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Can someone proofread my college transfer essay?

Essay prompt:
Please provide a statement that addresses your reasons for transferring and the objectives you hope to achieve. You can type directly into the box, or you can paste text from another source. (250-650 words)

I have always challenged myself academically, I have taken advanced placement and honors classes throughout high school. I grew accustomed to the rigorous standard of learning that was the norm in those environments. To my surprise this was not the case when I had entered my first class at community college, English. The class was mundane, the instruction was slow, and the material was woefully basic. I dreaded going to that class because it did not stimulate me mentally. I grew bored with my studies. Although I was getting A’s in these classes, I felt stifled, as though my potential as a student was not being nurtured. I kept looking for extracurricular activities to challenge myself, anything to break up the ever-growing monotony that engulfed me. I seek challenges in my life, I seek adversity. I never want to wonder what could have been. I must continue to push myself to the absolute limit. To challenge myself, to transfer to a university that pushes its students to reach academic greatness. An institution of higher learning that instills the values of rigorous learning. One that hosts highly competitive students, each as motivated as the last. And to push those students further than they have ever been, a faculty of professors, each expert in their fields with many years of experience. I wish to leave my mark on the field of computer science, and this institution can do that for me.

I accepted community college, for a while at least. I received a generous scholarship for my performance in high school that helped ease the financial burden to my family and me. It was at the time, the logical choice. I never considered applying to a prestigious institution. A year of drudgery and boredom had passed before that changed. I received an email, I had been accepted to the Johns Hopkins University Hackathon “MedHacks 2.0.” I accepted quickly. I arrived at the Bloomberg Center for Physics and Astronomy and my first feeling was that of belonging. The conversations around me were mesmerizing, students were discussing ways of treating millions of people through the means of Artificial Intelligence for a fraction of what it costs now. The memories of that first English class melted away, and into that void entered visions of the future, my future. As I walked through the halls, taking in the atmosphere I was reminded of a quote, “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” To discuss ideas that have the potential to enrich lives, I must be surrounded by great minds. I was finally about to make my mark on the world of computer science. I had made the leap, and within two hours I was placed within a team of highly skilled students. I sacrificed sleep to learn JavaScript and AngularJS to contribute to the front-end development of the project. Within thirty-six hours I had learned more about leadership, team building and project management than I had at a year of community college. I evolved from being a complete novice to being a leader of my own team at my next hackathon. I long to be a part of a community of “great minds” where students and professors share a common passion with me—computer science.

Instead of taking a step back from high school, I look to walk into a college lecture where the professor and students are actively challenging each other through a series of intellectual questions. I believe strenuous moments are what really pushes someone to maximize his or her potential, perhaps even raising it. Being at one of the top schools in the nation, I can effectively strengthen my computer science background to help improve society through software applications and research in machine learning and robotics. With the talent and resources at my disposal, there is no doubt a contributing alumnus who helps facilitate future research and development.

#college-admissions #writing #college-recruiting #university-applications #college-essay

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Shira’s Answer

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Hi Paul -- Thanks for submitting this question. This is a good first draft and some parts are quite strong. As you edit, I suggest focusing on a few things:

1) Tone when discussing community college: Though I understand that it felt "monotonous," "stifling," and "woefully basic," this comes off as negative. I would lighten up on the language.

2) Take ownership of your experience: In particular, the phrases "my potential as a student was not being nurtured" and "this institution can do that for me" place the onus for your success/happiness on the school or the teacher. This doesn't make it seem like you're owning your future success and could make you seem demanding. Always consider the audience. The people reading this are going to be school administrators or professors. You want to make them feel good about the possibility of bringing you in, not concerned that you're going to come to their offices saying that they are not doing enough to make you happy. Based on our exchanges, that doesn't seem at all likely -- you seem like a passionate student and hard worker -- so no need to put that in their minds through your language choices!

3) Narrative structure: You say in the second paragraph that you went to CC for an academic scholarship. I'd pull that up closer to the start, where you talk about your AP HS experience. I think the narrative is more compelling if you go chronologically, starting with saying that you've always be interested in high levels of academia but made a sacrifice for the sake of the scholarship/family finances, and then talk about not fitting in in CC, then onto Hackathon, and then the bit about how you seek challenges and adversity and are looking to transfer to a univ that pushes students to reach academic greatness.

