My College Essay | Teen Ink

My College Essay

December 15, 2021
By Anonymous

I’ve always valued my personal time and well-being, that’s why I decided to forfeit those rights by taking AP Chemistry junior year.

August 12th was the first day of school. I expected this day to be a typical introduce- yourself-to-your-teachers type of day that we’d grown accustomed to after 13 years. The only learning done was learning how to get on your teacher’s good side and the only papers passed out were the superfluous syllabuses that rehashed the same information year to year and class to class. The only class that didn’t follow this informal formal rule was AP Chemistry. Based on the shattering of this rule I’d come to learn that there are always exceptions to rules, and AP Chemistry was no stranger to having rules with exceptions. The classroom was much bigger than what I had expected, the first third of the classroom was made up of desks in a grid formation all facing a smartboard with a whiteboard on their side with the rest of the space reserved for lab equipment and stations. After everyone sat down in their seats Mrs. Hogan, surprisingly short yet formidable, tried to learn everyone’s name and how to say it as best she could. So far so good, the plan was being followed. Introductions, then the syllabus, presumably followed by cliche ice breakers in the form of generic questions, immediately followed by awkward silence. Then, there was a deviation from the plan, immediately following passing of the syllabus we were handed a sheet with common polyatomic ions, we were told to memorize the sheet for a quiz on Monday -- it was Thursday -- one of the students next to me quickly came to the conclusion that he’d gone in over his head. His seat was promptly empty the next day. 

After some deliberation, I’d become dead-set on memorizing the table. My other classes were still. For comparison my math teacher stated that there would be no learning done until mid next week, I could give the table my full attention; it had become my life focus. Whenever I found myself with some free time during class or at home I would write down the table. Day by day I got better at it as I’d learned some tricks. Chromate has a charge of 2- and has four oxygen atoms attached to one chromium atom. Phosphate and phosphite have 3- charges but phosphate has four oxygens while phosphite has 3. I felt prepared. Test day came and I’d put my best foot forward. After some time we’d finally received our test scores. I was met with an 11/12 and a sensation of relative frustration.While it was a good score I knew that I had the polyatomic ion table down and I’d just made a simple mistake in the heat of the moment. When I found time for the retest I sat down and immediately noticed my teacher had made two mistakes on the test, she’d written BrO3- twice and had named IO-hypoiodate instead of hypoiodite. I corrected these mistakes and submitted the test. Another three weeks later and I had scored a 13/12, yes an 13/12. I was content that my corrections hadn’t gone unnoticed and were in fact recognized and handsomely compensated. 

Looking back this moment has taught me that rigor and discipline are the foundations of a good academic career which I’ll keep practicing going forward. Memorizing the polyatomic table and having a solid enough grasp on it to be able to recognize and correct a teacher’s mistakes has shown me that with strong work ethic the results speak for themselves. It is crucial to have a strong sense of self-sufficiency, drive, and responsibility in high school as higher education is much more self paced and you will either find yourself perpetually behind and frustrated or you will find success through diligence, desire, and dedication.

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