A Great Bucknell Essay Example
Home to roughly 3,700 undergraduate students, Bucknell University is a private liberal arts college in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania tracing its origins to a group of Baptists in the mid-1800s. Bucknell is a relatively selective school, so it’s important to write strong essays to help your application stand out.
In this post, we’ll take a deep dive into an example essay that a previous applicant submitted to Bucknell, analyzing its strengths and weaknesses in order to provide you with a better idea of how to make your essay comprehensive, convincing, and competitive. (Names and identifying information have been changed, but all other details are preserved).
Read our Bucknell essay breakdown to get a comprehensive overview of this year’s supplemental prompts.
Bryan Tong, an expert advisor from CollegeVine advising, provided commentary on this post. Advisors offer one-on-one guidance on everything from essays to test prep to financial aid. If you want help writing your essays or feedback on drafts, check out CollegeVine advising to book a consultation with Bryan or any of our skilled advisors.
Please note: Looking at examples of real essays students have submitted to colleges can be very beneficial to get inspiration for your essays. You should never copy or plagiarize from these examples when writing your own essays. Colleges can tell when an essay isn’t genuine and will not view students favorably if they plagiarized.
Prompt: Please explain your interest in your first-choice major/undecided status and your second-choice major, should you opt to list one. (250 words)
My interest in psychology started with a simple Myers-Briggs Test. I boasted that my intellect was comparable to Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter. I took pride in my kindness being parallel to Dr. Wilson from House M.D. I spent hours reading through paragraphs that psychoanalyzed my persona, desires, and way of perception. However, reading articles about the secrets and in-depth analysis of INFJs was not enough.
I began using literacy theories such as Marxist and Feminist Criticism when I annotated novels. I was able to understand stories, such as The Yellow Wallpaper, better as I read through these lenses. I also saw through characters and witnessed their development to the full extent. As I reflect on my interests, I realize I have always wanted to understand my mind and others better. At Bucknell University, I hope to grow this passion and learn more about the brain and its behaviors.
What this Essay Did Well
This essay does a good job explaining the writer’s interest in psychology, and in particular where that interest originated from. The essay notes several specific and unique examples of psychological perspectives or analyses the writer employed while reading novels and articles as a way to convey genuine passion for the subject. By doing so, the writer makes a reasonable and relatively successful attempt at addressing the crux of any essay of this type (this is the classic “Why This Major?” essay); that is, focusing on important experiences and developments that shaped the applicant’s desire to pursue their listed field of study.
Another area in which this essay performs well is in its use of parallel syntax, most notably in the first paragraph, in order to create more emphatic and effective language. The writer states “I boasted that my intellect was comparable to Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter”, and then immediately follows this sentence with one parallel in structure: “I took pride in my kindness being parallel to Dr. Wilson from House M.D.”
Furthermore, both of these sentences and the subsequent sentence all begin with “I” and are comparable in length, which produces syntactical repetition that emphasizes and magnifies the weight, and content, of each sentence.
What Could Be Improved
The main point of improvement for this essay is in its use of the allotted word count and absence of school-specific details. Although the word limit is 250 words, the essay is only 150 words total— for such a short essay, every additional word is crucial.
For this essay, the writer could have used a significant portion of the remaining 100 words to point out how Bucknell, in particular, would help them further their interest in psychology and pursue a potential career in related fields. This would entail listing various programs, courses, professors, research opportunities, and summer activities, among others, that are specific to Bucknell and would be instrumental in advancing the writer’s education and interest in psychology.
For example, the essay could have mentioned how “Bucknell’s Emerging Scholars Summer Research, Scholarship & Creativity Program would enable [them] to participate in hands-on, real-world psychology research with the help of a dedicated faculty mentor”.
A second major aspect in which this essay could improve upon is going more in depth into why the writer is interested in psychology. The essay mentions how the writer enjoys reading about psychoanalysis and how using different literacy theories allowed them to better understand certain stories, but the reader is left wondering what exactly about psychology excites the writer? Is it exploring how the brain processes certain information? Is it imagining the prospect of helping those in need of mental health services?
Without providing specific reasons for why this field of study interests them, the writer leaves many of the reader’s questions unanswered, and their interest in the field may come across as slightly superficial.
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