1. MIT Application, John Smith, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science / English Literature, MIT 2014
    1. Acceptances with these essay(s): MIT
  2. MIT Application, Fred Jones, Computer Science and Engineering, MIT 2013
    1. Acceptances with these essay(s): MIT
  3. MIT Application, Jane Lee, Computer Science and Engineering, MIT 2012
    1. Acceptances with these essay(s): MIT
  4. MIT Application, Oscar Munez, Physics, MIT 2013
    1. Acceptances with these essay(s): MIT
  5. MIT Application, Nina, Computer Science, MIT 2016
    1. Acceptances with these essay(s): MIT

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
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. (*)(100 words or fewer)

Each weekend, I teach karate to kids ages 3-12. As I show the "Little Ninjas" how to position their hands to do a clean shoulder roll, or I help the "Young Tigers" break down a tricky section of the Two-Man Bo Staff form, any frustration or tiredness I might have felt before entering the dojo evaporates. All that remains is an irresistible urge to share the joy I myself felt upon first learning to fluidly link the complex movements. When my students master a maneuver, I see the excitement in their eyes. I smile because it is excitement we now share.

Although you may not yet know what you want to major in, which department or program at MIT appeals to you and why? (*) (100 words or fewer) 

     My current top interests include high-performance computing (especially parallel and quantum), embedded system design, complexity theory, cryptography, robotics, AI for autonomous systems, computational biology, and computational linguistics, all topics MIT EECS addresses. Moreover, I would love to do research at CSAIL for a UROP.
I already know firsthand that MIT EECS suits my learning style. Last summer, I needed to program an FPGA (microchip) for my Intel STS project. Almost exclusively by reading the lecture slides of course 6.111, I learned the Verilog hardware description language and the nuances of programmable logic design. The course was so efficiently taught that I was able to do this in just 2 months.

Tell us about a time you used your creativity. This could be something you made, a project that you led, an idea that you came up with, or pretty much anything else. (*) (200-250 words)

     My Intel STS project originated while I was hiking during a thunderstorm. I was pondering, with some trepidation, what determines the paths of lightning bolts; I reflected that they must take some course of least resistance. Suddenly I was struck (by an idea): could an electronic hardware model of this physical phenomenon be used to solve the shortest path problem in graph theory (e.g. "What is the shortest route a car can take through a network of roads to arrive at its destination?")?
The lightning insight didn't pan out, but a week later, I found inspiration in a different natural phenomenon. While surfing, as I watched rivulets of water branching and re-fusing as they found their way down my surfboard, I realized that water molecules diffusing throughout a network could essentially function as thousands of identical-speed cars taking every possible path; the first "car" to reach the destination from the origin would have taken the shortest path. I simulated a graph with a network of paper towel strips, soaked one intersection of strips (the origin) in water, and watched the liquid diffuse through the network, marking which incident strip was the first to wet each subsequent intersection. Once water reached the destination, I could identify the path taken by the first molecules to arrive (i.e. the shortest path) simply by tracing the sequence of marked strips backwards from the destination to the origin.
This formed the basis of the parallel algorithm that I accelerated and then implemented synchronously on an FPGA microchip for the Intel STS; it ran on the order of 300 times faster than high-speed sequential approaches. Moreover, it generalized to solve the NP-complete (much harder) knapsack problem. I continue to investigate the paradigm's potential today.

