My Experience with College Essays

A sample of what went on in my brain at 12AM (during multiple days)

  • Drafts 1–3: I started off by talking about the 5 AM challenge and my pursuit of the 20–20–20 formula. My English teacher liked it and I thought it was good, but I feared it wasn’t developed enough. It told people what I did but it didn’t tell them about me.
  • Drafts 4–15: I wrote about an experience teaching middle schoolers about protein folding and PyMol as a part of a friend’s volunteering initiative, and tied it in with an experience from an internship at IIT after my sophomore year of high school. In the end, it turned out I was trying to tie in too many ideas at once.
  • Drafts 16–25: I wrote about the idea of emergent phenomena in complex systems and connected it with my passion for origami from when I was younger as well as research I pursued during the summer of 2020. Most people I shared it with thought it was a simple and obvious idea that was disguised in a complex essay; essentially I was just saying that my unique experiences were the product of multiple prior experiences and actions. This universal phenomenon wouldn’t bring admissions officers emotionally closer to me, nor would it set me apart from others.
  • Drafts 26–34: I hit it. The gold spot. I started writing this set of drafts after the release of the Alphafold version 2.0 was released. Since the first version of Alphafold is what motivated me to start doing research and exploring the world of systems medicine and biology, I thought that Alphafold would serve as the perfect framework for my experiences from the end of my sophomore year till the present.
  • I’m still working to discover who I truly am. After reading this Waitbutwhy blog post about my career, I realized how many imposters were sitting within me telling that me I should be a certain way and that I intrinsically wanted to act this certain way.
  • Following the last point — not knowing who you are is completely fine. Life is there as an 80 year period to discover yourself. Don’t try to fake who you are or make things up inauthentically. Again paraphrasing from the Waitbutwhy post — not knowing who you are is a step towards self-awareness and self-actualization.
  • I thought the cool and professional thing to do is define yourself by talking about your technical interests and the projects that you work on, but this may not necessarily be true. Who you are isn’t just knowledge and intelligence; it’s style, friendliness, and all the other intangible values. Being a cool person leads you to pursue cool work — not the other way around.
  • More done > perfect. There was no singular right way to approach my essay. Towards the first few drafts, I was paralyzed, but then I started to turn off the two voices in my head, and the writing and ideas began to flow more naturally.
  • What makes me uniquely positioned to solve a problem?
  • If I have 650 words to describe myself, what would I write about?

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Innovator passionate about the intersection between structural biology, machine learning, and chemiinformatics. Currently @ 99andbeyond.

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Mukundh Murthy

Mukundh Murthy

Innovator passionate about the intersection between structural biology, machine learning, and chemiinformatics. Currently @ 99andbeyond.