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Discus: College Admissions: 2002 - 2003 Archive: November 2003 Archive: To Northstarmom
By Lilpopers (Lilpopers) on Wednesday, November 26, 2003 - 03:13 am: Edit

Hello,
I decided to go ahead and apply for a couple of UCs and was wondering if you would mind looking over my essays for me.
If you can I would really appreciate it.
Thanks

By Northstarmom (Northstarmom) on Wednesday, November 26, 2003 - 10:25 am: Edit

If your essays are unique enough that you don't fear their being stolen, post them, and I'll look at them.

You also could, for instance, post general info about what you're writing about, and I'd give suggestions on that.

Unfortunately, for privacy reasons, I don't give out my e-mail, but if you can post info about them here, I will look and comment.

When it comes to essays, what you choose to write about isn't what's of most importance. How you write about the subject, including basics like grammar and perspective are important.

My understanding is that the UCs value highly examples that students have overcome hardship. Presumably with your background, you can demonstrate this in your essays. Just avoid a "poor me" attitude, and do highlight actions you've taken to be successful despite obstacles and hardships.

Always type essays, even if colleges say they'll accept handwritten. Always get someone with good grammatical skills to read it over even if your skills are excellent.

English teachers typically are good people to do this. Just don't wait until the last minute to ask them.

By Lilpopers (Lilpopers) on Wednesday, November 26, 2003 - 04:45 pm: Edit

I understand that you don't want to give out your email add. I think it's unique enough to post and hopefully people won't steal it! Some of my advisors have already looked through them, but I still think that they may have some grammar mistakes, so I would appreciate your help in that area.
Thanks

1. How have you taken advantage of the educational opportunities you have had to prepare for college?
Being a foster child and first generation college student I knew that I would need help if I wanted to get into college. So when my librarian handed me a brochure on the Upward Bound program I was thrilled. This was a program that would help me prepare for college by providing me with the tools necessary in order to excel in high school. Through the Saturday classes at Upward Bound I was able to dig deeper into the information that I learned in school Monday-Friday. The program also helped me with tutoring for those subjects I had difficulty in. Moreover I was also able to study college level material in elective classes such as Chicano Studies and Teen Psychology. Above and Beyond the academic support, the staff also provided me with emotional support through all the rough times. This encouraged me to challenge myself even more with AP courses, because I knew that there were people there if I ever needed help. I also made sure when possible to participate in Upward Bound summer classes because the skills being taught in these classes (SAT prep, study skills, etc.) were also important preparation for college. Personally Upward Bound is more than just another program; they are my family.
2. Tell us about a talent, experience, contribution or personal quality you will bring to the University of California.
“Memories are wonderful; to me they are what keep you alive. They help you believe in people even though they may have hurt you a thousand times. You believe because you know that once upon a time you were in a place where you were loved by all.”
The above is a quote from my journal. Reading this helps me realize why writing is such an important part of my life.
In fourth grade when I started to write it was as a release; a way to deal with my parents’ divorce. Writing gave me freedom; in my poetry I could weave in the memories of the happy times in our family, helping me to remember that things weren’t always so bad. Today I still write to escape if just for a moment from the chaos of the world. However now my writing has expanded beyond poetry and found its outlet in other things such as satirical essays, short stories and even published books on evaluation.
Although the format of my writing may change, the feeling that I have when I write and that I want to convey to my readers will not, it’s that of being able to reach out to bigger places and remember better times, all through written word.

3. Is there anything you would like us to know about you or your academic record that you have not had the opportunity to describe else where on the application?
High school has always been a challenge for me, but that was part of its appeal. Commuting to school each day or trying to raise the F that I had gotten during an extended sickness or operation was part of the allure of walking through the doors, even when I didn’t fell 100%. Although at times it seemed impossible to do everything, I still was determined to try. However the first half of senior year felt different. At school I was tired all the time and it was just really hard to concentrate. At first I thought it was just the after-effects of the Malaria I had contracted during my trip to Ghana, but after a while I decided that it must be something else. After talking to my doctor she told me that my stress level was just too high and this was the way my body was reacting to it. She recommended that I cut out some of the activities that I was involved in or even transfer schools, because the hour and half commute was a big stress factor. I decided that changing schools would be an even bigger factor and that if I stopped participating in any activities I would be letting people down, so I didn’t slow down. As a result I lost even more focus, and my Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Arthritis, which I formerly had under control, began acting up, leading to more school time missed and more work to make-up and since I missed a lot of class, my grades in my more difficult subjects such as Pre-Calculus suffered.
At the beginning of the second term I decided that enough was enough and I had to change my behavior. I cut back my hours at work, which freed up a lot of time to rest and do homework, it helped me a lot and my grades soon began to improve. Then one of my friends I had met at camp during the summer died, followed by my uncle. This wasn’t another one of “high school’s challenges” this was different. I didn’t handle any of this well at all, I started up all my destructive behaviors again and more, because I couldn’t sleep at night I stayed up late watching TV to make myself tired, making it almost impossible to wake up early enough to get to school on time.
Thankfully I had a lot of people throughout this year who helped keep me on track and by the time graduation rolled around my grades had improved dramatically. After I graduated, I decided to take a year-off from school in order to allow my self more time to marinate; to be in an environment that would allow me to evaluate and analyze all the events of the past year, but at the same time focus towards the future, to college. I thought that I had found an abroad program that would allow me to do all these things, however after attending the program for about 3 weeks I realized that they were not able to offer the support I needed, and it would be in my best interest to leave.
Currently I am working to save up money to travel abroad. During this “off time” I have also had the opportunity to speak and help plan various conferences on Youth Leadership and Evaluation. Through activates such as these I feel my year off will be well spent. Starting college after this short break will also be very beneficial because I feel I have gained some valuable experiences, and am very happy that I have had this time to regain my focus.

By Northstarmom (Northstarmom) on Wednesday, November 26, 2003 - 10:21 pm: Edit

A major thing that I think you should explain is how you ended up in foster care, how long you were in, and how you coped with this. If you had to move from foster family to family during your schooling, and thus change schools, it also would be very important to explain how you handled this, including how you continued to aspire to go to college.

I also am curious about why the librarian offered you the Upward Bound brochure. Had you been asking her about college? Did she know you well because you spent so much time there? I'm sure that it was no accident that she thought to give that brochure to you.

If you were in foster care while in h.s., also explain what help you were able to get from your foster families when it came to your education, college plans, etc.

I also am massively curious about how you ended up going to Africa. I suspect that you assertively pursued this opportunity, and I think that it probably also should be described in the essay describing how you have taken advantage of educational opportunities. Certainly traveling to Africa is a huge educational opportunity -- whether or not it was part of a formal education program.

You also need to explain what books you published on evaluation and how you got that opportunity.

In essay #3, you refer vaguely to an "operation." I suggest that if you mention something like that you need to be more specific so the adcoms have a better idea of how much this affected your life. Was it major abdominal surgery requiring a 6 month recovery?

I did not scrutinize the essay for grammatical, etc. errors. However, you need to spell check ("activities" is spelled wrong toward the end). Also, diseases need to be lower case.


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