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Transfer Essay Critique... Help appreciated! :)





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Discus: College Admissions: 2002 - 2003 Archive: November 2003 Archive: Transfer Essay Critique... Help appreciated! :)
By Classact2575 (Classact2575) on Tuesday, November 11, 2003 - 01:38 pm: Edit

Hey everyone-
I'm applying to transfer to a college I've already attended. (Sounds weird, I know.) The story goes like this: Freshman year I went to College A, then sophomore year I decided to take an academic leave of absence and take classes at College B as a guest sudent. While at College B I was still a student of College A, so hence the "guest" status. I applied to transfer to College B for this fall, but was told they didn't have room because of the overenrollment of freshmen. Currently I'm attending College C, but I would like to take another shot at going back to College B.


The follow is my personal statement for the transfer app to College B. I've changed names and the colleges to keep it anonymous. I'd appreciate any critiques/advice. Thanks!


-----------------------

Wiping the sweat out of my eyes, I squinted at the road ahead of me. The sun burned overhead while the nonstop headwind had left me temporarily deaf. The scenery hadn’t changed for the past two days, and it was highly unlikely that it would. As I scanned the barren horizon for any sort of non-hay bale landmark, I thought, “Now this is what hell feels like.”

I’m sure the residents of Montana would not appreciate my comment, but I think other cyclists might find a little humor in it. Montana is an interesting state, to put it politely. For me, it was my own biking personal hell- 90 degree plus heat, no scenery, constant headwind, and deadly forest fires. Compared to the other states my biking comrades and I had zipped through, Montana took twelve days to cover. Then again, my entire “Bike across America” trip took slightly more than sixty days, so Montana should have been a drop in the bucket, right?

My bike odyssey pushed me to the limit, yet I owe it my life. I probably would not be the person I am today had I not taken the plunge and pedaled those 3,700 miles to Seattle. There were many times when the never-ending biking became too mentally and physically overwhelming for me. Rather than stick out my thumb and hitchhike home, I would stop to think of my older sister. Dana suffers from Crohn’s disease, a painful disease of the lower digestive system. Given the choice, she would have taken Montana any day over Crohn’s.

Dana was my inspiration during that fateful summer. Every time I thought about giving up and calling it quits, I realized that Dana didn’t have that luxury with Crohn’s. Montana-induced angst is temporary, Crohn’s is forever. For years I had watched from a distance the pain my sister endured and wished I could help her in some way.
Prior to my departure that summer, I decided to try and use my journey to raise money and recognition for Crohn’s disease. Finally, I would be able to help her and millions of others by creating awareness for this disease.

Not a day goes by when I don’t recall the elation of my cross country voyage. I finished pedaling through Montana more than three years ago, yet at times it still feels like yesterday. Thinking back, both Montana and Dana have taught me one of life’s most valuable lessons: quitting is not an option, not matter how hopeless things may seem.

Recently I’ve decided to heed my own advice and reapply to (College B) for transfer admission. Last year I attended (B) as a visiting student from (College A). I intended to transfer to (B) this fall, but unfortunately my application was rejected because there was simply not enough space. I chose to go with my “Plan B” and set off for (College C), 500 miles away from (College B's city).

I have made the best of my situation here at (College C). I am working on my computer science degree and am designing webpages for various clubs on campus. I am also on the newspaper staff as both a writer and photographer. In addition, I earned a spot on the varsity equestrian team and volunteer for a local therapeutic riding program regularly. Currently I am taking flying lessons and hope to receive my private pilot’s license in six months.

I feel that my heart truly belongs at (College B). “Why take a risk and further complicate your situation?” everyone asks me. I am fully aware that attending three colleges is unusual. But I am willing to put myself out to attend the institution that I love. There are many features of (B) that hold great value to me, and I know firsthand how wonderful the college is. Although I may not admit to longing for food from the dining hall, I will admit to missing the remarkable professors that help make (B) such a great institution. I long for the top-notch lectures and courses offered, and the grand old times I’ve had at the (campus center name). I miss the early morning departures to horse shows with the equestrian team and the late nights at the (ewspaper office, attempting to get my article in before deadline. I wish for the Saturdays where chapel carillons woke me up and reminded me to go to the football field to cheer the (school mascot) on to another victory.

I am capable of accomplishing great feats (Montana included), and one of my biggest aspirations for (B) is to establish a college orchestra. An orchestra would not only provide entertainment, but it would also attract prospective students who are interested in contributing to the music program. I also would help the equestrian team to become involved with the (local riding organization's) program involving inner city children. Therapeutic riding is not necessarily for disabled individuals and is a wonderful way to shape/affect the lives of underprivileged children. In addition, I will put my extensive web publishing to use and work on the (College B) Daily Jolt.

(B) holds great value to me, and I wish for nothing more than to return as a “real,” matriculated student. Rather than abandon my dream to attend (B), I will consider my collegiate journey another “Montana experience:” as hard as it has been, I have become a better person from it. To give up on (B) would mean that I gave up the opportunity to attend an institution that holds more to me than anyone else.

