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Frustrated with college apps

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by Minger, Nov 27, 2006.

  1. Minger


    Mar 15, 2004
    Rochester, NY
    Man, these seperate essays for schools are driving me insane...I mean, heres one for Caltech that I just can't seem to find any way to answer - "In a page, more or less, tell the Admissions Committee how you express your interest, curiosity, or excitement about math, science or engineering."

    I can't think of anything for this, although for a moment I considered writing about either pole vault or music...

    And I'm planning on majoring in the IT Field...

    Man, I keep coming to the OT forum whenever I run into trouble with stuff...

    Any suggestions or anyone in the same boat with me and are slowly freaking out about college stuff? :)
  2. MJ5150

    MJ5150 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2001
    Olympia, WA
    Sheesh. I have an IT degree, and I never had to answer a stupid question like that one.

  3. Ditto - I have a computer science degree and my interview was just asking me what I was interested in and what I was working on at college (that's college in the pre-university sense in the UK)

    Are you applying to a really great school or something?
  4. Headroom


    Apr 5, 2002
    If he's applying for admission to the California Institute of Technology, then yes.
  5. There was stuff in the news recently about the stupid questions they ask when you apply to Oxford or Cambridge here. I suppose that must be about analogous?

    They had questions like (and I'm not making this up):

    * What percentage of the world's water is contained in cows?
    * How many planes are flying above Oxford at the moment?
    * At what point is a person dead?
    * Put a monetary value on this teapot
    * What shape is an egg?
    * Can a slug think?
  6. dlloyd

    dlloyd zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Apr 21, 2004
    Why not? I'd write about the mathematics of musical pitch if I were you.

    You could talk about how Pythagorus discovered the relationship between frequency and intervals, bring in a bit about the 12th root of 2 as the basis of equal temperament, equal temperament's inadequecies re the major third etc, and how inventions like the fretwave system deal with it.

    You don't have to go into a lot of detail (you can't in one page), just write enthusiastically about something like that and it will demonstrate that you're able to apply mathematical/scientific concepts to real world situations.
  7. dlloyd

    dlloyd zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Apr 21, 2004
    There's nothing stupid about any of those questions. You're supposed to answer, "I have no idea, but here's how I would go about finding out..."

    They're there to see if a candidate can think independently. When you've got 200 kids, all with three "A"s at A level competing for 30 places, you have to be able to spot the higher quality students.

    A lot of the kids will have been spoon-fed through a very expensive school and tutored (also at great expense) to get through the interview process. Others will have got there themselves, and may fail the interview process through nerves. Asking off-the-wall questions might help identify the higher quality students, regardless of how much had been spent on preparing them...
  8. Mark Wilson

    Mark Wilson Supporting Member

    Jan 12, 2005
    Toronto, Ontario
    Endorsing Artist: Elixir® Strings
    If you start talking about equal temperament to a girl at a gig, I don't think it'll turn out too well. ;)

    All in all, it's a good idea. You could even touch on long scale vs. short scale basses, again, with equal temperament.
  9. I appreciate that, but personally I find it pretentious. I wouldn't want to go anywhere like that, and I went to a good university. I don't know where Southampton was in the league tables in 2000 when I started, but this year it's in 7th place for Computer Science and I seem to remember it was higher than that when I was there.
  10. dlloyd

    dlloyd zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Apr 21, 2004
  11. Well if it were me, I'd be more concerned about the applicant's interest in the subject and what they were like as an individual. You don't interview for employment by asking the applicant to rationalize Humbert's lust for Delores in Lolita, you want a chat about their work experience and to get to know them as an individual; are they the sort of person who is likely to be committed to the job.
  12. dlloyd

    dlloyd zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Apr 21, 2004
    That's what they evaluate. You get asked a few questions about your personal statement and have a chat about the subject you've applied for. The bizarre questions are most likely the ones thrown at "rehearsed" applicants.

    If you're applying for a place in computer science, you won't get asked about literature.
  13. Not so - I heard interviews with candidates on the radio who were asked things not even related to their course.
  14. shooter_mi


    Sep 29, 2005
    I agree wholeheartedly with dlloyd. Those folks at Cal Tech, and the ones at the UK schools mentioned above, are trying to get a handle on how prospective students think, not what they already know. Asking people questions that force them consider something new is what good interviewers do when trying to assess rational thought processes.
  15. Minger


    Mar 15, 2004
    Rochester, NY

    This'll be fun...dlloyd, I don't think I can really write about that stuff as I have no real idea about it :)

    It'll probably be talk about my AP Classes (AP Stats, AP Calc, AP Physics - all maths and sciences :) ), vault and music.
  16. SBassman


    Jun 8, 2003
    Northeast, US
    My daughter is going through this, too, and it looks like no fun at all. It seems to have gotten harder since I went to college. I actually don't remember writing any essays, but maybe I'm just forgetting.
  17. Poop-Loops

    Poop-Loops Banned

    Mar 3, 2006
    Auburn, Washington
    I'm glad I put all my eggs in one basket and only applied to UW. The essay was stupid, but I BSed it and it went well.
  18. MJ5150

    MJ5150 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2001
    Olympia, WA
    If you get denied, you back up plan is.....? Green River?

  19. FunkSlap89


    Apr 26, 2005
    Albany, NY
    I, too, am thoroughly fed up with the process...
  20. Eric Cioe

    Eric Cioe

    Jun 4, 2001
    Missoula, MT
    The University of Chicago is notorious for our admissions essays. This year, for example:

    Our applicant pool is by far the smallest out of the top 10 American universities, no doubt because of these questions. Makes for a really unique student body, though....

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