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?(*) (200-250 words)

I've picked up two nicknames in high school: "Comp Sci Guy" and "J-Dog."
By day and night, I indulge my inner nerd as Comp Sci Guy. At and after school, I spend my time playing or working on problems with friends in the Rubik's cubing, chess, math, robotics, and programming clubs (though I've been known to slip into LitMag meetings as well). I love to code late at night to music. The rhythms tap and seethe in a melodic trance of energy and synchronize with my neurons, which beat in harmonious unison. For a few eternity-hours, optimal logic comes without effort; each word of the program has more meaning than a thousand pictures. Then the playlist ends and all that remain are the abstract beauty of the code and the ethereal silence of the night.
By dawn and dusk (when the wind is most calm), I paddle out with the surf team as J-Dog. Surfing is as visceral as programming is cerebral: dropping into a 7-foot barreling wave is like riding a standup liquid rollercoaster that I control (or if I fall, it's like being a cockroach in a trash compactor). But it's more than that. While I sit at peace in the stillness between the hollow waves, my thoughts branch out unfettered - if I've hit a wall with a programming problem, it often melts away in the water. When the sun sets (or the wind picks up), I return home, mind refreshed, ready to become Comp Sci Guy once more. My double life has inspired me to continue to immerse myself in programming but also keep a foot in the outside world.


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?(*) (200-250 words)

     As sophomores, AP Chemistry students at my high school typically spend 80% of their time doing homework and 30% of their time working on extracurriculars. On top of the typical 110%, I had a burgeoning Web development business, and I'd learned long before that in business, there's no excuse for failing to deliver, regardless of the number of lab writeups you have due tomorrow. By spring, if I had been one of the web servers I was administering, I would have been spouting 503 error messages ("Service Unavailable"; too many requests), but unfortunately, humans aren't allowed the luxury of throwing exceptions.
Fortunately, at the beginning of that demanding year, I'd co-founded the Torrey Pines Programming Club. There, I had befriended numerous motivated computer science students who were masters in certain specialized areas but lacked the complete technical and business skillset necessary to enter the professional world. Over the year, I taught them JavaScript, PHP, AJAX, XHTML, and CSS, some of the most important Web languages. So, when my schedule began to overload, I had a natural solution. I sent out an e-mail to several select members of the programming club, offering to hire them. They responded with a resounding: "I'm in!"
Things progressed quickly.  I matched programmers to projects, touched up their training, and developed a modular, scalable, server-side framework that would allow everybody's code to cleanly interface. Over the following months, we delivered several high-end websites and applications (such as itsabeauty.com). My workload became reasonable, and my friends became professionals. We do business together to this day.


(Optional) No admission application can meet the needs of every individual. If you think additional information or material will give us a more thorough impression of you, please respond below. (Please limit your answer to 200-250 words or fewer.)

Dear Admissions Officers,
More than one MIT student has told me that the best way evaluate my suitability for MIT would be to read (or at least peruse the figures in) my Intel Science Talent Search paper. My project consisted of developing a massively parallel FPGA microchip to solve the shortest path problem (and expanding the algorithmic paradigm behind it to solve other computationally difficult problems). It has been mailed and is also at:
I would be much obliged if you would take a look.

Additional SAT II Subject tests: 790 Chemistry, 790 English Literature, 740 Spanish


Additional Community Service:
-Torrey Pines Information Technology Club member: we refurbish damaged computers and donate them to families that cannot afford them.
-Annually volunteer at Saint Vincent de Paul homeless shelter since 2001

Additional Distinctions:
-1st place team '08 USCD Honors Math Competition
-AIME Qualifier
-National Merit Semifinalist
-Colorado School of Mines Medal of Achievement in Math and Science
-Torrey Pines High School Sophomore Standout - chosen by student body

Additional Information:
-Presented parallel pathfinding algorithm at International Mathematica User Conference 2009, Champaign, IL
-Founded InSource Digital Development group, which trains and hires high school students for professional web development work (discussed in Challenges essay). Became CTO of It's a Beauty! Inc. as result of one project I lead.
-Founder/Owner of tpclubs.com, which affordably hosts/supports student-run clubs/entrepreneurial endeavors. One hosted site, easydefine.com, is followed in >1000 cities.
-2009 Science Fair Project “Thermally Accelerated Vacuum Dryer”: device that accelerates drying processes, including desalination, and saves energy by exploiting 2nd law of thermodynamics via naturally-occurring thermal gradients. In addition to receiving 5th place in CA/1st in San Diego, won American Society of Mechanical Engineers Award, Euphlotea Professional Award, Reuben H. Fleet Memorial Scholarship, Sweepstakes Runner Up.
-Hobbies: yo-yoing, juggling, Rubik's cubing (and other twisty puzzle variants)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
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. (*)(100 words or fewer)

