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Discus: What Are My Chances?: January 2004 Archive: HARVARD ESSAY
By Gone842 (Gone842) on Thursday, January 15, 2004 - 07:08 pm: Edit

I applied to princeton, harvard, dartmouth, northwestern, and duke (and some less selective ones) I have a 1460 ... how will this essay fare
in comparisons with those applicant pools?

I volunteered for the Crisis Hotline hoping to save lives. Unfortunately, I encountered BB-gun-toting cowboys and photophobiacs just as often as potential suicides. I was an idealistic 16-year-old wanting to make a difference. After all, I had just conquered the finer points of operating a motor vehicle, so why, I pondered, couldn’t I reason with someone to the point of keeping him from hurting himself? The promise of that kind of service to mankind appealed to me. The “learner’s permit” for volunteers, where we learned to “drive” the Hotline consisted of a 50-hour training program. After just a few hours, I knew that I had found the opportunity I was looking for. Or so I thought.

I approached my new role with hope, but my anticipation began to be tempered somewhat by the guideline limitations we “counselors” had to observe. Instead of being able to deliver proactive, positive advice, we were instead instructed to be merely passive sounding boards, talking patiently with our callers until they were able to define their own solutions. This type of hands-off, seemingly uninvolved handholding approach frustrated me.

“Hi. My mother died a few years ago and my dad takes his grief out by hitting me.” Before we could man the phones to deal with actual callers, we had to do practice scenarios with our instructors. I responded to this hypothetical situation with instinctive common sense and, after gathering some more background from my “caller,” advised him to seek protection by leaving his abusive environment. My instructor stopped our role playing immediately and reminded me that my job was not to give advice but to allow those seeking help to ventilate and gradually pioneer their own best solutions. Although the training sessions made me more sensitive to the subtleties of caller interaction, I began to wonder about my ability to actually have a meaningful impact on the lives of those in need, especially in light of these (at least to me) frustrating limitations.

After training was completed, it was time to man the phones for real. My first caller was a man who was afraid of sunlight. So, remembering my training, which emphasized passive leading, I explained how sunlight stimulates hormones in the brain that provide for a positive mental outlook. After quite a long discussion, the caller agreed that sunlight was not life threatening and promised to walk outside the following day. On my next shift, another man called and confessed that he had a lifelong fascination with dressing up in cowboy attire and shooting rabbits with his BB gun. I called on all my training to deal with this strange issue until the completely serious sounding caller’s cover was blown by silly background laughter coming from his fellow pranksters.

Frustrated by this bizarre debut, I decided to approach my first “important” call differently, when it finally arrived. And it did. The caller was a struggling young man whose mother had died. He was pondering suicide. After hearing his heart-rending eulogy about his mother, I told him that such a wonderful woman wouldn’t want her son to hurt himself. Instead, I said, he should invoke all of his potential to make a difference in his world, just as I was trying to do through the Hotline. Our long, intense conversation ended in triumph. He agreed with me and left with a renewed and optimistic outlook. I helped to save a life, I believe, but also knew that my renegade approach, defying my trainer’s admonitions, couldn’t last.

I eventually left the Hotline because of its limitations. Now that I am older and wiser, though, I can see the reason for their rules. Since I left, on more than one occasion, my “proactive” off-the-cuff advice has backfired on my advisees. I now realize that the Hotline’s approach was, in fact, better than mine because it allowed people to make their own decisions, from a perspective I couldn’t possibly know from just one phone call. I have learned that I can make a difference—for both good and bad, and that sometimes other approaches are better than mine. Making a difference can be risky business, even when one’s BB gun isn’t half cocked.

By Crnchycereal (Crnchycereal) on Thursday, January 15, 2004 - 07:28 pm: Edit

Dude, seriously, what's the point of posting up your college essays now? They're in, and you can't change them. No amount of meaningful critique will help you at this point.

By Lhm501 (Lhm501) on Thursday, January 15, 2004 - 07:32 pm: Edit

Huh? Same essay posted elsewhere from jmancer, he of the zillion duplicate postings.

By Frodobododo (Frodobododo) on Thursday, January 15, 2004 - 08:14 pm: Edit

Hey, I don't really understand why you're posting, but it's a very good essay. You should be proud.

By Gone842 (Gone842) on Thursday, January 15, 2004 - 09:39 pm: Edit

I posted it becuase the essays are turned in and no one could copy it... or so i thought.

Jmancer is my friend who thinks hes funny, and pastes it my essays and what not all over the place. Im trying to get him banned from posting. Anyway, do you think this will bode well for me?

By Lhm501 (Lhm501) on Thursday, January 15, 2004 - 11:17 pm: Edit

Jmancer is your friend? Strange, jmancer has posted, continuously, consistently for a long time. Gone842, this is your first thread. Makes no sense, no one would waste that much time and energy to be funny. I think you are just posting under a new name to get yet more feedback. Relax, it's so out of your hands now.

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