These are my answers for the supplement. I feel pretty confident about the first two, I'm iffy about the third one, and very unsure of the last one. Please tell what you think.
1.There are thousands of colleges and universities. Why are you applying to Occidental? What distinguishes it from your other choices?
I have applied to many beautiful and academically rigorous colleges, and so far Occidental stands out to me the most for several reasons. The foremost reason would be because I know I can get the best possible education at Oxy. I state this with confidence because I am sure that I would be able to flourish as a student in a small campus environment where I would be able to receive the attention I need as a student from faculty because of the small class sizes. As someone who is serious about his education, I crave attending a small liberal arts school where I can spend my four years developing my skills as a clear communicator and deep thinker and use these skills to be successful in my career. Also, considering that I wish to study art history, Oy is in an ideal location for me. If I was admitted into Oxy, I would be able to reap the benefit of its being in the center of an artful city by studying in its great museums, learning about its historical buildings, and being around talented modern artists. Being in an artistic environment would enhance my education to the fullest and besides the location, the fact that Oxy allows students to put an emphasis on different aspects of the major (I would choose Studio Art) is unique from many of the colleges I have researched and only encourages my idea that Oxy would provide the best possible education for me.
Possibly the most sentimental reason I have for wanting to attend Oxy would be the fact that I would be the first of my family to attend a prestigious, four-year college. My grandparents were hard-working immigrants, and with their means the best my parents could do was my dad attending CSU San Bernardino, but only after attending a community college and while working full-time to support my mother who was taking care of me. This has always motivated me to do well in high school and attend college. I know that going to a great school like Occidental would make both me, and generations of my family very proud.
2. Choose a book you have read in the last year that most affected you and clarify its effect.
One of the books I read recently, Frankenstein, had a strong effect on me because of the connection I felt with the creature, and how it made me think about my life. The way the monster was alienated by society for reason outside of his control reminded me of the challenges I faced as a gay man in an intolerant world. The challenges I have faced are reminiscent of the monster's quick ability to learn, and desire for acceptance and friendships.
His ability to learn so quickly reminded of my underclassman years, when I was focused on my secret and could not concentrate on life. After I became more comfortable with myself, I knew I needed to catch-up with my peers in many areas, but most importantly, my grades. His wanting for connection reminded me of how I felt when I was vulnerable from bullying and how I longed for the day when I would feel confident about myself and would be surrounded by people who liked and cared about me. However, unlike Frankenstein's creature, I was able to turn my hurt feelings and loneliness into defensive social skills.
I quickly learned how to defend myself against my adversaries with humor, for no one could of made fun of me if I did first, and I also learned how to become well-liked by others with my tact for knowing how to behave around my peers while still being honest about myself. This prevented me from sharing the creature's greatest downfall of giving up on life because I was able to become happy with whom I am and build relationships.
3. While we realize your interests may change in college, what are your current academic or intellectual curiosities?
I have always been intellectually curious and as a result have always had different ideas as to what it is I want to do in life. My past dreams have varied from English, to engineering, and veterinary studies, but there is one field of study that has become very important to me. During my junior year, when I focused all of my energies into my schoolwork, I built a bond with my art teacher who reminded me of how much I loved art and encouraged me to take his AP art history class and his wife's painting class as a senior.
Going into senior year, I had a feeling that art history would probably end up being my favorite class. I had no idea how much I was going to love it. I always enter class eager to participate in the day's lecture and learn about the day's topic, whether it be Islamic architecture, Byzantine painting, or Greek sculpture. It also came to my surprise when I discovered that I usually earned the highest grades on our frequent quizzes, if not one of the highest. It was a wonderful feeling because before the class I always second-guessed my intelligence and myself. Never has a subject come so easily to me. I understand the art so clearly because I am able to put myself in the artist's position and understand why they composed the piece in that manner.
It did not take me long to understand that this was something I wanted to pursue for the rest of my life. My teacher encouraged me to study art in college and I agreed with confidence because I have never enjoyed a subject to that extent before. Because of this experience, I now know that I will one day become a great art museum curator and art historian because I have the ability, drive and passion to do so.
4. 4. Identify and describe a personal habit - of any nature - that best defines you.
To be perfectly honest, I have often been accused of being quite sassy. No, not on college application essays that put a small limit on the amount of characters I can use, but in real life conversation, and many a time my sharp tongue has been misinterpreted as rude. In reality, I'm just trying to invite others into a duel of witty repartee in an effort to find others who share a similar love for banter. Sarcasm has also been accused to be the language of the weak or pessimistic, but being a person who doesn't mind challenging overrated, holier-than-thou virtues, I have always argued that sarcasm is the language of those jaded by the ridiculousness and obnoxiousness of the people that have come to surround said pessimist. I guess I would just prefer to be the sarcastic but sensible type instead of the hypocritical, pious type.
So how does my use of sarcasm best define me? I suppose I can say that my verbally ironic edge that never quits also acts a double-edged blade. I am able to use it to choose friends by deeming who's quick enough to keep up and who can't. However, as one can imagine, it has not worked well while trying to charm the uppity, prissy type and often leads to more foes than friends. Similarly, I have discovered that my sarcasm goes completely unrestricted while in conversations with people I deeply disdain or absolutely cherish. I suppose it can be inferred that if in discussion with someone I employ subtle insults or purposely mispronounce words, it is undoubtedly out of strong emotion.
There have been times where I have tried to change my ways. I have at time longed to be a more charming and agreeable fellow, but if I have learned anything from elementary school it is to always be your self. I don't know if I would recommend others to adopt the same premature cynicism I have, but at the end of my life (presuming I have never pushed someone enough to merit being murdered) I can at least say to myself, "Hey, at least I was authentic."