Fiddling with the clay chips in my hand, I stared intently at my opponent. I studied his body language, scanning for even the most minute movements, looking specifically for any signs of distress or content. As I detected an instinctive miniscule fidget, I smiled and immediately called his bluff. I love playing poker with my friends; the ineffable sense of delight when one makes the right choice, backed by eccentric math, the innate sense of instinct, and unwavering passion makes the game a fun way to relax and engage in a battle of perseverance and judgment.

Although you may not yet know what you want to major in, which department or program at MIT appeals to you and why? (*) (100 words or fewer) 

Somewhere in the bits and esoteric language of the computer programming world, I found solace. Whether it was in the hours spent debugging programs or experimenting with hardware, I found myself completely immersed, open to the whims of logic and engineering. Once I realized that I could combine it with my long-held fascination with the human brain, I felt rather like Victor Frankenstein as I labored to simulate humanity’s most complex organ; the fact that it was on a computer made it even more exhilarating. Thus, ideally I would double major in computer (Course 6) and cognitive sciences (Course 9).

Tell us about a time you used your creativity. This could be something you made, a project that you led, an idea that you came up with, or pretty much anything else. (*) (200-250 words)

Looking down at an endless vocabulary list given to me by an English teacher, I decided I had had enough. The purpose of learning the words was to express ourselves more fluently, not to spend hours poring over various dictionaries. Fueled by this feeling of frustration, I aspired to once and for all automate this whole procedure. Yet, finding an open source dictionary and developing it into a fast, semantic database proved tricky. After several weeks, I managed to compile a database of over 200,000 words from open source dictionaries. Next, I wanted to create a heuristic extractor, one that could interpret data in virtually any format. Unfortunately, here I hit a programming block: How could I account for every possible type of input? Finding my answer in regular expressions, I logged hundreds of hours on the programming, and after enlisting the help of a friend with Photoshop, I released the program, dubbed EasyDefine (www.easydefine.com), into the mainstream. Within a few months, it hosted users from 78 countries and over 1350 cities. Users were marveled at the simple interface, the surprisingly fast results, and the host of advanced features. It was ultimately featured on many blogs, rising to the front page of Reddit.com, and was bookmarked by many at Delicious.com, etc. The heart of EasyDefine, '[regex here],' helped me achieve what I thought to be a great contribution to students and teachers all over the world, who like me wanted to speed up their endless array of English work.

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?(*) (200-250 words)

Ideas...some small, some bizarre, and some truly revolutionary. Yet they are all born from an instinctive desire to dream, to formulate a personal vision of what we one day want to achieve. As a child, a sense of freedom and the need to reduce the compound world around me into logical things shaped me as I grew up. When my teachers nurtured this desire to invent, I let the ideas flow, creating little gadgets whenever I saw something that needed improvement, despite the complexity. Realizing that I was too small to reach that highest shelf, I effectively endeavored to make myself taller by creating an extendible arm replete with wooden poles, metal hooks, and a storage compartment. No matter how bizarre my ideas seemed, my parents only cultivated my inquisitive spirit, providing me with books as I devoured literature on topics including computers, the brain (and of course mystical places). No doubt that I derived a broader perspective from these books, using it to create devices like my own tennis ball holder (so pockets wouldn’t be required). As I drifted into high school, the scale of my ideas grew exponentially, yet nothing thrilled me more than creating the ultimate robot, one that simulated the human brain. I aspired to create a model which could be used for medical testing, drawing inspiration from the works of the Blue Brain Project. Was this proposal impossible? Maybe, but quite simply, I find the act of coining — and implementing — ideas to be quite thrilling.


