review my essays - 1

<p>they are still very much in the working stages, i have a computer science one and an archaeogy one, thoughts at this stage owuld be great</p>

<p>archaeology one:</p>

<p>I left high school at 16, as I did not feel that the curriculum was challenging, and was in fact holding me back from achieving my goals to the best of my ability. As a result I gained entry to a Bachelor in Information Technology course at the Queensland University of technology at the start of 2002. </p>

<p>Having had a strong desire to learn, and then discuss all things since an early age, I was very happy to finally be admitted to a university, where I could have relevant discussions with my student peers, help others learn, and learn further myself. Unfortunately, this was not to be the case.</p>

<p>I have always been able to think quickly and pick up new concepts with ease, however I found that at university, that most students are still learning about life, and are not yet fully capable of thinking for themselves, I know now this is somewhat accepted, as part of the job of the university is to prepare students for the real world. I found however that I had a strong desire and gained joy from teaching people, helping them understand and passing on knowledge. This manifested itself as being offered a tutoring position in university, due to the fact that I was able to demonstrate my knowledge of the subject exceptionally well, until it went further, assisting lecturers with research and holding private tutoring sessions.</p>

<p>I worked as an ISP administrator at the age of 14, soon after that I registered my own business and built a name for myself doing contract work in all areas of computing, from voice over ip, network auditing, website design and implementation, and software design. It was this experience that helped me gain my independence and appreciate the workings of the business world. During this time I contracted out regularly to some companies, in the role of a network administrator for 2 years, and then an IT manager for a midsize company for 3 years. During this time, while gaining professional experience and contracting to companies such as golden circle and several high profile night clubs in Brisbane.</p>

<p>I have had a strong interest in computer security for a long time, starting with an immature fascination with hackers and a curiosity of the criminal mindset, furthering to developing an complete technology understanding of the relevant technology, with my motivation changing to understand, and protect people, manifesting as professional and academic interests. I have been working on a research thesis for one year, looking at the feasibility and advantages of implementing typically military grade security into more widely used operating systems, in a way which is transparent to the user, so much as it can be.
Also during this time, I gained an interest in travel and exploring the cultures and peoples of the world, starting with a coast to coast tour of the United States and Mexico lasting 3 months, later travelling all of 2005 across Europe and Asia, while completing contract work remotely and locally. It was an amazing experience to meet and make new friends, and perhaps more importantly see the ruins I had fantasized about seeing since my childhood, such as Pompeii and Athens and the coliseum.</p>

<p>At Queensland University of Technology, I engaged in a comprehensive undergraduate study of the four computer science sub-disciplines: data communications, software development, information systems and multimedia applications. I believe my academic and intellectual pursuits are well suited to the wide discipline field of Archaeology, because of its applications in reconstruction, modelling and simulation to aid in a better understanding.
In part because of my teaching and professional experience, I was appointed as Teaching Assistant/Peer Mentor in QUT’s General Education Program. In working with a course titled Object Orientated technology, it was my responsibility to develop curriculum for “mentor sessions”, which accompanied the main course sessions. A significant portion of this year-long course examined the methods and practises of developing software using an object orientated approach, its differences, advantages and disadvantages in both professional and academic contexts. It was vital for the “mentor sessions” to consider and test concepts and understanding.
One of the growing and most significant areas of study today is archaeology. The science's central goal is to rediscover, understand, and explain the various civilizations of the past. It is however a most challenging area of research since most of the time there are no written documents available to neither validate nor support the conclusions arrived at. Archaeologists can only rely on their intellect and skills which are continuously educated and trained through the years. Moreover, they need to possess patience and perseverance. For, most of the time, it takes a long time to discover the remnants of a past community. What is most remarkable is that often, some of these areas are uncovered accidentally due to the persistent curiosity of an archaeologist. Yet in all cases, the results and rewards are always worth more than the efforts exerted. For, each discovery is a priceless treasure and a source of knowledge that partially completes the large puzzle of the ancient civilizations.
Computers have long been used by archaeologists for tasks such as recording excavation plans, illustrating artefacts and presenting the results of scientific analyses. Lately computer generated images have become commonplace in television documentaries, film and the publishing industries as a part However, if we are to avoid misleading representations of how a site may have appeared, then the computer generated environments should not only look real, they must simulate very accurately all the physical evidence from the site
I have had a strong interest in archaeology, starting with a focus on Egyptology, but expanding to include ancient Greece, Peru and civilisations such as the Aztec and Maya. While many people grew up inspired by action heroes such as Indiana Jones, I was not, instead reading textbooks and left wondering and in awe at how such powerful ancient civilizations lived in everyday life, the people that inspired ancient nations, and how they fell.
I remember reading particular children’s books series as a child, called Cairo Jim, about an archaeologist living and working in the Valley of the Kings. I believe that this series, with its approach of using realistic research and techniques, served to ignite an already present desire to travel and learn about cultures and peoples past and present.<br>
I started to appreciate archaeology when I was very young, being fascinated with the pyramids, and a way of life and culture so different from what I grew up to know. I have always loved taking ancient history subjects since they provide the most complete, factual, and valuable information about the people and societies that once dominated the world. Moreover, most of the facts are based and supported by archaeological discoveries. I always delighted in learning the different philosophies, ways of life, political systems, and inventions during the old era. On one hand, it was quite interesting to see how different the primitive lifestyle was from today's way of living. On the other hand, it was also surprising to know that the minds of the ancient people were as equally profound and powerful as the present generation. The past societies may have nothing more to show the present except old objects, facilities, and infrastructures. Yet these things reflect human minds which once sought for wisdom, growth, and perfection in all aspects of life. By chronologically viewing these archaeological sites, one can see how dramatic and passionate humanity has been in the quest for perfection.</p>

