I almost like Prompt #2 as much as Prompt #1 of the new essay questions for The Common Application: The lessons we take from failure can be fundamental to later success. Recountan incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn.
This essay prompt is music to my storytelling ears!
Why? Because first it literally asks you to tell a story (“recount an incident or time”) in your essay, which I think creates the most engaging and meaningful essays!
And secondly, it wants you to tell a story about a time you “failed.”
I know you might think the last thing you want to tell your college about is a time you screwed up, but it’s actually perfect.
Well, a failure is a type of problem, and a terrific one at that.
Problems (including failures) are naturally interesting to read about—who doesn’t love a juicy problem?
It’s much more fun to read about things that go wrong than when they go smoothly.
Think about the news, or your favorite movie or T.V. show!“Our greatest glory is not in never failing,
So right out the door, this prompt is setting you up to find a compelling story about “a time” you failed, which you can then use to explain how you recovered and what you learned in the process.
That is essay gold!
The beauty of writing about a time you failed at something is that you also naturally present yourself as very human, humble and vulnerable, and someone with the maturity to recognize when you messed up.
You almost can’t help but come across as a very likable person (as opposed to students who write about their accomplishments and achievement, which risk them coming across as “all that” and not so likable.)
The more I think about it, I couldn’t have come up with a better prompt to help you write a standout essay about yourself!
The key, I believe, is to spend a few minutes expanding your definition of failure to see how may directions you could take this essay.
Literally, it means “lack of success.”
Note that it does not mean a complete failure, as in failing a test and getting an F.
It’s more the idea that you tried something, and for whatever reason it didn’t work out.
You didn’t have to experience a total flop, or a catastrophe or a complete defeat. Also, the reason whatever you tried wasn’t a success could have been your fault, or not your fault. It could have been someone else’s fault, or the fault of the situation.
In fact, there doesn’t even have to be anyone or anything to blame—as long as you turned a problematic (challenging, difficult, unpleasant) experience into something positive.
So try to expand your idea of what failure means when you think of past experiences you could relate as stories (incidents or times) in your essay.
I would suggest not even looking for a time you “failed,” but a time you didn’t succeed, or win, or finish, or complete something, or get what you wanted, or do what was expected, or when something went sideways, or you changed something about yourself.
I can think back to some great essays written by past students that could have addressed this prompt.
One student wrote about his love of tying knots and how he got stuck in a tree; and how he used his problem-solving skills to get down.
That could have been a failure.
Another student wrote about not getting the star role in a school musical, and what she learned playing a less important role. Another failure.
If you wrote about a phobia or bad habit–that’s a failure (to deal with it or get over it).
The more I think about it, a failure can be construed as almost any type of problem that you either thought you couldn’t get over or solve or handle. If you want to try to write about this prompt, I would suggest you read my Jumpstart Guide or even better, try How to Write a College Application Essay in 3 Steps .
Just keep in mind all the ways a “failure” can be the same thing as a problem when you read it. Both these posts will also tell you how to use a story about that problem, in the form of an anecdote, to write your essay.
I never thought failure could sound so sweet!
If you want help on The Common Application’s Prompt #1, read THIS POST .
If you want help on The Common Application’s Prompt #4, read THIS POST .
Tomorrow I’m writing about how Oprah Winfrey talked about the nature of failure in the commencement address she gave the 2013 graduating class at Harvard University this past weekend.
You will see another reason it makes a great topic!
If you want some AWESOME advice, and ideas on how to think about the nature of failure, watch this short video:Check Out These Related Posts!
Franklin—a small, suburban town in Massachusetts—was the setting of my faintest, earliest memories. My neighborhood, as I remember, consisted of tiny rooms filled with antiquated furniture and bizarre noises of the Cantonese dialect and broken English. I could only see my father once a week because of his strenuous schedule as a restaurant cook, while my mother could not work because of her severe back pain. At the age of ten, instead of play dates, I went to my local library, held my own language classes, and read to myself and my younger brother in Mandarin. At an early age, I learned the value of knowledge and solitude.
