Help with MIT Essays

Hello all. Until I discovered this site, I believed that I stood a pretty good chance of getting into MIT, but after seeing the rather impressive resumes of others, I realized that MIT is probably the ultimate reach school for me.

Nevertheless, I’m giving my dream college a shot for early action, especially since their application is very convenient (the bulk of it is online). The Part 2’s are online as well, which gives me until this weekend (preferably Saturday) to submit it. Of course, I’m going to need all the help I can get, and with that in mind, I turn to all of you. As this is my first application, I am rather inexperienced with writing this stuff, so any help would be greatly appreciated.


Essay B An application to MIT is much more than a set of test scores, grades and activities. It’s often a reflection of an applicant’s dreams and aspirations, dreams shaped by the worlds we inhabit. We’d like to know a bit more about your world. 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? (500 words or less)

(For safety reasons, I’m going to censor all places in asteriks.)

<pre><code>In a brief analysis of a map of place1, one might have a penchant to glance over the community of place2. An average town in the midst of suburbia, place2 has a population of about 26,000 people and is made up mostly of residential housing. Underlying this banal fasade, however, is an environment that fosters the development of goals and dreams. Having lived in place2 my whole life, I can vouch that my hometown features a lush and supportive environment and, more importantly, diverse and strong-willed people all of the ingredients necessary for a community to cultivate the conception and pursuit of ambitions and aspirations.

One of the most remarkable aspects of my community is the freedom of thought and expression it supports. I have found that the people I come in contact with are very diverse and open-minded. This results in an environment where the ability to think and express oneself freely is not only allowed but also encouraged. I believe that this type of environment is the most important factor in the cultivation of my dreams because it has allowed me to explore a wide variety of topics without undue restraint. Despite the fact that I am the descendant of three generations of doctors, my family did not complain and, in fact, supported me when I showed an interest in computer science. Had I grown up in a more restricted environment, I might have been forced to forsake my aspirations. Furthermore, I recall the heated debates I’ve had over the years with my relatives, my teachers, and my colleagues. I’ve been able to express my opinions on even the most controversial issues, which I believe has given me the confidence to pursue my goals.

Likewise, my community has helped shaped my dreams through its focus on scholastic excellence. This is because most of the families in my town are made up of upward mobile professionals who place great importance on the education of their children in order to succeed in life. In this environment, I have been motivated to be the best that I can be and to set my standards, and thereby my ambitions, to a high level. The intense but friendly academic rivalry between my peers has only served to increase the magnitude of this effect and prepare me for the competitiveness that I will undoubtedly encounter in my future. However, despite this rivalry, most of the students in my school have been very supportive and have helped me at every turn.

While place2 itself has its share of attractions, its proximity to place3 in particular has had a wide impact on my goals. With all of its cultural treasures and landmarks, my frequent trips to place3 have broadened my interests and molded my dreams. Experiencing the city’s museums, theaters, and restaurants has increased my cultural awareness. Undoubtedly, visits to the big city have made me much more worldly and ambitious in the formation of my dreams.

Comments: This is the biggie, folks. It came out good, but I’m mainly worried this essay might be a bit too impersonal. . .so any help fixing that would be great. In addition, the last paragraph is a bit weak maybe. Any help making that stronger would be cool. All coherent and intelligent criticisms will be appreciated.

<p>(Completely Optional) Tell us about something that you have created. This can be, for example, a design, a device, an object, an idea or concept, a piece of music or art. (Please limit your answer to 1000 words or fewer)</p>

<pre><code>Few things in life are comparable to the sheer feeling of triumph and importance one might experience in response to devising or learning something no one else in history has ever discovered before. The opportunity to be a pioneer of human knowledge and to extend humanity’s range of comprehension of the universe around us undoubtedly allows one to feel a sense of self-satisfaction and prominence as a human being. In my case, such a chance was manifested in my opportunity to perform undergraduate research at researchinstitute, and the emotions I felt when I was able to draw original, logical, and useful conclusions about my system were unlike any other experience I have encountered in the short but complex history of my life.

