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ALIGNMENT with my goals not found; [TRANSFER Essay]Common App for top-tier schools


deathstroke 2 / 11 1  
Sep 27, 2013   #1
Hi guys,

I'm an undergraduate attempting to transfer schools (aiming for Harvard, Stanford, etc...) and was wondering if anyone could give this essay a look. Yes, I know it's pretty blunt, straightforward, and not exactly creative, but from what I've gathered, that's the way transfer essays are meant to be written. They're supposed to illustrate real necessity for transferring and discuss academic/social goals, as far as I know.

Any sort of feedback regarding style, content, length, etc will be very much valued. :-)

BTW, current word count is 649, which is literally one word fewer than the "limit," so if you think something deserves to be cut/appropriately shortened, please let me know!

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PROMPT: Please provide a statement that addresses your reasons for transferring and the objectives you hope to achieve. (250-650 words)

I am transferring because I have discovered my academic and professional goals are not aligned with the institution where I currently study. While University of Kansas has a lot going for it-a big sports following, an EECS Department supported by Google, and a very warm student community-several components that I feel are key to my success in computer science are not an integral part of the school, and I seek an institution that better serves my academic and personal needs.

The primary goal of the EECS Department at my current institution is noble and respectable: To place students in the company of their choice. However, I seek a different work and academic culture. I feel that the contributions I aim to achieve, particularly in computer science, are beyond the needs of an established corporation. When I was a rookie engineer at VMware, I had the incredible privilege of working on the newest cloud management tool, vCHS. I am enormously proud that when my colleagues attended VMworld 2013, they got to see the results of code I contributed to on the big screen. Yet, throughout my time at the company, I developed a gut feeling that I was being inefficient with my passions for academia and technical progress-that I was an already-useful asset and had incredible potential, but this wasn't the right place to develop that potential. That feeling has been growing, as if a cancerous lump in my chest was begging me to keep moving forward; as if it knew there was a lot more to computer science than I could imagine, and I had to uncover those secrets in the right way. I want to be in an environment that doesn't just push students to join the industry, but equips students with a broad, competitive education, and encourages and supports students working on their own projects, startups, inventions, and research, so we can lead the industry.

In addition to a healthier and more progressive learning environment, I seek better academic and entrepreneurial opportunities. While I am confident, to some degree, that I have the entrepreneurial and technical capabilities to make the next dazzly-do iPhone app that sets me five figures ahead of the average teenager, my pursuit of the startup dream has sizzled down to charred cinder. I realize that true progress is not measured by how much money I make or how much popularity is potentially involved, but by what meaningful contributions I can make to society. To turn academic advantages into meaningful contributions, and ultimately into a profitable business or an open-source project is along the lines of what I aim to do with the high-quality opportunities available at my next destination.

Finally, I am a misfit at my current institution. I am too often an exception than I can be comfortable with. My unwavering drive-almost a sense of urgency-to work hard and succeed is not as prevalent among my peers. That means I'm the guy begging for challenges from professors who aren't as used to my ambition. That also means that I'm the guy reading "Introduction to the Theory of Computation" while waiting for the dryer to finish, and that I'm the guy who chokes when the air is saturated with cigarette smoke. I'm in the wrong crowd. I feel as if I'm in an environment that inhibits my capabilities, and instead, I desire one which supports and demands my capabilities be put to great use.

Ultimately, my objectives are to hone my computer science, social, academic, and leadership skills among diverse yet like-minded students, and evolve to a position where I can make the contributions my community and my university need. Whether this is in the form of a future professorship, financial grants, or results in research, I do not know, but if I am sure about anything, it's that I will make it there with an institution that fits me on my side.
carolinemm 1 / 8 1  
Sep 29, 2013   #2
I think it's really good! "I feel that the contributions I aim to achieve, particularly in computer science, are beyond the needs of an established corporation." This sentence felt a bit awkward to me, and instead of "I desire one which supports and demands my capabilities be put to great use." I would say something like "I desire one which supports my ambition and demands my capabilities be fully exploited." but otherwise looks great.
ctrlaltext - / 3 1  
Sep 30, 2013   #3
- The start is slightly blunt. I'm assuming that's what you're going for, and it could be a positive thing simply because it draws attention, but adding a catchy introductory sentence might make it a bit smoother.

- I think you should subtly downplay your criticism of your current institution. The explicit vibe I get is 'I'm too smart and ambitious for this university.' You want to get that across, but more subtly - and let the person reading your essay come to that conclusion rather than making it on your own. Things like "that I was an already-useful asset and had incredible potential" ---> "that I was a useful asset with great potential" and "healthier and progressive" ---> "progressive". Focus more on what you aim to accomplish when you transfer. You spend a while discussing why you don't fit at your current institution and why transferring would further your interests, but less on what you would do in that new environment.