(Optional) No admission application can meet the needs of every individual. If you think additional information or material will give us a more thorough impression of you, please respond below. (Please limit your answer to 200-250 words or fewer.)

National AP Scholar; National Honor Society; Jain Society of San Diego Teen Leader (9th-12th grade); Tutoring Club (11th-12th; 30 hrs/yr) – tutored in computer science, biology, and math; Science Olympiad(9th-10th grade)-won top 10 in Robot Ramble, Circuit Lab, Astronomy, and Ecology; U.S. National Brain Bee is a neuroscience competition that includes a neuroanatomy, disease characterization and q&a portion. It is held in Baltimore and all city/state winners come together for 2 days of competition.

-----------Additional Essay----------------------------
    While my friends spend hours doing their homework, I spend that time programming nifty applications to do it for me. Being able to do homework 57% more efficiently (I checked) than my peers gives me a quiet, almost ineffable sense of joy that makes it all worthwhile.

     In many ways I am like a small, brown Superman with glasses, except instead of a fortress of solitude I have a room cluttered with a mess of wires that I trip over when I try to get in. Oh, and I don't have superpowers. Just as Superman has Clark Kent, I too have an alter ego. By day I am an ordinary child, hiding behind thick glasses that cloak me from those who do not know my secret. By night I am far more heroic, able to pound out hundreds of lines of code in mere seconds (slight exaggeration). Yet unlike Superman, I was shaped by a series of peculiar, coincidental events largely dictated by chance. Four years ago, I meandered into the Torrey Pines computer science club. Walking in, I expected to see a bunch of techies with glasses thicker than mine, hunching and muttering absently to their computers, but instead I was greeted by epic virtual robot battles, commandeered by the same innocuous kids I passed in the hallways every day. Now I too knew their secret.

     Yet, something peculiar had happened that day. Underneath my ostensibly composed exterior, the heart of a programmer began to slowly beat.

     Eager to create a program of my very own, I huddled over my computer, watching cryptic lines of code materialize with the deft strokes of my fingertips on the keyboard below. Yet, this initiation into programming was by no means the smooth ride that I had originally envisioned; it was riddled with bugs. Unfortunately, I had found my kryptonite in these destabilizing error messages. As a beginner, I felt let down. How could others deal with constant errors in their program even when the logic seemed so flawless? My thinking had not yet evolved, thus I hated the rampant bugs – the paragons of evil. After months of meticulous programming, I was practicing for ACSL programs, but my program would not find the best solution efficiently enough. My computer kept spitting back an “out of memory” error. Scanning the code again, I realized that my program was stuck in an endless loop. It was no wonder the computer kept complaining, quite assertively, about memory problems.

     Without the error message, I would have been kept in a state of delusional uncertainty, unable to find which part of my program was causing the bug. Thus, I began to cherish these bugs as guides who offered helpful counsel about the program. They kept me pushing, striving for that paramount state of perfection. It wasn’t about the beauty of the code, but about how I used these miscalculations and kept my patience through any dysfunctional code. As the bugs evolved, so did I, constantly altering my thinking, trying atypical tricks, and employing inventive methods to appease their suggestions.

     Even when solving those competition problems, I wasn’t only engrossed in finding the coveted solution. As I thought about the problem, unlimited solutions flashed through my mind. I realized that it was this act of picking a viable path, believing in it, and seeing it through to fruition that mesmerized me. The solution could be as creative as I desired, not bound by any rigid outlines. The more abstract the program became, the more I found myself entering the “hack mode” – a state of euphoria in which I was inseparable from the computer. Like Keats found himself capable of transcending his body, open to the uncertainties, and mysteries of life through negative capability, I too found myself most efficient and imaginative in this hack mode.

