Written Responses to College Application Questions

1. If you were given the opportunity to spend one year in service on behalf of others, which area would you choose? Briefly explain why.

Since I love to teach, tutoring my fellow students would be a great way to spend a year. I have significant experience tutoring; I’ve been part of my school’s peer tutoring group for the past three years. My specialties include such diverse areas as German, calculus, history, and physics. In addition to tutoring these purely academic subjects, I also give several of my friends guitar lessons. Helping others to learn is an excellent way for me to improve my own learning skills. When I work with a fellow student or friend, I get to experiment with various teaching methods. Their varied learning preferences make me adapt my approach for the best results. Some of my most satisfying moments have come from tutoring experiences-when I get to see the look of understanding in their eyes, hear that tone of confidence in their voice, or learn of their high test grade or report well received. The satisfaction for me is meeting the challenge of communicating a broad range of new concepts and ideas to people I know and respect.

2. Of all the things you hope or expect to gain from your college experience, which two or three would you place at the top of your list if you had to make up such a list today? (Be as specific or as general as you’d like.)

My hometown is homogenous. There is very little diversity here. Most residents are white, politically conservative, lower-to-upper-middle-class, working people. This, I have to admit, has made me somewhat narrow-minded on certain issues. High on my list of college expectations is the hope for a truly life-changing experience with a thoroughly diverse student body. I want my limited viewpoint of the world changed from tunnel vision to virtual reality. I want to find out who I really am, what I really love. I want a more diverse range of experiences.

I also expect the college I attend to be able to deliver a first-class program that will allow me to indulge my two divergent passions: literature and engineering. One of the things I’ve learned about myself is that the scales of my interests seem to be balanced. I love science and math, but I also love words and ideas. The closest I’ve ever come to an ideal learning experience came this past summer at the Pennsylvania Governor’s School for the Sciences that I attended at Carnegie Mellon University. The course that proved so stimulating was Art and Science that explored the important contributions each discipline has made to the other. Literature and engineering may seem unrelated but I want to make an in-depth study of both in college.

3. What kind of person would you consider an ideal roommate for your freshman year in college?

Quirky or idiosyncratic people don’t bother me. I won’t say that my friends here at home are a little odd, but I have learned to deal with some excesses of weirdness in others. Accordingly, I would hope to have a roommate who is his own, unique person, with a good sense of humor.

It would also be nice if he comes from a completely different background than I do, complete with an inventory of different ideas. In other words, I don’t want to room with a nice, safe, carbon copy of myself just to make things easy. If my roommate stays out later or gets up earlier than I do, so be it. But I hope at least he would be tolerant in the same ways to me. I could have fun with a roommate like this. We could both learn from our differences.

Incidentally, I noticed that you dropped your little note on this question from last year’s application about assigning roommates of the same sex for the foreseeable future. I’m assuming that’s still your policy. If not, though, the above comments still apply.