However, despite financial hardships, I got the opportunity to “travel.” During a repertory orchestra rehearsal, the orchestra tuned and warmed up; in front of all the noise, the conductor raised her baton, and suddenly, noise became music. Through this music, while I lead my section into a crescendo, I envisioned myself in 19 th century Germany. Likewise, while I proudly walked onto the stage of Boston Symphony Hall, I imagined myself walking up Italy’s Florence Cathedral’s altar. When I arrived home, I sat in my room and remembered my brief career as an amateur English teacher in Malaysia and as my ears heeded to the foreign, melodic prayer that an Imam proclaimed, I sat with a peaceful mind and fascination of the utter beauty of Malaysian Muslim culture.
I initially traveled to Malaysia to volunteer and tutor disadvantaged children, and although I did teach, I still managed to learn not only about the lives of disadvantaged children but also about myself as a low-income student. Despite an unkempt living environment, Hon Ming and Saran, two orphaned middle school boys were brighter than any students I had ever known not because of their high grades, but because of their resilient diligence. They didn’t have examples to follow—a role model to lead them on the right path. They discovered it on their own. They reminded me that, “with a good education, anything is possible.” Indeed, their conviction rose to become my own.
Weeks later, on June 6 th. I exclaimed, “Mom, I got the CIEE scholarship to go on an exchange program to Korea.”
“I knew you’d get it,” she remarked. “Now we have to figure out what you’re going to pack.”
However, I had already packed my belongings: my previous experiences “abroad.” Through my various travels, I was able to globalize my local views. I was able to see and accept new ideas and people because I saw more than what was in front me. Whether real or unreal, my ventures into Germany, China, Malaysia, and Korea have left me continuously gripped with a proclivity for knowledge and education. My real voyages of discovery consisted not of seeing new people or hearing new ideas, but in having new eyes to journey for the unknown.
My overseas experiences abroad in Malaysia and South Korea not only uprooted my cultural awareness, but also immersed me within Malaysian and Korean culture. As I walked down the city streets of Ipoh and Seoul conversing with students, street vendors and my host brother, I realize that it’s these nuances of cross-cultural interaction that have made me become more culturally sensitive and aware. I am now able to see and accept new ideas and people because I saw more than what was in front me. However, my real voyages of discovery in life consisted not of seeing new people or hearing new ideas, but in having new eyes to journey for the unknown. With a new multicultural lens, I hope to positively contribute to my host family and new community.
Advice from Nick:
Keep rewriting essay drafts. This was probably my sixth or seventh essay draft, and I still even had to constantly revise everything. Try to revise it until you think it’s your best work and until you feel that it represents you. This essay portion is the chance for them to see who YOU are. With that said, it’s who YOU are and what you have learned and how you’ve matured, so don’t copy anyone’s essay. That’s happened before. It would not be pleasant to be blacklisted from every college and QuestBridge.
Utilize the people in your group—become friends! I’ve made so many friends already. Be you and be real.
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underline the most important sentence in the article.
Before we begin our critical reading strategies…
Throughout the rest of our course…
Ted Talk – “Beethoven the businessman”
SAT Passage Excerpt:
Beethoven’s birthplace, Bonn, no doubt proved a favorable soil for the propagation of new ideas. The unrest pervading all classes, an outcome of the Revolution, showed itself among the more serious-minded in increased intellectuality, and a reaching after higher things. The beauty in music had been sufficiently exploited by Mozart and Haydn. Beethoven demonstrated that music had a higher function than that of mere beauty, or the simple act of giving pleasure… It is the best office of art, of Beethoven’s art in particular, that it leads ever onward and upward; that it acts not only on the aesthetic and moral sense, but develops the mental faculties as well…
Descriptive Writing A beautiful landscape or natural scene. beautiful laundrette" deserting. Sign up to view the whole essay and download the PDF for.
