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Supplement: MIT Short Essays


Prompt: We know you lead a busy life, full of activities, many of which are required of you. Tell us about something you do for the pleasure of it.

I write poetry because it takes my mind off the clutter of everyday life, and it gives me a chance to explore my artistic side. I enjoy arranging and rearranging words to explore their sounds and capture their subtle effects. My poems remind me that poetry is solely a human activity. No computers or machines could ever produce poems that truly capture human feelings and sensitivities. To me, poetry is about exploring the boundary between order and chaos, and about creating an entirely new world using only the power of words.

Prompt: What attribute of your personality are you most proud of, and how has it impacted your life so far? This could be your creativity, effective leadership, sense of humor, integrity, or anything else you’d like to tell us about.

One attribute of my character that I value highly is my ability to listen to others, which I believe has contributed immensely to my development as a leader. Some might think that a leader is characterized by how much he or she speaks, and not by how much he or she listens; however, I strongly feel that listening is the key to effective leadership. Listening requires that one focus exclusively and attentively on the individual that is speaking, and it demands that one respond adequately to everything that is said. As Editor-in-Chief of the school’s web magazine, I feel that my readiness to listen has made me very effective at running productive meetings, fostering collaboration among writers, and allowing ideas to blossom. In addition, I think that listening has had an incredible influence on my intellectual development. My willingness to listen has made me more willing to accept criticism and better at learning from others. I believe that self-improvement starts with listening; I know that through my willingness to listen to others’ ideas, I have achieved much progress in becoming a better individual.

Prompt: Describe the world you come from; for example, your family, clubs, school, community, city, or town. How has that world shaped your dreams and aspirations?

As a student at an international school, I’ve had the opportunity to learn from and make friends with students from a wide array of nationalities. Over the years, I have met students from many different nations. All of us together form an impressive collection of extraordinary experiences. I am always surprised by how much we learn from one another, whether it be new customs, new languages, or new perspectives on a whole range of issues. This is a community that is in constant flux—students come and go, and no two people are ever alike. Everyone has different backgrounds and experiences, from those who have lived in a dozen countries, to others who speak four or five languages. This community has given me a new perspective on what it means to be a citizen of the world: we are not defined by our ethnic, cultural, or national backgrounds; instead, we are defined by our personal traits and our willingness to contribute positively to the people around us. As a result, I feel that my greatest aspiration is to forge an identity that is not based on where I am from or what language I speak, but rather on my personal traits and my contributions to the world around me. I hope to share this philosophy with others, so that the same tenets that I have learned from my experiences as a member of this community can spread more widely.

Prompt: Tell us about the most significant challenge you’ve faced or something important that didn’t go according to plan. How did you manage the situation?

One of the most challenging—yet stimulating—projects that I have ever carried out was my IB HL mathematics internal assessment. At first sight, the assignment seemed straightforward: it involved investigating patterns in different systems of linear equations, and then proving the patterns in a logical format. It was work that I enjoyed doing—I enjoyed formulating my proofs by writing out matrices and vectors with pen and paper, and then transferring these to the computer and attaching verbal explanations to explain my work. After finishing all the required portions, I was still hungry for a challenge—and the challenge came when I discovered a particularly fascinating pattern in a certain system of equations. The pattern was incredibly elegant, yet no matter how I approached it, I could not find a way to prove it. I set it aside and continued to work on improving the rest of my paper, but the problem continued to gnaw at me, so I decided to tackle it. Because my previous methods had not worked, I decided to put away my other materials so that I could concentrate on the particular difficulties of the proof, but before I did so, something caught my eye, an unrelated proof that I had written out a week before. It gave me an idea for solving the difficulties I was having, and before I knew it, the proof was complete. The experience was rewarding, and with hindsight, I realized I had learned an important lesson: keep looking for solutions, and never discard any possibilities or overlook any options, no matter how farfetched they may seem.

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