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"I'm in love with olfaction" - Cornell's Engineering supplement essay

hahoonh 4 / 12  
Dec 6, 2010   #1
Hey guys, please have a read and leave a comment below! Thanks in advance! (I also want advice on how to conclude my essay. Right now, it just doesn't seem to fit)

Engineers turn ideas (technical, scientific, mathematical) into reality. Tell us about an engineering idea you have or your interest in engineering. Explain how Cornell Engineering can help you further explore this idea or interest.

The concept of olfaction was not familiar to me in my childhood. Due to my innate empyema, I found it difficult to respire through my nostrils, thus smell was one of the five senses that I had to relinquish. However, as the severity of empyema dwindled down and I have eventually been able to come in contact with smells, they opened up wonderlands in my imagination. I could obtain pleasure from things that I felt indifferent when my mom used to assert: "Oh, this flower smells lovely!".

My mom's definition of lovely is confined to only beautiful, pristine objects like flowers. Mine, unlike hers, includes many others that most people loathe: dirt on nails, old books, sweats on the palm, bottom-right corner of the pillow, burning matchsticks, gasoline stands and many others. To be honest, I had no clue of what sort of odor people normally perceive as likable at first. When I finally realized how my definition of 'lovely' so greatly deviated from that of other people, it was already too late to reconstruct my dictionary.

Once, I met a stranger online who claimed to be in love with the smell of ammonia. As I typed: 'Yuck! Why would you smell such thing?', I realized this is how people would have felt towards my own likings. This idea that individuals have remarkably diversified tastes has fascinated me. I am conscious that individuals may find comfort from objects that other people dislike, and that these odors may be much more effective than the typical perfumes and essences in the market today. Furthermore, people often derive memories when they are exposed to a particular odor, and so if we manage to fully understand the connection, we would be able to produce a perfume or food that will act not only as a decorating agent, but also as a means to reminisce their childhood: a sort of perfume and chocolate that goes beyond mechanic pleasure, that nobody would resist to have.

Upon realizing that I first need a place to build a set of fundamental knowledge, I had been actively searching for a suitable institution, and I found Cornell University. I was amused by the Cornell's commitment to liberal and theoretical studies with generous research opportunities, allowing students to apply conceptual learning from lectures to tackle the real-world problems. By doing so, I would be able to maximize my fondness for olfaction to really jump into the game and 'get my hands dirty'. Cornell's rigorous curriculum would ride me nonstop to challenge the limits that I have previously set myself, and to expand my knowledge to boundaries that were once deemed only gods could reach. As a person who could get easily enticed away, the university's rural location is perfect for me to keep my faith and march on without being driven off the track.

Although I do not specifically know what the four years of life in Cornell will have for me, I firmly believe that they will be memorable and invigorating, and that Cornell will be one vital medium that would define who I really am.
nishabala 4 / 91  
Dec 6, 2010   #2
I dn't see how this answers the prompt. I'm far from having an engineering turn of mind (my mind tends to wander to the theoretical and impractical), but I'm a physics/chem student. And I don't see the connection. You haven't mentioned the word 'engineering' even once in your entire essay, while the prompt mentions it or its root no less than four times. I think the concept is interesting, but you definitely need to work on connecting it to the topic in a more evident fashion. I can understand you may see the connection, but the AO spending a couple of minutes per essay probably won't.

Also, your style of writing works sometimes. Other times, it feels like you've overthought it and used to many big words in a sentence, and you also stray unforgivably to wordiness. It flattens the emotion out (the only reason I noticed it is I'm prone to the same mistake.) To me, this is most noticeable in the introduction, particularly in "I have eventually been able to come in contact with smells"... You can frshen it up by cutting that intohalf. The rest of the essay, however, doesn't have such a starkly draggin feel to it. You need to start with emotion to grab the reader's attention, maybe with something like 'I could see its velvety crimson hue, and felt the prick of a thorn when I drew closer to touch. But every time someone pointed out the marvellous fragrance emanating from the rose, I looked at them blankly; I could not smell the rose.' (think of something better than that though, that's just an example I thought of.)
OP hahoonh 4 / 12  
Dec 6, 2010   #3
hey nisha, thanks for some criticisms! having read your comment, i see that this essay really needs more construction. I will try to rephrase the first paragraph, and try to connect my idea to cornell engineering in a better way!

If you could give some feedbacks for my common app essay, that would also be fantastic, since you are an amazing critic! I will try my best to give feedbacks back for your essays as well. good luck with your application!

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