University of Tennessee required essay: 500 Words.

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Bless
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University of Tennessee required essay: 500 Words.

Postby Bless » Sun Jan 09, 2011 4:56 pm

The topic is as follows:
The required Essay should discuss an experience that you consider one of the most important learning experiences you have had in the past ten years. The experience could have occurred in a formal or informal educational setting or be a life experience. Please limit the essay to approximately 500 words and you should compose the essay yourself.



500 words is incredibly short. Looking for critque! I came up with the following:

The colossal metal fence stretching between the island confines was unmistakably uninviting. Elevated beyond the towering trees and rocks, the wretched and dreary silver barricade was at sheer contrast with Royal Caribbean International Cruise Line’s self-proclaimed “private paradise”. However, none of the vacationers seemed to notice the barrier, as it conveniently tucked away behind a jungle of tropical trees. But I quickly noticed. I wasn’t puzzled as to why it was there—after all, Haiti is undoubtedly a dangerous country—but I was interested. Unbeknownst to me, the mystique of what prowled beyond that fence would soon become apparent through an interaction that changed my perspective forever.

My best friend Phil and I sat down and began devouring food from a buffet beneath a large pavilion on the island. We had just awakened from a party-ridden night on the ship, so understandably, we were hungry. The vacation had been quite an experience thus far, it being my first time not only on a cruise ship, but also outside of the United States. As I indulged into my meal, it was still hard to believe that I was in Haiti of all places; nonetheless, extraordinary yelps from Haitians behind the fence interrupted all doubt about where Phil and I were.

I looked at Phil curiously as the calls became louder. I assumed Phil was accustomed to this, being that his family routinely traveled on cruise ships; however, when he replied with a mirroring expression, I knew it was just as unusual to him as it was to me. We then felt compelled to journey toward the fence to discover what the Haitians desired. As we ventured closer, cries of the word “food” became obvious, as did the rubbing motion they exhibited upon their stomachs. These people were hungry.

Phil and I didn’t think twice. With a complementary buffet behind us, it was easy to solve this dilemma. Jogging our way back to the pavilion, Phil and I stacked plates of food. We rushed back over to the fence. There really was no reason to rush, but for whatever reason, we felt that there was.

After reaching the fence, Phil and I were finally able to clearly see what these people looked like. I was stunned to learn that they were our age. Covered in filthy and ragged clothing, the five Haitian boys were unquestionably destitute. Looking down at our plates, Phil and I configured a way to administer the food. The most accessible items were the corn cobs, so we slipped them through the openings of the fence. When the Haitians began begging for meat, we forcibly became more creative. The meat would have to get dirty as we slid it through a larger hole beneath the fence; nevertheless, the Haitian boys feasted appreciatively. Nearly twenty minutes later, security on our side of the fence demanded we stop.

Phil and I returned to the pavilion and again began hearing calls. Turning toward the fence, we noticed these calls were not for food. The Haitian boys began saluting us in manic fashion, dancing and waving their arms in praise.

That’s when it all sunk in: the things people take for granted. I was an 18-year old college student on vacation, having the time of my life, and with such promise ahead of me. Imprisoned on the other side of the fence were boys my age with nothing to look forward to. Perceptibly, every day was a fight. For these boys, a plate of food was enough to celebrate over. Certainly, my perception of “self-entitlement” became much more conservative ever since.



Obviously, 500 words is pretty tough. I'm at 598 words! How many words over 500 will be too much?


Also looking for critique. Thanks.
Last edited by Bless on Sun Jan 09, 2011 9:43 pm, edited 6 times in total.

LSATclincher
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Re: University of Tennessee required essay: 500 Words.

Postby LSATclincher » Sun Jan 09, 2011 5:11 pm

This is way too literary. This style isn't appropriate for law school admissions. I'm not opposed to keeping this story, but the first three para's could be shortened to 1 sentence. Stick to telling an emotional and powerful piece using clear, direct language.

I think your story is perfect for this format. I'd be willing to look over a 2nd draft.

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Bless
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Re: University of Tennessee required essay: 500 Words.

Postby Bless » Sun Jan 09, 2011 6:38 pm

Nice critique. It's tough for me to omit the background/build-up of the story. It's embedded in my writing style (when storytelling).... :? :? :? I'm closely examining it though in accordance with your recommendation.

I edited the post for the many cuts I did to the wordiness. I'm down from around 695 to just under 600 words and still cutting. Still looking for input, I really want to get this app out! Thanks.

sparty99
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Re: University of Tennessee required essay: 500 Words.

Postby sparty99 » Sun Jan 09, 2011 10:29 pm

I didn't like the melodramatic, literary story telling. Especially the first paragraph - some of the word usage was too "academic" and made the message cumbersome. Be succinct.

If this is the story you are going to use, I would make it more compelling in terms of what you learned and how it actually changed your life...I mean, the lesson seems a little juvenile. The American travels in luxury to a third world country, see's the poor people and realizes, "geez, maybe I have a good life." (YAWN!)

Who hasn't given money or food to a homeless person on the streets in America or while traveling? Back this up with some facts. You went back to the boat and your life of luxury. This isn't believable. If this changed your life, what did you do to follow up? Did you establish a foundation back home? Did you volunteer at the soup kitchen? This is a story the admissions committee has heard before, so if this really changed you, let's see the evidence with concrete examples. Otherwise, you lost a serious opportunity to show the admissions committee how an event really changed you for the better.