<p>I have acquired most of my knowledge and familiarity about the many archeogical sites only through my private readings, or by watching significant discoveries featured on Television. Yet I was also lucky to have a glimpse of some important sites during my travels in the last few years. There I had the chance to see some of the ruins of the once glorious Roman era. Some of the buildings such as the Colliseum, the Pantheon, or the underground churches in the catacombs in rome were still in good shape. The rest such as the various Roman forums were already in ruins. Still all of them clearly manifested how resplendent was their time once. I know there are still other known primitive and ancient places of equal importance or yet to be uncovered. </p>

<p>Ironically, archaeology which deals with primitive and old civilizations is also a science which is relevant to the present generation. To me, it is more than just digging and uncovering artefacts and old foundations. It is more than making interpretations and arriving at conclusions. The present generation has to value the past civilization including the ruins and artefacts which they left because it can learn a lot from them. Obviously, the kind of world and environment wherein people live today is far above the ancient epoch. Often, people of today tend to focus more on what they have and experience at the present moment. Yet sometimes, they must also realize how important it is to look back. There are some people who easily get confused and stray in life and that is the reason why they need to rediscover again part of themselves which they have forgotten and lost. The ancient times tell where present societies came from in order to help them understand themselves better and to remind the direction where they must go.</p>

<p>My relationships with my professors, my teaching and research experience, and my commitment to interdisciplinary work are formative of my plans to pursue graduate study at Cornell. As a student within the Archaeology Graduate Group, I would welcome the rigorous study of the discipline’s history and development, theory and methods, and would find comparative Archaeology paradigms particularly useful for pursuing my dissertation research. Studying for a MA in the Archaeology Program at Cornell would be an unparalleled opportunity for me. The university’s prestigious history, unparalleled resources, and established level of excellence make me believe that there is no better institution in which to prepare for a future of scholarship in the field of Archaeology. I would dedicate myself to making the most of this opportunity.</p>

<p>and my comp sci one:</p>

<p>I left high school at 16, as I did not feel that the curriculum was challenging, and was in fact holding me back from achieving my goals to the best of my ability. As a result I gained entry to a Bachelor in Information Technology course at the Queensland University of technology at the start of 2002. </p>

<p>Having had a strong desire to learn, and then discuss all things since an early age, I was very happy to finally be admitted to a university, where I could have relevant discussions with my student peers, help others learn, and learn further myself. Unfortunately, this was not to be the case.</p>

<p>I have always been able to think quickly and pick up new concepts with ease, however I found that at university, that most students are still learning about life, and are not yet fully capable of thinking for themselves, I know now this is somewhat accepted, as part of the job of the university is to prepare students for the real world. I found however that I had a strong desire and gained joy from teaching people, helping them understand and passing on knowledge. This manifested itself as being offered a tutoring position in university, due to the fact that I was able to demonstrate my knowledge of the subject exceptionally well, until it went further, assisting lecturers with research and holding private tutoring sessions.</p>

<p>I worked as an ISP administrator at the age of 14, soon after that I registered my own business and built a name for myself doing contract work in all areas of computing, from voice over ip, network auditing, website design and implementation, and software design. It was this experience that helped me gain my independence and appreciate the workings of the business world. During this time I contracted out regularly to some companies, in the role of a network administrator for 2 years, and then an IT manager for a midsize company for 3 years. During this time, while gaining professional experience and contracting to companies such as golden circle and several high profile night clubs in Brisbane.</p>