The project I did last summer, Analysis Through MD Simulations on the Effects of the Y88C Mutation in B. stearothermophilius MutY Adenine Glycosylase on its Repair of 8-oxo G:A DNA allowed me to discover a number of concepts previously unknown by humanity. One of the most frequent and detrimental types of oxidative damage to DNA is the oxidation of guanine, a normal nitrogenous base in DNA, into 8-oxoguanine (8-oxoG). Guanine is only supposed to pair to cytosine in DNA, however, 8-oxoG can pair to either adenine or cytosine. 8-oxoG DNA is injurious in DNA replication when it pairs to adenine because one replica will now have an A:T pair where there was once a G:C pair. Fortunately, most organisms have a repair protein called MutY or the homologous MYH which locate A:8-oxoG pairs and excise the adenines from them, thereby preventing mutations of this type. However, a mutation in the homologue of MutY in humans, Y165C in hMYH, has been linked to decreased activity of MYH and heightened susceptibility to colorectal cancer. I studied the effects of the homologous mutation in B. stearothermophilius MutY, Y88C (or Tyr 88 to Cys 88), through molecular dynamics simulation, a type of computer simulation, in order to gain an insight as to why this mutation inhibits MutY, and consequentially, hMYH.

The results I came up with through a summer of challenging but rewarding work were astounding. I was able to conclude why Y88C was deleterious on a molecular level, something no one has ever done before. I found that the reason Y88C negatively influences the function of the system was not necessarily because of the amino acid change itself, but the way in which the mutated amino acid affects other residues in the binding site. One of these was Gln 48, an amino acid wedge that facilitates the excision of adenine by prying it out of the DNA double helix to be cut and occupying adenine’s space to prevent it from reentering the duplex. Another was Ser 308, another amino acid that forms specific hydrogen bonds with 8-oxoguanine and thereby allows the protein to determine 8-oxoG from normal guanine. Through my data, I concluded that because Cys 88 is a smaller amino acid than Tyr 88, the Y88C allows for more space in the binding site for Gln 48 to shift around, allowing it to move from its space and thereby allowing adenine to reenter the duplex. I also discovered that a hydrogen bond between Ser 308 and Tyr 88 allows Tyr 88 to position Ser 308 in the correct location in order to recognize 8-oxoG. However, this bond is completely absent with Cys 88 and thus Ser 308 is misaligned in the mutant and cannot recognize 8-oxoG properly.

The sensation of exhilaration I experienced when I was able to draw such original conclusions from my data was unlike anything I had experienced before. For the first time in my life, I believed I accomplished something on global scale; I thought my discovery would be useful for humanity in general. It is remarkable to be able to take such pride in my work at such a young age.

Certainly the process itself was challenging, but I highly doubt I would be able to feel such satisfaction in what I did had it been any easier. Furthermore, because it was such an encompassing task, I learned a great deal of abilities I believe will aid me in the future. In order to use the rather complicated simulation software used for this experiment, I had to gain extensive expertise in using Unix and Linux operating systems, systems that I had only been vaguely familiar with beforehand. I had to learn how to use a wide variety of computer programs and services that I could never imagine had existed before my research. For example, my research enlightened me on the whole concept of the balance of processor usage and testing the optimal amount of processors for a task through benchmarks when I had to submit my complex simulation jobs to powerful supercomputers to be completed. Undoubtedly, I learned a great deal about proteins, nucleic acids, and biochemistry in general from the whole experience. Furthermore, through the arduous task of completing my research paper I increased my ability to write persuasive and powerful papers in general.

Naturally, I couldn’t have done it alone, and perhaps the most important lessons the experience taught me were that relating to teamwork. If it weren’t for the help of my colleagues, I would have gotten nowhere. A project of this magnitude leads to much inquiry, and I was fortunate to have kind and educated people guide me along every step of the way. I was also fortunate to have an outstanding mentor who I regard as a role model for my own life.

I recently was awarded semifinalist in the Siemens Westinghouse competition for this project, which definitely boosted my pride. However, had I not won, I would not be the least bit disappointed in myself. That feeling of accomplishment I felt at the end of my research, the skills I earned through my work, and the people I became close friends with all served as a large enough reward for me to make the whole experience worthwhile.

<h2>Comments: This essay really came from the heart and I am very passionate about what I have done, so I decided to use the whole 1000 words space to write my opinions. Nevertheless, I'm sure you guys can find your problems with it. It might sound very technical especially at the beginning, but it says to describe what I created, so I saw no other alternative but to use some technical jargon. As long as its understandable, it'll be fine. . .I hope.</h2>

<p>I will be posting some more stuff before Saturday, but I'm sure that's enough for you all to read for now. Thanks in advance for all of your help.</p>


<p>I really need aid for that first essay I posted, since that's the big one. I just discovered this site today, and I looked at other applicants' essays for different colleges, and they're in a different style than what I did. . .more personal and specific. . .I can't quite place it. Well, either way, just want to know if what I've wrote is acceptable or not. The second large one is only if you want to take the time to read all of that science stuff, since it is optional.</p>