By Bethjanelle (Bethjanelle) on Tuesday, November 11, 2003 - 02:04 pm: Edit

First of all, I will comment on the good. And, I think that this essay is damn impressive. You use a personal note to tie into the piece, and that proves to be effective. The introduction is engaging and intriguing at the same time. I like that you address the fact that you understand that attending three colleges is odd, because it is, and it's good that you choose to address that concern that I'm sure the admissions board is going to have. As a reader, I'm curious what led you away from college A, and led you to take classes at college B. I'm also concerned with why you chose to go 500 miles away to attend C instead of staying at (A) until the next semester that you could apply to your choice college.

I think overall, this is a highly effective piece. There are several typos, and in certain places you use dramatic language that gets to be a bit much. In the first few paragraphs, it's funny as a joke about Montana, but when you talk about "That fateful summer" and later talk about your sister, it sets up the reader with a sense of foreshadowing that something awful will happen to her. It's misleading and manipulative.

The second to last paragrph seems out of place. Maybe even that you're trying too hard. I think that the previous paragraph makes it evident that you are ambitious and plan on partaking in many extra-curriculars. It also seems like a simple list in a more narrative essay. Don't change the tone. I think this piece would be more effective without it.

Also, this line: "To give up on (B) would mean that I gave up the opportunity to attend an institution that holds more to me than anyone else. " Is another one of those that seems heavy handed, and I don't think you mean "more than anyone else". I also feel as though perhaps bringing up the issue of your sister once again would help in adding a final tie to the essay. How you have drawn from her persistence in your own experience.

But overall, very affective, I'm thoroughly impressed, I would be surprised if this one doesn't get you in. Good luck, and let us know how it turns out.

By Bethjanelle (Bethjanelle) on Tuesday, November 11, 2003 - 02:06 pm: Edit

.

By Classact2575 (Classact2575) on Tuesday, November 11, 2003 - 04:54 pm: Edit

Thank you! I really appreciate your help. :)

By Classact2575 (Classact2575) on Tuesday, November 11, 2003 - 06:39 pm: Edit

OK, here is my next revision... I'm not sure whether the ending is too hokey or not, so let me know. :)

***********************

Wiping the sweat out of my eyes, I squinted at the road ahead of me. The sun burned overhead while the nonstop headwind left me temporarily deaf. The scenery had not changed for the past two days, and it was highly unlikely that it would. As I scanned the barren horizon for any sort of non-hay bale landmark, I thought, “Now this is what hell feels like.”

I am sure the residents of Montana would not appreciate my comment, but I think other cyclists might find some humor in it. Montana is an interesting state, to put it politely. For me, it was my own biking personal hell- 90 degree plus heat, no scenery, constant headwind, and deadly forest fires. Compared to the other states my biking comrades and I had zipped through, Montana took twelve long days to cover. Then again, my entire “Bike across America” trip took slightly more than sixty days, so Montana should have been a drop in the bucket, right?

My bike odyssey pushed me to the limit, yet I owe it my life. I probably would not be the person I am today had I not taken the plunge and pedaled those 3,700 miles to Seattle. There were many times when the never-ending cycling became too mentally and physically overwhelming. Rather than stick out my thumb and hitchhike home, I would stop to think of my older sister. Dana suffers from Crohn’s disease, a painful disease of the lower digestive system. Given the choice, she would have taken Montana any day over Crohn’s.

Dana was my motivation during that summer-long expedition. Every time I thought about giving up and calling it quits, I realized that Dana didn’t have that luxury with Crohn’s. Montana-induced angst is temporary, Crohn’s is forever. For years I had watched from a distance the pain Dana endured and wished I could help her in some way.

Prior to my departure that summer, I decided to try and use my journey to raise money and recognition for Crohn’s disease. Finally, I would be able to help Dana and millions of others by creating awareness for this disease.

Not a day goes by when I don’t recall the elation of my cross country voyage. I finished pedaling through Montana more than three years ago, yet at times it still feels like yesterday. Thinking back, both Montana and Dana have taught me one of life’s most valuable lessons: quitting is not an option, not matter how hopeless things may seem.

Recently I have decided to heed my own advice and reapply to (College B) for transfer admission. My first year in school was spent at (College A). At the end of the year, I sought to transfer from (A) but hesitated about leaving so quickly. Instead, I chose to spend a year as a “visiting student” at (B) to reaffirm my decision to leave (A).

I intended to transfer to (B) this fall, but unfortunately my application was rejected because there was not enough space. I chose not to return to (A) because my (B) coursework was not valid in (A)’s computer science program. Fortunately, my “back-up college” accepted my course credits. I went along with "Plan B" and set off for (College C), 500 miles away from Hartford.

I have made the best of my situation here at (C). I am working on my computer science degree and am designing web pages for various clubs on campus. I am also on the newspaper staff as both a writer and photographer. In addition, I earned a spot on the varsity equestrian team and volunteer for a local therapeutic riding program. Currently I am taking flying lessons and hope to receive my private pilot’s license in six months.

