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My Academic Interests in The University of Pennsylvania

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Do you want to warp reality? Do you want to go beyond standard conventions? Do you want to become yourself? These are the fundamental questions I sought an answer for myself when considered my college options. After hearing about it from a classmate who wanted to pursue Actuarial Sciences, I have to say, UPenn grew on me really quickly in these regards. I felt as if the College of Arts and Sciences was the right match for these questions, and if were to really explore my intellectual interests, there would be no better place than the University of Pennsylvania.

But I think we’d be going nowhere if I just gushed over the place for the remainder of this essay. Before I talk about how UPenn can accommodate my interests, it’d be better if I gave a brief outline of them. In short: I’m an aspiring theoretical physicist. My interests always involved studying more about physics and mathematics in my free time while participating in contests to test my grasp on the subject. Along with fairly decent results with a distinction in the Euclid Mathematics contest, 2nd place in the RIT Dubai Mathematics contest, and attaining the 3rd rank in the UAE for the IPhO qualifiers, I’ve also explored my interests in more ‘unconventional ways’. I constantly spend my free time cooking up theories of nature, and while they’re not official research projects, the one which I’m most proud of is the separation of the universe into layers of Energy in a theory which I dubbed ‘The Energy Layer’ theory.

However, I’m not conceited enough to claim that my theory is something impressive. At its current form, it stands on no experimental grounds and can be dismissed as a 17 year old’s mere imagination. But I’d be damned if that was the end! As I said in the beginning, I’ve always wanted to redefine reality by going beyond conventional knowledge and that’s where UPenn comes in. If I have to explore my interests even further, I’d need a firm background on the fundamentals of Physics, and the College of Arts and Sciences, with its Physics course fits my needs more than ideally. Its concentrations on ‘Physical Theory and Experimental Technique’ and the possibility of entering the Honors program coupled with research guidance under a faculty member serves as an outlet for not only strengthening my understanding of Physics, but also as a means for furthering my interests in research. The events don’t lie either! It’s clear that the College of Arts and Sciences has already been a part of groundbreaking international research operations, with the most recent example being the upcoming colloquium on January 17 on the Dark Energy Survey (A crucial topic for those who want to understand the universe) of which UPenn was a vital member.

As the late Billy Mays said, “But wait, there’s more!” How could I talk about research opportunities without mentioning CURF? The option of either working under seniors and faculty members or to dive into your own research projects as an undergraduate reminds me of a choose-your-own adventure book. Personally, while I do seek to carve a new path, I feel as if I need to develop my foundations in research before jumping in head first, and hence would seek to learn and work at the same time. At the same time, I’d also want to academically challenge myself, and UPenn’s Physics honors courses would be an amazing option to enrich myself academically.

In conclusion, UPenn provides something which others can’t. It’s strong interplay and integration of research with its Honors Program for undergraduates, along with its emphasis on the freedom of choice in undergraduate research caters to my intellectual and academic needs. If I truly want to make a difference in the world, and let my interests thrive, I don’t I’d settle for anything but UPenn’s College of Arts and Sciences.

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