seeking help with my personal statement (long)

I'm trying to apply to a bunch of programs, and I started with U of M's, and wrote this with their specifications, which are listed in two different places. One is "The applicant should provide a 1.5-2 pages, 1.5 spaced, 12 pt font, statement addressing the following questions: Why the interest in Financial Engineering and how it applies to their future career?" and the other is "The statement should be a concise, well-written essay about your background, your career goals, and how the Financial Engineering Program will help you attain your career and educational objectives."
I wrote this essay after seeing the first wording of the question so I fear it might be too focused on my background and not enough on my career goals. Tell me what you think.
note that I have 2 endings, one limits my Statement to 3 pages (with 1.5 line spacing), the other takes it to 3.5.

Also, I'm applying to Rutgers, and their specs are
Your personal statement should be concise, two (2) pages maximum, with one (1) page preferred. This is not an essay. Please explain in simple, plain language why you are interested in pursuing a degree in Mathematical Finance, describe any current or past employment or internship in the financial industry, what type of career you plan to pursue upon graduation, and how our degree program will help you achieve your career goals.
obviously this essay isn't good for Rutgers, so if there are chunks of it you think I should include in my Rutgers application, that would be helpful

For me, the route to Financial Engineering as a desired future educational endeavor has been anything but direct. While many students striving for such a degree might have known from their first day of undergraduate study that they were going to go down this path, I was inspired only months ago. Although my goal to earn the specific “Master of Science degree in Financial Engineering” started only recently, my personal interest in mathematics and problem solving began much earlier.
When I was 4 years old, my parents recognized this genuine interest and, for fun, enrolled me in classes to learn to use a then-new Apple PC. Here I enjoyed learning some basic computer concepts and amused myself developing primitive games one-on-one with an instructor. This class marked the beginning of my interest in computers, computer programming, and since has become second nature to me.

As early as elementary school I took an interest in mathematics. Before my school day began at 7:45 AM, my dad would teach me increasingly difficult mathematical concepts. By kindergarten I could count higher than anyone in my class. By first grade I had a good understanding of negative numbers and operations on fractions. By second grade, I could solve a system of equations, and determine what a graph would look like given a polynomial function. By third grade I was opting out of the teacher's math instruction time to work individually on higher-level math workbooks, or just to read. My parents hadn't been pushing me to do all of this; I delighted in solving new problems and discovering different concepts, even abstract ones. In high school, I would often do my math homework by creating a program on my graphing calculator that would take all of the given values and output the answers to my homework for me, even though this took more time than doing the problems manually.
Through the programming process, I learned the material better than if I had done the problems in the traditional sense, but I took pride in the end product: having a program I created that could quickly solve problems. I later made a game and a couple graphical output programs that were each over 100 lines of (TI-83) code. I was intrigued with the same concepts that my classmates would lament, “when are we ever gonna use this?” Through middle school and high school there was a more standard approach to handling advanced students, so I was able to test out of the College of Natural Science math requirement while in high school due to the BC Calculus AP test. This would later turn out to be an unfortunate accomplishment.

As a freshman at Michigan State University, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I started out majoring in physiology and taking the pre-med track. Without “having” to take any more math courses, and due to my interest in science (and money), I continued on this track for three years. My acceptance into the honors college enabled me to take classes I enjoyed in place of the basic University-required humanities courses. I took two semesters of programming, philosophy, psychology, and various economics classes. As a pre-med undergrad student, I knew I had to plan for my future in med school by joining groups and volunteering. I joined the Preprofessional Club for Medicine in hopes that I could use that as guidance with a hope that it would spark a drive to get to med school. As graduation grew closer, I became increasingly anxious about the prospect of applying to and attending med school. I did some exploring on MSU's degree requirements and realized that if I put off graduating for another year, I could earn a dual degree in physiology and economics. I figured that I could use that extra year to determine if I really wanted to go to med school. My father suggested pursuing a career in the biotech industry to utilize physiology and my interest in Economics, so I officially added economics as a second major in the fall semester of 2007.

In 2004 I had developed a passion for playing poker with my friends in high school. I had already taught myself how to use Microsoft Excel, due to my propensity for programming, and devised a spreadsheet to keep track of my winnings from the very first day of play. I also created a spreadsheet to calculate interest I made from loans to friends during the home games I hosted in my basement. Since then, I've taken any opportunity I can to create helpful spreadsheets: to calculate my grades, to calculate earnings from my job, and one for my father that imported daily changes of equity values from the internet and calculated a daily ROI for his clients' portfolios. Eventually, I put the skills I learned from those home games and strategies from books I had read to start playing for real money online. Depositing a nominal amount onto PartyPoker, I initially played in small stakes tournaments and started to build my bankroll.

