Flame is interviewing bright young girls applying to Wesleyan, and being swept up by the naive purity of these women, who try so hard to be authentic and come off sounding truly weird. When I was applying to grad school, I wrote my own sappy tune, praising myself more highly than I deserve, but I can't say I still know any better.
I was going through old projects to decide which to document, and I found my draft of a generic personal statement to be modified for whatever program I might find to apply to. Here it is, in all its self-centeredness, more for my future access than to subject any of you.
Motivation Letter to an Unknown Academic Program
Since graduating from MIT in 2003, I have taught at a new engineering
college for two years; I worked as a freelance software developer for
two years; I hosted a philosophy and society discussion group for two
years; I founded and developed a social networking business for two
years; and by next winter, I will have spent two years traveling
My interests span teaching, engineering, philosophy, social
organization, and world cultures, but they come from an underlying
motivation. I want to discover new ways of living to help our
I am excited to part of the revolutions happening now in informatics
and philosophy. Software development is helping form the future: so
much of our lives involve computers and are influenced by the
interfaces and paradigms their developers choose. We have barely
discovered the ways that technology can structure our organizations,
interactions, and senses of self. Philosophy is grappling to find a
life-affirming and ethics-motivating way to acknowledge the advances
of technology and science. It has been driven by both them and
worldwide clashes of culture to search for a more inclusive world
I love teaching as an opportunity to introduce these new ways of
thinking and to structure learning. Travel lets me experience the
diversity of culture and different balances of the past and the
future. Both inform my interest in people, in how they organize, and
in helping them work together.
Roughly, I am interested in studying world community development for
our century. This research draws on skills and discoveries from the
fields of education, informatics, and cultural studies, as well as
many others. The complexities of psychology and sociology are also
key: every cranny of the world is changing, and the directions of
those shifts conform to and reveal the human spirit. The specifics of
geopolitics and a deep understanding of cultures is important, without
which the broad movements of the world's communities will be as elusive as
Technology and communication will have huge roles to play in shaping
our world. I hope to study both the broad trends and the most recent
developments in cutting-edge research. Urban studies, and in
particular how the organizational choices we make effect changes in
culture, also plays into this study.
I want to synthesize as well as analyze. Our capacity to create or
destroy our future world is greater now than ever. Advances in the
technologies of advertising and Internet social networking; new
experiments in human cooperation and a better understanding of the
human psyche and social attitudes; and a society ready to support an
endless variety of unique individuals and their endeavors are all
coalescing in exciting ways.
I hope to develop my sense of what resources are available and needed
for world community development, and my ability to write and organize
to help them happen.
Since I believe education should reach beyond academia, my values are
also important. I believe in social liberalism: everyone deserves
liberty, opportunity, and a life unhindered by prejudice. I believe
in economic liberalism: the economy exists for the benefit of all, and
the laws we choose can secure better economic justice. I am humanist
and technophilic: the full capacity of human kind is untapped, and
technology can help us find it. I believe we desperately need to live
sustainably now, to best dissipate many worldwide disasters. After
sustainability and education, I believe we can best alleviate world
suffering by cultivating a deep appreciation for diversity, and the
strength made in differences.
While I expect to further refine the scope of my studies, that path
will be a manifestation of this greater intersection of interests.
I hope and believe that my journey in this can continue with
attendance to your fine program.