Sample Admission Essay: Failure on the Way to Success
College committees ask applicants to write about certain experiences to assess their essay writing skills and evaluate whether they fit in the institution’s community. In this college admission essay, the student talks about a goal that they failed to attain because of the pandemic. They also tackle how they felt about it and how they managed to cope.
As a student, I have always struggled with time management. Even though I perform well in school, I do have a tendency to procrastinate and get distracted when I do schoolwork. As a result, I spent long hours studying. While this unhealthy studying habit has enabled me to get good grades, it was not good for my overall health. So, during the winter break of 2019, I decided to build healthier studying habits. This involved avoiding procrastination and distractions. I read up on tactics on how to build healthy study habits and bought a planner, as well. However, 2020 was a tumultuous year, and although it should not have, the pandemic did play a major role in preventing me from achieving my goal of building healthy study habits.
When we returned to school in January 2020, I started to execute my plan. I created a weekly and daily to-do list. Articles giving time management tips told me to rest after school, so I set a 30-minute timer after arriving home. I also downloaded an app that forced me to stay off my phone during the 4 hours I spend studying. I struggled to stay focused as I found myself picking up my phone almost every 5 minutes and then zoning out instead when I found I could not go on any social media. Nevertheless, I pulled myself back and studied again. After a while, I modified my process and implemented the Pomodoro technique wherein I had to focus only for 25 minutes and then was allowed to take a 5-minute break. For a while, I managed to maintain this schedule. I became quite proud of myself, especially since I found myself able to rest well at night and have more energy throughout the day. Unfortunately, this was somewhat short-lived.
Shortly after the first cases of COVID-19 were detected in the country, the school was shut down and we shifted to distance learning. Distance learning has its pros and cons , unfortunately. All classes were held online to prevent transmission of the virus but it also meant that I sat in my room the whole day. The only way for me to reach my friends was through social media. The new learning situation rendered my new process ineffective. Because I barely left my room, the break I took between school and homework, which had turned into an hour, was still insufficient. My school and social activities had deflated to the bare minimum yet I felt more exhausted than I used to. Furthermore, I could not help but be anxious about the state of the world that I spent more time online reading about the news. All my efforts in the previous weeks to establish a study routine went to waste as it became exponentially more difficult to overcome procrastination and to stay away from my phone.
At the start of 2020, I envisioned myself becoming the ideal student—the one that completes homework ahead of time, stays on top of reading materials, and has neat notes. However, because of the toll of the pandemic, I became the opposite of my goal. I found myself unable to manage my time that I found myself pulling all-nighters even for simple assignments. I went online for class unprepared, sometimes even doing homework for another class. My grades suffered because of my poor time management and study habits and, consequently, my mental health also suffered. I felt anxious and defeated because although I was often stressed about school, I had never received such low grades throughout my academic life until then.
Naturally, I felt terrible. I felt like a failure and a disappointment. Fortunately, I have understanding parents who assured me that it was but a minor setback and that it was understandable that I struggled when we suddenly shifted to online learning. Instead of getting angry at me, we had a discussion about what happened and what I was struggling with. I knew that my parents were also struggling with their work and our finances, so I felt guilty for adding another burden. I promised them that I will do better but I honestly did not know what to do to pull myself together and get better grades. I did not want to ask my parents for any help with my studies because I knew they, too, had their hands full.
Even though my parents were understanding and supportive of me, I was not kind to myself. I beat myself up for not stepping up to the challenge. I convinced myself that I was at fault. In the next semester, I hyped myself up with all the wrong motivations . I threatened myself that I would not get into a good university if my grades do not recover and then I will really be a failure. It worked for a short while, but I quickly burned out. I ended up in an even worse position than I was at the start of 2020. My grades plummeted when they needed to be at their highest. This thought filled me with so much dread that I stayed in bed most of the break. I also started to consider trade school instead of going to college even though the latter has always been my goal. This was when my parents decided that I needed help.
I am still coming to terms that my grades will never be as good as they used to be. I still feel ashamed and guilty about it most of the time because all my life goals were anchored on my grades. My failure to develop and stick to a healthy study habit felt like a moral failure on my end because of the impact it has on my future, in particular on my ability to qualify for financial aid in college. However, I have been getting plenty of support from my family and my therapist has been helping me manage my anxieties about college admissions . He pointed out that struggling with time management in school is not a moral failing but an indication of underlying issues. I have been working on coping mechanisms to help with my anxieties and accepting my failure as an opportunity for growth. I still struggle with schoolwork and time management but one major improvement I am proud of is that I am no longer berating myself for not being at my best during a pandemic. At the same time, however, I am once again ready to move toward my goals. I understand that things won't always go according to plan and I must learn to move with the flow without losing sight of my goals.
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