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I'm writing an essay for a grad school application detailing my unique characteristics as an individual. I am leaning towards words & phrases like "thirst for knowledge" and "earnest curiosity". I feel these phrases are underselling this attribute though - I feel so genuinely interested and invested in how things work and how people think, and thus how others perceive stimuli in comparison to my response.

Is there a word for this constant absorption of external data in order to think critically and formulate theories for why the world works?

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    Then, how about "inquisitiveness?" dictionary.reference.com/browse/inquisitive – Elian Oct 26 '15 at 17:59
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    Just keep in mind that there is a target audience for your description. You're not going to win any points if you use a word that the reader is going to have to look up in a dictionary because it is so obscure. – mfoy_ Oct 26 '15 at 19:29
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    I've read a lot of applications, and I wouldn't be impressed by an obscure word. I'd be more impressed by a concrete example. – ab2 Oct 26 '15 at 20:39
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    "Thirst for knowledge" is fine, it sounds less pompous than polymath, or philomathy that's for sure. It is not an attribute to award oneself, and definitely not before your mid-twenties. However, "thirst for knowledge" is a bit cliché IMO, you are better off detailing your list of interests, your achievements, courses you have attended and the different societies or clubs (art, sport, etc.) you are a member of. If you haven't done any of these things, then don't mention your lust or thirst for knowledge. Ah, there is eclectic —an excellent and still trendy word. – Mari-Lou A Oct 27 '15 at 1:24
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    I have to admit your question has been asked before but not with the caveat that it has to be used in grad school application, and that it is attributed to yourself. Please don't call yourself a polymath, it smacks of presumption, unless you happen to be the reincarnation of Leonardo da Vinci :) – Mari-Lou A Oct 27 '15 at 1:33
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There is the term philomathy that conveys a meaning similar to the one you are looking for:

  • an enjoyment of and passion for learning new facts and acquiring new knowledge

(Collins)

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I'm not sure it would work in a grad school essay, but epistemophilia is rather strong in its meaning.

love of knowledge; specifically : excessive striving for or preoccupation with knowledge

Merriam Webster

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    Yeah, it is strong. Sounds almost like a disease name to me :) – A.P. Oct 26 '15 at 19:55

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