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Sample Entrance Essay

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As a middle class family having migrated from India, education has always meant security and promise for a bright future where the possibilities are endless. Being first generation born I learned at an early age the value of education and understood the unspoken expectations of my parents and their parents before them. To succeed was paramount, and failure was not an option. I endeavored hard throughout my secondary experience to prove myself as number one and was determined to live the dream my parents had put forth before me.
My hard work and resolve proved most useful as I aced exams, entered the gifted and talented program at my school, and became the role model for my entire family. However, my rise to the top of my family pyramid proved to be part of my undoing when I entered my first year at the University of California, Davis. The first semester began like any other school year for me: choosing classes, picking up textbooks, buying school supplies, and acquiring a new wardrobe. Everything seemed just the same, just bigger and with more freedom. Believing that nothing had changed, I entered full steam ahead into a computer science and engineering major; for which I was severely unprepared and had significantly underestimated.
The grades I received after my first set of midterms tore through any sense of disillusionment I had. I was not doing well in any of my courses and was straining simply to keep up. I found it difficult to adjust to my new environment in which there were no teachers standing on the sidelines cheering me on, no parental intervention ensuring that I was reviewing and studying the material on a consistent basis, and no immediate support from friends who I had known all my life. I was alone. The most difficult aspect of my experience was coming to terms with the fact that the methods and strategies I had relied on before no longer worked. I had to adapt if I wanted not to just survive but truly succeed in obtaining a worthwhile education. My transformation took time, and I honestly resisted at first. For quite some time I held on to my old beliefs thinking that, I could persevere using my tried and true methods that had left me on top before.
Often it is in others that we find it in ourselves to grow and become greater than what were before. My first step towards finding my way back on to the path of success came with the help of a friend I met in Calculus A/B. She shared with me struggles that she was going through that sounded uncannily similar to my own. Yet the difference between her experience and mine was the ownership she took for her actions. I will always remember her words: “Life is about choices that we make—even when we believe that there is no choice. All we can do is continue to making those decisions that will move us forward. There is no turning back in life.”
Her words irrevocably changed my outlook on life completely. I had spent so much time blaming the professors’ lackluster lectures, thinking of how unorthodox the entire college education system was, and denying that there was anything different that I could or should be doing to help myself succeed. If I wanted to succeed, if I wanted that bright future that my parents had dreamed for me, I needed to step forward and grab it with both hands. No one else was going to ensure that I achieved my goals other than myself. This was my education, my life on the line, and there would be no take backs.
Coming to the realization that I had to change was perhaps the easiest part of my journey; amending my previous behavior and effecting change proved most difficult. I spent the better half of that first year figuring out new strategies for success. I learned how to capitalize on new resources and create an environment geared towards supporting the achievement of my goals. I discovered study groups across the campus, took advantage of every office hour that my professors offered, and found individuals who could assist me in tailoring my classes to suit my end goals. I put old habits to rest and formed friendships that would elevate me to a higher standard. That first year at college was the most educational and life affirming. Adversity is the greatest test of strength and builds true character, and the experience I went through that first year set me on the path on who I am today.…...

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