The Committee on Admission is interested in getting to know each candidate as well as possible through the application process. The following essay question is designed to demonstrate your writing skills and facilitate our full appreciation of your unique perspective. The quality of Rice’s academic life and the Residential College System are heavily influenced by the unique life experiences and cultural traditions each student brings. What personal perspective do you feel that you will contribute to life at Rice? (500 word limit)
The smell of saltwater drifted on the breeze. I walked down the dimly illuminated path, palm trees to my side and stars above my head, searching for my destination. Clad in a suit and tie, I readied myself for the extravagant night ahead of me. I followed the growing sound of Pachelbel’s Canon in D, an opulent twist to the traditional Indian wedding repertoire, until I reached the beachfront courtyard of the five-star resort. By this time, the celebration was in full swing. Vibrant flowers decorated the platform where the local Balinese dancers performed for the newlywed bride and groom. Servers waltzed through the sea of guests, offering everyone drinks and snacks. My grandfather on my father’s side spared no expense as the firework display began sending a steam of sparks into the wind. The aroma of dinner being prepared began to fill the air.
Three years earlier, the same scent had stirred my senses. My aunt stood at the stove making my favorite dish, idli and sambar, while I spoke to my grandfather on my mother’s side in broken Hindi about this year’s harvest. The paint on the walls had begun to peel and the appliances had begun to rust, but after seventy years of occupancy, no one in my family really cared because this was home. Our neighbor, Divige, bounded through the door; we hadn’t met in years. Holding off on lunch, we descended the clay steps to the street and headed to the only market in the village. The smell of burning leaves emanated from the nearby textile factory and stray dogs and cows wandered along the road. Divige and I weaved through the traffic, excited to buy some fresh mangos. Today was Diwali and the sound of fireworks continually echoed between the buildings.
The last firework exploded, breaking me out of my daydream. I left my memories and returned to the present. Sitting in the cool grass in front of my high school, I bid my friends farewell. The Independence Day celebration was coming to a close. Coasting down the desolate road through the woods of suburban New Jersey, I recalled my experiences over the years. I would soon be entering my senior year of high school. I had enjoyed the luxuries of life in Bali and had walked through the impoverished villages of India. I have had the opportunity to meet people of all careers, all cultures. All of these experiences have made me a global citizen and, ultimately, an open-minded individual.
Through attending Rice, I will be able to share these qualities with those around me, contributing my past to a new and unified community. Refined thinking, after all, often begins with a broad perspective. The ability to think creatively is essential to tackling a problem; conducting research with a biased point of view is inherently flawed. At Rice, I would be able to offer my varied ideas and approaches through both my own research and the research of others. Without these vital qualities, working towards benefiting society becomes impossible. With them, a life of progress — and adventure — is possible.