My Application Essay

The topic is “My greatest disappointment” and its for MIT. Its still not down to size, I cut it from 7– to 57-, I need 500. I think its a lil too upbeat for the topic, but hell…

One of the greatest disappointments in my life is something most people would dismiss with little thought. Even for me, the disappointment is more a product of my hopes than anything concrete. However, as it is still so fresh in my memory, I felt I had to write about it.

The Information Technology Quiz sponsored by Tata Consultancy Services is something of a ritual with my school: we go for it every year, someone among us qualifies for it, and every year we come back without the winner’s trophy. For the past three years, it had also become a ritual for me: more by fortune than by skill, my team has been one of the six final round, although we have never won the first prize.

It was one of the high points of my year. Many schools, especially the ones that produced winning teams, prepared for it practically the whole year. We, however, went about it in a much more relaxed manner. About a month before the competition the brochures would arrive, and the teacher would tell us to start preparations. Two weeks before the event, we would start staying back after class every day for marathon quizzing sessions, beginning and ending with data from some random website. With only one week to go, the serious contenders-of which I was one- would start to slip into a world populated entirely by acronyms and technology businesses.

This year was my final year at the quiz, and I was determined to make it count. I was all the more hopeful because the Untouchables-the fanatics, who could tell you Bill Gates’s favourite cologne, or expand acronyms that ran off the page- had all finished school and gone. My teammate this year was Tarun Markose, one of my classmates, and it was with him that I had secured the fourth place in the state finals last year.

When the big day came, everything was somehow subdued, but I remained hopeful. We had prepared sufficiently; as both Tarun and I had always been interested in technology, we had a pretty good idea of the sort of things that were generally asked. God had never let me down yet…

I began to feel better once we were seated in the hall, and the well-remembered frenzy started within me. The preliminaries began, and by the tenth question we were nearly laughing out loud with relief: this was so easy!!!

That was the problem: as it turned out, everybody else thought so, too.

The lunch break was agony, and when we got back, as expected, the quizmaster took us through all the prizes (“Why did they tighten up?”) before announcing the finalists. Three schools were announced, amid hoots and clapping. Then he said: “And here we have a school that has made it on stage every single year since we started, the persistent ones all the way from Kottayam”- we nearly rose from our seats-“Joseph Sebastian and Mikhail Jacob from Pallikoodam!!!”

In retrospect, its rather funny, but we weren’t laughing then. Of course, we acted like good sports and cheered even harder than everyone else without missing a beat, but I think my teammate was just as devastated as I was. Both of them had been strong contenders, just as much “favourites” as we were, so it wasn’t much of a surprise. Ofcourse, none of that mattered at that time. We got over it on the trip back, but it still felt weird coming home with no prizes, for the first time in 3 years.

The school maintained its tradition…they got fourth place.

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