Sample Admission Essay about Failure

Essay Admission Essay

Admissions committees ask post-graduate applicants to write essays about their goals, successes, and failures to see whether they fit in the program. In this admissions essay, the applicant addresses the prompt to discuss a major failure they experienced and how it affected them.

From middle school to high school, I was used to being on top. Both times, I graduated as Valedictorian. I had applied to the Biology department of this university with plans of proceeding with the school of medicine after. I was quite confident that I would be selected for the program. After, all I was the top student in my class, I had a balance of academic and extra-curricular successes. Furthermore, everyone around me was convinced, too, that I was sure to be accepted. However, I was not among those selected. I worked hard throughout those years and knew that I deserved it, which is why I was devastated to receive a rejection letter from my top university of choice.

Two other rejection letters followed. After receiving the rejection letters, I felt dejected. I felt the pressure and stress of college admissions season . I had expected too much and was overconfident that I was the best of the best, and I’m sure my admissions essay reflected that. I felt like I have failed not only myself but also my parents and my teachers. My undergraduate alma mater is, by all means, a great school. However, when I received my acceptance letter from them, I could not appreciate my success. I was still on track for medicine but it was not the path I had planned. Having been raised in a family that took things into their hands instead of hoping for things to fall into place, it was hard not to see the change of plans as a failure. Despite doing everything I could, I was not able to walk on the path I wanted. Instead, I was steered toward a different path—one that I am thankful I was nudged into. 

During freshman year, I was adamant that I will find a way to change my major to the biology or chemistry track I originally wanted to get into. The university, however, did not allow students to change majors immediately. I was fueled by my sense of failure that I poured myself into studying and acing the classes required in my Psychology major. Although I was studying for all the wrong reasons, I still learned a lot about Psychology—what it was really about, how it helps us understand our mind better, and its potential for helping people. I realized that I was not exactly pushed into the wrong path. I was merely on a different path that was still headed toward the same destination. The destination was also not what I thought it was. It was not becoming a neurosurgeon that I ultimately aimed for but to have the ability and opportunity to explore the human mind and use that knowledge to help others. This was something I could accomplish with Psychology research papers as well. 

My failure to qualify for the university and major I originally planned for allowed me to reflect on what it was that I really wanted. Had I gotten into the original university and major I planned, I would have pursued my goal of becoming a medical doctor relentlessly, but there was also the possibility of losing track of the real “why” or my motivation. Seeing myself fall in love with Psychology encouraged me to unearth from deep within my motivation—to understand how the human mind works and help others live a better quality of life through my knowledge. This has allowed me to pursue a life that is meaningful and is not centered only on my own development.

As I delved deeper into the field, I found my niche, so to speak. I wrote my undergraduate dissertation on a psychological approach to racism, which in turn directed my career path after college . I have worked as a counselor for marginalized groups and individuals where I was able to effect positive change to small but substantial degrees. Now, I am ready to take my practice to a higher level. I believe there are still deep questions about social issues, particularly racism, that experimental psychologists can answer with the right research. 

The initial failure I experienced ended up teaching me a lot of things. First, I learned that although taking charge of your life and working hard is important, it is also important to remember that one person cannot control everything. Forces greater than us, and which are perhaps difficult to explain, are bound to influence the result of our efforts. The ability to accept this and adapt accordingly is just as important as hard work and dedication. The second thing I learned is that even though I have failed in some things, it does not mean that I am a failure. Aside from the fact that many people have failed before succeeding , failure could be just a way for me to arrive at the path that best suits me. 

Ultimately, I am glad that I failed to achieve my goals as a high school student, of getting into certain schools and majors. I truly believe that I have found a career where there is much to be learned and where I am needed. This is why I have decided to pursue a post-graduate degree in Experimental Psychology. Not only will I be armed with the technical skills and knowledge, but also the opportunity to take part, if not lead, research that could shed light on possible ways to solve the racial problems of this country.

Taking charge of my life is not something I have stopped doing. I continue to plan my life, though I am now more open to possible changes and detours. After my post-graduate degree in Experimental Psychology, I aim to join a non-governmental organization that works closely with governments to eliminate all forms of racism and discrimination. I take pride in the knowledge that all this was spurred by a series of failures that changed my perspective on life.

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