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idiosyncrasies or peculiarities about ourselves, UChicago essay


goldeneye98 2 / 32  
Dec 20, 2009   #1
Note: This is only a very rough draft, so I may change the essay. I didn't know whether or not my topic and/or essay was quirky enough for Chicago. I chose my own prompt. I'd appreciate any feedback or edits! :)

Prompt #5: In the spirit of adventurous inquiry, pose a question of your own. If your prompt is original and thoughtful then you should have little trouble writing a great essay. Draw on your best qualities as a writer, thinker, visionary, social critic, sage, citizen of the world, or future citizen of the University of Chicago; take a little risk and have fun.

This is my prompt: Everyone has particular idiosyncrasies or peculiarities about themselves. Tell us about one of your own peculiarities. How has it affected or influenced you?

Picture this. The number 5 is always green and 8 is always beige. "T" and "N" are somewhat compatible with each other, but "N" must always be to the left of "T"; otherwise she becomes very defensive and turns an ugly orange. Raindrops are blue and when they plop, the xylophone sounds. Wednesday is always to the far right of me, never in the middle or the left. Quite weird, am I not? No wonder my parents thought I said such strange things as a kid!

I have a special twist to myself - its name, synesthesia.
Synesthesia is a fairly uncommon, yet harmless, brain condition that results in the cross-activation of senses. As a result, synesthetes perceive certain objects differently than the normal person. To me, "J" is a lady, often wearing a pink robe over her elegant dress, a pair of boots, and a feather in her hair. My fear of the word "violet" persuades me never to tread into that particular section of the dictionary while the blue-green light emitted by the number 25 calms me. The whole world is a giant picture book; colors surround my existence.

According to V.S. Ramachandran, Professor of Neurosciences at the University of California at San Diego, synesthesia is a sensory phenomenon, involving no higher, cognitive functions. A completely involuntary process, synesthesia can take shape in many ways. In the more prevalent cases, a synesthete may perceive a letter, number, or general symbol in certain colors. Many musicians, including myself, see colors as they hear certain notes or musical scales. More uncommon cases include people who create people out of letters and numbers, giving them moral characteristics, genders, attitudes, and even attire; others taste words and sounds with certain flavors. As the case is with me, some people may even have multiple forms of synesthesia. But no two people share the exact same experiences. For example, I was thrilled to find out that my friend Jack had synesthesia as well. We spent the next ten minutes arguing over whether the number 5 was yellow or green (and it was clearly green!).

I was unaware of my brain condition until junior year, when I took AP Psychology. The class stared at me, some in awe, and others in confusion, as I slowly narrated my dual sensations. I can't say that my discovery has changed my worldview, but it was certainly an upheaval of some of my past assumptions. Seeing symbols in color and personifying letters had not seemed strange at all; I thought everyone saw 4 in red and felt a blue color during "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star." Suddenly, it felt unnatural to voice everything that I had ever beheld since childhood as if I had only imagined it.

It was even more challenging to explain my experiences to my friends.
"Do you actually see the letters in colors when you're reading?"
"Not really... it's more like a sudden flash in your mind."
"Whoa. Reading must be pretty interesting then."
"Maybe, but it's not that noticeable."
"Tell me what color my name is! Color-code it!"
"Well, the 'M' is especially prominent, sort of red-violet..."
"Wow, what does it mean?"
"It doesn't mean anything. It's how I see your name, not a horoscope."
"How do you know that you're not just making it all up?"
That's a question even I ask myself.
Is my synesthesia purely neurological, or am I just being subconsciously metaphorical? If I am only forming metaphors, what is the basis for my connections? To this day, I still do not understand why I always referred to my baby cousin as a bureau, or why "software" tastes sweet.

I have not found all my answers. But I know that synesthesia gives me excitement even on the dullest of days. Whether I'm improvising music on my violin or reading poetry, my unique experiences have piqued my curiosity to discover more about the way my mind works.
keilinger 9 / 53  
Dec 20, 2009   #2
"As the case is with me, some people may even have multiple forms of synesthesia, sharing many of these characteristics" is confusing to me. What are these characteristics?

"Whether I'm improvising music on my violin or reading poetry, my unique experiences have assuaged my curiosity to discover more about the way my mind works."

Assuage means the opposite of what you want to say. "Whetted" or "piqued" would work better.

Good job on this essay! You take an interesting topic and make it even more enjoyable to read with your humor.
OP goldeneye98 2 / 32  
Dec 20, 2009   #3
Thanks for the help! Especially the word... I probably should have checked that. :)

Anyone else want to edit or give feedback?
OP goldeneye98 2 / 32  
Dec 21, 2009   #4
... anyone else have any suggestions?
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,321 129  
Dec 22, 2009   #5
Maybe a colon would work here:
Picture this: The number 5 is always green, and 8 is always beige.

Move this comma:
Raindrops are blue, and when they plop the xylophone sounds.

Wow, I don't know where you are going with this, but I'm 4 sentences into it and intrigued.

I have a special twist to myself; its name is "synesthesia."

Incredible, thanks so much for sharing this.