<p>I have had a strong interest in computer security for a long time, starting with an immature fascination with hackers and a curiosity of the criminal mindset, furthering to developing an complete technology understanding of the relevant technology, with my motivation changing to understand, and protect people, manifesting as professional and academic interests. I have been working on a research thesis for one year, looking at the feasibility and advantages of implementing typically military grade security into more widely used operating systems, in a way which is transparent to the user, so much as it can be.
Also during this time, I gained an interest in travel and exploring the cultures and peoples of the world, starting with a coast to coast tour of the United States and Mexico lasting 3 months, later travelling all of 2005 across Europe and Asia, while completing contract work remotely and locally. It was an amazing experience to meet and make new friends, and perhaps more importantly see the ruins I had fantasized about seeing since my childhood, such as Pompeii and Athens and the coliseum.</p>

<p>At Queensland University of Technology, I engaged in a comprehensive undergraduate study of the four computer science sub-disciplines: data communications, software development, information systems and multimedia applications. I believe my academic and intellectual pursuits are well suited to the wide discipline field of Archaeology, because of its applications in reconstruction, modelling and simulation to aid in a better understanding.
In part because of my teaching and professional experience, I was appointed as Teaching Assistant/Peer Mentor in QUT’s General Education Program. In working with a course titled Object Orientated technology, it was my responsibility to develop curriculum for “mentor sessions”, which accompanied the main course sessions. A significant portion of this year-long course examined the methods and practises of developing software using an object orientated approach, its differences, advantages and disadvantages in both professional and academic contexts. It was vital for the “mentor sessions” to consider and test concepts and understanding.
I have chosen to work in theoretical computer science in order to help improve the current situation of computing security. In this quest, I am guided by two principles, one theoretical and one methodological. First, I will be motivated by the question: "How can computing be made infallibly and undeniably secure?" Second, to answer that question, I must maintain a broad view of Computer Science as a field. I must attack the problem at all levels, from high-level application software to low-level circuit hardware. In my school work and on my own, I have already performed research at many of these levels. As a student, I have prepared myself for work at all these levels by studying mathematics, computer science, electrical engineering and psychology.
My career choices have exposed me to many aspects of computer security design. As an undergraduate, I studied security and object-oriented programming extensively because QUT specialized in the latter and my personal interest in access control models and early advocacy of UNIX and SELinux and similar systems led me to the former. For my undergraduate research, I designed and built secmark, an extensive, interactive performance benchmarking suite used to test the performance impact of implementing different levels of security in applications and operating systems. As SELinux evolved into one of the world's first accessible military grade access control systems, accessible to anyone, I began encouraging other developers to establish interoperable standards for exchanging policies and configurations files to encourage interoperability between these systems.
I have also been involved in a large amount of extra curricular activity, designing new collaboration systems for families with disabled people, to allow them to share experiences and learn from each other, as well as supporting and building web application systems for representative associations of minority groups, such as the Papua New Guinean students club and Kumul Scholars International. While working as an IT Manager for the previous 3 years, I was given the opportunity to meet with many influential people and help advocate the importance of computer security, and design systems and provide education on why they are necessary and how to best use them.
These experiences have prepared me for graduate school at MIT by focusing my research interests and by developing my project management, writing, and speaking skills. I have learned to organize and lead workshops, supervise students, edit technical specifications and architecture documents, and work through the standardization processes. I have also been responsible for outreach to other communities, including invited talks at AUSCERT, RUXCON, ACISP. My broad involvement with several companies and businesses has also prepared me for my current role writing a series of papers which will hopefully culminate in a book on access control models.
Doctoral study is an opportunity for me to build upon my talents and passion for computer security to help reach my career goals. Many of the best people working in the field of computer security came from industry or industrial research labs and had Ph.D.s, even those who migrated to Internet technology from other fields. That is in itself proof that it requires serious dedication and scholarship to develop perspective on the thicket of interrelated issues facing the constant evolving field information systems security. I want to dedicate myself to this path because I know why I want the degree, because I am prepared for it, and because the research areas available to me match my interests. Working on my PhD will allow me to achieve my dreams and goals, as well as work alongside the people I have admired and been inspired to since I started in this field.
I am excited by the following research opportunities: Secure Processors with professor Srini Devadas, secure wireless network authentication with assistant Professor Dina Katabi; secure network communication with assistant Professor Rob Miller; and SDSI (a Secure Distributed Security Infrastructure) with Professor Rivest. Professor Rivest is someone I have long since admired, one of the legends in the field of computer security, and it would be an honour to have a chance to work alongside him.</p>