- "While I am confident, to some degree, that I have the entrepreneurial and technical capabilities to make the next dazzly-do iPhone app that sets me five figures ahead of the average teenager, my pursuit of the startup dream has sizzled down to charred cinder. I realize that true progress is not measured by how much money I make or how much popularity is potentially involved, but by what meaningful contributions I can make to society. "

The metaphor was good, but the first sentence reads awkwardly. "While I am fairly confident" might do the job better. I can see what you're going for with the second sentence, but it comes off as slightly arrogant (sorry if that's too harsh). It sounds as if you're dismissing the ventures of others and defining what 'true progress' entails, and while you might feel the way, the admissions committee might warm up to you more if you wrote something along the lines of "My standards of progress are not defined by how much money I make..."

- I think you should either add a separate conclusion or include a blip about your reasons for transferring in the final paragraph. e.g. "Ultimately, my objectives are to hone my computer science, social, academic, and leadership skills in an environment that is better suited for my goals, and evolve to a position where I can make the contributions my community and my university need. Whether this is in the form of a future professorship, financial grants, or results in research, I do not know, but if I am sure about anything, it's that I will make it there with an institution that fits me on my side."

- Overall though, very well-written. You come across as intelligent and ambitious. Good luck!
OP deathstroke 2 / 11 1  
Sep 30, 2013   #4
carolinemm: Thanks for your comment! I'll certainly look into revising that sentence. Now that you bring it up, I also think it reads awkwardly.

ctrlaltext: Wow, thank you so much! This is precisely the critique I was hoping for :-). I agree with your comments, *especially* the second and third ones -- admittedly, I'm a very arrogant person, and was a pretty afraid that it would show through in my essays, so having a total stranger (not my father, who, in some cases, is just as arrogant :P) read my essay thoroughly really means a lot. And yes, I am indeed very critical of my current institution in general, but for obvious reasons, do not want to emphasize that in this essay. Again, thank you very much for your sincere and very helpful comments.
dumi 1 / 6,927 1592  
Oct 5, 2013   #5
I am transferring because I have discovered my academic and professional goals are not aligned with the institution where I currently study.

I intend to transfer because I've discovered my academic and professional goals aren't well aligned with the courses offered by where I'm currently studying.

- The start is slightly blunt. I'm assuming that's what you're going for, and it could be a positive thing simply because it draws attention, but adding a catchy introductory sentence might make it a bit smoother.

.... yes, I think your reason is very valid, but you can be a little more creative in presenting that idea.

While University of Kansas has a lot going for it-a big sports following, an EECS Department supported by Google, and a very warm student community-several components that I feel are key to my success in computer science are not an integral part of the school, and I seek an institution that better serves my academic and personal needs.

I feel you can start with this;
Life at my current college, the University of Kansas is incredibly interesting; all major sports, an EECS Department supported by Google and its warm student community are very appealing. However, I find my personal goals in the field of computer science cannot be achieved there as this field is not an integral part of their academic curriculum.
OP deathstroke 2 / 11 1  
Oct 5, 2013   #6
@dumi: Thanks so much for your feedback! I have a few questions/responses regarding your comments.

1. Not sure why my version of the sentence doesn't get the same point across -- your version comes across (to me) as a little fluffy, so as far as personal preference goes, I like mine better. Could you perhaps explain why you think that edit could be important?

2. I agree -- I'll try to figure out if there's a way I can be less blunt about it (although I'm not exactly sure where to start).

3. I really think your version is too fluffy, and I would be lying if I said that the life is "incredibly interesting." Also, the second sentence changes the meaning of what I'm trying to convey. Arguably, computer science is an integral field of University of Kansas, but I specify that "several components that are key to my success in computer science" is what I seek (these components are explained in the rest of the essay). I think I'll leave this sentence as-is.

Thanks for your help! :-)
dumi 1 / 6,927 1592  
Oct 6, 2013   #7
Ohhhhhh....that's fine. My suggestions were based on what I read in your response. You are totally free to accept them or not because you are the best person who knows what the real reason and the background of that university. What I mentioned there was what I guessed by reading your previous response. If it sounds fluffy, just don't take any notice and go ahead with what you wrote. That's perfectly alright. :)
OP deathstroke 2 / 11 1  
Oct 6, 2013   #8
@dumi Thanks for your help and understanding! I really appreciate it :-)


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