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"I am an anticarcinogen" - MIT undergrad

theTalkingRice 5 / 17  
Oct 16, 2010   #1
What attribute of your personality are you most proud of, and how has it impacted your life so far? This could be your creativity, effective leadership, sense of humor, integrity, or anything else you'd like to tell us about. (*) (200-250 words)

I am an anticarcinogen. What? you say, You prevent cancer? How can that be? Simple arithmetic - laughter is said to reduce the severity of cancers; I make people laugh. Two plus two; I prevent cancer.

Clever metaphors aside, it's safe to say that I am almost literally defined by the words "sarcastic humor." Our English class did a sarcasm unit last year and when the teacher asked if anyone could define sarcasm, everyone pointed at me. I spout cynical observations like a fountain; my brain is a virtual goldmine of the stuff. Imagine political cartoons, but personified.

I suppose this is partly a side effect of my inability to handle emotion-intensive situations; at least, not in the traditional sense. As soon as a point is reached where sincere human compassion is required to continue a conversation, I throw in sarcasm to divert the topic. That's not to say I'm incapable of expressing sympathy; I just refuse to belittle the emotions disclosed to me in such confidence by offering awkward half-condolences. And in all honesty, would anyone really believe them? Instead, sarcastic humor is my own way of conveying concern, of communicating the compassion I cannot effectively describe in words. I try to make people laugh, because it is the best thing I can do for them. I express my own belief that people shouldn't be so tense, so concerned with details all the time. Enjoy life. Laugh. And that, I suppose, is more heartfelt than anything else I could ever articulate. So I guess even though there's no cure to cancer, I'm probably the next best thing there is.

I won't lie, I kind of hate this essay. I'm really bad at writing essays about myself so this was a real challenge. The first paragraph and a half I thought was especially bad. But i was trying to SHOW my personality instead of writing about it, which is why this is written pretty informally, since that's just the kind of person I am.

also, I know there should be quotes in the first paragraph, but I decided to go without them for stylistic reasons. It just seems to flow better without. And it matches the general tone of the piece that I'm going for. :/

Advice is appreciated, thanks :D
fjfjfjf - / 13  
Oct 16, 2010   #2
At first I didn't like your essay, especially for MIT. Then I reread it a couple of times and it grew on me. I think the humor is spot on. Your personality shines through. I think there are probably some grammatical errors in the first paragraph in which you might consider revising. Something like, What, you say(minus quotes since you stated you purposely left them out)? You prevent cancer... but I am uncertain of how it should be structured.

I'm a little ambivalent about the second paragraph but its more of an aesthetic critique than anything else, particularly the first two sentences. "I spout cynical observations like a fountain; my brain is a virtual goldmine of the stuff. Imagine political cartoons, but personified." -- this is well done in my opinion. Your first and last sentences (which I consider most important because the first grabs the reader's attention and last leaves the lasting impression) are witty and you come full circle which is always a good narrative technique.

I think you've got a good essay here and I wish you well in your application(s).
OP theTalkingRice 5 / 17  
Oct 16, 2010   #3
Thanks for the advice/compliments :p

but what you're saying is that your first impression was kind of a bad one? Because the admissions people probably only have time to read it once or twice, and I don't want it to sound good only after reading it a couple more times. Is there anything in particular that you didn't really like on your first readthrough that I could change? I'm trying not to make myself sound too much like an unemotional jerk but it's hard haha. Thanks
vladic007 9 / 22  
Oct 16, 2010   #4
I personally loved the idea of laughter as a way to prevent cancer.
But as Steve said it could bring a false impression to one at the admissions office.

I suppose this is partly a side effect of my inability to handle serious situations;

Try to rephrase this idea. I sounds a bit wrong, because applying to an university is already a serious situation. You then add that you are talking about conversations, so try to combine somehow these two parts.

Generally spoken, I really enjoyed reading your essay. Hope you'll get in. Best wishes.
By the way, I'm applying to MIT too. :)
fjfjfjf - / 13  
Oct 16, 2010   #5
I'm really torn here. I think my initial impressions were that this was way too informal for a place like MIT. But then, you state you purposely wanted your essay to be informal. It's a tough decision. On the one hand, your narrative style may separate you from the pack because it's engaging and humorous. On the other, someone reading this may be turned off by the humor you put forth. I don't know. It's really subjective. I wish I could offer better advice. I'd say stick with what your gut tells you to do and you really can't go wrong.
zinger14 2 / 3  
Oct 16, 2010   #6
I really like you essay! The idea of laughter curing cancer is a nice idea, and I really like how you used it in your conclusion. The structure of your first paragraph/introduction seemed a little awkward to me when I first read it, though. I can't really say specifically what bothers me, but I think its how each sentence is pretty short so it seems a little bit choppy. Again, I don't know exactly what I would change to make it better, though, so if you decided to keep it I think it would be OK too.
iceui2 - / 70  
Oct 17, 2010   #7
Your 3rd paragraph is completely wrong - MIT will automatically reject you if you say "I suppose this is partly a side effect of my inability to handle serious situations". Rather, you should spend this paragraph saying the opposite: "I also have the ability to handle serious situations." But since that is obviously not you, I would not write about this topic.

Do you have anything you are proud of that isn't so common that it's mentioned in the question? If so, definitely write about that instead.
OP theTalkingRice 5 / 17  
Oct 17, 2010   #8
well i wasn't really saying that I can't handle serious situations at all; I just don't do it in the traditional sense, with "oh, i'm so sorry!!" etc etc. Just seems fake to me. I did go on to say that I handle them BY being humorous
Lala0131 1 / 2  
Oct 17, 2010   #9
I like the sarcasm part but I'm scared that the admissions officer might just read it as a bit snobby? I don't know, personally I like sarcasm and what you're saying
navalava 6 / 30  
Oct 17, 2010   #10
I liked your essay! Yes, I definitely don't think you should put in that part about not being able to handle serious situations. I get exactly what you mean there, but then that's just me. A lot of other people won't see it that way. I like your topic-it's unique. As for the informal style, keep it. I think it suits you. It'll give admissions officers a change from reading highly sophisticated language all the time.
OP theTalkingRice 5 / 17  
Oct 17, 2010   #11
thanks again for all the comments!

i added some stuff to aid the flow, but the main idea is still the same. I also tried to cushion a bit of the stuff in the third paragraph so my personality doesnt seem so bitingly in your face when i describe some things. I suppose you'll probably see what i mean.

better? worse? Comments are appreciated :D
dmanguru 1 / 7  
Oct 17, 2010   #12
Personally I enjoyed your essay and it's unconventional style. But is just that style that may harm your essay's reception. Taking a purely subjective take on the subject, the admissions official might love it for it's contrast to the traditional sophisticated and articulate writing that they get mountains of. On the other hand they may feel the humor inappropriate in relation to the standards of MIT. Since you have no way of truly knowing, I think your best bet is to look up accepted essays from previous years and see if anyone took the unconventional approach like you did. If you can't find any similar examples then I would strongly consider making your essay more erudite.
navalava 6 / 30  
Oct 17, 2010   #13
Also, one more thing. You talk a lot about being sarcastic. Although you showed us that you're being sarcastic in order to get rid of the stress, the word 'sarcastic' has a negative connotation to it. You may want to replace it with something else. Also don't put 'cynical.'
jerd25 1 / 2  
Oct 17, 2010   #14
Although I really enjoyed this and feel that this could be a breath of fresh air for admissions, I wonder if your sarcasm should be an attribute you are MOST proud of.

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