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College Essay: Topic A: Someone Who Has Made An Impact

Write an essay in which you tell us about someone who has made an impact on your life and explain how and why this person is important to you.

A story is told as much by silence as by speech. The same can be said for a father's advice. My father has given me advice on many an occasion, but one piece stands out amongst the rest: work hard even if you don't like it. I would watch as he broke his back for something as simple as mowing the lawn. His actions alone had such a profound influence on me that I carry his words to this day.

Three short months after my seventeenth birthday, I had my first job secured and in-hand. Work wasn't anything glorious. Days dragged by deathly slow and blurred into one another the way muck spreads on a window. Monotony set in without a queue each time I clocked in. From there, it seemed like pulling teeth and it wasn't until a few weeks in that I found myself thinking, “What would my father do in this situation?” Slowly, I began to think to myself about the effort I put into doing my job as a cashier and how I approached that effort on a day-to-day basis.

One month into my first job and I had a system for everything I had to do. Check on carts every twenty minutes, pull abandons every hour, restock when there is only two of the item left. I was starting to work hard on something I did not have a strong liking and it felt good. Realization crept up on me like the changing of seasons. My father worked hard because it made him feel good, despite the fact that he may not like what he was doing. Accomplishment was the word that jumped into my mind and accomplishment is the word that made an unbearable job choice, bearable.

I've heard it said to gain experience, a test is given first and it isn't until after the test that the lesson is learned. Never had I thought that such a simple thing as working hard could have such a profound affect in such a short time. Simply by showing me, my father changed my outlook, rather than having to tell me. To him, all I can say is thank you.


Essay Review

There's nothing wrong with the basic argument of your essay: your father had an impact on your life by teaching you the value of hard work. And the lesson in this case is a bit more interesting than the usual lesson about hard work (the nonsense about hard work enabling us to do anything). I suppose if anything important is missing here it would be an insight into the value of that lesson outside the specific circumstances described in the essay. You speak in the end of a "profound effect [note the spelling correction]" but the essay doesn't really convince me of the profundity of the effect. You learned that you can feel good doing a horrible job well. Can you explain how you think that lesson will benefit you outside the retail store job?

The other problem with the essay is the writing itself. It looks a bit like you are trying too hard to sound literary. The opening paragraph, for example, is just a little too confusing. It's not clear to me whether you are saying your father gave you advice without speaking (in which case, why say that you "carry his words to this day"?) or whether the advice came in the form of words (in which case, why all the stuff about the communicative efficacy of silence?). I'm also confused initially by the reference to your father's back-breaking work. I suppose it is possible that one might break one's back (literally or figuratively) mowing the lawn, but some explanation fo the event would be helpful.

Best, EJ.

P.S. Please note that we are now asking students to submit no more than one essay per day.
Submitted by: sowens

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