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Common App Essay Example #4

Prompt #2: The lessons we take from failure can be fundamental to later success. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

While not everything in life is within our control, that doesn’t mean we should let those things hold us back from success. I have never been particularly adept at math, but always managed to do well enough with a little extra effort. That is, until I signed up for trigonometry. I managed to keep a grasp on the lessons for the first few weeks, but my understanding of the topic slowly ebbed away as the semester wore on. When it came time to take the midterm before winter break, I barely passed, despite hours of studying. I was floored. But after an uplifting pep talk from my dad, I realized I needed to do something differently. I couldn’t control what I had to learn, but I could control how I learned it.

Before heading back to school following winter break, I mapped out a game plan to do better during the second half of the year. My first step was to line up a tutor. Clearly, my teacher’s method of teaching did not work for me, so I hoped that an alternative explanation of the formulas would be easier to understand. Next, I double-checked my homework before submitting it with an online program that gives step-by-step explanations. Any time I answered something incorrectly, I could understand what I did wrong and try again. The final and most important step I took was to talk with my teacher. I explained to her the trouble I was having despite my attempts at studying. She was happy to offer extra help after school, and gave me extra prep questions before tests.

Getting through trig took much more effort than I’d ever put into any other class before. But my determination paid off: by the end of the year, I earned a B+. While I can’t say that the success turned me into a total math lover, it has made me appreciate the value of a subject that has never been easy for me. It didn’t come without some extra effort, but I now feel confident that I can excel at practically anything with a good plan and a lot of hard work.