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"I'll never know everything there is to know" - Brown: What don't you know?


jpc34 1 / 7  
Dec 10, 2010   #1
French novelist Anatole France wrote: "An education isn't how much you have committed to memory, or even how much you know. It's being able to differentiate between what you do know and what you don't." What don't you know?

I know a lot. I know how to ride a bull standing up. I know how to swim with a shark, play with a shark, and, if necessary, wrestle a shark. I know how to charm snakes with either music or sweet-talk. I know who let the dogs out. I know the ending to The Sopranos. I know how much wood a woodchuck could chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood. I know how to solve a Rubik's Cube with both hands tied behind my back. I know how to do a crossword puzzle blindfolded. I know how to speak Russian with an Italian accent and Italian with a Russian accent. I know how to write five-page palindromic essays. I know how to read Wingdings.

Okay, maybe I don't quite know all of this. As much as I've studied and paid attention in class all these years, I still don't know that much. And despite how hard I may try, I'll never know everything there is to know. All that knowledge is like a mountain range, and as I reach one peak, another summit shows up in the distance.

While being a Sisyphus of encyclopedias and textbooks may win you a couple games on Jeopardy, your breadth of knowledge does not solve any problems or illuminate the world on its own. Sure, knowing six-dimensional geometry or the first eight prime ministers of Kazakhstan does wonders for one's ego, but it does nothing standing alone. These are stagnant, albeit essential, ideas ensconced in academia and meant to be passed down from generation to generation like family heirlooms.

In reality, it takes a unique combination of curiosity, determination, and creativity to become truly knowledgeable. You must be intellectually curious enough to seek out information and ideas, resolute enough to sift through and gain a genuine understanding, and creative enough to add a new perspective and go one step further. I strive to attain all the information I can, from math to literature to woodchucking, in order to gain a greater understanding about the world as a whole. I don't want to just work through it and spit it back out; I want to take what I learn and synthesize it to further venture into the unknown. From there I'll reach the bottom of the next mountain, but isn't that what an education is all about?
nishabala 4 / 91  
Dec 11, 2010   #2
The beginning put me off just a little. It's a bit like the 'I climbed Mount Everest, but I've never been to college' essay that was super popular a while ago, so it doesn't stand out as original. In fact, I actually read somewhere that that's a bad way to do this topic, so I'd advise a change in your introduction.Maybe make it more personal? Cause right now, anybody in the world could have written this. That's not such a good sign.

But, I REALLY like the bit from 'While being a Sisyphus of encyclopedias and textbooks may win you a couple games on Jeopardy' to the end. Cause it's a thoughtful way to approach the topic. Especially the last couple of sentences. Except, especially if your commonapp essay is impersonal, you need to add anecdotes and stuff to make this YOURS.

This is just what I thought, and my perspective as a fellow Brown applicant is admittedly skewed. But I hope I made sense!
Good luck!
melkorthefoul 13 / 31  
Dec 11, 2010   #3
I know a lot. I know how to ride a bull standing up....

This is gold. Pure gold. I really like this... I wish I'd written it first xD

I think it might go on a bit too long, though. I'd suggest removing the bit about the bull, the palindromic essays (really? Going overboard :D) and the dogs.

But otherwise, it looks good. Really good.
OP jpc34 1 / 7  
Dec 11, 2010   #4
thanks! do you think "These are stagnant, albeit essential, ideas ensconced in academia and meant to be passed down from generation to generation like family heirlooms." is a bit too negative? Should I change it to something that reflects more of the ideas in the final paragraph?
nishabala 4 / 91  
Dec 11, 2010   #5
Now that you point it out, maybe you shouldn't be negative about academia? Seeing you ARE going to university. But in conjecture to your previous statement, it does fit well together... maybe you should soften it. Or not use 'academia.' Cause most people would appreciate that memorizing lists of names of Presidents of Kazakhsthan is not education, that won't be too controversial.

EDIT: and guim.org/hugh_gallagher_s_essay.html - This was what I was referring to, regarding your introduction.
OP jpc34 1 / 7  
Dec 11, 2010   #6
aggghh. I wrote the intro to whimsically segue into the essay, almost poking fun at people who are so caught up in knowing so much and having laundry list resumes. Do you think admissions officers would look at it and immediately think of that essay?
nabid777 4 / 9  
Dec 11, 2010   #7
I know a lot. I know how to ride a bull standing up. I know how to swim with a shark, play with a shark, and, if necessary, wrestle a shark. I know how to charm snakes with either music or sweet-talk. I know who let the dogs out. I know the ending to The Sopranos. I know how much wood a woodchuck could chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood. I know how to solve a Rubik's Cube with both hands tied behind my back. I know how to do a crossword puzzle blindfolded. I know how to speak Russian with an Italian accent and Italian with a Russian accent. I know how to write five-page palindromic essays. I know how to read Wingdings.

This part I found very funny, but make sure it doesnt drift off from your central message, keep the reader on track. So what I would do is leave the good/unique stuff in (I know wingdings/ending to sopranos) and the vague/already heard of things out (I can solve a rubiks cub behind my back etc)
nishabala 4 / 91  
Dec 12, 2010   #8
I did, unfortunately. There's always a chance the reader woudn't have read it, but do you want to take that chance? Cause (trust me on this) it comes off a wee bit wannabe if you've read the 1990 essay. Also, I went back and checked, two seperate advice sites advise against using that strain, they've gotta have a point.

But, you COULD leave in part of it (figure our which parts really make people laugh. 'Italian with a Russian accent and Russian with an Italian accent' did it for me.) especially cause it's offset by the thoughtfulness in the rest of your essay.

And I really, SINCERELY wish you good luck on making the decision.:D
OP jpc34 1 / 7  
Dec 13, 2010   #9
Thanks so much, and I appreciate your help. I cut it down a bit, but I think I'll risk it and leave it in. Good luck with all your applications, too!


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