/ 'getting bad grades in math again?' - Cornell - College of Arts and Sciences Essay
Please address the topics below in an essay of approximately 500 to 750 words.
Tell us what you'd like to major in at Cornell and why, how your past academic or work experience influenced your decision, and how transferring to Cornell would further your academic interests.
"Seriously? You're getting bad grades in math again? I'm calling your uncle to come over tomorrow after school and explain the material to you."
About eight years ago, when I was a fifth grader, I could not understand my mother's desire to put me through what I then considered to be weekly sessions of torture, because I simply felt I needed to grow at my own pace. I somehow liked mathematics, however, but I did not know why. It simply made sense. Anyway, maybe out of rudimentary ambition, I participated in mathematics competitions all four years of middle school, just to show the others I had potential. However, in the beginning, I did not work constantly; instead, I just hoped to "pull it off". Success did come, but at a moderate level.
As time went by, the beauty of mathematics started to grow on me.
Four years later, I had been placed in one of the top high schools in the country, and my math teacher happened to be the editor-in-chief of the country's best-known mathematical magazines, [insert name here]. I must admit, I was initially daunted by his prestige, and wanted to prove myself in front of him - but he did come around as a gentle, caring person with a deep passion for mathematics, and he inspired me.
Somehow, through his way of being - unbeknownst to me at the time - he motivated me to work harder and strive to be better. My results showed it: that year, against all odds, I qualified for the first time into the national (final) round of the Mathematics Olympiad, the toughest mathematical competition at a high school level.
Upon further reflection on how he motivated me, I realized: it was due to his indirect influence. He never pushed me or made me strive to do better than others. Instead, he showed me the beauty of mathematics through his way of explaining the topics we went over; that way, he imbued me with an ever-growing flame and thirst for knowledge which gave me an addiction to mathematics.
I would stay up late at night just to solve mathematics problems out of pure pleasure. And, through some sort of strange coincidence, as if the story started four years before had come full circle, my mom and I started arguing about mathematics again. This time, I was not struggling with mathematics. On the contrary, I was way too passionate about it and solved problems, therefore reducing the amount of sleep I got.
Over the rest of high school, I was in love with mathematics. My teacher showed me new and exciting things, such as calculus, linear algebra or abstract algebra. The story described above repeated itself twice - I got to the final round of the National Olympiad twice more, in my sophomore and junior year, and even got a bronze medal for my results in my sophomore year.
So far in college, I took a Multivariable Calculus course and am currently taking Linear Algebra. Both courses are fascinating, and I would really like to be able to take courses from a larger selection of topics in mathematics, in order to find out what area of mathematics I like and would like to study. I know there is "life after calculus" (Cornell Mathematics Department website), but which life will I make my own? I do not know, but the large selection of courses offered by the Mathematics Department, such as geometry, topology, mathematical logic or algebraic geometry, will definitely help me grow closer to a certain area of mathematics.
Mathematics is beautiful, no doubt, and I love it - but from time to time, I like to disconnect from it. And for me, observing other people's expression of ideas through art and literature always is a welcome break from the impartiality of mathematics. Every so often, I like to absorb new ideas and observe facts about the world in order to form a broader view. For example, this semester I am taking a course called "XXX" - just because to me, YYY culture seems interesting and it would be exciting to find out more about this aspect crucial to it.
The many courses offered within the Mathematics Department of Cornell University, along with the ample opportunities for research, will allow me to find out which area of mathematics I want to pursue even further; and the many courses offered in other departments of the College of Arts and Sciences will provide me with opportunities for an unparralelled liberal arts education.
Does the essay flow? Did I manage to tell an interesting story, all while explaining why Cornell is the ideal place for me?
Overall, did I manage to provide a good response essay?