T Nation

T-Man's College Essay

UPDATED VERSION
I need some feedback about what to improve for my essay.

Enjoy.

Iron
I love iron. The feel of raw metal, the pain, and the surging endorphins make it all worthwhile. Iron has changed me into a better man; a man with knowledge, power, and most importantly, silent confidence. Weightlifting is not a sprint, but a life-long marathon towards a healthier self.

I was dealt tough cards from the start, beginning at my early birth at seven months weighing a mere two pounds. In a blink, I changed from a severely malnourished and underweight child to the proud owner of a 31-inch waist in middle school. I had no problem with my �??slightly�?? chubby body image. Perhaps I was preoccupied in living within my fabricated protective bubble.

�??That kid has man-boobs.�??

Those four words ignited within me, fueling a burning desire for change. I came to my senses; I was just another fat kid. Uneducated and desperate, I did hundreds of crunches to no avail. Instead of a rugged six-pack, I developed a posture problem.

I turned towards my brother for help. He taught me the fundamentals of weightlifting. By training along side with him, I had an epiphany: No effort, no results, plain and simple. Under his guidance, I discovered a new love: my passion for weightlifting. Lifting weights was not just physique building, it was a choice of lifestyle.

A tiny step into the gym; a great leap towards self-actualization. At first, It was tough, to subject oneself to such physical torture for seemingly superficial reasons. I felt out of place, inferior, and most of all, intimidated. Picking up the tiny pink dumbbells and struggling with them was a feat of courage. It took determination to subject myself to such public humiliation and ignore the glaring eyes and awkward laughter of others. This sense of insecurity overwhelmed me; I felt as if I was suffocating under the pressure. Indeed, many times I considered giving up. However, time after time, my brother pushed me back on track. Over time, I gained more understanding of weightlifting. I was no longer motivated by such vain and shallow reasons, instead I was intrinsically motivated. I wanted to see how far I would go if I committed myself to it. I was my only competitor, constantly striving to outdo myself. I no longer seek the recognition of others, for I am self-validated. I am changed.

Through weightlifting, I have acquired many vital skills applicable to real life. Before my encounter with weightlifting, I would often whine and nag about the �??ridiculous�?? amounts of homework or incompetent teachers. However, after I acquired this healthy �??lifestyle�?? I no longer nagged or whined. I embrace these academic challenges for I love the feel of mastering a challenge and being in control. In fact, I want to be intellectually stimulated. My sense of focus and determination is transferred to everything else I do. Whether I am prepping a finesse meal, or simply running an extra mile. Weightlifting has changed my fundamental capacity to undertake new challenges. Through my unfortunate injuries due to my intensity, I also learned the importance of moderation and strategic planning. It is not all about training hard; it is also about training smart.I looked beneath the surface, striving to learn everything about the little details that make up the whole. Now, informed and transformed, I have achieved a new level of health. I have since earned myself the quality of unspoken confidence.

what was the question/ task you were set?

my initial coments would be that its not bad, in places it seems to lack a little continuety, as in it seems like you had all these ideas but couldn’t link one to the next so you kind of listed them. also it seems like you just learnt how to use a colon and semi colon correctly so you used them as often as possible. it would read much better if you restructured a few sentences to get rid of one or two of them. try to get a bit more focus in there, it seems to float around a little bit with no real point.

hope that helped.
(sorry about my poor spelling, but i think the advice is still sound)

That’s a pretty cool piece. I especially like the line about moderation and planning. I did think that the part at the end of your second to last paragraph where you say “weightlifting is a sprint…” might be better if you moved it to the beginning of the last paragraph. It seems a little out of place where it is at right now. That’s just my two cents.

[quote]wukey wrote:
what was the question/ task you were set?

my initial coments would be that its not bad, in places it seems to lack a little continuety, as in it seems like you had all these ideas but couldn’t link one to the next so you kind of listed them. also it seems like you just learnt how to use a colon and semi colon correctly so you used them as often as possible. it would read much better if you restructured a few sentences to get rid of one or two of them. try to get a bit more focus in there, it seems to float around a little bit with no real point.

hope that helped.
(sorry about my poor spelling, but i think the advice is still sound)
[/quote]

I’ll definitely edit it and make it flow smoother and keep it more on focus.