     Superman fights crime because his powers mandate that responsibility. I program because I love the challenge. I program because I know everything can be improved. I program because I know that there is always a more efficient, more elegant solution to a problem. I program because I feel it necessary to automate all the mindless, time consuming things I have to do. I program because I have neurons in place of wires, a brain in place of a CPU, and a heart in place of a battery. This endeavor for perfection no doubt allows me to see associations quicker, but it also provides a daily testament to the greatest computer of all, the human brain.

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.

On Saturday mornings during the summer I cannot be found in bed after five o' clock. By five-thirty my mother and I meet up with the rest of the crew, and as the sun peeks up above the horizon, we park our cars at a small blueberry patch tucked behind an inconspicuous farm house in Westborough. We greet Lilian, the inspiring eighty-year old woman who keeps the patch on her own, then dive into the bushes wet with morning dew. When I pick, I enter a meditative state, intent on the task but aware of my thoughts. The air is fresh, my mind is clear, and the feelings and ideas that spring forth are serene, precious, and ripe as the bulging berries in my hands.

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?

The rumbling, bumbling T car rocks back and forth and hits a corner, grating against the metal rails as it turns. SCREEE! I am jolted from my reverie, sit up a little straighter, and look around.

Yogi Berra once said, “You can observe a lot by watching,” and on the subway, that is what I do. People call it “zoning out”; I call it “zoning in.” It is these in-between times when I can really clear my mind and let it wander and absorb new sights. And here on the T, where lives that would otherwise be separate points in space are brought to intersect, is an especially rich place for it.

Clutching my violin and tote bag, I race from the Red Line to the Green at Park Street station, just narrowly squeezing into the “B” train en route to orchestra rehearsal. A man, seeing my bulging bags, offers me his seat…

I have been witness to everyday acts of kindness and been induced to shed prejudices. At the Belmont commuter rail stop, a man dressed in a white cutoff shirt and dirty jeans, studded with tattoos and sporting long, untamed strands of hair saved me from waiting another hour for a train I thought I had missed. Despite his suspicious appearance, he became an intelligent and insightful contender for a quarter hour as we debated the day’s front page.

Seeing people up close and personal has been unconventional but valuable education. I have stood next to, and indeed pressed right up against, subway aquaintances ranging from a mother speaking French with her daughter to an Indian man dining on chana, a chickpea gravy, inside poori, a fried flat bread (the aroma of which inspired me to order it the next time I ate out). The diversity of a single subway car reminds me of the range of experiences here in this microcosm of the city, as well as the range of opinions and concerns. I catch a few phrases between the mother and daughter—“guerre,” “le président,” “dommage!”—and glean their frustration at American politics. And perhaps the anxious expression on that man eating chana stems from worries about whether his relatives in India will find sufficient water for daily use, for clean water in parts of that country is scarce. I wonder at and imagine these people’s stories.

Passing by Brigham and Women’s Hospital on the Green Line, I am reminded of a particular doctor within.

Dr. Paul Farmer, subject of the book Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder, has given me a perspective of the role and responsibility of the scientist in the world. Besides holding posts as physician at Boston's Brigham and Women’s Hospital and professor at Harvard University, he travels constantly to personally treat the most destitute in countries such as Haiti and Peru in clinics he himself has set up, at high personal sacrifice. What strikes me most about Farmer is not only his tireless, iron will and devotion to his vision, but his heart as well. His story has been one of the driving forces behind my pursuit of medical research, and most of all, he is the kind of scientist I aspire to become: one who is socially informed, conscientious, and compassionate, who works to cure those who most desperately need it.

I’m not a city mouse or country mouse, but a bit of both. The newness and metropolitanism of the city draws me in, beckoning with the industry of discovery. Yet I love to submerge myself in simple things, among people face-to-face, the most basic level of humanity. I will never be a lost soul in a city, nor a cold-hearted bureaucrat.

I’ve taken from observing the city what I can easily forget at school. I know that what I choose to do in the future must be evaluated within the context of the people around me, and their concerns must inform my goals. School is isolated, but the real world is open, and my science and future science, just like politics and economics, will not operate within a vacuum.