The essay prompt. The SAT® essay question. I would have allowed the destruction of a beautiful forest & a. More essay prompts. View essay prompts from the.
Read actual questions from students about the application essay and see. to see if the essays reveal important personal qualities or. your view of the world.
And this made for the 'perfect' movie. A Beautiful Mind was by far the. from Nash's own point of view. A beautiful movie to decribe a beautiful mind.
Tips for Writing a Personal Essay. Personal writing also generates enormous reader response. And who knows, you might even be able to make some money!
Writing by Oliver Sacks in The Times. on this beautiful. Oliver Sacks’s Op-Ed essay last Thursday misstated the proportion of cases in which the.
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Below are essay prompts from the most recent SAT administration in November 2005 .
Beauty is not a quality in people or in objects themselves. It exists in the mind that perceives those objects, and each mind perceives beauty differently. To seek real beauty, in some absolute sense, is pointless. Where one person sees beauty, another may even see the opposite. For this reason, we all ought to accept our own perceptions of who or what is beautiful, and not be influenced by the perceptions of others.
Adapted from David Hume, “Of the Standard of Taste”
Assignment: Should our perceptions of beauty be influenced by the perceptions of beauty of other people? Plan and write an essay in which you develop your point of view on this issue. Support your position with reasoning and examples taken from your reading, studies, experience, or observation.
There are situations where flattery is mandatory: The bride is always beautiful. If we look at someone's artwork, we are obliged to say something complimentary to the artist. If we visit someone with a new baby, we are required to say the infant is cute. In such situations, to say nothing is interpreted as rudeness. We compliment each other because we understand that flattery makes life run smoothly.
Adapted from Richard Stengel, You're Too Kind: A brief History of Flattery
Is praising others, even if the praise is excessive or undeserved, a necessary part of life? Plan and write an essay in which you develop your point of view on this issue. Support your position with reasoning and examples taken from your reading, studies, experience, or observation.
Conflict is not necessarily bad, and it does not necessarily indicate a failed interaction. It is a signal, a message that says, “Things aren’t working around here. We’ve got to do something different.” Thus, conflict can be a catalyst-a motivating force-encouraging people to interact and communicate in ways that are more satisfying. Conflict can actually benefit people by pushing them to make necessary changes.
Adapted from Beverly Potter, From Conflict to Cooperation
Is conflict helpful? Plan and write an essay in which you develop your point of view on this issue. Support your position with reasoning and examples taken from your reading, studies, experience, or observation.
What explains our increasing obsession with money and the things it can buy? It seems as though the acquisition of money is gradually replacing real measures of success, such as integrity, honesty, skill, and hard work.
Adapted from Alan Durning, “Limiting Consumption: Toward a Sustainable Culture”.
Has the acquisition of money and possessions replaced more meaningful ways of measuring our achievements? Plan and write an essay in which you develop your point of view on this issue. Support your position with reasoning and examples taken from your reading, studies, experience, or observation.More Information
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Dr. Marck L. Beggs, Director M.L.A. Program
What is Artistic Beauty?
From the beginning of time, men and women have scrutinized, categorized, and
compared components of their surroundings in an attempt to better understand their world. In
the Bible?s Genesis account, Adam, seemingly in appreciation of Eve?s uniqueness and beauty,
poetically proclaims her. bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman,
for she was taken out of man.?[Gen. 2:23 NIV] Much later, artists, writers, and philosophers have
sought to understand beauty, balance, and perfection — the sublime. Their struggle to define
perfection and to set standards of beauty was termed aesthetics or. the science of the beautiful.
in 1753 by German philosopher Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten. Baumgarten was considered
the first modern philosopher to approach the question of beauty systematically, introducing the
term aesthetics and defining the experience of beauty as the sensory recognition of perfection.
