the puzzle analogy - COMMON Application ESSAYPrompt
Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story
I love mathematics. I'm that kid in school who always wants to see the math problem you're solving. The same one who would ask you to think about xyz instead of just giving you the answer you want when you ask for help with a question. The worst part is, once he can't solve the problem, you can be assured that you won't be going anytime soon. For some reason he just refuses to give up! ALWAYS! It gets very annoying sometimes. He's always smiling when thinking about, solving or explaining a math problem. And when you see him walking around, you know he's thinking up some mathy stuff as usual.
I find mathematics very interesting. Maybe it's the non-subjectivity or perhaps the space for creativity. Everything about it just appeals to me. I suppose there's something very satisfying about taking a problem, reducing it to a string of concepts, and finding a solution. Once upon a time, I was not very good at math. In fact I was so bad that I had to ask a senior in my middle school to help me with it. He drummed into my head that it made no sense that I loved working puzzles and hated mathematics problems.
He explained how I should consider every mathematics problem as a unique puzzle. "You have puzzle pieces"; the math concepts you've learnt, "then you have a canvas"; the clear sheets onto which you transplant your puzzle pieces and complete the puzzle. "Now the only catch is..." his voice reduced to a whisper, almost as if he didn't want me to hear "...unlike most puzzles, not every piece is relevant to the puzzle, and you don't have an image of what the complete puzzle looks like before you finish it". "Tough luck bro" he would often boom, as I smiled in amusement. Soon, I began to think of math questions more as puzzles than problems. In math class, all I needed to do was think like I was solving puzzles and all would be well. It worked! Some puzzles were certainly very problematic, but it worked for the most part. It only got irritating when I couldn't seem to find, and sometimes truly didn't have a puzzle piece.
By high school, I thought of my puzzle pieces the way most kids thought of pokemons. If I saw it and didn't have it, I'd raise heaven and hell to capture it. Math courses in school, math courses online, math contests, math olympiads, math summer programs, math *insert word here*. If it started with, ended with or contained the word math, and I had caught a whiff of it, I'd do it. I knew I liked math when I was in math class and a friend pointed out that she had never seen me fall asleep during any of our famed monday morning math classes before, and right on cue, several gasps broke out from the many corners of the math room (surprising, since I never sleep in any of my classes).
A year ago, a student in a junior class asked me for help in math. He did not understand why I was so excited and eager to help. Recently, he entered my room and said, "Michael, honestly, I don't think math is for me." I placed my hand on his shoulder as he tried to convince me that he was just joking - an exercise in futility - and I asked, "Do you like puzzles?" "Kinda" he replied, which was more than good enough for me. I felt so old, and rightly so as I told him, "several years ago, I was like you" before taking him through the puzzle analogy for the next 10 minutes straight. Of course, I had to put my own spin on it "...Take the liberty to start from any part of the puzzle. Try your best, don't rush, and have fun!"
Word Count: 650 words
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