<p>As I work toward my Ph.D, I will surely ask many new questions which will not be answerable immediately. Facing up to this eventuality, I do not consider my Ph.D. a terminal course of study. It is my hope that I will have many subsequent opportunities to continue my quest, to expand the limits of computing security, through post-doctoral research as well as my subsequent career as a computer scientist. In all this work, I am determined to continue attacking problems from many levels, as I have done in the past.</p>

<p>My relationships with my professors, my teaching and research experience, and my commitment to interdisciplinary work are formative of my plans to pursue graduate study at MIT. As a student within the Archaeology Graduate Group, I would welcome the rigorous study of the discipline’s history and development, theory and methods, and would find comparative Archaeology paradigms particularly useful for pursuing my dissertation research. Studying for a MA in the Archaeology Program at MIT would be an unparalleled opportunity for me. The university’s prestigious history, unparalleled resources, and established level of excellence make me believe that there is no better institution in which to prepare for a future of scholarship in the field of Archaeology. I would dedicate myself to making the most of this opportunity.</p>

<p>Well, the first thing I notice is the length. I can't speak for your programs, but everything I've read has said that the length of your statement of interest should be no more than 3 pages (double-spaced, size 12, Times New Roman) at most. Unless you've heard otherwise, I'd try and cut the length of each essay in half.</p>

<p>They're rather fuzzy and, as Addwit says, a very long. </p>

<p>Check your spelling very carefully. "Colliseum" and "coliseum" for example - it is "Colosseum". Work hard on grammer and sentence construction. For example you used neither/nor where you meant either/or.</p>

<p>Skip almost all your work experience - that stuff goes in the CV, not the essay. Bring in your IT education in relation to archaeology not to technical issues in IT. </p>

<p>Forget children's books and movie characters. Skip all the bits about the things you've seen as a tourist. Don't tell the archaeology professors what archaeology is. Don't tell the university how wonderful it is. You're applying to an MA program so don't mention the PhD. </p>

<p>You want to convince the the department's adcom that you are prepared for graduate study in archaeology. There is nothing in your essay to indicate your preparation. I realize that the Cornell MA program accepts non-traditional majors but...</p>

<p>With all due respect, if you are interested in Classical Archaeology at the PhD level, you will need Latin and Greek - one to a fairly advanced level, the other intermediate (three years and two years at least) and ideally German (though French will also help) for reading knowledge before admission. You will also need at least a couple years worth of appropriate history and art history courses. Schools that locate Archaeology in the Anthropology department will require considerable Anthropology preparation.</p>

<p>Assuming you're still at QUT, you might want to see if there is an office that assists students with graduate school preparation - they may be able to help you sharpen these essays more effectively than the denizens of CC can.</p>

<p>hi, sorry for not being to clear. the essays are just under 3 pages in word, and i couldnt actually find a suggested word count anywhere. i know about spelling, but i dont understand why i would skip a childrens book if it is what helped me inspire me..i just have to express that more cleary. the same with my work experience, i want to talk about the effects, not the experience itself.</p>

<p>im no longer at qut, i just wanted to point out that im intertested in the ma in archaeology at cornell, and the phd in computer science at the other universities i am applying to. i talked to some guys at cornell, and they said language is not necessary for the MA program, and that my computer science background may provide a natural entry point. I have not mentioned it but I also have a masters in computer science which gave me an introduction to graduate work and research.</p>

<p>what other tips can you suggest for showing i am prepared and would be an asset?</p>

<p>Not in size 12, Times New Roman, and double-spaced. In this format, it runs onto a 6th page.</p>

<p>You might start like this then:</p>

<p>As a child, the series "Cairo Jim" inspired in me an interest in the ancient world and archaeology. However, for practical reasons I entered the world of Information Technology, earning my degree from Queensland University of Technology. Since then I have worked in a number of increasingly responsible positions, performed contract work around the world, and earned a masters in Computer Science.</p>

<p>Then go on to explain why your CS background will help you in Cornell's MA program. (Hint - modelling and GIS applications are huge right now.)</p>

<p>Cut things down to 1000 words max.</p>

<p>One last thing - if you go on to a PhD program you will need those languages (or worse). Even for straight anthropology/archaeology you'll certainly need German and French. If you are already reasonably fluent in one or both be sure to mention it.</p>