I feel that my heart truly belongs at (B). “Why take a risk and further complicate your situation?” everyone asks me. I am fully aware that attending three colleges is unusual. But I am willing to put myself out to attend the institution that I love. There are many features of (B) that hold great value to me, and I know firsthand how wonderful the college is. Although I may not admit to longing for food from the dining hall, I will admit to missing the remarkable professors that help make (B) such a great institution. I long for the top-notch lectures and courses offered, and the grand old times I’ve had at the (campus center name). I miss the early morning departures to horse shows with the equestrian team and the late nights at the (newspaper) office, attempting to get my article in before deadline. I wish for the Saturdays where chapel carillons woke me up and reminded me to go to the football field to cheer the Bantams on to another victory.

(B) holds great value to me, and I wish for nothing more than to return as a matriculated student. Rather than abandon my dream, I will consider this journey another “bike trip experience:” as hard as it has been, I have become a better person from it. Both my bike trip and college experience has consisted mostly of paved roads, but every so often I’d crawl along a bumpy dirt path. The insight I’ve gained from my sister has shown me that even the roughest of roads can be smoothed with persistence and determination. My hope is that my path to (B) will eventually be a one-way street.

By Sidestoner (Sidestoner) on Tuesday, November 11, 2003 - 07:51 pm: Edit

12 days out of 60 "should have been a drop in the bucket"? At 1/5, wouldn't that be more closer to a quart in a gallon?

12::60
(A.) Drop:Bucket
(B.) Quart:Gallon
(C.) Who:cares

OK so you'll probably all choose C, but somebody's gotta put some humor on these boards.

By Classact2575 (Classact2575) on Tuesday, November 11, 2003 - 10:48 pm: Edit

shameless bump. Any potential English majors out there? :)

By Classact2575 (Classact2575) on Wednesday, November 12, 2003 - 12:05 pm: Edit

BTW, I'll be happy to critque anyone else's essay if they do mine. ;) Thanks!

By Bethjanelle (Bethjanelle) on Wednesday, November 12, 2003 - 12:34 pm: Edit

Grr... so last night I spent half an hour pulling specific things from your essay to critique.. then the internet froze, so I'm going to try to do it again for your benefit.

Awkward phrse: my own biking personal hell

This is too dramatic: yet I owe it my life.
You don't owe this your life. While you were able to understand the importance of persistence and determination, your life was never at risk here.

"became too mentally and physically overwhelming" No, if it became too much so, then you would have given up. Just take out the word "too".

I want to combine the paragraph that stars with "Dana was my motivation" and "Prior to my departure". I think that putting the small bit about you riding for Chron's disease at the beginning of the previous paragraph will be more effective. The way it is now, the paragraph feels out of place. If you made it more something like "That summer, I decided to raise money and awareness for Crohn’s disease through the "Montana Marathon" (You can insert the name here).

Dana became my motivation during that summer-long expedition..." Hmm, in this case, you're going to have to alter the end of this paragraph a bit, but I still think it will be more effective if you do it this way. Perhaps say something about the satisfaction you felt from being able to help.

"Not a day goes by when I don’t recall the elation of my cross country voyage." A bit over the top, I think the paragraph is fine without this sentence.

YAY! Thank you for adding a quick bit about you decision to leave college A. It explains everything, but you hardly had to do anything.

Third paragraph from the bottom, starting "I have made the best of my situation here at (C)." This paragraph seems like a list of your accomplishments and extra-curriculars, due to the short sentences. The admissions people see those extra-curriculars on your application I'm sure. Perhaps all you really have to say is "While making the most out of my experience at (C) by being involved with newspaper..etc (only pick a few that mean a lot to you), I feel as though I belong at (B)." And go into the next paragraph, they can be combined.

I think this works better, "Many may wonder why take a risk that might future complicate my situation," but I am willing to put myself out to attend the institution that I love. I fully understand..., but I think this only further illustrates my persistence."

I like the paragraph in which you talk about what you love about the school, but take out the part about not liking the food, why be negative? You add enough humor about Montana in the beginning to do so here.

I liked the "Montana experience" as opposed to the "bike trip experience" reference.

Starting with "as hard as it has been, I have become a better person from it..." Hmm. I think the analogy in this paragraph is a bit much. Perhaps this can be done in much simpler way. "(B) holds great value to me, and I wish for nothing more than to return as a matriculated student. Rather than abandon my dream, I will consider this journey another “Montana experience.” The insight I have gained from my sister's disease helped me not only in my traverse through Montana, but has instilled in me persistence and determination in my educational persuits." Some of the language of that is a bit muddy, and I am sure you can convey that idea in your own words.

Thank you for your revision. I like it a lot. And don't be frustrated. This essay could have stood on it's own without my assistance. But the fact that i'm being so nit-picky here is because this is a great essay, and has the potential to be better. It's just going to be perfect after your revisions. And believe me, I understand how frustrating it is, i've probably created 25 drafts of mine by now. But I promise, it's great.


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