Storytelling: How to Sell a Life of Mediocrity

I've been there, and to make myself feel better about myself, I'll imagine that you've been there too. Faced with the dreadful burden of writing my application essay for graduate school, I sat in the dark of the night as a bright screen of text glares down upon me. I had spent hours poring over what I felt was the essence of my soul, grasping at any semblance of substance in my life story and launching them at the page in a frenzy. I prayed that the reviewer, wielding the omniscience that someone with as much godlike power ought to possess, can unravel my text and relive my life through my own eyes. I tell myself that upon reading my personal statement, they will realize that they were born for this moment to accept me into the program. Satisfied with the splotches of black as witnessed through my bleary eyes, I save the document and go to sleep. The next morning, I open the document. Sure, there might be a couple grammatical errors---after all, I threw those letters togeth

Statement of Purpose: Columbia University ChemE PhD Application

I wrote this in 2018. If I recall, my statements of purpose for all my graduate school applications were more or less modified versions of my NSF GRFP application essay. Honestly, I'm surprised how un-bad I find this, 3 years later. I'm not so conceited as to claim it's good, because that's for you to decide. Reminder: plagiarism is bad. _________________________________________ The extent to which our modern world depends on the transfer of electrons between molecules that, after decades of research, we have packed into neat containers and dubbed “batteries,” fascinates me. From the AA alkaline cells that bring a child’s birthday gift to life, to the lithium iodine cells that power life-changing pacemakers, batteries have burrowed their way into the very heart of our daily lives. But as consumers demand slimmer batteries to power their tiny devices, researchers across the globe seek to develop massive batteries that can power entire communities. No matter their size, c

Anyone Can Write!

As someone with an engineering background, I detest the notion that writing belongs within the domain of the humanities, but I detest with equal vigor the stereotype that engineers, and members of the greater STEM community, can't write. Our decision to pursue careers that grapple with the natural curiosities of our world rather than the peculiarities of man does not preclude us from communicating effectively — yet more often than not, I have found myself disappointed by writing samples from fellow technical-minded folks. As technical people, we tend to gather around the hard rules and clear guidelines that our grammar teachers offered to us. For instance: Use the 5 paragraph essay format. Avoid passive voice. Write concise sentences. Etc. But relying on these sort crutches have constrained so many of us in our manners of expression and prevented us from learning to properly convey our ideas. For too long, we've treated writing as a chore when we should have valued it as much a

Concise: When the Word Count Matters

TL;DR: Why are you writing this? Why should they read this?