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Re: University of Tennessee required essay: 500 Words.

Postby Bless » Sun Jan 09, 2011 11:22 pm

sparty99 wrote:If this is the story you are going to use, I would make it more compelling in terms of what you learned and how it actually changed your life...I mean, the lesson seems a little juvenile. The American travels in luxury to a third world country, see's the poor people and realizes, "geez, maybe I have a good life." (YAWN!)

Who hasn't given money or food to a homeless person on the streets in America or while traveling? Back this up with some facts. You went back to the boat and your life of luxury. This isn't believable. If this changed your life, what did you do to follow up? Did you establish a foundation back home? Did you volunteer at the soup kitchen? This is a story the admissions committee has heard before, so if this really changed you, let's see the evidence with concrete examples. Otherwise, you lost a serious opportunity to show the admissions committee how an event really changed you for the better.

Great critique. I definitely hear you! It's missing that POWER to it. Drawing it out just sacrificed far too many words in such a short paper. I need to jump right into it. Thank you.

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Bless
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Re: University of Tennessee required essay: 500 Words.

Postby Bless » Mon Jan 10, 2011 3:01 am

Eh, I don't know if this is weaker or stronger. It's tough for me to tell. My brain is fried from all of these apps.

The look in their eyes is most unforgettable to me, more so than anything else. Certainly, their ragged clothing was disheartening, their filthy skin was depressing, and their cries for food were agonizing; each by itself offered enough to leave a lasting impression. But the way these Haitian boys stared into my eyes is what moved me most. It was a look I had never received before. Sure, I had previously encountered impoverished people, but never one that expressed a gawk like the one given by the five boys standing behind that wretched metal fence. Their begging, glossy eyes made the visual exchange feel different from anything I had ever experienced; it didn’t even feel human-to-human. No, they looked at me as something greater than their equal. The look in their eyes said it all.

My best friend Phil and his family had brought me as their guest in what was my first time both on a cruise ship and outside of the United States. Stopping at many islands along the way, we had now reached what Royal Caribbean Cruise Line called their “private paradise”. Conveniently tucked away in the distance was a towering fence that hid the fact that this island was no paradise at all. We were in Haiti.

Bringing my attention to the seemingly ignored fence were bizarre yelps from behind it. Curious, both Phil and I wandered back through a forest of tropical trees and to the fence, where we discovered the source of the hollering: five Haitian brothers, all around our age, rubbing their stomachs emphatically and crying the word “food”. These people were hungry.

From the complementary buffet set up at the “private paradise”, Phil and I stacked plates of food and returned to the fence. The most easily deliverable items were the corn cobs, so we slipped them through the openings of the fence. When the Haitians began begging for meat, we forcibly became more creative. The meat would have to get dirty as we slid it through a larger hole beneath the fence; nevertheless, the Haitian boys feasted appreciatively.


Watching them devour the food, my heart sank. I know Phil’s did too. They ate happily as we gazed sympathetically. The inhumanity of watching them from behind a cage was troubling. Licking their fingers after finishing the food, their eyes returned to ours and widened with hope, like a dog’s to their owner before being fed. But they weren’t dogs; they were human-beings. It was uncomfortable for me and, warranted or not, I became overwhelmed with guilt. They would have taken anything I had to offer, but I had nothing to give. They begged for a single dollar and I opened a moneyless wallet to prove I had nothing…but that didn’t change the way they looked at me.

That look remains with me. It wasn’t an inferiority-complex; they knew I had something that they didn’t: a promising future and an access to a way of life they would never experience. That’s why they looked at me the way they did. The things we take for granted: an epiphany that now embeds within me. I oftentimes think about those boys, and the same picture reappears in my mind: the look in their eyes. It is a look that will always haunt me with guilt yet forever remind me to appreciate. Certainly, the perception of “self-entitlement” should be much more conservative than many realize.


At all better? Yes? No? The mentioning of the look in their eyes is very sincere as to how I've always felt about the experience.

sparty99
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Re: University of Tennessee required essay: 500 Words.

Postby sparty99 » Mon Jan 10, 2011 3:18 am

It is better, however, I think you need to change some things. I start having a problem with this essay at the paragraph, "Watching them devour the food, my heart sank...."

Even before you said they looked like dogs, I was thinking in mind, "damn, this guy is writing as if they are some animals being fed by their MASTER" - you described looking at them in a cage! I think that description needs to go. If you're white, then it definitely needs to go! That entire paragraph sounds a little melodramatic and "American" saving the day or something.

I have a problem with, "yelps" - sounds like a noise a dog would make. These are humans. You don't want to come off sounding self-righteous even if you don't mean to.

Get rid of "Phil's did too...." ...."devour" - sounds like a dog devouring their food....

So that's my concern with your essay as of now....You are making them sound like animals. That's at least what I thought. And if I think this, you sure as hell don't want the admissions people to think the same.

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Bless
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Re: University of Tennessee required essay: 500 Words.

Postby Bless » Mon Jan 10, 2011 12:20 pm

I questioned whether or not it would sound like that. Now I know it does. Thanks for the feedback!


I need to get across the inhumanity factor without sounding arrogant. Do you think the dog simile describing how their eyes looked sounds nasty? I tried to follow it appropriately in showing compassion.




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