really helped me in a way - I simply did my best not to become like these people I know, although we started from the same point - the same financial status, the parents without college etc. Many of my neigbors are now reaching the bottom while I'm still aiming higher. But, despite all this, I really like my town - location/size and so on, and I don't conceal the fact I come from here as I used to.

Thnx for reading. So, do you think I could develop this in a good essay or not?

By Momof2 (Momof2) on Thursday, August 28, 2003 - 11:32 am: Edit

It would be possible, but certainly tricky, to pull this idea off. My first thought is that you need a particular angle to keep it personal, something like "Despite its many faults, I love (better verb) SYZ, the town of my birth..." Perhaps play up the idea that we all feel strong ties to familiar childhood surroundings, even when they are dismal or threatening. (This is true in the ghettos of the US, too.) What you don't want to do, IMO, is openly state how you "raised yourself up" from this atmosphere. That fact should be readily apparent from the other information in your application. You also don't want to do the "pity/praise me and my family" thing.

If you can vividly describe the flavor of the town and your reaction to it, it could work. The idea itself is fascinating to someone who has lived in ho-hum middle America forever. Most importantly, remember to give the reader a sense of yourself, your character and values, your reasoning processes. This is not just about writing a smashing good story.

By Saccharine (Saccharine) on Thursday, August 28, 2003 - 02:18 pm: Edit

Thank you, Momf2, that was really constructive! I know I have to give it second thoughts. I just thought about writing about it because I'm overall really tied to my town, although it's not the way I'd like it to be (and it wasn't that way before - it's the last decades that it has this bad reputation). I just found my experences very unique, even among my high school mates. I probably won't find better topic to reveal myself (but, surely, I never meant to make it "poor little pitiful me")

By Momof2 (Momof2) on Thursday, August 28, 2003 - 02:37 pm: Edit

I didn't really think you would, but I'm sure adcoms get more than their fill of those type essays.

Any chances of you applying your college education to help solve the town's problems, or perhaps similar problems somewhere else? That could make a good conclusion...

By Saccharine (Saccharine) on Thursday, August 28, 2003 - 03:17 pm: Edit

Thank you once again :).
I'd like to become an engineer and I don't really think I could use it to help my community. Nevertheless, I'm trying to do my best to improve the situation even a little bit -I'm volunteering at a local community center, helping children do they homework and playing with them etc. I hope I can somehow help them realize how important education & honesty is and encourage them to take this "less comfortable road" than stealing etc. If I got rich someday, I'd fund a scholarship for the best students from my neighborhood but it's rather a long perspective. I cannot find the way to directly apply my future college education to help though.

By Serene (Serene) on Thursday, August 28, 2003 - 04:03 pm: Edit

Or a monologue w/ humor would work well too in my opinion...

By Momof2 (Momof2) on Thursday, August 28, 2003 - 04:21 pm: Edit

hmm...dry humor, you are right, Serene, as usual :)

Sacc - it's pretty common here for college students to go into the schools for an hour or so a week to mentor disadvantaged kids. Partly it's for additional tutoring, but mostly to give them good YOUNG role models and inspire them to further their education, particularly in math and sciences. It's a good way to "give back" a little even before you have anything material to offer. Just for what it's worth...

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