<p>I would recommend that you do several focused reviews of this essay yourself.</p>

<p>First, review for length. I agree that they seem far too long, and I got bored about the second paragraph. I'm not sure that anyone on any adcom would read the entirity of either of those essays. I would say keep the travels, they show that your interest comes from somewhere and isn't just a schoolbook fascination. But yes, drop the childrens story. If there is a specific part of your work experience that is relevant and that you are trying to make a point about, make the point and move on. Avoid the chronological re-hashing you currently make of the thing.</p>

<p>Second, review for pace, interest, and narrative. As I said, boredom set in by paragraph two, and later on it seemed a bit disjointed, and then patronizing towards the work history portion. Since you'll have already reviewed to see what you want to keep in, now you get to go through it and make sure that you bring up your points in an order that flows together and reaches a natural conclusion. Your current conclusion seems very forced.</p>

<p>Third, review for sentence structure and grammar. "I have", "I felt", "I am", "I know", "I have", "I have", "I have"..... your sentence structure makes the essay feel repetative and childish. Try to vary your sentence structure and word choices so that there is a bit more variety.</p>

<p>Then, finally, do the spelling review.</p>

<p>
[quote]
Well, the first thing I notice is the length. I can't speak for your programs, but everything I've read has said that the length of your statement of interest should be no more than 3 pages (double-spaced, size 12, Times New Roman) at most. Unless you've heard otherwise, I'd try and cut the length of each essay in half.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>Weird, I've read that you should have 2 pages, single-spaced. I can't imagine the amount of cramming you would have to do in order to introduce yourself in 2-3 double-spaced pages.</p>

<p>Three double-spaced pages is about 1000 words, which WilliamC also agreed should be the max. You're right, it is tough to sell yourself with so few words, but that is precisely why the statement of interest is so difficult to compose. You need to be concise, clear, and focused.</p>

<p>But Indiana Jones was an archaeologist!</p>

<p>I haven't read the whole thing, but it's because one thing jumped out to me at the beginning.</p>

<p>You start with graduating high school at 16 and something about work at 14. </p>

<p>Trust me, NOBODY CARES!</p>

<p>No offense, but a graduate committee doens't care if you graduated high school at 16 or 26, they care about what you want to do and how you can successfully complete research. Focus on that, why are you the best for the job. It's not because you are a genius, to tell you the truth, many geniuses aren't successful in grad school. </p>

<p>So, downplay age and up-play what you can bring to the department.</p>

<p>Listen closely to what everyone is saying. Adcoms have no patience for the kind of writing we were all taught to do early on. Be concise, avoid flowery statements, avoid forced intros, avoid references to pop culture (!), stay recent (nothing before college unless it was a Nobel Prize or something), tell what you're planning on doing with this degree and research, and if possible mention professors you would like to work with and why. Tell why this particular program is the right one for you (each essay should be personalized to an extent). Don't go into so much detail about your career in CS - outline responsibilities that may apply to your work in grad school and archaeology, but leave the rest behind.</p>

<p>This needs to be shortened A LOT, but if you cut out the extraneous stuff, you will be left with a much better SOP. Good luck!</p>

<p>i do appreicate everyones replies, but theres a lot of contradicting information, and people have not explained some of it..for example despseek, why are pop culture referneces automaticlly a bad thing? if used in the right way they could be a good thing...</p>

<p>Josh -</p>

<p>If you are aiming to get into a top Computer Science program such as MIT, you are going to have to completely re-write your essay. It is far too long and reads too much like an undergrad applicant essay, talking too much about your personality and what you did as a precocious teenager. I went through this applications process myself last year. The ONLY thing that matters in your essay is your RESEARCH EXPERIENCES. Everything else should be cut out unless they reinforce your interest in or execution of research. Professors are reading these applications (not undergrad admissions officers), and they don't care about how motivated, talented, enthusiastic, or charismatic you are if you can't show them evidence of working on successful research projects (and have your reference letters reinforce your claims). All students who were admitted into these top programs were able to show strong evidence of prolonged participation in research projects during their undergraduate years.</p>

<p>I've recently written an article to help out people like yourself who are applying to graduate schools in computer science:
<a href="http://web.mit.edu/pgbovine/www/grad-school-app-tips.htm%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://web.mit.edu/pgbovine/www/grad-school-app-tips.htm&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>Hopefully you will find it to be helpful. Best of luck.</p>

<p>Bovine, that was one of the most well written and well reasoned articles about preparing for grad school that I've seen. Thanks a lot!</p>