College Admissions Essays - Something Daring and New

College Admissions Essays - Something Daring and New
Think about something you never did in high school but wish you had done. Now imagine your time at college. Propose taking up something daring and new, and describe how it might affect your life. For years I have harbored a secret desire to become a cheese aficionado. This is not entirely arbitrary. Cheese, as an independent entity outside of any broader alimentary context, is at once worldly and whimsical. It provides the ideal complement to that side of my personality which has historically been dominant. My experiences have been largely rooted in the world of the abstract and the intellectual. Mathematics, music, writing, and the like have given me a certain sense of detachment from reality. While I have historically enjoyed this detachment, there is always a desire to diversify. Eating cheese is a direct immersion in the world of the senses, where things are taken at face value. You don?t analyze cheese, you just eat it ? a refreshingly simple outlook on life. At the same time, cheese offers the opportunity to express my individuality. There are plenty of more popular ways to get in touch with the earth, from cleaning to gardening to fishing, but I eschew the familiar. Cheese means uniqueness, or some approximation thereof. It also means independent imagination. Why be always bound to accepted notions of what is useful, what is interesting, what is respected?
To take ? for purely recreational purposes ? something normally perceived as just one component of the kitchen and to turn it into a paradigm of its own requires both will and creativity. And there is precedent: I like cheese. There are few sources of greater immediate gratification than munching a mozzarella, swallowing a Swiss, or consuming a Camembert. My first encounter with a Parmesan ? a solid block, not the Kraft grated stuff ? was a revelation. Still, these are all among the more ordinary and pedestrian types of cheese. I feel a certain guilt in ignorance: I enjoy cheese, yet I have never gone beyond the average supermarket shelf to discover what infinitely more exciting flavors this world might hold. I have dreamed of remedying this discontentment, of ambling over to the local Barnes & Noble and finding a guidebook on cheeses and then of procuring samples of each, one by one, until I had developed a genuine familiarity with the world of cheese. Thus far, time and expense have seemed prohibitive. But there are always more opportunities. Only after beginning the application process did it occur to me that Cornell is a highly appropriate place to pursue an interest in cheese. It would be logically connected to the existing dairy tradition. I don?t know what food-oriented student organizations exist to back up my interest, but what with the famous wine-tasting course (to say nothing of the food programs at the college of Agriculture and Life Sciences), the university has at least a vaguely relevant academic tradition established. A large and diverse place, such as Cornell University, would be the most receptive setting for such an esoteric hobby. The benefits of making cheese an acknowledged and regular part of my existence are essentially twofold. On one hand, it would mean realizing and developing a passion which has long been latent. On the other hand, it would be an integration of a new element into my personality, one which would simultaneously contrast with the existing elements and embody the same spirit of creative distinctiveness that I endeavor to infuse in the rest of my life. I define myself by what I do. I imagine being asked at parties: ?What do you do?? ?I am a mathematician,? I would reply, including suitable detail. If pressed for more: ?I also compose music, write poetry, code software, solve cryptic crosswords, and play a mean game of Anagrams.? After pausing an instant, I would add: ?And I eat cheese.?

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