Thursday, February 28, 2008

This is why I hate writing personal statements.

So I guess my personal statement for my transfer app to Scripps Institution of Oceanography sounded arrogant. I guess that's not terribly surprising considering me, although it's fairly interesting to examine the reasons this time around.

I had similar problems in high school, though at that point it was more of a defense mechanism centered around low self-esteem rather than any sort of valid belief that I was better than anyone else. Yes, I was an attention-grubbing academic overachiever like so many others.

I would like to think that learning about psychology has broadened my perspective. Certainly I used to share the not-uncommon belief that only effort was needed to increase socioeconomic status. However, I think we often attribute behavior and status with innate traits rather than as a result of external forces. Once one gets over that misconception and develops the sort of empathy with the various situations that may have brought about current behavior, I think one develops a better understanding of how the world works.

Anyway, I guess I sometimes have difficulty in walking the line between being completely honest and maintaining social graces. I think trying to be humble can play a big role in getting people to like you. On the other hand, there's a lot of advice to the effect of selling yourself. It probably doesn't help that I have strong opinions about a lot of things. Undoubtedly this leads to situations where I end up as a bit of an arrogant prick. Sure, my background in math competitions is probably a great asset for creative problem solving. However, I think it's a lengthy explanation for why I think creative problem solving is a vital skill in today's society, and from first impressions, it definitely sounds like I'm bragging about previous achievements.

Hopefully the rest of my interviews will go well tomorrow, as it appears that I am competing with other prospectives for funding for the ocean biosciences program. The situation does make it painfully clear that I should have applied for fellowships, as well as the role of politics in science. Hopefully the day will come around when defense contractors, and not scientists, have to worry about funding.


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