This guest post is a college admissions essay written by Will Pearson, a student completing his senior year at Friends’ Central School in Philadelphia, PA. The graphic images below were also created by Will.
Makerspace College Admissions Essay
For me, the best way to learn is by teaching myself, a fact I discovered in my school’s Makerspace. With tools ranging from knitting needles to water colors to 3D Printers, the Makerspace is truly a place devoted to creating whatever you want. As I watched machines whirr and click, I was filled with wonder. Freed of any curriculum, I became so immersed in my work that I lost track of time and found myself determined to learn on a deeper level. My discovery of the Makerspace came at the perfect time in both my academic and personal lives; I was grappling with my learning disability and coming out as gay. In my pursuit of a highly technical and meticulous art form, I found a new world of possibilities and interests as well as a clearer sense of myself.
The problem I immediately encountered in the Makerspace was the gap between my ideas and my creative abilities. After I started spending time there, I noticed parallels to other subjects. Although I had struggled in Ninth grade geometry, when I applied measurement, proportion, and angles to my Makerspace projects I understood the subject in new ways. Applying the lessons of geometry allowed me to progress in the Makerspace. The discipline required by Makerspace work also seemed familiar. Outside of school, I participate in gymnastics, a sport based on developing a specific set of skills that follow precise rules. A gymnast is self-made, as natural talent is rare. This is especially true in my case as I am too tall and thin for the sport. I made myself a gymnast through hundreds of hours of practices and many competitive meets. Applying lessons from gymnastics, with its emphasis on precision, helped me bridge the gap, and fulfill my visions.
As I grew more ambitious to create I taught myself the skills I needed. I began by learning Adobe Illustrator, the top of the line Graphic Design software. Graphic Design is the application of the classical art techniques to modern technology. As no teacher at my school taught Graphic Design, I had to learn it by myself. I mastered the vinyl cutter to create a meticulously measured patterned sticker to frame my iPad screen. This process, although painstaking, was very satisfying because I taught myself how to use both software and machinery, and applied it to my creations. I found myself using the same technical, step-by-step approach to problem solving that I had learned from gymnastics. I adopted a similar process to design and engineer many other objects including a 3D printed iPhone charging stand.
The process of self teaching continues to transform me. It demands that I have an open and creative mind, and develop new skills and talents. I continue to learn how to bridge the gap between the technology and the creations I have in my head in new ways. This self education has been a personal turning point because it is the first field of study I have pursued beyond the expectations set by my teachers, solely because of my passion. It has increased my self confidence about who I am, both in and out of the classroom. My self education in Graphic Design has made me a better problem solver, not only in computer science, where I already excel, but also in junior year Pre-Calculus, where I learned that solving problems systematically provided the solution. During 9th and 10th grade, I struggled to find an academic interest. Now that I have found one, I’ve not only grown intellectually, but I’ve discovered that I actually enjoy imagining and solving problems. After discovering what interests provoke a sense of wonder in me and finding the way that I learn best, I am excited to further educate myself in college. Little did I know when I walked into my school’s Makerspace that the most important creation I would design would be myself.