To this day, I still do not understand why I always referred to my baby cousin as a "bureau," or why "software" tastes sweet.
OP goldeneye98 2 / 32  
Dec 22, 2009   #6
Wow, I don't know where you are going with this, but I'm 4 sentences into it and intrigued.

Oh, does that mean I'm not being clear enough?
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,321 129  
Dec 24, 2009   #7
No, it does not mean that. I wrote what I was thinking when I was four sentences into the essay. It all became clear. To tell you the truth, I think this is going to be a big success. Who could read this and not be intrigued by you. I have a weird twitch, and I know many people with variations of OCD... and this is even more intriguing than our disorders. As if life is not already a weird enough trip... ha ha.

Well, eat nutritious food so that you'll produce plenty of art and music for all of us to enjoy. I look forward to seeing what you contribute to the world... you with your gift/disorder.
Wanderer_x 5 / 88  
Dec 25, 2009   #9
What color is your essay?
To me, it's definitely GOLDEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

U Chicago people will miss a really interesting personality if they dont accept you!

PS: Does your username got to do something with your condition Synesthesia? Plain curious.

Also I'd love if you'd review my Williams supplement as well.
OP goldeneye98 2 / 32  
Dec 25, 2009   #10
What color is your essay?
To me, it's definitely GOLDEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Lol, thanks! I see rainbows in my essay! I can tell you what color your essay is if you want. :)

And no, my username has nothing to do with synesthesia. :D
OP goldeneye98 2 / 32  
Dec 27, 2009   #11
Will someone please check my Why UChicago essay as well? Thanks! I should probably do my optional essay now... :/

Having tutored children for years since I was in middle school, I know the importance of learning for the sake of learning. As I watched the young students idle away from filling out worksheets, I devised methods so that they could learn more enjoyably. Through the use of interactive games and hands-on activities, they flourished and saw education as a rewarding experience. When I attend college, I seek to find the same, stimulating environment that will enhance my love of learning. Through my research of the University of Chicago, I got the impression that it was a place devoted to the innovation of new ideas and individualistic learning. It also seemed like an institution that embraces an interdisciplinary approach to education, allowing its students to take classes on subjects of which they were interested instead of restricting them. In other words, it was a place where students could fulfill their desires to learn unbounded. I believe that this is the essence of an ideal academic community. Among bright and interested students who love to learn, share and discuss their ideas, I am certain that the university will grant my own desire for academic stimulation and challenge.

The numerous choices of academics and activities offered by the University of Chicago excite me. Apart from its extensive list of majors, the university hosts over three hundred student organizations and clubs. Though I'm passionate about music, I look forward to accumulating new skills in fencing and theater. For people like me who are avid lovers of museums and exhibits, the university's location is perfect. Chicago is one of the great cultural hubs of the urban world, filled with rich history, music, arts, and lucrative internships and community service opportunities. The city's intellectual resources are conveniently situated around the university and will enhance my education and relaxation. What more could I want at a university aimed at providing ample opportunities for its students to learn? I know now that the University of Chicago will provide me with a nurturing and stimulating environment so that I may excel.
eskape 3 / 5  
Dec 27, 2009   #12
goldeneye that is quite a beautiful piece of work you have written! I think at the end you should just get rid of the quotation marks around software, it just cleans it up, makes sense and is more resonating in my opinion. Other than that, it's absolutely amazing and I wish you the best of luck (not that you'll need it with this beauty)
OP goldeneye98 2 / 32  
Dec 27, 2009   #13
Thanks! What do you think of my other one that I just posted? Is it okay?
OP goldeneye98 2 / 32  
Dec 27, 2009   #15
... any suggestions for my Why UChicago essay?
Wanderer_x 5 / 88  
Dec 27, 2009   #16
Well...I was about to comment on your why UChicago essay but the thread got deleted by the moderators :( So, i ll comment here itself.

overall, it was fine.

I know the importance of learning for the sake of learning

Its quite cliched, isn't it?

The numerous choices of academics and activities offered by the University of Chicago excite me. Apart from its extensive list of majors, the university hosts over three hundred student organizations and clubs

I think your final paragraph can do well without these two lines. What's the use of telling things they already know?

What more could I want at a university aimed at providing ample opportunities for its students to learn? I know now that the University of Chicago will provide me with a nurturing and stimulating environment so that I may excel

Do something with these lines. Its not quite impactful.
OP goldeneye98 2 / 32  
Dec 28, 2009   #17
Here is my edited version of Why UChicago. I did a bit of reorganizing and I know that I still need to work on my ending. But any comments would be appreciated. I will return the favor! :D

Through my research of the University of Chicago, I got the impression that it was a place devoted to the innovation of new ideas and individualistic learning. It also seemed like an institution that embraces an interdisciplinary approach to education, allowing its students to take classes on subjects of which they were interested instead of restricting them. In other words, it was a place where students could fulfill their desires to learn unbounded. Having tutored children for years since I was in middle school, I have seen the benefits of this kind of learning firsthand. As I watched the young students idle away from filling out worksheets, I devised methods so that they could learn more enjoyably. Through the use of interactive games and hands-on activities, they flourished and saw education as a rewarding experience. I believe that this is the essence of an ideal academic community. When I attend college, I seek to find the same, intellectually stimulating environment that will enhance my love of learning. Among bright and interested students who love to learn, share and discuss their ideas, I am certain that the university will grant my own desire for academic stimulation and challenge.

