College Essays

Common Application

Prompt: Please tell us what from your current and past experiences (either academic or personal) attracts you specifically to the field or fields of study that you noted in the Member Questions section. If you are currently undecided, please write about any field or fields in which you may have an interest at this time. (300 words or less)

Astronomy has long fascinated me-it is the first subject that I really fell in love with. Although I have dabbled in other areas like music and oncology, I have always returned to my passion in astronomy.
In the beginning, I read books and watched documentaries about all aspects of astronomy. What fascinated me most was how vast our universe is, and how small we are in comparison. Perhaps it is a sense of exploration that drives me, or maybe just a desire for knowledge of the world around us, but I have always strived to learn as much as I can about the heavens.
However, what I think really solidified my wish to become an astronomer were the last few months of my junior year of high school and the summer immediately after. My physics teacher during junior year brought in a former student working at NASA, and he gave a talk about his work on planetary and asteroidal orbits at NASA to send a probe to explore asteroids. That talk inspired me to start building simulations of orbits on my own. I ended up creating a simulation of the Alpha Centauri system because of him as my final project in physics class, and it was a blast.
The next summer I worked as a researcher at the lab of a former cosmologist, who taught me other skills necessary for becoming an astronomer. Although he could not give me a project directly dealing with astronomy, he did give me a project that honed a very important skill for not just astronomers, but perhaps all modern sciences sciences: coding. Despite sometimes working upwards of sixteen hours a day, I found the experience exhilarating and have been drawn even further towards astronomy.

Tips for Writing:
Honestly, anything can be written about here, as long as it is pertinent to your area of study. It is important to focus on just a few key events as being what attracted you into what you would currently like to study. It should be that single “aha” moment where you realized that you truly could see yourself doing this for decades. There’s no need to try to impress anyone here-your resume is where you will be doing that, and in all honesty it may be best to focus on something less impressive but closer to your heart. The admissions officer has at this point likely seen what your most impressive accomplishments are, so there is no need to essentially repeat something that has already been shown. If you do not currently have a career in mind, pick whatever hobby or interest you can see yourself doing the longest without ripping your hair out.

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