I guess every personal blog needs one of these, or it's not really personal.
I was born in Mississippi and went to a really strict private school in Jackson from pre-Kindergarten through 7th grade. Oh, and before pre-K was daycare.
Ah, the first day of daycare. I remember it clearly. I really, really didn't want to go inside, so I grabbed the entryway door frame as if my life depended on it. Unfortunately, my mom was stronger than I was at the moment and forced me in.
After I wiped the tears from my eyes, some kid walked up to me with some sort of magnetic counting game where you count the animals in a little sealed magnetic toy. He asked me how many "bees" would be in the center of the toy after he removed the last remaining "bee." I answered zero. He said I was wrong and corrected me. "There's none. One minus one is none." No matter how much I tried to convince him that zero was a valid answer, he kept on mindlessly chanting his "one minus one is none" slogan.
I inevitably made some friends, although I don't remember them. I also learned I liked to play with the police hat and the plastic frying pan. My favorite in-school activity was "reading" the picture books and jumping off extreme 1 ft. heights, oh and tag. Tag was great.
Ah, then there was lower school. Lower school was awesome. I actually looked back at my year's St. Andrew's middle school class a couple years back and all the names that were there sparked lower school memories-- except a few unrecognized ones. I remember the snack times with oatmeal cookies and chocolate or white milk, playground time, going over to friends houses, inviting the whole class to birthday parties at Chuck-e-Cheese's (essentially a kiddie arcade). I guess I was also pretty good at piano in lower school. I have some (real) gold piano competition awards that I don't remember receiving. Fast forward to the present, and I'm horrible at piano.
Well, the natural transition from lower school was middle school. Fifth grade was quite a success. On my own initiative, I skipped a year of math (skipped from pre-algebra to algebra halfway through the year), and I also got first chair clarinet in the school band as well as winning first place at a solo and ensemble contest (local).
Middle school was really strict. If you forgot to bring your belt to school three times in one year, it was considered a major offense, and when you got three major offenses, something bad happened, although I'm unsure what actually was supposed to happen, since we were a generally well-behaved group.
I made it up to 7th grade as a straight A student -- first clarinet in the band, breakfast with the principal on special occasions, advanced math and science etc. Then, spring break came.
There were a lot of assignments I had to finish over spring break. I only specifically remember one of them, my computer skills class PowerPoint presentation. I probably still have it in my school archives. The night before I thought we were leaving to go back home, I pulled an all nighter to finish it.
The next morning I woke up ready to take the plane back home. My dad decided we weren't going home. There was some screaming between mom and dad, and I think I basically cried a lot after that.
Then I went to my "new" middle school, Odle. At first I was placed in the standard curriculum, until the teacher started asking me a lot of questions and I miraculously answered them all.
The next day I was taken to some remote campus and tested for the entire day. Memory, linguistics, made up words, patterns, vocabulary ... a plethora of academic tests.
The following Monday I was introduced to the Prism program. It's some program for allegedly gifted youth, but no one knew what it the acronym stood for when I asked. These were a small bunch of normal kids who actually cared about school. I was new, so for a while, I just tagged around my cousin's group of friends.
Since I joined 3/4ths into the year, I feared I was behind. Fortunately, I ended up with straight A's, and a reputation for excellent work. 8th grade was pretty smooth too, but I don't think I had enough time to really connect with people. I felt like the teachers at this school didn't really care about what we learned, except my honors science and math teachers. My Prism language arts and history teachers basically just piled on the workload. Those two classes were the most work-filled classes I've ever experienced. The immense workload caused some people to cheat. Ah, my first experience with cheating, being jumped in the music room for my homework. Ever since then, I pretended to write it up in the class before it was due, when I actually had it done in advance.
I graduated middle school with some presidential award in academia. I don't really know what it was. It didn't seem that important either, since about twenty other kids received it too.
Then there was high school. I happened to win some admissions lottery at Lakeside but even though he could afford it, my dad refused to pay the tuition. How annoyingly cheap. I remember hearing, "We already pay for public school. Don't waste money." I think my family is the opposite of the stereotypical Chinese family, besides the being cheap part.
I ended up at Bellevue High School. Some of my Prism buddies were there, but it was still a pain. The teachers really seemed to suffer, even in the AP classes. Although my Japanese teacher seemed to be oblivious to the student body's state of academic rot. I guess she's a naturally cheerful person.
I ended up taking every interesting AP class (the hard sciences) and the AP classes I just wanted to be over with (all the English classes). I got my first non-4.0 grade at BHS in "regular" chemistry. I think I made it up though by getting 100% in AP chemistry during my sophomore year.
One of my great academic success stories occurred during my sophomore year. Since I took chemistry during my freshman year, I was eligible for AP chemistry and AP physics, so I took them at the same time. Halfway through the year, I had a C in physics. I wasn't doing homework and I was barely awake in class because it was the last class on the Friday schedule.
Fortunately, I got a 5 on the AP test after a solid 3 weekends of die hard studying and ended up with an A overall in the class. That was definitely the most stress relieving test result I have ever produced. The C was erased from my transcript!
Ah, back to the B in freshman chemistry. Since I knew I couldn't get a 4.0, I wanted to do something to make up for it, so I took some courses at the University of Washington and brought down the credits to high school. That lowered my GPA a little, to a 3.89 from 3.9+ or so. That was pretty crushing, since I thought the GPA's would translate upwards in terms of high-school GPA’s. It turns out I was the only person in the recent history of the school to bring down credits from the UW instead of Bellevue Community College, so they didn't know how to deal with them. Surprisingly, I graduated a year early. (I think we should have gotten bonus points for AP classes...)
Anyways, with my dreadful high school experience out of the way, I continued on to college. I applied to MIT and the UW. My parents stopped me from applying to other colleges after I finished the UW form. (I was basically out of time. I didn't expect to graduate early, it just happened.)
I applied early admission to MIT and got deferred to regular admissions, which I then interviewed for.
I think I failed the interview. I will never again ask my dad for interview tips. I predicted that the interviewer would ask me why I chose MIT. I would say I like the people that the MIT banner attracted, but my dad told me to say that the school was good, famous, in fact. Later, my parents revealed that they didn't want me to leave to house for college, and they also didn't want to pay for out-of-state tuition. Gee, thanks.
Well, now I'm at the University of Washington, and I'm making the best of it by taking the most challenging courses I can find, even if I don't have the prerequisites. I even somehow got into the Computer Science department, which was a top-five department at some point. I think it's in the top-seven now. And, I predict it will move up because of the new Paul Allen CS building.
Sometimes I think the department exaggerates their selectivity a bit. The people around me consist of fairly normal people, except there are almost no girls, and some of the people act like they've been living underground for ages. Ironically, we have a great new building with tons of natural light sources, but the undergrads spend most of their time in the underground labs.
I'm facing my high school dilemma again. I goofed on my GPA. What can I do to make up for it? I'm pretty confident I can score near-4.0's from now on, but since the grade is gone, the other avenues I have begun to consider are serious research and publication, and large personal projects. I will be working on both approaches next quarter.
I guess every personal blog needs one of these, or it's not really personal.