[Danto 1]. The works of his contemporary, Immanuel Kant, express the notion that beautiful
objects are without a specific purpose and that judgments of beauty are not expressions of mere
personal preference but, rather, universal. Similarly, Encarta defines aesthetics as:
A branch of philosophy concerned with the essence and perception of beauty and
ugliness, dealing with the question of whether such qualities are objectively present in
the things they appear to qualify, or whether they exist only in the mind of the individual;
hence, whether objects are perceived by a particular mode, the aesthetic mode, or
whether instead the objects have, in themselves, special aesthetic qualities. Philosophy
also asks if there is a difference between the beautiful and the sublime. [Danto 1]
However, even with a definition at hand, arriving at a consensus on precisely what constitutes
beauty and perfection is nearly impossible. Ultimately, beauty is ?in the eye of the beholder.
For the sake of argument, in this discussion, beauty will be limited to the perception of color,
sound, form, and words and with the emotional responses to these elements as experienced
within works of art, literature, and music.djtsidffjpoidffjsaosafdsafsadf
In his discussion of what he calls ?dependent beauty. Immanuel Kant implies that the
use of an ornamental or beautiful object in some way affects its aesthetic qualities. In some
situations, an object is a beautiful adornment, but in a different setting, that same object would
be viewed as inappropriate or even grotesque. In Critique of Judgment Kant differentiates:
Much that would be liked directly in intuition could be added to a building, if only the
building were not [meant] to be a church. A figure could be embellished with all sorts of
curlicues and light but regular lines, as the New Zealanders do with their tattoos, if only
it were not the figure of a human being. And this human being might have had much
more delicate features and a facial structure with a softer and more likable outline, if
only he were not [meant] to represent a man, let alone a warlike one. [Leddy 1 / Kant
Therefore, cultural norms set the parameters for what is accepted as beautiful, though the
boundaries are constantly expanded by new artistic expressions that push the limits of
acceptability within a society. These ?avant-garde? artistic creations frequently depict themes,
images, or subjects considered ?taboo? in a particular society. Exhibited and marketed as
artwork, the creations will either be rejected, or they will be accepted as modern art, thus
expanding the boundaries of what can be considered art. [Wilson, 2 / Parsons and Blocker].dd
In the world of physical art, such as sculpting and painting, traditional aesthetics of the
18th and 19th centuries proposed that artistic beauty was an imitation of nature. Yet, while the
works of realist, impressionist, and neoclassical painters like Jean Francois Millet, Claude
Monet, and Benjamin West who strove to capture lifelike detail in their works are
unquestionably beautiful, this exact mirroring of nature is not a requirement of beauty. Much art
(particularly modern art) fails to imitate anything, yet often the obscure creations beautifully
capture an intangible feeling or emotion. Viewers perceive the work as beautiful based on their
reaction to the form and colors which create a mood. Another example of how art can be
independent of nature exists in the fact that artistic beauty has the potential to accomplish
something that nature cannot. Art has the ability to capture ugliness and beauty simultaneously.
For example, an exquisite painting of a gruesome battle or of an ugly face is still beautiful.
[Danto 2]. If a painting is unpleasant or disturbing, is it still art? Can that art still be beautiful if it
upsets us? [Wilson, 1]. British statesman and writer Edmund Burke identified beauty with
delicacy and harmony. Yet, he equated the sublime with vastness, obscurity, and a capacity to
inspire terror. [?Burke, Edmund? 1]. Therefore, the aesthetic in art does not necessarily mimic the
beautiful in nature; it may, at times, beautifully portray the macabre. Famed philosopher
Friedrich Nietzsche, whose works express the idea that all in life is basically tragic, expressed
the belief that artistic creations had the capacity to transform any experience into something of
beauty that could manipulate the horrors of life so that they could be contemplated with
enjoyment. [Danto 2]. Though individual tastes vary when defining what is beautiful, any work of
art that has the power to arouse strong emotion in the viewer can be said to be an aesthetic
A similar idea can be found in the literary critiques of American author Edgar Allan Poe,
whose insightful literary critiques established fundamentals that helped American literature to
gain world recognition at a time when it was only just emerging. Poe outlines two criteria that
he believed must be present in order for a literary work to achieve greatness: a literary work
must have ?high literary value? and must focus on a single strong emotion to elicit an emotional
response from the reader. Poe identifies the strongest emotion as sorrow. To him, the most
sorrowful thing was the death of something beautiful, an idea which can be seen in his poems
To Helen. and “Annabelle Lee. The persona in each poem expresses grief over the death of
his beautiful beloved. Even though styles of writing and subject matter have changed from the
middle ages to modern times, these two criteria appear to be key to the ?livability? of a literary
work. Those poems, novels, and short stories that have stood the test of time and are today
constitute the body of great literature have transcended time periods and trends because they
elicit an emotional response (pleasant or otherwise) and are of a high literary value.