Essay B: 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?

Ever since I can remember, my sister Patty has been in jail for either drug use, theft or gang-banging. I’ve started off some high school courses sitting on the floor for two weeks because of overcrowded classrooms. I walk home every day down streets filled with graffiti, drug dealers and prostitutes. How has this world shaped my aspirations? By embedding me with the insatiable desire to pursue a college degree. If there is one thing I know to be true from firsthand experience it’s that the only way to change things for the better in my community will be from the inside out. And first it starts with me.

I have done much to thrive in spite of the obstacles persistent in my environment. I cannot stop the tagging, the prostitution, or the gangs. I cannot stop my peers from getting pregnant or dropping out. But what I can do is get the best education I can possibly obtain. Often I had to look elsewhere to enrich my opportunities. I’ve enrolled in college classes while still in high school, asked teachers one-to-one about subject material beyond the scope of the class, and read extensively on my own about topics of great interest to me. I also joined clubs to expand my educational opportunities. Most importantly though, through ambition, determination, and resilience, I have turned what could have been a world of depravity and ignorance into a landscape of opportunity.

The traits I developed in pursuing a better education have also proven beneficial to other endeavors, whether it involved academic competitions, athletics, or simply learning new skills. When our novice trebuchet team was ridiculed and told we had no chance, we forged on and ended up placing 3rd in regional competition despite numerous obstacles. When my very own teachers told me how hard the AP tests were and claimed I’d be lucky if I got a 3 on even one of them, I studied and studied and ended up passing multiple exams with 4s and 5s. I joined track even though I was hardly what one would call athletic and I trained for hours a day until I was finally able to vault. When presented with the opportunity to go to Washington D.C. to attend the 2004 presidential inauguration, I did not give up when I learned of the cost. Instead I sold Rice Krispies bars until I finally raised the whopping $800. Essentially I have learned to take initiative.

No matter where I go, I am determined to be successful. I am going to find a way to make it beyond the inner city. I want to be pushed to my limits. Ultimately, I have learned that I am the person who will solely determine my fate and I am confident I have what it takes to succeed at the next level and beyond.

1. We know you lead a busy life, full of activities, many of which are required of you. Tell us about something you do simply for the pleasure of it. (100 words or fewer)

During my first engineering project at the University of Kentucky, I attempted to build connections between an AR Drone and computers. Although trying to fix the existing codes was frustrating, I was amazed by how much I had learned outside the classroom – seeing technological terms for the first time, downloading C++ tutorials to learn from scratch as a coding starter, and all other pieces of the engineering puzzle had made it fun, but also made me realize how little I know in the engineering world and how exciting it had been to apply newly learned knowledge to real life experiences.

2. Although you may not yet know what you want to major in, which department or program at MIT appeals to you and why? (100 words or fewer)
The Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science appeals to me because it will allow me to explore my interests in artificial intelligence, robotics, and developing smarter computer systems. After serving underserved areas in China, I believe someday affordable robots with special skills will serve people in need, such as brain-handicapped kids who need daily accompany to develop language and social skills, the elderly who have lost essential life skills, etc. I’m particularly interested in the idea of swarms of robots and self-computing intelligence. I desire to change the world in a positive and unique way.

3. 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. (200-250 words)
With a good sense of humor, I see life as a deck of cards – I may lose or win temporarily, yet it is each unpredictable card that adds pleasure to the overall game. Never taking myself too seriously, I thrive upon tackling seemingly formidable challenges. Whether it has been facing the “downs” during the exchange year, solving a challenging physics problem, or learning a difficult piano piece, I believe in the notion that “life likes to joke with me, and as long as I never give up trying, I’ll do fine.” This single belief has made me cherish the resilience I have gained by taking risks and overcoming challenges.
Yet more importantly, possessing a good sense of humor has made all my teamwork enjoyable. Although laughter can’t make our work easier, humor can always refresh our frustrating minds and help us keep positive.
“Why isn’t the liquid changing color in the tube?”
“It must’ve been put into sleep by your magic!” I answered. My lab partners and I laughed. A bond among us had formed, yet we also started to focus on the lab rather than panicking.
I believe humor is joking, laughter, and also an attitude towards everyday life.

