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On Potatoes

“If you had to choose one food to eat for the rest of your life, what would it be?”

Having had this question asked of me many a time, I realize that such an inquiry must be considered practically. The correct answer would keep me happily sustained for the rest of my years, whereas the wrong choice could leave me tormented until I wither away from monotony. If I chose macaroni and cheese, per se, I’d be trapped consuming glutinous pasta, tacky milk-fat, yellow dye No.5, and copious amounts of sodium, forever. But if instead, I call upon my contentment understandings and assess my options accordingly, I may arrive at an indefectible conclusion. And after much deliberation, I believe that I have come to such a response: potatoes.

These tubers are the perfect sustenance due not only to their nutritional qualities but, most notably, to their remarkable versatility. Potatoes may be prepared in a myriad of dishes.

Creamy mashed-potatoes come first to mind, with their fluffy hills of whipped-bliss gracing one’s tongue so delicately. The thought of golden tater-tots follows; deep-fried potatoes cooked perfectly so as to create a slow crunch when chewed. Then are characteristic french-fries—shoestring or steak, skin on or off. Baked-potatoes, latkes, hash-browns, gnocchi—all respectable meals. And one mustn’t forget potato-chips when searching for alight snack.

Oh potatoes, how I love you. And when asked what to eat exclusively for the rest of my life, I will enthusiastically respond “potatoes!”, for by picking one, I choose an abundance.

To a casual onlooker, this question may appear inconsequential in its hypothetical nature, but as they say; you are what you eat. My inclination towards the varied is not contained to my food habits—it is a recurring theme throughout my life. I regularly switch from my mom’s house to my dad’s. I’ve moved twelve times. I have a fifteen-year-old sister and a two-year-old brother. I’m a dog and a cat person.

This variation tends not to leave me with an aversion to commitment, but a disposition towards diversity. I am interested in many things. So one must understand how I have struggled, faced throughout my education with the question, “If you had to choose one subject to study, one occupation to pursue, one thing to do, for the rest of your life, what would it be?”

I love to play viola; I get a rush communicating without-words to my quartet members in order to convey a musical message. I am at my happiest reading a good book; their complex stories captivate me and I aspire to write a novel of my own. I want to make laws that improve my country; all people should have a shot at the American dream. I am passionate about protecting the environment; reducing our effect on global-warming is of the utmost importance to me. I want to help those in need; people still don’t have access to clean water and I want to use my privilege to help change that. I strive to become fluent in Spanish; traveling the world is a dream of mine. Recently, I have discovered that I really like to code; I’m sure in the coming years I will explore things I didn’t know I was interested in.

I don’t have an answer to what exactly it is I want to do for the rest of my life. I love English and political science, but I have yet to find such an all-encompassing response as potatoes. What I’ve realized though, is that I don’t have to sacrifice all for one. From each of my interests I learn things that contribute to who I am and shape how I see the world. Eventually, I will focus my path. And when I do have an answer, I will go forth with the knowledge I’ve gathered from each of my varied interests; and I will never stop learning.

Admissions Committee Comments

Devon opens his essay with a story that is relatable to many: Struggling through a difficult activity (rock climbing in this instance) yet feeling determined to finish. The author effectively expands from this one experience to how his learning style has changed in the past few years. Through his essay, we get a sense of Devon’s growth mindset and can envision him continuing to develop as a student and individual once on our campus.

Musical Movement

Whether we are opera singers or shower-wailers, ballet dancers or awkward shufflers, we all understand how music makes us feel, and more importantly, makes us move. Moving to music is so much a part of the human experience that it seems innate to us as a species. A recent study supports this, showing that fetuses react to music with increased motion, and in some cases, open their mouths as if to sing. Once out of the womb, this response only grows: a catchy tune makes hips swing and toes tap, and in certain situations, heads bang.

The music that moves us is itself a product of movement. As a musician who is a tactile learner, I’m keenly aware of the way a piece feels as I play it. Despite years of piano teachers telling me to read the page in front of me while I play, my eyes habitually wander to my hands, where the music is really happening. This gap between reading and performing music keeps me from fully expressing my musical ideas.

As a way to bridge this divide, I am trying to create a simple instrument that translates movement directly into music, using motion to capture melodic ideas and expressions. I got this idea while watching a lively orchestra conductor, who sometimes overshadowed the players so much that he seemed to be dancing alone, pulling notes through the air with his baton. Enchanted by how effortlessly he stirred the ocean of sound around him, I caught myself swishing my hands back and forth to the beat. As I lifted my arm to match the swelling tempo, I wondered: what if we could turn all kinds of movement into melodies?

