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"System Error" --Common App General Essay


answers: 9
Dec 27, 2011, 01:02pm   #
Please help and review! I'll also respond with my own critique of your essays!
System Error

The crimson lines sparkled like electricity over my skin. I gazed at the small screen expectantly, but the Macy's barcode scanner only blared: "ERROR. NO BARCODE FOUND." I laughed merrily before dancing off to follow my mother. This was a practice I always did whenever I went shopping, even though I knew the answer: humans didn't have any barcodes.
I was wrong.
It's not just apparel and gizmos that have those rectangles of toothpick-thin black and white lines. People have barcodes too. Once others see them and register the data, they automatically know what to say and think. When people started judging me to be someone I wasn't, I knew I had been too na´ve to assume that I had avoided this system.
People everywhere, from my teachers to the random stranger in the street, assumed everything about everyone. Too often in school, someone inquired, "You're sitting over there, right?" before pointing to a table of people who had the same narrow eyes and yellow skin as me, huddled together in a corral separate from the other students. People have spoken slowly to me, believing that I was incapable of English speech. When I succeeded in academics, I've received eye-rolls and muttered "Typicals." I have been greeted in three different Asian languages from complete strangers, none of which are mine.
People would swipe me at the scanner, ignoring who I was, throwing me onto the conveyor belt without another glance. After years of living in this scan-read-interpret society, I realized that my physiognomy simply matched the data. Years of discrimination have engraved the public with fallacious material, and now the art of barcode-reading has been integrated into them. My government teacher summed it up aptly: "People think with their eyes."
Underneath this yellow skin is more than just a database of stereotypes. I'm no one's "Made in China" product. I hate math and I love humanities. I don't eat rice; I eat bean salads. I don't write calligraphy; I write essays analyzing America's greatest orators. I can draw more than just Japanese cartoons. I don't weave sweaters in a sweat-shop; I weave stories out of thin air. My age and height does not constitute inexperience; it's not the body that matters, but the travels it embodies. I speak to people of all ethnicities.
I've startled my peers at my nonconformity. I'm the system error of society's scanners, the one who is misread and contains the data that disrupts the programmed information in their minds. In the world of machinery, I represent untamable, adapting nature, self-reliant and unpredictable. In this black-and-white barcode society, I express my multitude of radiant colors. I'm both diversity's vessel and seeker.
During Christmas shopping, I returned to Macy's and put my palm under the barcode scanner. I waited as the machine tried to evaluate my complexities, my beliefs and perspectives. After a few seconds, it finally admitted defeat: "ERROR. NO BARCODE FOUND."
I grinned. This was one system that I enjoyed breaking.

Dec 27, 2011, 01:21pm   #
Wow! This essay is outstanding! The only thing going through my mind though is if this essay is too hostile towards society? I mean, I personally agree with you but you are essentially writing this for admissions and they fall under the same discriminatory society that you described. In a way, you are attacking them. So some people might be offended. But on the other hand, that may never be a problem.

You are an amazing writer! I would be forever gratuitous if you could read mine as well!
Dec 27, 2011, 01:24pm   #
Wow, this was an excellent essay - one of the best I've ever read. I'm an Asian too so I can sympathize with your dilemma. You took something we all feel strongly about and weaved it into an ingenious story. I loved your comparisons to the barcode and mechanistic society. If there's one thing that needs tweaking, it would be your use of overly sophisticated words - physiognomy, fallacious, etc. Although I know you're familiar with these words, they sometimes throw off the flow of the essay. Good Luck!
Dec 27, 2011, 03:00pm   #
Absolutely superb essay. Might I ask which colleges you are applying to?
I love how you sandwich the impact between actual experience. A difficult method but when used correctly, very effective, which you have done.
I also do agree with kimisizer, the words (physiognomy and fallacious) do kind of interrupt the flow of the essay. It is good to demonstrate your vocabulary but don't do it to an excess.

Besides that, BRILLIANT ESSAY. Equivalent, if not, better than the Successful Harvard Application Essays I have been reading.
I guarantee that all admissions officers that read this will be enamored by your level of writing .
Dec 27, 2011, 03:43pm   #
bookbug_xd:
It's not just apparel and gizmos that have those rectangles of toothpick-thin black and white lines.


