essay tips?

Discussion in 'Naval Academy - USNA' started by jester0110, Aug 16, 2010.

  1. jester0110

    jester0110 Member

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    Hi guys. I am a rising senior and have started writing essays for my nominations. I just wanted to post it here and see if any experienced alumni or anyone else can give me tips on how to improve my essay. Thanks!

    EDIT: I was asked to write about what makes me a good candidate for the Naval Academy and I decided to write about my perseverance, dedication, and hard-working character in my essay. Also, the maximum length of the essay was to be no more than 2 pages.


    The cheers echoed in the background. I could barely stand, as if my legs were made of rubber. I watched as the starter reloaded his gun with blanks. I could hear my heart beating - growing louder and louder as each second seemed like an hour. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the starter motioned for us to get ready. I positioned myself in the starting block, breathing deeply to calm myself. I looked at my coach one last time as she gave me a wink, telling me I was going to do fine. I closed my eyes and all the sounds that echoed throughout the track suddenly stopped. All I could hear were my heartbeat and my breath. Time slowed as I stayed ready, waiting for the starter to pull the trigger, waiting to hear the familiar sound of the gun that would tell me to start running. Finally, I heard it. My legs instinctively pushed off the blocks as the crack of the gun reverberated throughout the track. I pushed myself harder than I had ever before as my legs took me over the first hurdle, then the next, then the next, until finally, I had finished – I had finished my first district race.
    Track & field had never been of particular interest to me because I had played soccer for many years and I considered that to be my only sport; however, when I first saw track & field at Oakton HS, I was instantly hooked. The sport looked so pure – no cheating, no arguing – just your heart, dedication, and effort that you showed in races around the track. Although I was the fastest runner in my class during elementary and middle school, I quickly realized that I was nowhere near the level that I thought I was on compared to other high school athletes. However, I set a goal to be on the varsity team. I persevered, practicing with the varsity team even though I could not hit the times that they were running; and on most days, I would do two workouts – training with the sprinters first and then training with the mid distance runners after. Being the only athlete on the team to do this, most people told me I was crazy; however, persevering and working hard for two years, I finally got my chance and was able to compete at the district meet during my junior year. Using this same dedication, I am determined to rise to the top at the United States Naval Academy and shine as the military leader that I believe the Naval Academy will help me achieve.
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2010
  2. usna1985

    usna1985 USNA Alumnus

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    It might help to know what the question is -- IOW, on what topic were you asked to write? And what is the max length?

    Also, I suggest that those who wish to respond do so via PM. It's not fair to the OP to have people "take shots at" his/her essay in public. Some excellent advice you learn as a Naval Officer: Commend in public and criticize in private. Please heed that here.
     
  3. jester0110

    jester0110 Member

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    Thank you. I edited my post to explain what I was asked to write about and the maximum length.
     
  4. AcademyFriend1

    AcademyFriend1 Member

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    Posting as a teacher here--ditto on the above comment--what is the question? Also, there are a fair amount of cliches in the first part of what you have written ("legs like rubber" "minutes like hours" etc). I would suggest editing with an eye to removing cliches (if your legs shook or trembled, I would say it without the simile) and toning down the figurative language. Without doing a line edit, the concluding word "achieve" is misplaced there--it can be replaced by " become". On the bright side, I think using an example (your track experience) to illustrate qualities of your character (eg perseverance) is a good general approach.
     
  5. aglages

    aglages Parent

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    General advice to anyone writing essays: back in the days when we rode dinosaurs to school and wrote essays with pencil and paper (before re-copying it with pen), we were taught to write the essay prompt at the top of the page and to continually refer back to it to make sure we stayed on topic. Not a criticism of the OPs essay just hopefully helpful FREE advice. :thumb:
     
  6. osdad

    osdad Member

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    The best advice I ever got re: writing was:

    Monday:

    HS Teacher: "Class, write a 3 page paper on th esubject of your choice. Due Friday"

    Class: "Damn"

    Friday:

    HS Teacher: "Ok class, take the paper home and make it a two page paper. Due Monday."

