1. Many applicants to college are unsure about eventual majors. What factors led you to an interest in the field of science you have selected?
My interest in science came from my exposure to it from a very young age, as I would often read children's science books such as "Young Scientist", and was a great fan of the Discovery Channel. Even into my freshman year, I still had (and still have) and very general interest in "science", whether it be biology, chemistry or physics. However, at the end of my freshman year, I picked up a popular science book on quantum physics at a second hand book sale, and found that, for the first time in my life, I had come across a topic that I was really, really, interested in. This sparked my interest in physics, and has led to my choosing physics as my intended major
2. What experiences beyond school work have broadened your interest in this field?
As the editor and co-founder of the school's science magazine, I have had to do research into areas of physics that I knew very little about at that time, such as exotic astronomical events or the application of Fourier series in physics. As a result of my duties, I was able to teach myself a lot of new topic in physics, which I would otherwise have never been aware of.
In addition, during my summer vacation, I studied Special Relativity with Professor Sreerup Rayachaudri at the Tata Institute for Fundamental Research in Mumbai. The aim of the [insert word here... summer school? Internship?] was to firstly get an excellent opportunity to study yet another advanced topic in physics, but also to get a feel for how studying physics at the university level would be like. My experience at TIFR was eye-opening, as I really enjoyed studying relativity (and as a result am trying to understand the basics of General Relativity), but I also enjoyed the university style of education.
3. What concept in your anticipated major were you most proud of mastering?
Without a doubt, I would say quantum mechanics. Of course, when I say "mastered", I mean that I now understand the basic theory of quantum mechanics, though not all the intricacies and certainly not all of the mathematics! I would say this, because unlike any of the other concepts that I have previously studied, such as relativity, atomic physics or particle physics, I studied quantum theory purely by myself, with no outside help (unless you count watching Feynman's lectures as outside help). The fact that I have been able to grasp a subject such as quantum physics, which is purported to be insanely hard, by myself is a source of great pride to me, since it showed me that I can teach myself anything, no matter how hard, and that I can cope with the increasingly difficult concepts that will be introduced to me at the college level.
4. Briefly describe the course(s) you have taken relating to your chosen field of science.
I took CIM Mathematics and Coordinated Science for the IGCSE board exams, and am taking HL Mathematics and HL Physics for the IB exams. I also chose physics as the topic for my Extended Essay, with the topic of 'antibubbles'.
1) Try two sentences instead of just one at the beginning: "My interest in science came from my exposure to it from a very young age. I loved reading children's science books such as "Young Scientist" and was a great fan of the Discovery Channel." I would delete the second sentence and go straight into the third: "In my freshman year of [college/high school], I picked up a popular science book on quantum physics at a second-hand book sale and found a topic that I was truly fascinated by. That fascination has continued for the past [insert number of years], and I would like to [insert career].
2) "As a result, I was able to teach myself physics. Without this opportunity, I would not have known about [insert topics here]." For the [insert word here...summer school?Internship?], I would use instead: "Over the course of the summer, I learned about [insert advanced topic here] and got a good idea of what studying physics at a university would require. I enjoyed studying relativity and began teaching myself general relativity when the summer was over." Delete the part about liking university-style teaching; it sounds tacked on and almost pleading.
3) "I am most proud of mastering the basics of quantum mechanics." Don't say you don't understand something unless you can also prove you've worked hard to understand it.
"I am also proud of mastering basic quantum because I taught myself with no help except for Feynman's videotaped lectures." Put in Feynman's entire name and title, as well as where he teaches/works (I'm not familiar with the name because I'm terrible at physics, so I'm not entirely sure how well-known he is). "Being able to teach myself basic quantum, a tough topic, has increased my confidence in my ability to help myself learn complicated concepts."
4) Get rid of the acronyms. Type it all out. There's no guarantee the people reading your essay will know what IGCSE or HL mean. Also, while it's great you've chosen "antibubbles" to be your Extended Essay topic, it is not a course you have taken. They know you chose antibubbles as your essay topic because they've read your essay.
I really hope this helps, and I hope you get in. Kudos for picking physics as your intended major.
Thanks for all the great help!
Just one clarification: For question 3, how exactly would I "prove" that I have worked hard to understand it? I mean, I could try to explain QM, but that takes waaay more than 500 words...
Maybe put something in there about how long it took, how many resources you had to find, etc.
1) Maybe try to be a bit more anecdotal in the first response. Instead of saying "I had come across a topic I was really, really interested in", try discussing what about that topic excited you.
2) Wow, that sounds like a pretty amazing summer.
3) I don't think you need two of the "I would say this". The last sentence is good, but is a bit overrun with commas and I needed to labor a little to get through it. Try breaking it into two more manageable sentences.
4) Haha, antibubbles sounds like a game you'd play in third grade. Probably a bit harder than that.
Overall, I definitely get the sense that you're really into quantum physics. And damn, that's an impressive thing to be into. Good luck!
The antibubbles were a real, real bitch. Certainly not third grade stuff xD I must have spent 80++ hours on that extended essay >_>... gives one a much better appreciation for how real science works. (Would that detail be worth including?)
Thanks for the help!