It occurred to me that I could apply my skills in computer science and digital media to create a movement-to music application. To a computer everything is math, including music and movement. Every note and motion can be tracked, stored, and broken down into a set of variables, based on information from an outside source, such as a computer mouse or touchpad. I am currently taking advantage of this relationship by creating a web-based application that synthesizes music based on interactions with the cursor. The program, once completed, will play notes as the mouse is pressed, with unique pitch and tone determined by the position and motion of the pointer.

Eventually, I’d like to take this concept further using more sophisticated technology. I plan to take data from a motion sensor or camera and convert it directly into sound, using a simple device that tracks movement and translates its vertical position into musical pitch, its horizontal position into musical dynamics (soft to loud), and its speed into musical tone. Imagine being able to move your hand to generate a pitch that changes with the direction of movement, producing a musical phrase. Sophisticated users would be able to control relationships between variables to suit their needs; for example, they could link various components of movement (such as direction or speed in all three dimensions) to a wide range of musical characteristics, including, but not limited to, timbre, harmonics, and distortion.

Ultimately, artists could use my instrument to make music from anything that moves: dancers onstage, migrating birds, traffic at a busy intersection. It would not only close the gap between the conception and realization of music, but it could open new creative pathways that combine music and motion. As for me, I look forward to performing on an empty stage, directing an invisible orchestra with the flick of my wrist.

Admissions Committee Comments

Lukas’s essay effectively combines his passion for art and science, revealing his academic interests and potential. His enthusiasm around music, movement, and computer science offer insight into his potential as a student who is eager to take advantage of the technology and research opportunities here. His essay goes farther to describe how his academic curiosity will translate into new technology that will help individuals and communities. It’s clear that Lukas understands what the Hopkins experience can help him achieve.
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姚博文

姚博文

美国高等院校录取协会(NACAC)认证会员

中国首位IECA本科和研究生双资格教育专家

麻省理工学院 耶鲁大学 杜克大学 哥伦比亚大学 圣路易斯华盛顿大学

赵盼

赵盼

美国高等院校录取协会(NACAC)认证会员

国际教育组织课程设计主管

哥伦比亚大学 宾夕法尼亚大学 约翰霍普金斯大学 密歇根大学 波士顿大学

傅顺

傅顺

Myuniuni 资深咨询专家

多年高端留学申请经验,成功案例逾百例

哥伦比亚大学 杜克大学 康奈尔大学 帝国理工学院 南洋理工大学

翁列维

翁列维

华东政法大学学士;英国谢菲尔德大学硕士

U.S.News官方认证升学顾问;IELTS主办方工作经验

UCL KCL 谢菲尔德大学 曼彻斯特大学 布里斯托大学 格拉斯哥大学

Robert Ulrich

Robert Ulrich

圣路易斯华盛顿大学MBA

高等院校录取协会

埃默里大学 弗吉尼亚大学 罗彻斯特大学 加州大学尔湾分校

Cassia Perlta

Cassia Perlta

沃顿商学院MBA, 美洲发展银行总监

高等院校录取协会

宾夕法尼亚大学 弗吉尼亚理工大学 康涅狄格大学 加州大学圣地亚哥分校

Jim Brasunas

Jim Brasunas

麻省理工大学硕士

高等院校录取协会

约翰·霍普金斯大学 康奈尔大学 马里兰大学帕克分校 密歇根大学

Jacqueline Nottingham

Jacqueline Nottingham

弗吉尼亚理工招生官

高等院校录取协会

杜克大学 范德堡大学 圣路易斯华盛顿大学 莱斯大学

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波士顿大学

Boston University

13

加州大学圣地亚哥分校

University of California--San Diego

7

加州大学戴维斯分校

University of California--Davis

5

佛罗里达大学

University of Florida

21

纽约大学

New York University

8

卡内基梅隆大学

Carnegie Mellon University

8

南加州大学

University of Southern California

13

加州大学伯克利分校

University of California--Berkeley

2

圣路易斯华盛顿大学

Washington University in St. Louis

18

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University of California--Los Angeles

5

莱斯大学

Rice University

7

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Cornell University

4

布朗大学

Brown University

3

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Northwestern University

6

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Johns Hopkins University

8

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University of Pennsylvania

4

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Duke University

5

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Harvard University

1

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Columbia University

12

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University of Chicago

2

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Yale University

2