How to Tackle the College of William and Mary Essay 2016-17
About the College of William and Mary
The second oldest institution of higher learning in the United States, the College of William and Mary is a public research university chartered in 1693. Nestled in the comfortable, historic town of Williamsburg, VA, its campus holds a wealth of traditions and history. As one of eight “Public Ivies,” William and Mary offers a top-notch education at a reasonable price (for those residing in the state of Virginia). Known for their fun, witty application and quirky traditions, the college has the perfect mix of fun and learning.
Service is a core characteristic of William and Mary students, who collectively log around 245,000 volunteer hours every school year, have active partnerships with over 90 local non-profit agencies and schools, and regularly help out with the Campus Kitchen, which delivers around 10,000 meals per year to local residents with donated food from local grocery stores and Farmers Markets.
The school also values diversity, featuring myriad resources on campus to ensure that students are given equal treatment. This commitment to the acceptance of difference has allowed W&M to produce prominent alumni in many different fields, some of whom include 4 U.S. Presidents, The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart, and Mike Tomlin, the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The College of William and Mary has one supplement to the Common App, which we have analyzed below.
William and Mary Application Essay Prompt
Beyond your impressive academic credentials and extracurricular accomplishments, what else makes you unique and colorful? We know nobody fits neatly into 500 words or less, but you can provide us with some suggestion of the type of person you are. Anything goes! Inspire us, impress us, or just make us laugh. Think of this optional opportunity as show and tell by proxy and with an attitude. For additional context, check out the William & Mary Admission Office video message.
A “tell us anything about you in any way” essay, this prompt is giving you a chance to express parts of yourself that may not be present in the rest of your Common Application. The playful tone of the prompt also gives you the freedom to take risks without fear of repercussions; it is fine (and encouraged!) to think outside the box for this particular essay. Do not feel as though you need to write in traditional paragraphs.
Rather, you can choose to write in lists of quirky “favorites” with brief explanations for each one (favorite flower, favorite song to sing in the shower, favorite Pokémon). You could write a Petrarchan poem or a rap about an aspect of your character. Write a letter to your future college roommate or your future self. Keep in mind that the medium you choose for this essay can reveal a lot about who you are, so take time to think about creative ways with which you could present yourself to W&M.
If you choose to write in a more traditional format, consider making the content of your writing less orthodox. That being said, do not force yourself to be creative or choose a quirky topic that you do not care about. What admission officers want to see is another side of you; they just want to get to know you better. So whatever topic you think can help them understand you, write about!
Still, try your best to choose something about yourself that sets you apart from other applicants. Are you really interested in jellyfish, having read hundreds of pages about different species and traveled to observe them in their natural habitat? Were you the first person in your family to try skydiving? Did you create a startup with a couple friends? The ideas and beliefs floating around in your head are unique to you — show the College of William and Mary why you will be an irreplaceable part of campus culture.
- A quote that has shaped who you are and who you want to be
- Your spirit animal
- Your biggest phobia
- Which color you would use to describe yourself and why
- The one object you can’t live without and why
If you are stuck and having trouble coming up with a topic idea, we suggest going to other institutions’ Common App supplements for ideas. The University of Chicago comes out with quirky, innovative prompts each year, which offer more creative ways to reveal aspects of your personality. Don’t overthink this prompt: simply choose a topic you’re passionate about!
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