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MIT application essays that worked

‘Is that a paperclip, or the trigger to my next crossbow?’

This is part of a series of MIT application essays submitted by students who were later admitted to the Institute. The following prompts are from the 2010-11 admissions season.

Prompt

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)

Response

To an outside observer my average Sunday in fall may look uneventful; I sit in the same worn corner of my couch and watch football — for hours. But while others see all the action on the screen, my mind is an unseen arena. How many yards has Tom Brady thrown for today? How about this year so far? I mentally compute averages and weigh possibilities of breaking records, hoping for that incredible statistical game. Regardless of the score, however, I will be back to my tattered corner the next Sunday — once again a recluse, captivated by the numbers.

Prompt

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. (250 words)

Response

Take a look at a typical desk and what do you see? Some see a piece of paper and tape; I see easier-to-use steel and the perfect cement. Is that a paperclip, or the trigger to my next crossbow? I look through the eyes of a resourceful creator — a quality in which I take quiet pride. My creations originated when I was young and sat in my dad’s office. Bored out of my mind, I began making a slingshot out of a stack of extra paper. Over time the artifacts evolved from simple things such as a suit of armor made from repurposed newspaper to crossbows and Ferris wheels. Regardless of the project’s complexity, the basic concept remains the same: I take stray objects and create something cool, at least to me. Of course not everyone agrees; my mom doesn’t think a crossbow properly decorates the dining room table, and time presents a challenge. I often think of imaginative ideas after dinner as I’m clearing my plate. Within a few minutes, I am hooked and there is no stopping me until the project is done, so sleep suffers.

While I enjoy school, sports, and time with family and friends, I take pride in my self-proclaimed masterpieces since they are born of my resourceful efforts — not predetermined building kits. My mind swirls with excitement as my Ferris wheel spins with the press of a paper clip. Soon I’ll join others with a similar desire for creation and my paper will be replaced with steel and tape with cement. But for now when I am not hustling between commitments, you can find me in the office, foraging through supplies as my mind races unconstrained.

—Harry Rein ’15