Personal Essay

In your Mathcamp application, you will include a personal essay: a chance for you to speak directly to the admissions committee about yourself and what motivates you to apply.

In a nutshell, we would like you to tell us a little more about yourself, your interest in math, and why you want to come to Mathcamp. Most applicants answer in a few paragraphs, but there is neither a minimum nor a maximum word count for the personal statement: you can feel free to express your ideas at their natural length. The format is completely up to you: it can be a series of short answers, or one overarching narrative. You can also get creative: we've received essays in the form of lists, poems, puzzles, short stories, plays, letters. Just use this space to introduce yourself to us.

Here are some examples of things you could talk about:

  • What do you hope to gain from a summer at Mathcamp? Do you have any specific goals for the summer, mathematical or otherwise?
  • What do you like about math? Are you interested in math for its own sake, or for its applications to other fields, or both? Are there specific areas or kinds of math that you enjoy, or that you are particularly curious about?
  • Tell us a little about your mathematical environment. What do you like about your school and community mathematical resources? What would you change if you could?
  • What have been some of the most satisfying / unsatisfying / horrible / inspiring / amusing events in your mathematical biography in the last few years?
  • Tell us about a really beautiful or compelling mathematical idea that you have recently encountered. What's so amazing about it?
  • Which of the problems on our quiz did you enjoy most, and why? Did you learn anything interesting from working on them? What were your least favorite problems, and what didn't you like about them? (Don't worry, we won't take it personally.)
  • Is there anything unusual about your background that we should know about when reading your application?

It goes without saying that there are no "right answers" to any of these questions: they're just here to give you an idea of the kinds of things we're curious about. You should definitely not feel obligated to talk about all of these topics, or any of them. Feel free to write about anything that could give us some sense of who you are—as a person, a mathematician, and someone with whom we might get to spend five weeks this summer.