4) Grammar: I appreciate your flair for dramatic, emotive writing, using the model of connecting phrases instead of full sentences. E.g. "To boldly go where no man has gone before." But I would be cautious how much you use this on the application essay. Review each sentence to make sure it actually is a sentence. Cut ones in half, or edit or use semi-colons when you've joined two full sentences together. E.g. "I have always challenged myself academically, I have taken advanced placement and honors classes throughout high school." > "I have always challenged myself academically, taking advanced placement and honors classes throughout high school." or "I have always challenged myself academically. I took advanced placement and honors classes throughout high school." or "I have always challenged myself academically; I have taken advanced placement and honors classes throughout high school." For the series of phrases you use to describe your vision of a rigorous school -- I think this is effective but I wouldn't use that approach anywhere else. People might allow you to break rules, but only if they're convinced you know what the rules are.

5) "Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people": This is completely up to you but, in my opinion, great minds also discuss events and people. This quote has always struck me as being narrow-minded and a bit misanthropic. I'm sure there are other quotes that get across the same message about the value of ideas without insulting those who care about current events or people. Again, just my opinion. This is a style choice, as it does work narratively and grammatically.

6) Final sentence: I'd rethink this a bit, as your current ending doesn't quite pack the punch you want it to and isn't a full sentence. This is your chance to leave them excited about you and your potential. What is the dream of what you would do in CS? Do you want to express your enthusiasm for their creating the type of enviro that allows students like you to grow, learn, develop, thrive and contribute back to society?

Hope this is helpful! Let me know if you have questions.

Thank you so much for the feedback! I wasn't aware of the negative tone my essay elicited until you pointed it out. I will definitely incorporate your advice as I revise it! Paul V.

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Christy’s Answer

Paul, I just read your essay as well as the comments you have already received. I think the comments hit clearly on some issues and successes in your essay. Your essay left me feeling a bit uneasy right in the beginning with the negativity. While I know the point you are trying to make - you are destined for greater learning - you want to be careful about how you demonstrate that. I would go with a more proactive approach talking about your experience at CC. Find ways to express how you challenged yourself in an atmosphere that wasn't as challenging as you were accustom or looking for in a college setting. Focus on some things that impressed upon you during your time at the CC why you want to transfer vs. pointing out all the issues. You don't want to come across sounding like you were better than everyone else around you. Stay focused on what you learned and how you want to move your education forward in a more challenging setting without bashing the CC setting, which is a wonderful experience for many. I think you have a solid rough draft and with some thought and tweaking it will be wonderful!

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David’s Answer

George David Maynard, executive producer at Termite Cat Productions Ltd., a George Maynard Film Media & Entertainment Group, West Hollywood, California:
Here's the question Paul V. is asking; actually, it is more like favor, but whatever: "Can someone proofread my college transfer essay?"
Now, the constraint on writing this college transfer essay is 250-650 words. I have read Paul's letter and though it is good in communicating his personal feelings about his stagnant community college learning dilemma, and in setting forth his ultimate goals in pursuing a good university level education; unfortunately, I find it is too long in scope and overtonal in hitting those high notes.
Paul, my young friend, you've got to tone it down a little by chucking off some of those circular and repetitive story negatives. Yup, your story Paul, that's what I'm looking for in a basically positive nuanced telling of your college life experience. What you learn in school is mostly from what you teach yourself after you've walked out of any classroom you've attended ... God Lord ... I do know this gut wrenching story realization of yours. How many times did I encounter mediocre teachers, else lousy class layouts, or even overall below average college program curriculums - Lots!
Shoot Man, I have spent nearly twenty five years of my life pursuing university education in the Arts and Scuences, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels, and several times over in fact; as I have picked up four degrees doing the time and walking the walk. I sure do know what you are saying inside your essay; nevertheless, you got to keep it short and cut out the emotional eddies in it. More important than anything else is that what you will or will not learn comes from within yourself, not the teachers, classes, program curriculums, nothing of that sort!
Okay, let's get to the nitty gritty. I find that you repeat yourself, either with words, or else with phrases and incomplete sentences. Cut those extraneous words out, and complete one good sentence; indeed, do it doing in a logical fashion, as A leads to B, after which C comes, and finally conclude in summary fashion with proposition D. That's it! Do not go back over that material again inside your essay. Truly, you should be aiming at an approximate length of 250 words.
Now, I have read the answer or favorable advice given to you by Shira Oberlander of 21st Century Fox. Truly, that woman can write, and she has done so for you. My advice is to you, Paul, is to follow what she told you ... that is, what was excessively wrong about your letter; and moreover, do not brush her comments off as being to stern. Indeed, Shira has written you a good piece of advice and if I were you ... well ... I'd take it! Her finely thought out piece is one of the best written pieces of advice that anyone has written on this site!
I cannot do better than Shira and so, without any further ado, go for it Paul. Put it behind you and then, with all the entousiasm you can muster, have yourself a wonderful and Merry Xmas!
Best wishes and happy holidays from the Termite Cat ... and that's me saying it from the depths of my heart and soul. Take care, good luck, and Namaste Paul!

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