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Shock Culture Essay From Princeton

In Princeton on my early morning walks, I rarely saw another person. On one Sunday morning, when I spotted a man sitting in his backyard reading the newspaper, I felt an instant kinship. Another afternoon, when another walker approached from the opposite direction, I said ''Hello,'' as we passed. He turned his head and looked away, saying nothing.

At night, the quiet confounded me. By 9, many of the windows in my borough neighborhood were dark, but by 10:30, everything was black and silent.

One Saturday night, sitting on the front porch looking out into dark shadows, I watched car lights pierce the darkness, stop at my corner and turn right. Ten minutes later another car drove by, its radio playing loudly. I laughed out loud; finally I'd seen some action!

Sometimes, I'd wonder, ''How do people live in these houses? What do they do?'' Trips into the city, visits from friends who would take the train to Princeton and the telephone seemed to be my only lifeline to a reality with which I was familiar. When my son went on vacation with his father, the only voices I heard each day were those of clerks at Davidson's. I started going to The Carousel restaurant for breakfast, just to hear people talking and to witness some lively interaction.

One day at The Carousel, an attractive woman my age who had run in for coffee started talking to me. ''Oh, you are brave to move here by yourself,'' she said. ''Really brave!''

I laughed. I was brave, I realized, only because, as Mark Twain observed, to be brave, you have to know fear. Mosquitoes, he pointed out, cannot be brave because they're not aware or afraid of the size of their opponents.

Two years have passed since I moved to Princeton - and now I love it here. I enjoy the subtleties. I've begun to learn secrets and find the quirks. One night recently, I was delighted to see an old, crotchety neighbor come out on his front porch in his shorts and shake his fist in the direction of his next-door neighbor's air-conditioner. ''If you want to make all that noise, why don't you move to the country!'' he shouted before stomping back into his house.

Another day I chanced upon another neighbor standing in his front yard, early in the morning, staring across the street. ''Do you hear those wind chimes?'' he asked. ''Yes,'' I answered, thinking what a sweet sound they made. ''I hate them!'' he said angrily. ''They keep me awake at night! If people want to hang up things like that, they should move to the country!''

Finally I am learning that people in Princeton live in their houses just like my old friends and neighbors in New York live in their high-rise apartments - inside themselves, struggling, interacting, learning, playing, growing - just like people anywhere. I don't think the day will come when I get angry at wind chimes or airconditioners, but I do love the quiet of the nights.

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This prompt is only required for applicants interested in receiving a Bachelor of Science in Engineering and those who mark it as one of their possible degrees of study on their application.


Given the word limit and subject matter, a strong approach to this essay is to perhaps begin with a short anecdote or a few sentences that interestingly convey to the reader your interest in engineering, and perhaps what ignited your curiosity.


After that, you should discuss practical experiences in the field and how they shaped your interests. When discussing your exposure to engineering, it can be easy to fall into the trap of simply going through your resume and listing experiences or activities. Instead, you should make sure that your discussion of your experiences with engineering have a cohesive flow to them, as opposed to simply being unlinked events in conjunction.


Finally, they give you a chance to speak to “why Princeton Engineering,” specifically, what programs, organizations, opportunities, classes, research projects, etc. pique your interest. This is a chance for you to convince the admissions committee and Engineering department that not only would you thrive in Princeton’s Engineering department and take advantage of their resources, but also that you would be an asset to the field.


This section of your essay can be enhanced by discussing opportunities that are highly specialized to your interests and experiences; perhaps there is a professor who is conducting research in a highly specific area that suits your interests. On the other hand, discussing very common engineering opportunities (such as the ACM club) could be detrimental to the entire essay, as it fails to demonstrate why Princeton, specifically, is a strong fit for you.


Overall, this is likely intended to be less of a creative essay, and more of a prompt designed to simply tell Princeton why you are particularly interested in engineering, and why Princeton’s departments are suited for these interests.


Hopefully, after reading this guide, you feel much more confident and prepared to craft a compelling supplemental application to Princeton University that will distinguish you from your peers.


Want help on your Princeton application or essays? Learn about our College Apps Program and Essay Editing Program.


Want us to quickly edit your college essay? Submit it to our Rapid Review Program, and we’ll get it back to you quickly with comments from our expert team.

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