One day, I found a loophole in a referral rewards program that allowed me to refer three of my friends and instantly receive $700 without requiring them to actually play. With a substantial bankroll at the beginning of my freshman year of college, I soon achieved a sustainable hourly rate greater than my pay at work, so I was able to quit my job bussing tables in favor of this new “job” that allowed me to work whenever I pleased. In my constant drive to optimize my play, I discovered tools that others had developed, and realized that an investment in these programs was clearly worth the cost. I could import the text output of hands (called “hand histories”) I had played to a program that allowed me to analyze key statistics on my opponents. By using another program to graphically output this data in real-time, I developed a huge edge on my opponents that I used to handily defeat those who did not understand the mathematical aspect of the game. As more tools came out, I further invested time and money to gain whatever edge I could. A service came out that sold hundreds of thousands of hand history files a week. Soon I had millions of hands of data in my database. More times than not, I would join a table and have access to dozens of statistics of extremely accurate data on multiple opponents. If I didn't have any data on someone, it meant that they hadn't played in months, and I could expect them to be somewhat inexperienced. So even the absence of data was now data! I even created my own tools. I found a table scanner that allowed the assignment of “points” to each player based on statistics of my choosing. I explored forums online on which people described typical ranges of these values for good and bad players. By creating a table of values that assigned points based on each statistic and assigning more points to those players who had “bad” values over a large sample size, I used over 60 lines of programmed value ranges to devise a system of assigning points to players based on 5 key statistics that had been proven to separate the good players from the bad ones. Combining this with the millions of hands of data I had purchased, a quick scan of three of the poker sites I had money on revealed the tables with the greatest sum of points. This methodology proved to be highly profitable.

While this success was fun and good for my bankroll, it also made me question my career path. In August of 2008, mere days before the start of the spring semester, expressed my concerns to my parents and realized that math was my true calling and furthermore, that I had never seriously considered a career in Math. After high school I had dismissed it as work completed. For whatever reason, even in the hours of reading math related entries on Wikipedia for fun, or the my enjoyment in analyzing poker statistics did I think of Math as a career choice. Even my interest in economics was truly applied mathematics! I subsequently changed my major to Math, 12 credits shy of a physiology degree. I initially planned on becoming a Math professor. At some point, however, I realized that a PhD in in math wasn't in the cards. At that point I settled on pursuing a math related career. Then I learned about a relatively new degree called Financial Engineering. It's all about developing mathematical strategic solutions to financial developments, with an emphasis on risk management. It is the perfect combination of mathematics and programming in the world of business. I can draw from all of the skill sets developed in early childhood game-playing, teenage success with online poker, and my educational experience in math, economics, and programming with an advanced degree in Financial Engineering.
{ending 1:{{{{{{{{{{{
For example, in October of 2010, I found another way to use my analytical skills to make money. On a site called Cake Poker, there is a rewards program that awards players “Gold Cards” randomly as they play. These cards are of different suits and ranks, deuce through ace, with increasing rarity with rank. These cards can be redeemed for tournament entries. In late October, Cake allowed these cards to be traded on an open market. Seizing this opportunity, I looked for ways to use the market to my advantage. I discovered two exploitable aspects of the market. One, Gold Card tournaments were announced every Sunday at 1:00. I simply logged on at 12:55 and waited for the tournaments to appear, and quickly bought up every reasonably priced order outstanding for whichever specific cards were used that week. The price would quickly double and I'd make a nice profit. Two, I noticed that the most commonly awarded cards, the two of each suit, had many buy orders at $.02 a card, and sell orders at $.03 a card. A quick email to customer support revealed that the orders were filled in the order that they were placed. I placed an order for thousands of each of the four suits of twos, and waited for my order to rise to the top of the queue. I then sold them at $.03 for a 50% profit. This exploit hinges on the fact that orders expire in a month, so 25 days or so after I place the order, I'm virtually guaranteed to be at the top of the list. At this point, everyone on this poker site who sells a card will sell it to me. I'm doing the same thing with the threes, buying at .03 and selling at .04. I'm continuing to profit with this method by placing a new order every 10 days, as the site only allows you to place 3 orders for any 1 card at a time. I've also manipulated the market by buying up the entire volume of a card and selling it at a higher price. I have other examples of ways I've profited in this market but I'll omit them due to space constraints.
To me, the reward I get for discovering these loopholes and investing my time and money into them extends beyond the monetary reward. I feel like I “beat the game,” or figured out the solution to a difficult puzzle. The feeling of accomplishment after doing what I love to do is its own reward. I can think of nothing I'd rather do than take my analytical skills to the market and utilize every resource I can to excel in the field that intrigues me more than any other. }}}}}}}}

{{{{{{{ending 2
All in all, I'm delighted to have found what I consider to be my calling; a field that will allow me to think analytically about interesting and important problems, and be a difference-maker by crafting algorithms to take advantage of patterns identified by looking at the problem from a mathematical perspective. Since it is second-nature to me to approach any problem I come across with a mathematical analysis, being given such problems every day by becoming a financial engineer is nothing short of ideal.


Cornell FE
Haha, people enter to help you, but once they see the encyclopedia you wrote here, they just give up :)
Hello! I'm a 20 years old student and I'm not so competent to answer the questions you have stated here. But I see too many things discussed and several questions asked. So, where a person entering this post should start from? It takes whole day to follow this post sentence by sentence and answer to every point. With all respect, I would suggest to break the post into several points (each of normal size) and state them response-after-response. From now on, It'd be a better strategy to split the post into 3-4 parts as it doesn't makes readers' eyes tired. Good luck with it. I hope anyone will help
thanks for the responses
I'm just looking for a general "this paper should focus more on X." or "You talk about Y for too long" or "this part isn't important at all"
not "this comma is in the wrong place" or "I think you should find a synonym instead of ____"