Should I just delete the whole blood.sweat, and tears paragraph? that would seem to help it focus more.

[quote]Mondy wrote:
Should I just delete the whole blood.sweat, and tears paragraph? that would seem to help it focus more.[/quote]

naa, don’t cut it, just try to link each point to the next. perhaps if i used an example or two.

ok, is “blood sweat and tears” a winston churchill quote? if so then it should say something like “a term coined by…” if it isn’t then you need to put why this has got anything to do with him.

good, but quantify that statment, make it relevant to lifting, you and i know it is, but you don’t say so. maybe “lifting has taught me…”

the next bit starts off saying your brother got you into it but then seems to go off on a tangent talking about the stereotypes in lifting. its ok to do that but you need to link the two better, maybe say “your initial impression was that… but after you brother…” do you see what i’m saying?

i hope these example of what i mean help, and don’t get me wrong, its a good read.

hope you do well. good luck.

I think you’ve got a few too many metaphors. Also, try to give concrete examples of how weightlifting has helped you outside of the gym. I’d also try to flesh out the part about your brother helping you,and use that to replace the part about public conceptions of bodybuilding. I’m also not sure if you need the winston Churchill quotation. Not bad overall though.

I dunno, it felt a little let down. I thought you were going to reference Ayn Rand in there.

Why would the school want you? What are you “providing” that they want? What is it about iron that has made you a better candidate? What is the connection between weightlifting and what they want?

It’s a good story. Try to show how weightlifting has changed you into an ideal candidate. As someone else asked, what is your prompt? If they asked a Q, make sure you answer it right away.

I googled “undergraduate admissions essay advice” and got this response

"Choose an essay subject that gives us insight into you and your personality. There are no right answers when choosing an essay topic; however, the essay is an opportunity for the Admissions Committee to learn more about you. Choose a topic which conveys an important aspect of you, your character, or your personality which is not apparent anywhere else in your application. "

Seems you do a good job of this… Best of luck.

I think it’s a good essay.

I just think with some work, you could turn this into a great essay.

Right now it’s a little too focused on weightlifting, and has a little too much jargon (poundage, pelvic tilt) and a couple of red flags (pink dumbells).

I’d focus more on the relationship with your brother and how it would help you mentor others; discuss the stereotype of weightlifting a little more; leadership; compassion for others; research skills, etc…

[quote]polo77j wrote:
I dunno, it felt a little let down. I thought you were going to reference Ayn Rand in there.[/quote]

Who’s Ayn Rand anyways?

I agree, link the weightlifting journey to your capacity to undertake new challenges. Otherwise it culminates in a ripped body and nothing more.

Focus on strength of spirit rather than strength of body.

[quote]HoratioSandoval wrote:
I think it’s a good essay.

I just think with some work, you could turn this into a great essay.

Right now it’s a little too focused on weightlifting, and has a little too much jargon (poundage, pelvic tilt) and a couple of red flags (pink dumbells).

I’d focus more on the relationship with your brother and how it would help you mentor others; discuss the stereotype of weightlifting a little more; leadership; compassion for others; research skills, etc…[/quote]

What do suggest i do to focus more on the relationship with my brother? I don’t quite get it, do you mean to focus more on how taught me how to weightlift?

[quote]EmilyQ wrote:
I agree, link the weightlifting journey to your capacity to undertake new challenges. Otherwise it culminates in a ripped body and nothing more.

Focus on strength of spirit rather than strength of body.[/quote]

So I was thinking of something like " Through weightlifting, I have acquired many vital skills applicable to real life…" to connect it to real life. Do you think this is a smooth incorporation.

[quote]Mondy wrote:
EmilyQ wrote:
I agree, link the weightlifting journey to your capacity to undertake new challenges. Otherwise it culminates in a ripped body and nothing more.

