Lesson
Five: Hobbies and Interests
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Hobbies
and Interests
What one
nonprofessional activity do you find most inspirational and
why? (Wharton)
For fun
I . . . (Kellogg)
Outside
of work, I most enjoy . . .
What
interests do you have outside your job and school? (Tuck)
This
question offers a prime opportunity to differentiate yourself by
presenting a vivid description of your life outside of work.
Business schools are interested in balanced, likable applicants.
Your professional life is only part of an interrelated whole.
Business schools expect you to demonstrate the same level of
dedication and passion in outside activities as you do in
business. They are also well aware that many of the best
businessrelated ideas occur when people are not at work, so
what you do out of the office has a measurable impact on what
you can do on the job. Besides, funny, offbeat, interesting
people make work, school, and essays more exciting. Communicate
feelings of passion, commitment, and devotion. Wherever
possible, demonstrate the leadership abilities you have
developed in these activities.
SAMPLE
ESSAY:
Note: This
essay appears unedited for instructional purposes. Essays edited
by EssayEdge are substantially improved. For samples of
EssayEdge editing, please visit EssayEdge.com.
What one
nonprofessional activity do you find most inspirational and
why? (Wharton)
A little
over two years ago I began tutoring high school students in
several types of mathematics, including preparation for the
S.A.T. Test. While I did this initially to earn money, I have
continued to tutor (often pro bono) because I enjoy the material
and the contact with the students.
I have
always enjoyed math tremendously. I can remember riding in a car
for long distances as a child and continuously calculating
average speeds and percentages of distances covered as we
traveled. In college I took upper division math classes such as
Real Analysis and Game Theory (and placed near the top of the
curve) though they were not required for my major. All this time
spent playing with math has left me with a deep understanding of
the way numbers work and the many ways in which problems can be
solved.
When I
first began tutoring I was stunned to find that most of the kids
I worked with, although very bright, not only lacked the ability
to solve complex problems, they were very uncomfortable with
some of the basic principles of math. This discomfort led to
fear and avoidance, and the avoidance led to more discomfort. A
vicious cycle began. Instead of seeing math as a beautiful
system in which arithmetic, algebra and geometry all worked
together to allow one to solve problems, they saw it as a bunch
of jumbled rules which made little sense that they were forced
to memorize.
As a
tutor, I found that it was important when starting with a new
student to find out where his/her discomfort with math began.
Often, this meant going back several years in their education to
explain important basic concepts. For some students,
fractions and decimals were the point at which math stopped
making sense. For many others, it was the introduction of
letters to represent numbers in algebra. Some students found
that identifying their weaknesses was an embarrassing process. I
explained to them that it was not their fault. Everyone comes to
understand new concepts in math in a slightly different way, and
the problem was that no teacher had taken the time to explain
their “problem area” in a way which would make sense to
them. Since math was a system, once they missed out on that one
building block, it was not surprising that the rest of it did
not make sense. Our mission together would be to find the way in
which the system worked for them.
Once we
had identified the initial “problem area,” I would spend a
lot of time getting the student to play with questions in that
area from a lot of different perspectives. For example, if
fractions were the problem, then I would create games to get the
student to think of fractions in terms of division, ratios,
decimals or other equivalent systems. This would often be a
fairly unstructured process, as I wanted to see how the
student’s mind worked and keep them from feeling any anxiety.
Usually it did not take long for the concepts to start becoming
clear to the student, as he/she played with the numbers in the
absence of the pressure of school. My goal was to not just white
wash over a students weaknesses with a few rules which would be
quickly forgotten, but to help them develop an understanding and
an appreciation for the underlying principles.
I found
this process to be very satisfying for both myself and the young
men and women that I taught. It was a wonderful feeling to have
a student laugh out loud with relief as a principle which had
been unclear and causing anxiety for years suddenly made sense.
Once these old “problem areas” were cleared up it was
usually quite simple to make clear the subjects that they were
working on at the time, especially since I already had an
understanding of how they were best able to understand new
concepts. Again, I found it important to get the student to play
with the new material and look at it in several ways so as to
develop a true understanding of the material.
I was
quite successful as a tutor. One young man increased his Math
S.A.T. by 150 points. Another student improved so dramatically
in geometry, her test scores jumped from about 55 percent to
over 90 percent, that her teacher kept her after class and asked
if she was cheating. Although most of my students did not
improve this dramatically, I walked away from every lesson that
I gave feeling that I had helped someone understand and enjoy
math. I hope to be able to continue teaching, if only for a few
hours a week, for the rest of my life.
COMMENTS:
This
essay shows that this applicant is dedicated not just to
helping people, but to academics, learning, and math. His
tutoring does not make us believe his sincerity; the
thoughtfulness and detail with which he describes it do. He
has put obvious time into developing an effective method of
teaching. The writer shows that he is resultoriented by
measuring his success in terms of real numbers and percentage
increases. Someone who applies such standards of
accountability to his extracurricular life is sure to bring
the same standards to school and business.
From
ESSAYS THAT WILL GET YOU INTO BUSINESS SCHOOL, by Amy Burnham,
Daniel Kaufman, and Chris Dowhan. Copyright 1998 by Dan
Kaufman. Reprinted by arrangement with Barron's
Educational Series, Inc.
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