Hey guys, so here goes my first attempt at a commonapp essay (for Wharton). The word count is 735 (is this too long?). Please feel free to be as brutally honest as you like, I need the criticism :]
Prompt: Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.
I smiled as I watched our club members working diligently, some solving for X, others deriving the esoteric law of cosines. There was reason to celebrate - our newly-minted math club, The [anon] High School Math Society, had just registered its 30th member and was already into its 4th month, an eternity for a fledgling club like ours.
The idea was bold and seemingly idealistic: creating the ideal math club, one that would combine competition practice with peer-tutoring. To us, a couple of kids without much know-how about how to run a club, this seemed perfect - we could hone our skills and at the same time share our love of math with others.
Without much of a plan, we approached our algebra II teacher and pitched our idea. "Sorry, I'm too busy this semester guys." "Okay, fine," we thought, "surely one of the half-dozen math teachers will be willing to sponsor us." We went from teacher to teacher, but much to our surprise, we were met with empathetic yet cold-shouldered responses of "over-committed" and "too busy." Without a teacher sponsor, our club would be relegated to the position of "non-academic" club, which meant no funding and support from the school. And without funding, we would have to raise our own money to build register our school for competitions and buy contest practice materials. Darn. At this point, most of the originators of the idea had decided it was time to scrap it and mark this year as another year which [anon] High School would be devoid of a math club. Admittedly, I was also feeling slightly lost.
Two weeks later, with all but me and a classmate David still holding on to the notion of math club, the [anon] High School Math Society was tending toward oblivion, though it had not yet been born. I pondered the future of math at [anon]. Imagine: no one qualifies for the AIME, no one even bothers to take the AMC, general interest in math declines, and students fail algebra because they cannot get proper tutoring! No! I shuddered at the thought of such grim events. It was at that moment that I resolved to rekindle the dimming idea and do my best to make math club a success.
Step one: gain the approval of our principal. I carefully drew up a proposal for our club. My classmate David and I approached our principal and presented him with the club's goals, expected meeting times, and fundraising proposals. For a brief moment, the principal, David, the room, and I froze in time. Then: "Of course, I wish you gentlemen the best of luck!" A rush of joy filled my body as I excitedly envisioned all the possibilities for our club!
For the few weeks, we worked tediously, researching each math competition we wanted to enroll our school in, finding copious contest prep materials, and drawing up plans for fundraising to be able to afford all this. We wrote a recruitment presentation, created pamphlets, fliers, and posters. We phoned our friends and IM'd our buddies. We gave our formal recruitment presentation during lunch one day: "welcoming all math-lovers, those seeking competition prep, and those wanting peer-tutoring." The meeting one week away, we hoped for the best.
Our first meeting, we were thrilled: nearly twenty people showed up! We presented our peer-tutoring plan, whereby everyone would list his or her strengths and whenever someone needed help, they would go to whoever was strong at that certain topic. And almost everyone wanted to do competitions. We realized that we needed to fundraise, and fast.
Through several brainstorming sessions, we came up with what we thought was a keeper. We would create comprehensive test study guides which we would sell for five dollars a copy. We could get our club members to all pitch in. Three weeks later, we had raised enough money to buy our first contest prep booklets. Indeed, we had to slash prices by eighty percent, but nevertheless, we got the job done.
As the year progressed, so our club expanded and grew. Though there definitely the highs and lows, I could see all our tedious labor coming into fruition. I felt that I had perhaps truly accomplished something great. If only one more kid began to appreciate math more, if just one more kid grasped the law of cosines or learned to solve for X, I would be more than delighted.