Focus on strength of spirit rather than strength of body.

So I was thinking of something like " Through weightlifting, I have acquired many vital skills applicable to real life…" to connect it to real life. Do you think this is a smooth incorporation.[/quote]

Yes, and also something along the lines of “this is what it taught me about myself and my ability (need? desire? drive?) to accept challenges.”

I agree with whoever said above that you need to remove the in-group lingo. “Pink dumbbells” are a symbol of scorn a/o weakness…but only to those of us interested in weights. Scan your essay for language specific enough that people uninterested in weightlifting will glaze over with boredom (foam rolling, for instance…are they meant to start googling references they don’t understand?).

For example, if I wrote an essay about running, would you really care to read about my splits? My quarter-mile time improvements? No. You’d be bored. You want to know how running frees my spirit, how it calms me and exhilarates me at the same time. You want to know how my dedication to running has opened me to the sport of bodybuilding, how I’ve embraced the new challenge because I know how good mastering challenges feels. How overcoming my fear of public failure to enter my first race equipped me to face other fears. Graduate school, for instance.

Stuff like that.

you should throw in the moist taste of chalk in the gym, the electricity that generates around a man on a heavy deadlifting day, and how its just bad-fucking-ass to see yourself naked and finally go, “Yeah, id hit that”

[quote]Pipes06 wrote:
you should throw in the moist taste of chalk in the gym, the electricity that generates around a man on a heavy deadlifting day, and how its just bad-fucking-ass to see yourself naked and finally go, “Yeah, id hit that”[/quote]

Hahahahaha

I wrote a like 3 page essay about weightlifting, and my path to perfection. I can PM it to you later if you’d like.

I read a about 1/2 to 3/4 then skimmed the rest. It pained me to read it and here is why:
Too Cliched
Read it before

Now I haven’t read tons of weight lifting stories but I’ve read tons of similar transformations. They can be interesting but most sound the same. Start with how they now love doing subject and how their childhood was hard (uber overused).

Then the writing will continue on with the journey and a final summation of the good it has done them…possibly a call for others to join their ranks.

It has been brought to your attention that your sentence structure needs some work so I’ll only make one suggestion SMALL SIMPLE SENTENCES. Most people try all this fancy shit to make their sentence 10 pages long to try and impress people with their punctuation prowess.

Write like how you speak…don’t try to make it all uber intellectual. On the other side of the coin don’t make it so short that it reads like an emotionless technical manual.

Ever sense I read about this exercise on Tucker Max’s webpage I’ve absolutely love it. Cut your writing in half and then cut it in half again. I believe he got it from the book “A River Runs Through It”. That’s all for now.

[quote]GhorigTheBeefy wrote:
I read a about 1/2 to 3/4 then skimmed the rest. It pained me to read it and here is why:
Too Cliched
Read it before

Now I haven’t read tons of weight lifting stories but I’ve read tons of similar transformations. They can be interesting but most sound the same. Start with how they now love doing subject and how their childhood was hard (uber overused).

Then the writing will continue on with the journey and a final summation of the good it has done them…possibly a call for others to join their ranks.

It has been brought to your attention that your sentence structure needs some work so I’ll only make one suggestion SMALL SIMPLE SENTENCES. Most people try all this fancy shit to make their sentence 10 pages long to try and impress people with their punctuation prowess.

Write like how you speak…don’t try to make it all uber intellectual. On the other side of the coin don’t make it so short that it reads like an emotionless technical manual.

Ever sense I read about this exercise on Tucker Max’s webpage I’ve absolutely love it. Cut your writing in half and then cut it in half again. I believe he got it from the book “A River Runs Through It”. That’s all for now.

[/quote]

I definitely will vary up the sentence structure. I mean I don’t want my essay to sound cliche, but I don’t know how to make it different. Weightlifting really did change me, you have no idea how difficult it was to be a premature kid, I spent so much time in the hospital as a kid.