<p>These are some of the best essays I have ever read in my life. I am dead serious, MIT is foolish if they do not accept you. I am sure your scores are on par with their expectations.</p>

<p>If you have strong grades, test scores, and recs, I'll be surprised if they reject you because of your success with research. I like the 2nd essay, but the first one is... well... somewhat boring. I feel that you answer the question a little too literally, and I don't feel that I really learn that much about you. You could keep it as it is and it probably won't make a difference as to whether or not you're accepted. If you have the time, though, I do think making it a bit more personal would be good.</p>

<p>Hmmmm. . .that's what I figured. The tough part is figuring out how to make it more personal. My style of writing has always been factual and kinda boring. Well, anyway, I'll make sure to give it more thought. Thanks to the both of you for taking the time to read all that.</p>

<p>And, for some more reading pleasure, here are the short essays (all must be 100 words or less).</p>

<p>a.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. (*)
As I do pursue so many activities, I tend to choose areas that will not only benefit me scholastically but those that I have a passion for. I certainly have motives for participating in research and extracurricular activities, but for the most part I do these for my own enjoyment. Besides these, I have interests in math, science, politics, computers, board games, card games, video games, and science fiction. I enjoy the company of my closest group of friends, all who share very similar interests with myself. Furthermore, I enjoy traveling, and many memorable trips have significantly influenced me.</p>

<p>b.Although you may not yet know what you want to major in, which department or program at MIT appeals to you and why? (*)
The Biological Engineering Division at MIT greatly appeals to me. Ever since I began studying biology, I have been fascinated by elegant complexity of living systems. Furthermore, when I began delving into the field of computer science, I found enjoyment in tackling problems using programming. I have always found projects in bioinformatics like the Human Genome Project to be intriguing, and I believe that through more efficient programs and hardware, we can learn much more about living systems. In addition to having great research opportunities, I believe that this department would best expand my skills and satiate my interests.</p>

I'm not sure I'm too happy with short essay a, to be honest. . .I'll probably be changing it. In fact, on second glance, I noticed that it says write about something, as in the singular, and I just list everything. Not sure if they'd care about such a thing. Well, I'll get your opinions on that one. As for short essay b, I think that's pretty good and I'll probably stick with it, but any advice would be of great help.</p>

<p>Your writing style for Essay B is rather similar to mine :( No fabrication can be made :(</p>

<p>By the way, is it okay if I describe the idea I created in the "Completely Optional" essay ? I think they would prefer some factual thing like research <admirable chaoticcranium=""> to vague ideas:(</admirable></p>

<p>Sorry for double-posting, but I cannot edit the previous one.</p>

<p>Are the Adcoms really strict on the 500-word limit? Is a 580-word essay annoying?</p>

<p>I haven't really looked over your short essays, but your long essays - particularly the first one, are excellent. Wow. I enjoy your writing style. :) :)</p>

<p>I do agree that your ending on the first essay is a bit brief. Hmm ...</p>

<p>Thank you. I am probably going to rewrite that ending sometime this weekend, as I'm not too pleased with it. Only reason its so short is due to the word count. Since its online and they'll easily be able to count words, I want to keep the word counts under the word limits.</p>

<p>Looks like MIT is extending their EA deadline due to technical difficulties, so that's good for this little procrastinator. In addition, that definitely gives me more time to get some input in for these essays, so post away people.</p>

<p>I too am very curious about ipsen1985's questions above, so if someone with knowledge on the topic could answer them, I'd be grateful.</p>

<p>Those are really good. Why is it a ultimate reach? What are your stats?</p>

<p>Also, since they were really good, I recommend you to take them down because lots of people may want to plagerize it. Good luck</p>

<p>I think the essay you're concerned about is very good - well structured, answers the question, good flow. Truly, compared to most college essays, this one's a gem. But you're right, it's not terribly personal and for a moment there I found myself thinking that you're a kid from suburbia whose big moment of rebillion is going into computer science instead of medical school - and that's not terribly interesting. (You also sound like a polite, hard-working, motivated young person - so I want to mention that right away!) I just don't get that much sense of what is uniquely YOU. The most intriguing thing in the essay is that you live in a town with a lot of strong-willed people. That's kind of interesting. What kinds of discussions do you have? How are they resolved - or aren't they? Could you give a couple of examples? Any amusing examples (don't try to be hilarious). I think it just lacks a few specifics to add depth and credibility.
Best of luck to you!</p>