I don’t want to go into the scientific community with a sense of competition, competing for spots at a college, but with a sense of ambition for discovery.
If not first, then at least independently. I always jump to ask questions, moreover I enjoy answering questions I don't think anyone has asked and more rarely nobody has been able to answer.
I don’t believe that I’m driven by an extrinsic desire to just be different, but rather I am intrinsically different. This is corroborated when I’m asked to solve a problem and I do so in an unconventional manner.
I’m very visual. I have an abstraction threshold that, when a concepts exceeds, I must understand it visually. Not any proof will work for me, I can’t just see and follow the math to accept the derived concept or rule; I have to understand things intuitively. It’s not that I was instructed to understand this way, (in fact, there was little mention of an ‘intuitive understanding’ in many of my classes) it’s that I feel uneasy employing an equation that I don’t understand intuitively. I’ve found that inferences come extremely easily with an intuitive understanding of something. Because of this need of an intuitive understanding, I’ve had difficulty with concepts like electromagnetism, some advanced integration techniques, centripetal motion, etc. This is likely because the proofs of these are often heavily mathematical. Also, of course, this makes the questions that lead to an intuitive understanding of things (Why? How?) nearly impossible to apply to laws in physics and mathematics: Why does every object attract every other object? Why is there a magnetic field created in the movement of charge? etc.
If I can't be the first to explore something, then I much prefer to figure it out myself than have it explained. It's more challenging that way and it's personal and hopefully original. If the exact same viewpoint on a subject persisted through time and the same questions persisted with them, it may take a new interpretation to figure it out. Perhaps it's better to be wrong and original than right and mainstream.
I try to apply this ideology to everything I do: this makes learning a difficult process but I think I cull an enormous amount more from it than if I were to accept or request a basic, common viewpoint. To come to a realization realization/derivation independently is an enormously pleasant experience. It's even more pleasant when you find that the methods of derivation are NOT mainstream. For this reason, I learn with my own methodology, but I am by no means resistant. Learning naturally leads to more learning; it's a recursive process. It’s quite common that I’ll encounter a concept that I’m hesitant to accept in Physics or Mathematics. When I do, I’ll spend some time ruminating on it and, if I can’t at that point see action I can take to understand it on my own, I’ll research the topic further. Finally, if I still can’t come to an understanding, I’ll look for instruction (often online) for an intuitive understanding, Khan academy, explanations for everyone, etc. I’ve found that simply going through this process, even if I’m not successful, can help me understand many things along the way. If I am successful, I try to prove the concept using thought experiments, programming, or a graphical representation. This allows me to expand on the topic further (as the process of proving often provokes more questions) and also to present the proof to others and my own personal reference.
Many times, my proofs are not efficient, but they are quite cognitively accessible.
There's a certain discomfort I feel when I know something but don't understand it. My entire life has been and I predict will be to satiate this feeling.
In my high school, I’ve found that much of the work suppresses this desire
When looking through a high school textbook in say, Physics, I’m perplexed by the brevity with which the authors explain each topic. I’m stressed to find instructors whose basis of instruction is intuition. I think this may be because understanding something intuitively takes a lot of time and effort, for instance, permutations. It’s difficult to imagine the Birthday paradox intuitively, and is much easier for a teacher to regurgitate an equation and show an example to demonstrate that it works. But, with some effort, one can easily see that permutations and combinations can be understood visually and intuitively. Insert permutations here
Accepting and forgetting is one of the most dreadful experiences in the school system and, tragically, it's encountered often. What’s even more tragic is that the results of this process (grades) are used in the college application process.
Seeing a proof or demonstration of a concept isn't enough for me, I have to feel it.
Underneath all learning is the building of intuition, so the best approach is an intuitive one.
I wrote a program to analyze Facebook. It took learning two new languages and 30 hours of work to complete, but doing so was the most satisfying work I’ve ever had.
I’ve found that the stuff that I really care about, the work I’m actually proud of completing, is the work I asked myself to do. The reason why I’m so proud is that I know this work is unique. It’s not the essay that the past 5 generations have written, it’s not the project everyone in my grade completed, it was thought up, executed, and completed by only me. Because I find this kind of work innately pleasureful, I’m disposed to putting priority on it. I’m always prudent to preserve this wonder and inquisitiveness that sometimes thwarts my progress in standard instruction (I go on a tangent I find interesting and build continually). But, I find that I gain far more from my personal endeavors.
Put the 400 hours of lab work on my college apps and get scholarships for having 400 hours of community service.