Always keep in mind the purpose of the Common Application essay . The college admissions folks want to get to know you as a person. Along with grades and test scores, they will be using more subjective and holistic information as they make their decision about whether to admit a student or not. Richard succeeds in making a good impression. He is a strong writer; his essay has an engaging voice; he seems mature and self-aware; and most important of all, he seems like the type of student who would be a positive addition to the campus community.
Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn?
Failure is an inevitable part of life. We cannot be successful in everything we partake in. Personally, how successful one becomes is dependent on the method he or she uses to overcome adversity and failure. If Thomas Edison had given up on the light bulb, we could be still living in darkness today. However, I now look towards something much less significant than that -- my own experience of failure, one that has stood out among every other failure and success I have gone through. I massively flunked my mid-term exams back in Secondary 4 at age 15. I should make clear that this was not my most debilitating failure, nor was this the event that has left the biggest dent in my confidence. However, this failure was, without a doubt, the most significant in my life. It completely changed the way I approached not only my academics, but life in general.
It all started innocuously enough. New topics were hurled at me like proverbial missiles. I thought I could grasp the concepts quickly enough. My approach was to wing it and cram at the last minute. Compared to my peers, I was quite relaxed. Little did I know that the transition I had to make would be equivalent to the Brunei Bay -- huge, largely undiscovered, and very threatening to whoever was not sufficiently prepared for it. I quickly found out for myself that such a simple miscalculation of judgment could result in dire consequences. As I took the first batch of exams, it hit me like a truck-- Secondary 4 was no playground. Where were the straightforward questions that I was used to? Why were the papers dominated by free-response questions? Questions were swirling around my head akin to the inside of a washing machine. I was confused and dazed but not worried. I was still confident that I could pull it off.
Believe it or not, I did manage to pull it off-...