It reads a bit awkwardly. I would suggest rewording it to "...those toothpick-thin black and white lined rectangles" or get rid of "toothpick" to make the phrase shorter and flow more.

bookbug_xd:
People everywhere, from my teachers to the random stranger in the street, assumed everything about everyone.


This sentence is too absolute for my tastes. While this is true of most people--myself included--I do believe there are people out there who try their best not to assume things and succeed at it. And certainly most people don't "assume everything about everyone".


Overall, it's a great essay! I loved it! Your voice and character really shows through and the topic is interesting.

Would you mind looking at my commonapp extracurricular essay? Thanks! :)
Dec 28, 2011, 05:09am   #
Thank you so much for your helpful comments! I edited it below and tried to lessen the hostility!

The crimson lines sparkled like electricity over my palm. I gazed at the small screen and laughed merrily as the Macy's barcode scanner only blared: "ERROR. NO BARCODE FOUND." I danced off to follow my mother. This was a practice I always did whenever I went shopping as a toddler, even though I knew the answer: humans didn't have any barcodes.
I was wrong.
It's not just apparel and gizmos that have those rectangles of toothpick-thin black and white-lines. People have barcodes too. Once others see them and register the data, they automatically know what to say and think. When people started judging me to be someone I wasn't, I knew I had been too na´ve to believe I had avoided this system.
People everywhere, from my teachers to the random stranger in the street, had preconceived notions. Too often in school, someone inquired, "You're sitting over there, right?" before pointing to a clustered table of people who had the same narrow eyes and yellow skin as me. People have spoken slowly to me, believing that I was incapable of English speech. When I succeeded academically, I've received eye-rolls and muttered "Typicals." I've been greeted in three different Asian languages from complete strangers, none of which are mine.
I and countless others are swiped carelessly at the scanner, ignored and thrown onto the conveyor belt. After years of living in this scan-interpret society, I realized that my appearance simply matched the data that years of discrimination and injustice have integrated in the minds of the public. My government teacher summed it up aptly: "People think with their eyes." I couldn't blame the normal person for generalizing. It was a matter of unfortunate circumstance, and I wasn't the only one suffering.
But now I find the resolve to rip off these labels.
Underneath this yellow skin is more than a database of stereotypes. I'm no one's "Made in China" product. I hate math and I love humanities. I don't eat rice; I eat Italian salads. I don't write calligraphy; I write essays analyzing America's greatest orators. I can draw more than just Japanese cartoons. I don't weave sweaters in a sweat-shop; I weave stories out of thin air. My age and height does not constitute inexperience; it's not the body that matters, but the travels it embodies. I don't conform to the "huddled masses" but join the wondrous salad bowl of my community.
I've startled my peers at my nonconformity. I'm the system error of society's scanners, the one who is misread and contains the data that disrupts the programmed information in their minds. In the world of machinery, I represent untamable, adapting nature, self-reliant and unpredictable. In this black-and-white barcode society, I express my multitude of radiant colors. I'm diversity's vessel and seeker.
During Christmas shopping at Macy's, I put my palm under the barcode scanner. I waited as the machine tried to evaluate my complexities, my beliefs and perspectives. After a few seconds, it finally admitted defeat: "ERROR. NO BARCODE FOUND."
Dec 28, 2011, 05:55am   #
Wow! Your essay is really good. I especially love your fourth paragraph. There's a very beautiful flow in it. But i see that you have deleted the "i grinned" line. I actually find that line can be a very good concluding sentence. How about: "After a few seconds, it finally admitted defeat: "ERROR. NO BARCODE FOUND" and i walked away grinning." Just a suggestion :)
Beautifully written and very interesting analogy. As an Asian who is also stereotyped, I can clearly relate to you in your essay. An overall unique and sincere essay.

Best of luck! :)
Dec 28, 2011, 08:26am   #
It is superb . I love your first essay , however I believe the edited one would fit better to the application process.
"it's not the body that matters, but the travels it embodies"
This sentence is amazing .
I also think [I represent untamable, adapting nature, self-reliant and unpredictable] is a bit straight forward and still have a bit space for you to elaborate more on.
Anyway , congratulations :)

I would appreciate if you can help me with mine :)
Dec 28, 2011, 08:44am   #
Let this stay as it is. Don't tinker with it any further. Often the first thoughts in your head are the strongest and most genuine. I love the voice of your essay. Keep that intact.



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