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Penn For Pennsylvanians - With A Free Essay Review



I remember starting to look around for the college that would fit me towards the middle of my sophomore year in high school. Through the perfunctory visits hours of searching, I figured I would have to settle. I knew I eventually wanted to be a doctor, so an undergraduate degree wasn’t of paramount importance (or so I thought).

Through providence, the answer I came for literally was literally spat at me. I was a sophomore at the NCFL’s national forensics competition for debate, and my senior friend (Mike) also there for extemporaneous speaking. He was ecstatic he was accepted to Penn. Curious, I grilled him on the university and details. Almost hooked, I knew I’d have to see the University for Itself to disprove what I thought were Mike’s tall tales.

The first opportunity came in my junior year with the very first Ben Franklin Invitational for high school mock trial. That afternoon and night, I knew I wanted to be in Philly after taking in sights like the banks of the Schuylkill River at dusk and city hall glimmering in the moonlight. With baited breath, I saw the University and instantly knew that I had found my second home.

Just like first family, my relationship will be one of growth and sharing with the University. Next year, I candidly hope to be working on my chemistry major in the College of Arts and Sciences. What makes Penn special is its crucial attention to detail and encouragement of interdisciplinary study.

I say this because “interdisciplinary” is probably the best word to describe my educational experiences to date. I’ve taken classes like AP chemistry an AP calculus in school with gusto, but I also pursued other, opposite forms of enrichment. While balancing seemingly endless equations, I also balanced debate, mock trial, and foreign language club. Through determination and skill, I was able to make it to the state competitions in all of these clubs while balancing my academic interests.

Chemists tend to have a bit of a problem: things that aren’t chemistry. Besides research, verbalizing and circulating one’s findings with the public is the most difficult part of science. I believe I can play a role in helping close this “communication gap”.

Like the University itself, I can proudly say that my schedule will be incredibly diverse. It could very well have a chemistry course next to one analyzing the works of James Joyce. In a sense, my fresh perspective is one of the many things I can give back to Penn. I know that only the preeminent students are accepted, and looking at scientific issues with an artistic angle or analyzing art with empirical precision are two talents that one body usually cannot hold.

As far as I’m concerned, I’ll control the reins of my destiny at Penn. If accepted, I plan to receive my undergraduate degree by and move on to my doctoral degree in medicine. From there, I plan to work in under-privileged areas in the Philadelphia area. The University is an remarkable place, and I hope it has room for everybody who deserves admission.

______________________________

ESSAY REVIEW

I don’t think the first three paragraphs succeed. There is not enough of a story here to justify your attempt to write a “quest narrative.” The story is prolix and, to be frank, a little bit banal, and all I really take away from the first two paragraphs are these two facts: you are interested in debate, and you have a fondness for exaggerated expression. You could accomplish the first by saying “I am interested in debate” and you should avoid accomplishing the second. Of course, one has to start somewhere, and it would not be unreasonable to start with something like “My first opportunity to visit Penn came etc.” and perhaps move from their to your discovery of what makes Penn the place you want to spend the next few years of your life (but have you considered the winters!?)

I think if you are interested in interdisciplinary study, you ought to say something like “I am interested in interdisciplinary study” (and perhaps explain why) instead of saying “‘interdisciplinary’ is ... the best word to describe my education.” In any case, what you describe of your educational experiences is not an example interdisciplinarity but of just pursuing different interests. “Interdisciplinarity” means something like working at the intersection of different fields. I take it, though, that what you really do want to describe is that you enjoy pursuing different interests. Perhaps Penn will allow you to do that in an coherent, interdisciplinary way, and that might be something to aspire to, but I would begin, here, with simply explaining that and why you have diverse interests, even if your first love (since you also need to prioritize) is science. That said, I like the “balancing equations” while “balancing [different interests”] sentence. It is clever.

Also clever is “Chemists tend to have a bit of a problem: things that are chemistry.” That’s perhaps clever enough to use as an opening sentence. Doing that might help you establish at the outset a topic for your essay: balancing different interests. Having a topic like that will give your essay greater coherence, and will give you, as the writer, a sense of what you need to do in the essay: construct, from the beginning, sentences and paragraphs that contribute to an understanding of the importance of “balance” in your educational endeavors and in your choice of Penn.

I think, ultimately, that you figured out what you were writing your essay about only when you got to the middle of the essay. The essay will be stronger on revision, then, because you will now know from the beginning what it’s really about.

Usage:

Some people literally explode, figuratively speaking, with undue frustration when they encounter a sentence that uses the word “literally” figuratively, so I would want to avoid doing that once, and more so twice, in a sentence to be read by who knows what kind of dangerously volatile pedant.

“Paramount” will do for “of paramount importance,” and “hope” will do for “candidly hope” (economy of expression being prudent in times of recession when people are less generous with their time).

Finally, your breath should have been bated rather than baited, since baited breath is the kind of breath that is deliberately and maliciously perfumed by evil cats (cats are evil!) to lure unwary prey. As the poet saith:

Sally, having swallowed cheese,

Directs down holes the scented breeze,

Enticing thus with baited breath

Nice mice to an untimely death.

[from Geoffrey Taylor’s “Cruel Clever Cat”; that the author of such sublime verse should have been overlooked for the Nobel prize is a travesty beyond compare or comprehension]

Best, EJ.
Submitted by: DWH
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