550 Words Common App Essay

This question appears to be more challenging than the previous one, as you have to detail a selfless act of sacrifice while explaining your motivations and avoiding corny wording.

 

Note that this “greater good” contribution does not limit you to instances in which you interacted with groups of “great” numbers. No matter the scale of your impact, if there existed a beneficiary to your actions, then you can write about it. Remember that “greater good” excludes class assignments or other activities that were required of you.

 

The key to this essay is making sure your motivations for the contribution are portrayed as personal and unique to you.

 

Many students will choose to write about a volunteer experience they participated in. If you choose to discuss a community service activity, make sure you differentiate your experience by highlighting your motivations and your emotions during the experience (rather than describing simply the activity you participated in).  

 

For example, you might choose to write about a mission trip to another country that you took in your sophomore year of high school. However, rather than discussing the trip as a whole, it would be more effective to focus on a particular moment or problem that you encountered during the trip.

 

For instance, you could elaborate on the experience of visiting one of the children’s homes and the feeling of speaking to his parents directly. Describing a particular moment, as well as the specific emotions you felt and how your perspectives changed because of it, would help the essay stand out in a pile of volunteering essays.


In addition, focus on the process of the contribution and how you felt emotionally throughout the act.

 

Try to answer the following questions:

 

  • What would have happened if you did not make that sacrifice/contribution? How would you have felt then?
  • How did the contribution make you feel? How did it make others around you feel? How did it make the beneficiaries feel?
  • What did you learn?

 

Emphasizing the internal development that occurred during your experience is key to making this essay shine.

This prompt represents a common category of supplement prompts that ask you why you want to study a specific program at a specific school. The main purpose of these “Why Us?” essays is to show the school why you are interested and why you are a good fit.

 

This is done in two parts: 1. why you want to study what you have indicated and 2. why you want to study it here at this specific school. Make sure to do some research so you can provide more than generic examples like “I want to go to a big school“ or “I like sports” that could apply to many other schools. To learn more about “Why Us?” type essays, read our essay guide, “How to Write the “Why Us?” College Essay.”

 

When you start to write this essay, you first want to develop why you wish to study what you have indicated on your application. An anecdote is often the most effective means of accomplishing this. You could recount how your time in physical therapy, love for your biology class, and long history of playing sports fueled your passion to learn more about the human body and how it moves. This perfectly lines up with the field of Kinesiology.

 

Next, you need to demonstrate why Michigan is the perfect place to study what you have selected. Continuing with the Kinesiology example, you could talk about its excellent reputation and some specific classes you really look forward to taking.

 

With preferred admission applications, it is important to discuss your future goals as well as past experiences that make you sure you will want to be a part of this program. For example, if you apply for the Pharmacy program, you will want to discuss why you are interested in pharmacy and detail the moments in your life that have led you to this decision. Perhaps you have always had a passion for chemistry and helping others, and hearing from your friend’s mom about her career in pharmacy was consistently one of your favorite parts of your weekly hangouts.

 

With dual-degree programs, the key is not only discussing why you want to pursue a degree in each of them, but why you think the combination is especially important for you.

 

For example, if you are applying to the dual-degree Ross School of Business and College of Engineering program, you could discuss your dream of beginning your own tech startup and needing both the technical engineering knowledge and business savvy. You could write about how you first came up with your idea and when/how you realized Michigan’s dual-degree program would be the perfect place to bring it to life.

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