Classical Christian Academy alumni, Josiah Coad recently received the honor of being accepted to study at Oxford. Congratulations to Mr. Coad on this exciting accomplishment! The following is his entrance essay.

TThroughout my life, I have pursued intellectual rigor. My high school was a rich personal learning environment where much of the teaching came from one-on-one instruction with the teachers or debate with my peers. It was a classical curriculum which meant a focus on individual thought, creativity, and expression. We were led in debating Cartesian Dualism versus the paradigm of the Tripartite Being in Religion. We wrote discourses on the effects of John Locke’s Two Treatises of Government in Civics. We scrutinized the methods of persuasion of world leaders in our Rhetoric courses; and we wrote our own six-part rhetorical craftsmanship, finely tuning our use of the five canons of rhetoric. At every step along the way, the classical education challenged and enlightened me. These methods instilled early on the love of finding my own learning style. An example of this is in Physics and Chemistry, where I took an independent study to finish the year’s course in a semester. I tutored Chemistry to the rest of the class in the second semester.

When first entering my university, Texas A&M, I taught myself how to code in a semester. I applied my new skills immediately in undergraduate research and led a team of software developers in programming an underwater robot which competed internationally. My self-taught style in my first-year Physics course also led me to being selected as the university-employed Physics tutor for the class.

This year I am on a team with two graduate Computer Science students researching the methods and application of sketch recognition in website design and wireframing. I am tutoring programming and pursuing a more personal and in-depth understanding of my subjects through the superior teaching of the honors professors.

I have taken the honors option in my major-specific classes such as computer science, physics, and mathematics. These honors courses offer a more enriching educational experience. An honors class typically contains around 15-20 close-knit students. The class delves more in depth through rigorous material and education augmented by one-on-one interaction with the professors. This has given me the privilege of working personally with professors in research.

In investigating the Oxford system, I found an exceptional learning style similar to my own. I value the personal and independent education that Oxford offers through its tutorial system. I am used to interacting one-on-one with professors. I enjoy the intellectual rigor of reading through research conducted in my field and assimilating the data to extend my own research. I am captivated by the synthesis of domains that composing essays requires. The system of guided self-discovery at Oxford would lead me to a deeper understanding of my discipline and expand my critical thinking.

In my time abroad, I seek to expand my knowledge of computer science and mathematics at the hands of world-renowned experts while simultaneously expanding my cultural perspectives. I desire the intellectual and cultural benefit of the tutorial system–to be challenged by opposing worldviews and to be pushed past my limits.

I hope to go on to graduate school to study artificial intelligence. I would like to improve people’s lives globally through my work. WIRED Magazine recently stated in approximately the last 35 years, world poverty has been reduced by 80%. This is incredible, and some would argue that the internet has been the single largest player in that outcome. I think that the key to freeing the remaining 20% from poverty lies in an interdisciplinary and diverse but connected world of engineers, politicians, doctors, artists, and philanthropists all coming together and capitalizing on their differences for this one goal. It will take innovation, leadership, and mutual respect. I wish to be a part of this interworking by being an expert in my field, willing and ready to integrate into a diverse team with a common cause. This capacity is what I wish to cultivate through my time studying abroad at Oxford.

My primary interests lie in mathematics and computer science and specifically the intersection of the two. Thus, I have taken mathematics up through honors Calculus 3 and an honors class in C++. This semester I am taking Discrete Mathematics, Differential Equations, and Data Structures and Algorithms. I have extended my scholastic enterprise through various research in web-development, computer learning, signal processing, and data logging. My research team and I are currently pursuing a journal publication for our sketch recognition work which was previously presented in a graduate research exposition. I have also tutored in C++ and Java. Further, I have held an internship programming a path finding software for a new type of 3D printing which requires the implementation of Linear Algebra and Calculus concepts. Finally, I have been accepted to an internship with Microsoft for this coming summer.

My passion for my area of discipline has led me to accomplish these things and accepting me into Oxford would be bringing a highly motivated, prepared autodidactic into your system. My education has taught me not only material but how to think. I have grown up in a creative and collaborative environment, one that pushes boundaries. This philosophy of learning is something I also see in Oxford. I have taken the path less travelled in my own life so that I can one day give back to society through science. It would be a great honor to be chosen to study at Oxford, and I appreciate your consideration of my application.

Note about chosen Oxford Courses

Given that I will be studying in the Michaelmas Term, I have chosen the following classes to be of particular interest in my term abroad.

  • Linear Algebra
  • Statistics (Mathematics Department)
  • Computer Security
  • Machine Learning
  • Concurrent Algorithms and Data Structures