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National Honor Society Application - With A Free Essay Review
I spent the first fifteen years of my life on the sidelines. Socially awkward and embarrassed by my own insecurities, I shied away from almost any group or social activity. Ecuador changed my entire life. Through my volunteer work there during a summer trip with members of my Spanish class, I became confident in myself as not only a person, but as a member of my community and the world. Without that experience, I doubt that I would be here typing this to you today.
Fighting away the flies as my sister, teacher, friends, and myself climbed up the side of a mountain on a rainy afternoon in Ecuador, I selfishly wondered why we were being forced to help a man we had never even met. As we planted more than one-hundred trees over the span of a few hours, working side by side with the impoverished people there, I learned more about the world than in the fifteen years I had spent in my own backyard. I learned about their sense of humor; I learned how to feed stray chickens and pet them; I learned how to care about a stranger. After we were finished planting the trees, I was excited to start repainting the house of a man who climbed to the top of the mountain simply to get ice for his village. At the end of my time spent in Ecuador, I had a newfound desire to help those in need, however and whenever possible.
As soon as I came home, I once again began volunteering at ****** Hospital, only now I worked with a new vigor. I volunteered behind the scenes in the Workers Compensation department for almost forty hours in a six week span, organizing files that had not been touched in over a decade. My goal in doing this was to help the hospital transition into a new era of data storage – the “digital switch”. Although most volunteers did not want to work in the Compensation department, I embraced the opportunity to do something the hospital sincerely needed. My service there taught me about character and continuing with a job until it was completed.
In addition to my work at the hospital, I also became more involved in school, focusing on my interests and potential career paths. I spent two years as Spanish club treasurer, and hope to continue next year as president if the club is reinstated. I spent my sophomore year photographing and writing stories for the yearbook, then transferred over to newspaper for my junior and senior year. I love the ability to voice the news for the entire school, and the fact that people can read, critique, and improve my work on a frequent basis. These experiences on both the yearbook and newspaper have helped me immensely to grow as a writer and an artist.
School presented another opportunity to get involved and help in any way possible. By the end of this year, I will have spent 90 hours working in the office and guidance center during my 1st period class, assisting both Mrs. **** and Mrs. ********** in secretarial services such as answering phones, sorting through mail, and giving tours to new students. I find it rewarding to represent Northview, and I genuinely enjoy having the ability to give somebody a tour and first impression of our school.
Throughout my high school life, I developed an immense passion for nutrition. Losing over thirty pounds took me from obesity to a healthy weight range, taught me about self-control and patience, and inspired me to help others do the same. My dream career is to go into the field of dietetics and help young kids suffering from childhood obesity.
Work has also been a large part of my high school life. Since the my freshman year, I have worked at a seasonal ice cream store called ******* during the spring, summer and fall months. Beginning as a new employee, I quickly began gaining more responsibility and respect throughout the company. I began training new employees, taking photographs for their Facebook page, working full day shifts when needed, and developing a 54 page manual when I finally decided to leave for a new job as a Hostess at *******.
Although I have just started at my new job, I hope to carry the lessons I have learned from ****** into my new career, and hope to have the same success here that I had for years at *******.
Thank you for the nomination into the National Honor Society; it is, truly, an honor. I am grateful to have been accepted into this first step of the program, and hope that you will consider my application.
This is a very good essay, and probably fine for its purposes as it stands. I cannot say that with any certainty, because I know nothing about the application process and nothing about what this essay is expected to accomplish. But it is obviously a good essay, so my comments will be brief, and I leave it up to you to determine whether they are worth acting on.
Now you say at the end of your second paragraph that you "had a newfound desire to help those in need, however and whenever possible," but you don't explain the source of that desire. That will seem like a strange thing for me to say, since in that paragraph you have just described the experience that led to that new desire. Still, the connection between the experience and the desire is not articulated. One could imagine another person having the same experience and coming to the realization that helping people directly in this way was a waste of time. There are billions of people on the planet feeding chickens, and hauling ice, and painting houses. One might then think that in the grand scheme of things helping these people is meaningless; one can only do it for so long before getting tired and bored and wanting to head back to a comfortable fly-free house with four bedrooms and three baths. And if one were inspired to do something, it might be to enter politics, or join the revolution, or protest in Washington, or become a journalist and chronicle the world's injustices. You were inspired to help people and institutions directly. You volunteered at a hospital and at school. You wanted "to get involved and help in any way possible." So you end up doing data entry, secretarial work, and tours. My question is simple: why did you take this path? What about your experience made you want to do that? What made you think it a good or useful or pleasurable thing to do? You state what happened, but you don't explain it.
One of the reasons that your essay is vague about the connection between your experience in Ecuador and what you started doing when you got back is that your essay is vague about what you learned. Your essay is also a little bit vague about what you learned from your subsequent experiences. (Note: usually, in other reviews, when I say "a little bit vague," I just mean "vague"; but here I mean "a little bit vague"!). A lot of essays of this kind don't include specific statements about what the author has learned. Yours does, and that's good. Let's look at two specific examples:
1. My service there taught me about character and continuing with a job until it was completed
2. My time at ******* taught me an immense lesson about responsibility; patience, both with customers and new staff; character; and sticking with something you care about.
Regarding the first of these examples, it's not clear to me what you mean here by "character" and it seems to me that there's not a whole lot to learn about "continuing with a job until it's completed" beyond the fact that that is usually (not always!) a good thing to do. Perhaps you mean to suggest a connection between character and finishing a job, but you don't articulate any such connection explicitly. If you said, for instance, that "continuing even a tedious job until it is completed is satisfying and has helped me develop the strength of character needed to finish what I start and so become someone capable of making serious commitments," well, then I'd know what you were talking about.
Regarding the second example, essentially the same problem arises. Responsibility and patience and (again!) character are certainly good things, but presumably you knew that banal fact before you served your first ice-cream. What did you actually learn about these things? Did you learn how to embody those virtues? Did you learn about the concrete value of patience? Did you learn generally about the rewards of virtue? It is said, of course, that virtue is its own reward, but I hope in your case you also get accepted into the National Honor Society.
Best wishes, EJ.