    Class: "Damn"

    Monday:

    HS Teacher" "Ok class, take the paper home and make it a one page paper. Due Friday."

    Class: "Damn."

    Friday:

    HS Teacher: "Ok class, read the first and last essay and decide which is better."

    Class: "Damn - she actually knows what's she's talking about.
     
  7. MIDNDAD

    MIDNDAD Member

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    You need to understand that your essay will be one of many that will be read. You have about 10-15 seconds in the inital read to capture the readers attention and generate interest in what else you have written about yourself. You have roughly 500 words to write with and show passion as to why you are special and deserve entrance into the Naval Academy.

    Bluntly, what you have written so far does not cut it. The first pargraph is fluff and only in the second paragraph do you eventually get to your main point. I would suggest you find and utilize someone that can write well and ask them to help you refine your essay. This can be a parent, teacher, pastor, whomever. You need to write the essay yourself and ask them to help you to refine and edit. Do not be surprised if this process may take a couple of weeks till you get the final product.
     
  8. bikndave

    bikndave Member

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    osdad - you have me laughing out loud!

    thanks,

    dave
     
  9. MJOmom

    MJOmom Member

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    What are you thinking???? Putting what is supposed to be a private essay up on a public forum for critique by ... whom? Here's two cents worth of advice (and may not even be worth that!)

    Write from the heart, then get someone you trust (and actually know!!!) to edit it and give you feedback ... perhaps an English teacher at your school. Your essay should be in your own "Voice" ... a term I'm sure you've heard at school. High school teachers are/should be tuned into the entire college application process. They may not be familiar with USNA ... but they do or should know about college essays in general. That is a much better way to go ...
     
  10. webtalker

    webtalker New Member

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    1. Search the topic: should not be a long process. Google the topic you need to write and watch five or ten sites. It should give you an idea of god that is needed to fully explore the topic.

    2. Understanding the Essay Type: there are many different types of essays and your instructor may request a certain one. Make sure you understand what is required for this test and you wrote the right one ....
     
  11. Memphis9489

    Memphis9489 Parent

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    I think the essay is a bit too melodramatic.

    I got the feeling I was "watching" the trailer for an upcoming movie.

    Nearly half the essay is simply describing you in the blocks at the beginning of a race. Really?

    Too much fluff - not enough substance.
     
  12. USNA1982BGO

    USNA1982BGO Retired Staff Member

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    Way too liberal artsy. I stopped reading after the 2nd sentence (blunt, but truthful and I've been reading these things for over 10 years).
    Stick to military, technical type writing. Answer the question directly, use examples of how goals were accomplished. If you have to, keep going back and reading the question; are you giving them the answer?
    You are applying to a service academy, not Emerson College for creative writing. Keep STEM in mind :thumb: as you write your essays!
    Best of Luck!
     
  13. jester0110

    jester0110 Member

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    I ended up rewriting my whole essay and got my offer of appointment about a month ago! thanks for all the tips though! :)
     
  14. Mongo

    Mongo Banned

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    LOL. jester, some Academy grads might be a little slow but eventually they get the job done. Congratulations.
     
  15. USNA1982BGO

    USNA1982BGO Retired Staff Member

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    Not slow, just good to give this thread a bump while the new round is beginning their applications. :shake:
     
  16. Memphis9489

    Memphis9489 Parent

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    I would say the two most important things in writing the essay is to be 1) Intelligent and 2) Interesting.

    Intelligent - Make sure there are no misspellings and your punctuation is correct. Use correct grammar and sentence structure. It should be logical and flow naturally. Address the question.

    Interesting - I don't mean you have to be flashy. Find a way to say what you need to say, keeping in mind that the person reading your essay has probably already read 100 essays that day. Avoid cliches. Try to stand out without being cheesy. Don't be boring.
     

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