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'my foremost passion' - Stanford's Intellectual Vitality, "What is math?"

chandescartes 2 / 4  
Dec 19, 2013   #1
Any comments/revisions on quality/thoroughness of my response, better ways to word some phrases, and grammar would be greatly appreciated! Thanks everyone!

Stanford students possess an intellectual vitality. Reflect on an idea or experience that has been important to your intellectual development (250 words)

What is math? Before middle school, I thought it was the tedious, tiresome task of 'finding x' - nothing beyond a set of repetitive, meaningless problems. This entire notion, however, drastically changed when I entered middle school.

The bell rang as I stepped into my first math class. I wasn't very excited for another year of boring problems. However, the writing on the board immediately grabbed my attention. "Prove: Any number times zero equals zero". My immediate thoughts were 'what did it mean to 'prove', and why would anyone need to prove such an obvious statement?' This certainly did not seem like the previous math classes I took.

A lanky Russian teacher stepped forward and asked if anyone knew the 'proof'. When no one raised their hands, he took the task upon himself. He wrote:

1. 0 = 0 + 0.
2. Multiply 'n' to both sides: n*0 = n(0 + 0) = n*0 + n*0
3. Subtract n*0 from both sides: 0 = n*0

When he finished writing, he had not only proved that 'n*0 = 0.' He had also proved to me that math wasn't about 'finding x'. Rather, math was a wonderful process of using acquired knowledge to unveil further truths. I had finally discovered the true beauty of mathematics. As we delved into more complicated and exciting proofs, my passion for mathematics continued to rise, and until today, it remains my foremost passion.
renataba 1 / 3  
Dec 19, 2013   #2
I really liked the essay! But ...unveil additional truths sounds better to me than further truths though! :)
admission2012 - / 481 90  
Dec 19, 2013   #3
Again, If possible, you should NOT write about in classroom situations in your Stanford essays. Especially about a topic as popular as math. This is the fastest way to get your application rejected or wait-listed. These types of applications simply do not stand out. For example, if you have a 4.0 g.p.a and another applicant also has a 4.0 g.p.a (very common at Stanford), writing about more purely academic issues is of no value. They can already see that you are smart and academically driven. However the student with a 3.8 gpa, that shows he or she has really taken risks via non-traditional activities will more than likely gain admissions with the lower g.p.a because that person has a unique presentation and has shown they have true intellectual vitality by pushing the boundaries of what's possible. This is what Stanford is looking for. Also, you should try to pick an experience that happened while you were enrolled in high school to make it more relevant. -Admissions Advice Online
OP chandescartes 2 / 4  
Dec 19, 2013   #4
Thank you both for your comments!
admissions2012. I completely understand your point, but this is honestly my lightbulb/eureka moment. I do definitely want to stand out, but I don't want to be contrived or fake. While it is important to look at what admission officers look like, I believe it's also important to be yourself and real. Also, I think that there can be great essays about the cliche in-school, math experience..

I was wondering, aside from the fact that it is a common topic, if this was an interesting, well-written essay and whether there were any awkward phrases or grammatical mistakes. Appreciate your help!
admission2012 - / 481 90  
Dec 19, 2013   #5
You WILL receive a low essay score if you submit this, which--depending on the rest of your application-- may knock you out of the running. I have seen some of your competition this admissions cycle and the essays they are submitting are really creative. This essay doesn't even begin to hold a candle to some those. So, yes, there can be great essays about in-classroom experiences, but sadly this is not one of them. Take a realistic look at what you are trying to do. You are trying to gain admissions to one of the most hyper-competitive colleges in the nation. Look at the early action results from Stanford. 76% of those accepted just a few days ago, had g.p.a's above a 4.0. When this happens it no longer becomes a question of academics, but rather what value you bring to the table. Utilize these essays carefully. For most applicants, these are the only chances you will have to differentiate yourself from others. Talking further about in-classroom academics is of absolutely no additional value. Alas, you are free to submit what you want. Good Luck!- Admissions Advice Online
bolu - / 5 2  
Dec 20, 2013   #6
maybe you dont focus too much on that proof but also talk about how it intrested you that you researched harder proofs and sghow an example that is much more intellectually stimulating than 0=n*0

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