RHSmith

New Member
Joined
Jan 1, 2021
Messages
1
The question for my essay was:
Do you have any personal life experiences where you have overcome adversity or challenges that have shaped you into the person you are today?

I was mostly focused on creating a balance between my personal experience and leadership philosophy. I really wanted to write an essay that would be short and to the point, while also being somewhat inspiring in order to make my application stand out.

Please let me know if you have any suggestions or tips that could help.


Essay:
One of the greatest learning experiences in my life came from my first year of high school marching band. My school's band program had been struggling for years, until my freshman year when we received a new director. Mr. Miller was a professional who didn't take time to coddle anybody. We quickly got used to strict rehearsals as well as rigorous physical and mental expectations. Rain or ice, we were out on the marching field, intent on going to state.

Our greatest challenge, however, was not a new director, but a number of upperclassmen unwilling to cooperate. Eventually, I realized that in the absence of leadership, it was time for me to step up. With the help of other dedicated members, I found that we were able to challenge everyone to better themselves. I learned that to truly succeed, we had to stop working as individuals and cooperate as a team. I learned that if the team is weak, it is because the leaders are failing to help those who are falling behind. Ultimately, leadership is about caring for the members of the team. When our first contest came around, we surprised everyone by making the top 5.

In the end, we came up just short of state, which was devastating, but taught me another lesson: victory does not make one stronger, learning from failure does.

The whole experience taught me many things about life. Every individual is instrumental to the team, so if one fails, we all fail. Every team member is responsible for the shortfalls of the other because there is always something that can be done to help each other along. Lastly, a few victories do not guarantee triumph, a commitment to outwork the competition does.

We may not have gone to state then, but next year is a state year, and our band will be there. I am sure of this because our leaders are committed to outwork, outlearn, and outlead every other school.
 

venezuela

Member
Joined
Dec 18, 2020
Messages
18
It looks good, especially the part about leadership. The most engaging essays begin with some sort of hook, so if any changes are necessary it would be an added intro or hook so you don't outright restate the prompt in the first sentence. Good luck!
 

Don't Give Up the Ship

BGO, USNA 2023 Dad & Former Navy/Merchant Officer
Joined
Jun 21, 2018
Messages
842
I like it. Perhaps in the end of the essay connect your teamwork lessons to your continuing to learn about leadership while a Cadet.
 

HCopter

Parent USAFA DD 2024
5-Year Member
Joined
May 16, 2017
Messages
665
@RHSmith I commend you and all candidates who come to SAF seeking to better themselves. It's much more fun here than on the FB parents pages with nonsense the other parents post.

The main 2 people you should ask to review your essay are

1. Current, 11th grade English teacher. This is what they do best! Plus, you are signaling your intent to apply for SAs, and to put in his mind that you will want him for "first mover advantage" since nom and SA applications are typically much earlier than others. Go on your fact finding mission - does your school require all students to have an essay approved by the English department prior to college applications? If so, this could be the one - use for adversity essay, tell me a time you failed, or the catch-all write an essay about anything.
2. Mr. Miller. After you get a very hard edit and go through a few drafts. You will likely be asking him for an optional letter of recommendation.

I strongly discourage you from asking anonymous people for essay advice. We don't know you, and you don't know the expertise of others offering you advice. And even if we did have tremendous expertise, we don't know you.

That said, here is some general advice. Can't stress enough to ask your 11th grade English teacher. If one of the recommendations is to start over, that's something to seriously consider. My 2 cents: I see issues with format, focus, content, and some phrasing. No need for 5 paragraphs for a 350-ish word essay. Look carefully at the prompt - it is asking for your personal story, not an essay citing your leadership philosophy. The essay says nothing about you, I don't know you any better. The prompt tells you the emphasis: "personal experiences", "you overcame", "shaped you", "person you are today". The essay should be all about you. SHOW, don't TELL. You're not Socrates, you're a 17-18 high schooler. I'm much rather read a story, drop-the-needle style, standing next to you in the rain/ice on the marching field...set the stage, tell me the problem, and go from there. You need never specifically tell me your leadership philosophy, but SHOW me through your story.
 

crymsonwynters

USAFA CS-33 "King Ratz"
Joined
Jul 27, 2019
Messages
217
+1 to HCopter

None of us know you as well as your current English teacher does, so we're not going to be able to know your story as well as they will. That being said, here's my thoughts:

You've got a great grasp on connecting a tangible problem to a learning experience, and you've done a good job of explaining how you grew and what you learned from the experience.

That being said, I didn't hear anything about the steps that you took to motivate these seniors and grow into a leadership role. Academies want to see essays written in "problem, action, solution" format. You have problem and solution, but you don't have action. You ought to describe the path that you took to solve the problem. I'd much rather see that than several paragraphs about solution.

I'd be happy to proof-read it further if and when you make any edits. Just PM me if you'd like that
 
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