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UCF Admissions Essay--with A Free Essay Review
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Prompt: If there has been some obstacle or "bump in the road," in your academic or personal life, please explain the circumstances. What qualities or unique characteristics do you possess that would allow you to contribute to the UCF community?
In the past few years, my life has gone through many highs and lows that have affected my familys and my way of living and thinking. Two years ago my fathers interior design business went down the drain. Because of the economy, people werent looking to redesign their homes or build new ones. He had to look for another means of income to support my mother and myself. It took him an extremely long time to find a job and when he finally did, there was a catch; the position would only last for 16 months. But a job was a job and he took it. During that time we had to learn to cut back on everything. He was no longer making the level of income he was accustomed to with his interior design business. So of course, for me, going to a private high school, was a struggle. So we had to secure a sponsor to pay for my tuition my entire high school career. Having a sponsor made me work 10 times harder than ever. I was a hard worker before, but my course load had never been so high. I would do my homework in the three hours I spent riding to and from school. My sophomore year, things hit rock bottom. I had to quit dance because not only did it not give me enough time to do my school work, but most importantly, we couldnt afford it anymore; that really hit me hard. I no longer had a way to express my creativity; something that I had had my entire life. Dance was everything. It was the one place where I knew how to be myself. I didnt fit in with my middle school friends anymore. They had dumped me for cooler and more popular people. I found myself alone at school and everywhere else I went.
Now, youd think that all of these events would make me weak; but they didnt. They made me work harder at everything that I did. I had to reinvent myself. I became a leader in every activity that I participated in from Student Government to youth group. I took on tasks that I wouldnt have done before. I used my creativity to start drawing, painting, graphic design, and photography, earning me a first in merit in my art class my sophomore year. I took AP and honors classes. My good grades even got me an invitation to join and an acceptance into the National Honors Society. I started acting in plays and helping out at my local theater and with the school drama club. I joined the school swim team. Through all of these things that Ive done Ive learned a lot about myself. I learned that I can overcome any adversity. Even though my family and I went through hard times my sophomore year, so much that my grades suffered from it, I got myself back up on my feet. My family may not be out of its financial rut yet, but I have really made something of myself. Ive become a confident, euphoric, hard-working teenage girl. Im really proud of what I have done for myself, and I think you should give me a chance to show you what I can offer UCF.
Thank you for submitting your essay for review. It really is very good as far as it goes, but it doesnt go far enough. Can I suggest first that you read through some of my responses elsewhere on this site to college admissions essays, including the one posted today Essay Response for University of Florida (currently on the homepage, but thereafter you can just stick the title in the search bar). That will save me repeating what I think college admissions folk are looking for in this kind of essay. Of course in the prompt UCF ask you specifically: What qualities or unique characteristics do you possess that would allow you to contribute to the UCF community? You answer this question well, and as though it were asked in good faith. I think you should interpret it as also asking: How are you actually going to contribute to the UCF community? Applicants typically avoid that question not because its not explicitly asked, but because it appears to be a very difficult question to answer. What, after all, is this so-called community, and what does it mean to contribute to it? I just want, says the student, to go to college and earn a degree. Well, I think the first and most important answer to the question should pertain precisely to your wanting to earn a degree, or, more precisely, to your commitment to excellence as a student (the best way to contribute to an academic community, after all, is to be academically stellar). So explain what you want to do (what major), why you want to do it, why you want to do it at UCF, and why you are determined to do it very well. To clarify, I think your first two paragraphs are fine. You could, however, try to tell your tale a little more economically (i.e., in fewer words) to allow your weary reader the time to get to the final, crucial, and so far missing paragraph. You should also (and I really only have one specific criticism of this sort) change Because of the economy (third sentence) to something that makes sense (e.g., because of the downturn in the economy, or because of the recession, or because of the collapse in the real estate market). Okay, one more specific suggestion: delete the first sentence of your second paragraph (if your reader is actually thinking that, then they dont need you to tell them; and if they're not, it will just seem weird to suggest that they should).
Submitted by: elizabethmaryy