Cornell University College of Arts and Science: Interest Essay

Describe your intellectual interests, their evolution and what makes them exciting to you. Tell us how you will utilize the academic program in the College of Arts and Sciences to further explore this interest or idea.

The 6-week Summer School I attended this year at Cornell University is definitely a milestone in the development of my intellectual interests. I took two credit courses—Macroeconomics and Microeconomics— and scored A and B+ respectively. I am convinced that, as a Chinese student with only two years experiences of overseas education, I have full academic potential to join the world’s top-tier student community and to excel.

Among many summer school programs, I chose economics program because of my initial exposure to economics and my special aptitudes in mathematics. In my preschool days, I displayed special sensitivity to shapes, figures, and simple logical relationships. During my primary education, I won the second and third prizes in mathematics contests both in Beijing and the entire country. The semester before my transfer to SAS, I reached the final round of a highly challenging national mathematics competition. As a key member of the SAS Mathematics Team, I was the SAS Champion of 10th Grade in Mendobroit Math Competition, Tier 2 in Western Region of America. Having completed challenging math courses including AP Statistics, AP Calculus AB, AP JAVA (with a 5.0 score for all), I will finish AP Calculus BC in the 12th Grade. My achievement of full marks in mathematics in SAT I & II is by no means accidental.

I fully understand the study of economics, especially econometrics, is inextricably connected with mathematics. An important task of economics research is to develop cutting-edge models to study, empirically, complicated and changing phenomena in our economic life. My solid mathematics foundation is an important guarantee for my future academic success.

In the evolution of my intellectual interest, my father, a former crude oil trader of CNOOC (Singapore), has exerted a defining influence on me. By demonstrating the tremendous changes that are happening to China’s economy and finance with positive and negative cases, he has made me increasingly interested in economics.

Chen Jiuling, former president of China Aviation (Singapore) Corporation and a friend of my father’s, suffered heavy loss of 550,000,000 U.S. dollars on the Singapore crude oil market (derivatives) 2 years ago, creating quite a sensation in international financial community. Insufficient risk management led to his debacle. By contrast, among three civil aviation giants, only AIR CHINA stands out with its 110% annual profitability rate while the other two are total losers. The secret underlying AIR CHINA’s incredible profitability is its successful hedging of fuel, which accounts for 35% of the corporation’s gross operation cost.

As an academic discipline, economics is exciting and fascinating because, with its study of securities, stock, investment, derivatives and many other financial tools, it can furnish in-depth knowledge and technical know-how for us to succeed in capital market and business world. I am frequently haunted by the idea that, if Chen Jiulin had not lost such a huge quantity of China’s state-owned assets, countless schools could have been built under China’s on-going Hope Project to make education available to millions of children in economically depressed areas of the country. The charm of economics lies in its ability to provide effective theories and methodologies for the optimum allocation of resources and improvement of the welfare of the general public.

In his welcome message, G. Peter Lepage, dean of Cornell University College of Arts and Sciences, describes the four-year undergraduate program as “a time of great intellectual exploration”. Indeed, if admitted, I would exploit Cornell’s tremendous resources to fulfill two major objectives. The first is to learn cutting-edge theories and methodologies in mathematics and economics to develop a broad knowledge base. The second is to commit myself to economics research based on quantitative methods to turn myself into a research student. I hope to identify an advising faculty specializing in Chinese economy and finance as my mentor and use one semester or two for studying abroad, preferably in prestigious universities like Tsinghua University or Peking University in China, where I will focus on Chinese economics and financial industry. In this way, western economics and finance theories, as well as my solid academic training across China and the U.S., would endow me with a dual perspective—as an outsider looking in and as an insider looking out. The dual vision will allow me to examine many unique economic and financial problems presented by China in its crucial phase of transformation. Important research achievements can be expected from this dual perspective.

With the development of necessary research skills, I will proceed onto a more challenging graduate program. My GPA and my performance in SAT I & II testify to my prominent scholastic aptitudes. My education experience in China, Singapore and the U.S. will surely add diversity to my academic career. I believe that my academic foundation is sound, my scholastic potential unlimited, and my intellectual interest would be significantly expanded in Cornell’s exciting and unparalleled academic environment.



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