The “Unsolvable” Cube | Columbia University Undergraduate Application Essay

Wedding bells were ringing in the background, and my fingers were deftly picking their way through the Rubik’s Cube concealed under my blazer. The last wedding I had attended was in fourth grade — a bubble boy in a lavender suit. Today, my only role was to behold my two favorite teachers as they got married.

Except, I couldn’t quite focus on their wedding. Clack Clack Clack went the cube as I spun through an algorithm that my Algebra teacher (the bride) had taught me. My mother bristled beside me, but I cared not for her disapproval. My Algebra teacher and her fiancé, my Physics teacher, had given me my first Rubik’s Cube, and I was hell-bent on solving it.

They would often be the sponsors of my obsessions throughout my high school career. Before the Rubik’s Cube, I had taken up YuGiOh cards. After school I would hike to their classrooms and play against upperclassmen duelists. At first I couldn’t beat any of them, and my Physics teacher (whose seemingly vitriolic banter was aimed at trying to encourage my growth) reminded me of those defeats daily. It wasn’t long before I was good enough with YuGiOh cards that I could defeat almost every other duelist in the school, except for one senior who brutally eviscerated me with her…

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