Similarly, what constitutes ?greatness? and ?beauty? in music is highly subjective. If
physical beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then most assuredly, musical beauty is in the ear of
the listener. However, the music that has endured for hundreds of years and which constitutes a
body of musical masterpieces shares the key aesthetic criteria — the ability to elicit an emotional
response from the audience. The complex arrangement of sounds, and in some music, the
combination of meaningful lyrics in addition to musical sounds, creates a mood. Some music
expresses deep sorrowful melancholy like an Edgar Allan Poe poem. Other music rouses
enthusiasm like Frederick Remington sculpture. Music can inspire a listener and inflame him,
cause him to feel mournful, or lull him to sleep. In Republic, Plato ?went so far as to banish
some types of artists from his ideal society because he thought their work encouraged immorality
or portrayed base characters, and that certain musical compositions caused laziness or incited
people to immoderate actions. [Danto 1] Though tastes in music vary perhaps even more so than
preferences in art and literature, whether a listener likes his music loud or soft, classic or
contemporary, alone or at a concert, listeners have one thing in common: they choose music that
holds meaning to them — that in some way speaks to their soul and elicits an emotion.
What is beautiful and great in art, literature, and music is the quality that enables these
works to endure. Great works of art do not necessarily fit into prescribed channels. They may or
may not imitate nature; they may not even depict something noble or ?pretty. Some art is
highly personal, almost to a level of obscurity, while classical forms maintain the Greek ideal of
universality and impersonality. Certain artistic creations will serve no ?higher purpose? than the
pursuit of beauty. Other artistic creations will serve posterity by commemorating an historic
person or event; some art has the power to inspire change or to incite a revolution, forever
altering the course of history. What is art? British critic and semanticist I.A. Richards, in his
work Practical Criticism, argues that art is a language, asserting that there are two types of
language: the symbolic and the emotive. The second type, emotive language, expresses, evokes,
and excites feelings and attitudes. Richards regards art as an emotive language which gives
order and coherence to experience. [Danto 10]. If then, art is an emotive language, then artistic
beauty must therefore be art, literature, or music that elicits and excites emotions and, perhaps,
shapes attitudes. Artistic expression that endures to form a body of great art is that which
touches the emotions of its audience.
Danto, Arthur C. M.A. Ph.D. Aesthetics. Microsoft? Encarta? Online Encyclopedia,
2000. 1997-2000 Microsoft Corporation.
Leddy, Tom. Kant’s Aesthetics: Tattoos, Architecture, and Gender-Bending.
American Society for Aesthetics / Aesthetics On-Line.
“Romanticism (art),” Microsoft? Encarta? Online Encyclopedia, 2000
1997-2000 Microsoft Corporation.
Wilson, Kay; Walkup, Nancy; McCarter, Bill. Aesthetics: Questioning the Nature of
Art. North Texas Institute for Educators on the Visual Arts. (c)1995,1996,1997,1998,1999
Created: 30 November 1995; Updated, Fall 1999.
By: Attalljastbum Date of post: 09.02.2016
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