4. 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? (200-250 words)
“Rugged individualism” is how my father described his earlier life – getting up at 5 every morning to feed his buffaloes, picking up manures and fertilizing the farm after school and ranking 1st in his school at the same time. “Neither of my parents went far enough to graduate from elementary school, and I know the only person who can change our life conditions is me,” he told me. With the dream, my father became the first person in the entire town to earn a college degree and then a doctorate. I have been inspired to follow his path and achieve as much as I can.
Coming from a family that has fought its way out of poverty, I have experienced living in a shack and witnessing how my younger cousins struggled with poor conditions. Yet I never realized that I had the power to make an impact until I lived with my American host family last year. “Mom told me to work after high school, because we can’t afford college.” Keeping my host sister’s words in mind, this fall I met an admission officer from a state college and introduced her achievements to him. Surprisingly, she was qualified for a full scholarship!
After witnessing the inequality of opportunities in less fortunate areas and seeing myself making positive changes to others’ lives, I have been determined to dedicate my life to make the world a better place, as I believe “what I do” is far more important than “who I am.”

5. 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? (200-250 words)
Halfway across the globe, I was the only foreign student in a nearly “all-white” school in the Midwest. Desperate as I was, I didn’t dare to speak in front of new people in my “strange accent”; learning biology terms in English was horrifying, and reading 6 pages of the U.S. History textbook literally took me two and a half hours…
Still, I never doubted this decision of becoming an exchange student. I realized there was nothing I should fear, but fear itself. As I started to overcome difficulties, I stayed after school nearly every day to ask teachers for additional help and sometimes to even challenge them with my questions and thoughts. I made sure I had a smile on my face when I walked in the school door each morning, and I tried to step out of my comfort zone and speak out. Soon as I conversed with other students, I was dumbfounded when they complained how “evil” and totalitarian China was. Sadly I found my country, although with its own rich history and rapid growth, was poorly understood. I took the challenge to create the Culture Club that was dedicated to bringing awareness of diversity to my peers and to overcoming the inherent biases and barriers that we each possess as human beings. With courage, efforts, and a positive attitude, I surprisingly formed life-long bonds with my peers, and even inspired an American friend to pursue learning Chinese and participating in a semester long exchange program in college!

Additional Information
I made the risky decision to become a Youth For Understanding exchange student to America, knowing that I could be randomly assigned to any state and any school. I appreciated the opportunity to take adventures in a foreign country and forge cultural understandings between two countries. I was curious about a learning environment in which learning, creativity, and hands-on experiences are more valued than just scores. While I anticipated challenges, I didn’t realize how hard it had been to immerse into a new environment. Yet with my efforts, determination, and courage, I made positive changes to my exchange life, forged life-long friendships, and left an impact in school and the local community. At the end of the year, I decided to continue my adventure by attending a local private school (I wasn’t able to stay in a public school for more than a year as an international student). Staying with a new host family and making efforts to immerse into a new study dynamic, I realized how valuable my exchange experience had been to me – it had made me a curious and courageous adventurer, eager to take advantage of any opportunity in front of me and grateful to all the challenges and people that had positively shaped my life. More importantly, I had learned a life lesson: challenges may seem invincible, but as long as I keep positive and make an effort, I have the potential to conquer any challenges in this world. Now at the threshold of graduating high school, I desire to attend MIT as the starting point of my next exiting journey which will be filled with challenges, excitement, and intense intellectual vitality, all of which will facilitate me in making my own contribution to the technological field.

MIT Application, Oscar Munez, Physics, MIT 2013
  1. Acceptances with these essay(s): MIT