If you have read the “One Student’s Story” essays in On Course, you’ve seen what winning essays look like. Perhaps it would also help to see an example of an essay that has great potential but misses the mark:
Until I started my On Course class in June, I sat around and watched TV and blamed others for my failures. At the beginning of summer quarter, I was in an abusive relationship, was about 15 lbs. overweight, and didn’t have any real friends/activities. When I began reading On Course, I recognized a lot of my unhealthy behaviors and took action to correct them and make myself happier. I can’t say that it was solely the book that turned my life around, because it was me who decided to make the changes and took positive action. But On Course definitely helped me to make those corrections. My friends all make fun of me because I quote On Course all the time! I am all about being a Creator, spending my time in Quadrant II, and listening to my inner guide. I really feel like the tools the book presented to me will guide me through college and life.
What a great start on an inspiring essay! The problem is the author has been too vague in explaining 1) her challenges, 2) the On Course success strategies she used, and 3) the outcome she achieved. To be as effective as the winning essays, the author needs to…
1) Describe her specific challenges. For example, did she feel sorry for herself for not having friends and activities, which led to watching TV and snacking every night instead of doing homework, which led to failing marks in her math and English classes and gaining weight, which caused her to blame her teachers and feel even more sorry for herself? At what moment did she realize she was off course? What happened that caused the realization that she had to do something different to improve her life? By adding specific details such as these, readers can better understand her particular challenges and how they affected her both personally and academically.
2) Explain how she applied a specific On Course strategy to overcome her challenges. Even though she says, “On Course definitely helped me make those corrections,” readers don’t really learn how. For example, what specific Creator choices is the author now making: Did she choose to join a college club to meet new friends? What specific Quadrant II actions is she now taking: Instead of watching TV, is she studying every day for all of her classes, using a Next Actions list to keep her on course? And what specific guidance from her Inner Guide is she now hearing: Is her Inner Guide reminding her that when she feels unhappy, she can go for a walk with a friend rather than watch TV and eat?
3) Describe the specific improved results she created by her efforts. For example, what’s her present situation regarding the abusive relationship, what’s happened with her weight, and does she now have more “real friends/activities”? And, important for her readers (fellow college students), how did all of this affect her success in college?
In short, by adding more specifics, this writer could create a great essay that, when published in the On Course text, will be an inspiration to many thousands of college and university students in the future!
Cupertino Federated Women's Club
2018 ESSAY CONTEST Winning Essys
Open to all 6th grade students within the Cupertino School District:
Public, Private & Home Schools.
I have many talents. I am good at watching TV. I am good at “forgetting” to do my chores...But what I’m really good at..is talking. My talent is speaking or giving speeches. Ever since I was a kid I had loved talking. At age 2, I had started talking, and at age 12, I haven’t stopped yet! Talking has always come easily to me, and soon I realized that I was also pretty good at it. When? June 28, 2014. My parents had got in a fight, and I had wanted them to stop. So I opened my mouth, words bubbling up my throat. I cried,“ Stop fighting! Don’t waste this life by fighting over things like this! Instead, love and respect each other, because that is the meaning of being a true human being.” And with the power of my words, I had gotten my parents to stop fighting. It was then I realized how powerful my words could be. They could change someone's life! They had an impact on people. They inspired people. That day, I figured out that I was blessed with this awe-inspiring talent, and that I didn't want to waste it. So, I continued to speak at competitions and more. Once, I spoke for a local charity, with every word panging my heart, and speaking words truer than innocence. After I was done, a little girl came up to me and said, “After listening to your speech, I am going to donate all of my allowance to charity!” My words meant something, and actually changed that girl! We can all make a difference, and through my speaking, I could. I had made a difference that day. It might not have been big, but through my talent of speaking, I had made a difference.
A parrot. It can talk. It can sing. Some can even dance to music. A parrot can only create this magic. Talent is not only made by pure luck but also hard work, strength, and the ability to resist any obstacles that come in one’s way. My talents… There are a lot of things like writing, drawing, or singing, which come to my mind when I think of what my talent is. What I am mostly passionate about is dance. I have always been highly interested towards the art. My parents saw my interest and joined me in an Indian classical dance class. I realized that dance is something that needs to come from your heart. As I went to these classes, I understood that not only was I passionate but also very talented too. I was able to show every part that was needed. The expressions, the movements, were always really natural. I was so compassionate about what I was doing.
I realized that this was my actual talent. Dance has always been such an enjoyable thing to do for me. Whenever I am feeling bad or just need a refreshment, dance is just the thing. Just like the parrot, hardwork is always needed in something, even if you are really good at it. I think that the hidden talent you find and if you pursue towards that goal, you will always get success in that. There are lot of people who think they have no talent, but I believe that being a good human would be the biggest talent for everyone. Everyone has a talent, you just need to find it and enjoy what you do.
Do Talents Exist?
Everyone possesses different capabilities, like juggling or painting beautiful scenes. These are all considered “talents.” Are they really? Talents naturally come. Even if a skill comes easily to someone, he/she would not be capable of the skill if he/she had never heard of it. For example, take my piano playing.
I first played piano with an instructor at almost six years old, in Melody Academy of Music. There, I learnt the basics of piano. My next step was playing privately with an instructor using the family-owned piano. Unfortunately, none of my instructors lasted long. Each one never taught me for more than a year. After my third instructor was finished with tutoring me, I was ready to stop. I did not want to deal with more unfamiliar methods.
I started to play the piano mainly when I was unhappy. If homework was too difficult or my sister too annoying, I would sit on the piano bench, open a musical book, and start to play. Doing this became a great source of comfort.
After two years, I was ready to learn again. By myself, I was developing bad habits, such as incorrect finger patterns. My new tutor taught me more familiar techniques, but her time was not convenient. The final instructor connected my first three tutors’ methods like the fourth and added piano theory, something that I was missing. Theory explained different patterns so that I could play the piano easier.
At twelve years of age, I can now play Danube Waves, Für Elise and other pieces that would have been impossible for me to play before. Other capabilities require practice as well; they do not come naturally, like talents do. It might take days, months, or years for someone to perfect a skill. So do talents truly exist?
1. Length: 150 to 300 words relevant to the topic.
2. Essay may be written in ink on ruled paper with a space between lines, use only one side of paper. A computer may be used (double spaced lines and on one side of paper).
3. Important!!! Write your name, address, phone number, name of school & teacher
in upper right hand corner. All information is strictly confidential.
4. Judging criteria will include: content, gramer, spelling & following instructions.
5. Paper must be sent to address below & received by January 31st, 2018 to be
eligible for prizes.
PRIZES: First Place: = $ 50.00
Second Place = $ 35.00
Third Place = $ 20.00
Mail to: CFWC
Attn: Essay Contest
P O Box 1103
Cupertino CA 95015-1103
or send by to.....
Email: Mardi Schleigh at: firstname.lastname@example.org