In addition to the essay you're asked to write as part of the Common Application, Amherst requires a second essay of no more than 300 words. We do not offer interviews as part of the application process at Amherst. However, your essays provide you with an opportunity to speak to us. Please keep this in mind when responding to one of the following quotations. It is not necessary to research, read, or refer to the text from which these quotations are taken; we are looking for original, personal responses to these short excerpts. Remember that your essay should be personal in nature and not simply an argumentative essay.
Quote: "Rigorous reasoning is crucial in mathematics, and insight plays an important secondary role these days. In the natural sciences, I would say that the order of these two virtues is reversed. Rigor is, of course, very important. But the most important value is insight--insight into the workings of the world. It may be because there is another guarantor of correctness in the sciences, namely, the empirical evidence from observation and experiments."
Kannan Jagannathan, Professor of Physics, Amherst College
A full or partial comprehension of the intricacies of human existence cannot be acquired through the rigor of scientific observation and experiment. Rather, such an understanding requires an intuition and insight, which can only be gained through experience and a love for people.
The scientific method has always enticed me; the process of developing an idea or insight and testing it has always been a ubiquitous facet of my train of thought. In fact, it became so universal in my mind, I found myself applying the scientific method everywhere; I recall experimenting with how my friends would react to variations in my personality as a joke in elementary school. In these primitive scientific pursuits, I realized that people are not be bound by science. I found that no amount of experimentation, observation or rigor accounts for or can predict the complexities of human interactions. This intangible and inexplicable intuition or insight is needed.
Professor Jagannathan said that in mathematics, the order of the virtues of rigor and insight are reversed. This is true in everything. With respect to people, the acquisition of insight into the workings of humanity is the lifelong process of humanization. Although science has been and always will be at the forefront of my academic pursuits, this everlasting quest for humanization will always be at the forefront of my pursuits in life.
I want my acquisition of human insight to be an experience, not an experiment, and the first step in this is to gain knowledge and an understanding of the world around me. However, learning is a choice. While I can know the facts, I have the choice whether or not to truly comprehend them. I desire an education that lets me choose to be educated because only then will I gain the insight, which Professor Jagannathan was referencing. Thus, I choose Amherst College.