陈欣老师美本留学文书选(CommonApp主文四):生物圈三号

自2013年CommonApp首次加入失败的题目以来,这成为了中国申请者最不敢碰,但在专业留学指导老师眼里最有潜力的选择。

大家的第一个顾虑往往是,其他人都一个劲的吹嘘自己,然后我在主文里面自揭其短,是不是对比之下会显得很弱?陈欣老师认为这种可能性虽然有,但是通过选材和行文的角度,在很大程度上是可以规避的。比如在下面这篇例文里,同学就选择了自己专业相关的一个为期大半年的项目。这种经历不大可能和别人撞车,也体现了失败所带来的独特经验。愿意分享失败,本身就体现了一种自信和对自己人生的批判性反思,是招生官很看重的品质。

在文书的开头和结尾我们呼应对比了一个历史上很知名的生态学实验——生物圈二号。除了在开头吸引读者注意以外,一个很重要的作用是衬托出这种生态缸的复杂性和成功的困难程度,让不熟悉专业背景的读者能够有一个合理的认识。

理工科的文书对逻辑性和严谨性相对要更强调一些。在指导文书的过程中,我一直会敦促学生不光要写出做了什么,更要言简意赅的表明所作所为在当时条件下是深思熟虑后最合理的选择。例文里关于动植物的选择以及生态缸设计是非常好的示例。

我们强调一篇文书反映一个主旨(就这点而言这篇文书的结尾写得非常清楚),但是方方面面的细节也能够给读者一些关于文书主人的额外提示。幽默感一直都是很好的点。不过这篇文书里体现得更多的会是人文情怀,比如给小乌龟起名字、做坟墓以及放生等。


“Could I do better at the place where a billion-dollar project has failed?”

The question constantly bugged me last winter. In the biology class, we had just finished the ecosystem part. Not satisfied with the somewhat pessimistic textbook conclusion, I decided to take the problem into my own hands: After getting advice from the teacher, I spent a large portion of my savings to order a glass tank, and started the half-a-year experiment on my own “biosphere.”

I divided my biosphere into two biomes. First was a “grassland” with cactus, loosestrife, plain lawn grass, moss, and a certain type of fern. I used sand as the bottom buffer layer, and piled some rich black soil above it for the plants. In addition to that, I created a little “lake” with waterweeds and decorated it with some pebbles. Animals that were on the roster included one spider, two tortoises, five shrimps, and ten earthworms. Realizing photosynthesis would be the key in my experiment, I put the tank on the balcony where light is always abundant. Then assuming too much sunshine would surely overheat water and atmosphere, I covered the lower half of the tank with cardboard and the upper half with semitransparent filter made of old newspaper. Just perfect.

I would spend ten minutes every day observing this miniature cosmos, and was disappointed to find out that there was nothing to see in winter. Tortoises and shrimps all spent their days in peace. Plants did not grow a single millimeter in three weeks. Earthworms? Never to be found again.

However, things became much different when the spring came. Tortoises performed their daily routine between water and the highland where they could take a sunbath. Shrimps moved to and fro, bringing much liveliness to the aquatic zone. Little (diameter<6mm) blue flowers flourished on the land. Although on average each only lasted no more than a few days, watching them gave me an inexplicable joy.

I was too happy to notice the omens, like when loosestrife began to outgrow others. Taking advantage of a complex root network and the high temperature in the tank, it soon dominated the limited space available. Blue flowers withered at first, and then it was the turn for fern and lawn grass. Eventually, only some yellowish, withering leaves and the lonely cactus took a last stand in the corner. For animals, at first all shrimps died out due to deteriorating water. The final straw was on June 3rd, an extremely harsh summer day when the smaller tortoise passed away. Watching its lifeless carcass silently floated on water, I decided it was the time to stop. I spent a whole day to place every animal and plant back in the free world they belong to, and set up a nice grave for Tutu the Tortoise. It was the least I could do for them.

The failure does not differ much from that of Biosphere 2. By the end of its first mission, 19 out of 25 vertebrate species went extinct, ocean and air were polluted, pollinating insects died out, and oxygen level dropped to as low as 14% before mission control decided to intervene. I learned that my system might last longer with improved ways of temperature control and increased biological diversity. Nevertheless, what first-hand experience really taught me was that our earth will be THE BIOSPHERE in the foreseeable future. We shall indeed do everything to understand it, cherish it, and guard it. Moreover, introduced species could either become victims of the alien environment, or endanger native species as dominant powers. The harmonious coexistence of flora and fauna should always be valued when attempting to preserve an ecosystem.

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陈 欣

陈 欣

AADPS创始人

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