I believe that extracurricular activities and off-campus opportunities are essential to a well-rounded education. The university hosts more than four hundred student organizations and clubs that will allow me to indulge myself in new experiences and endeavors. Though I'm passionate about music, I look forward to accumulating new skills in fencing and theater. For people like me who are avid lovers of museums and exhibits, the university's location is perfect. Chicago is one of the great cultural hubs of the urban world, filled with rich history, music, arts, and lucrative internships and community service opportunities. The city's intellectual resources are conveniently situated around the university and will enhance my education and relaxation. I will definitely thrive in the nurturing and stimulating environment that the University of Chicago will provide me.
Wanderer_x 5 / 88  
Dec 28, 2009   #18
enhance my love of learning

of or for? :S
OP goldeneye98 2 / 32  
Dec 28, 2009   #19
I'm pretty sure I could use either, but "for" probably sounds better...
OP goldeneye98 2 / 32  
Dec 28, 2009   #20
Thanks. Is there any way that I can remove my extended essay from the thread?
srandhawa 10 / 157  
Dec 28, 2009   #21
i dont see why there has to be hesitation with the beginning of hte uchicago essay, through my research it seems...., no reason to make that passive, especially not at the beginning.

Anyway, rather than say there are over 400 organizations that i would benefit from, how about listing one or two and then going into however much depth you can w/ the word limit, espec relating to your ideas of tutoring in the last para? The last three lines seem vague, talking chicago as a general place, and then saying you'd benefit from all those characteristics, again, i think your better served to talk about one or two and make that the theme of your essay.

Also, you seem to be speculating w/ the effects of tutoring and how they will fit in w/ u chicago, again that opening para where you say the impression i got was thiss... can be improved by just talking more specifics about one or two things about u chicago. If you want to include a line somewhere in the essay about all the characteristics you metnioned at the end of the essay thats fine, but that seems to be the theme of your essay, and your theme does change a little from your tutoring experience to music, i would at least tie a thesis at the beginning relating the two and how they relate to u.chicago, seems a bit too random and it seems like you dont develop the ideas to their fullest potential.

Also those generalizations like at hte beginning of the last para, i believe that ec activties... which you do in the first para also w/ alot of your opinions arent the best idea, dont just directly say i believe or i think this is important, show it, dont tell. I felt like you did a bit too much of that in the opening para.

anyway, good luck, you obviously can write, the key is to get more specific and personal like in the first essay( i think you try getting personal w/ the tutoring ideas but there are just too many generalizations there), if you get a chance could you check mine.

i know there are two, if your going to read one, the upenn one would get higher priority and be the one to read, thanks alot
yay12 - / 3  
Dec 29, 2009   #22
i agree with all the comments above. i guess this essay is kind of decent, but you need to get more specific. your first essay, on the other hand, is marvelous!

can you check mine if you have the time? it's a chicago essay as well.
OP goldeneye98 2 / 32  
Dec 30, 2009   #23
Here's my revised version. I'm having some trouble meshing together the last two paragraphs (the ending in general). Any suggestions on that would be much appreciated! Thank you!

I learn best in an environment where students cultivate a passion for learning and exploring knowledge. This is the essence of my ideal academic community. As I contemplate where I want to spend the next four years of my life, I realize that the University of Chicago is the one place that fosters the idea that learning holds the topmost priority. It is this pervading spirit that attests to the university's success and its high standards which make the university attractive to me. I want to live with and thrive among people who appreciate my "nerdiness" and who see my zeal as an inherent strength in my quest for knowledge.

I believe that the ability to form and experiment with new perspectives is integral to a holistic education. A tutor for years since I was in middle school, I speculated the effects of this kind of learning on my students as they idled away from filling out worksheets. I began to engage them in collaborative discussions, asking them simple questions and watching as their creative sparks began to take root. Through these interactive sessions and other hands-on activities, they were able to learn their material independently and thoroughly, whether it was math or language. Although on a small scale, I discovered that this synergetic approach benefited each student for it promoted individual and critical thinking. Not only does the university's core curriculum emphasize an interdisciplinary approach to education, but it utilizes this Socratic method of teaching. The university's stress on collaborative effort to gain knowledge and create new ideas also fosters its rich research tradition. I hope to become a part of this community known for developing inquiring minds.

The University of Chicago provides unbelievable diversity - as much as the city surrounding it. Its numerous student organizations and clubs will allow me to continue my hobbies and accumulate new skills. I am particularly excited about joining the university's reputed College Bowl Team. As the current captain of my high school's academic team, I look forward to competing on the Chicago's team in matches against other colleges and universities. The university's many A Capella groups cater to my love for music and singing. While I intend to pursue these interests, I would love to take up fencing and theatre.

I consider the next four years of my life to be the most important. I sincerely hope that I will spend them at the University of Chicago.


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