The Science of Perfection
Between myself and my future lies
This application before me now
And those who must decide somehow
If my admission they'd advise.
They study me to know my skill,
Sound my depth, and judge my will,
My motivations comprehend,
And to read what teachers recommend.
No calculations can be made
Of worth or value or of class;
Dreams are weighed not in mass
Nor concentration in moles assayed.
Here's research of a stranger sort
No way to make it quick or short
No way for qualitative bent
To change to quantitative measurement.
There's no hypothesis to write,
No lab coat nor goggles to wear,
No set control with which to compare,
No answer really wrong or right.
Where science becomes more like law,
Just one rule do they seem to draw:
"For admission there's no perfect achiever,
But we'll know one when we see her!"
- November 2001
The third question on the Fall 2002 application for the California Institute of Technology presented one with a blank page to be filled in any way. Since I had stressed how much I enjoyed writing in the rest of my application, I figured that I should demonstrate it here. Also, since Caltech is a very math and science focused school, I wanted to push the theme that creativity and art were still very important. Thus, the basic idea of the poem is that a person cannot be measured scientifically, implying that not everything can be conveyed in the application. And, of course, there are some not-so-subtle "pick me! pick me!" lines.
For the background, there was a transition from what looked like graph paper in the upper left corner to a canvas texture in the lower right, showing the transition from science to art, in a sense. That was inspired by this left brain right brain journal I saw in a bookstore once, with blank pages for the right brain half and lined paper for the left brain half. At the time, I joked that I was so left brained that my division was between graphed and lined paper instead.