How to Write Bryn Mawr’s 2016-17 Essays
In the Pennsylvania suburbs lies the stunning Victorian institution dressed in Gothic architecture known as Bryn Mawr College. Found minutes outside of Philadelphia, Bryn Mawr’s campus is just a few hours away from New York City and Washington, D.C. by train.
This women’s college ranks in the top ten for percentage of graduates who eventually go on to earn Ph.D.s (and interestingly, was the first college to offer Ph.D.s to women). If that does not attract you, then maybe the cozy 8:1 faculty-to-student ratio will. The liberal arts curriculum fuels this bastion of women’s academic empowerment, and Bryn Mawr offers many co-ed opportunities at several local institutions as well.
If you have chosen to apply to Bryn Mawr, here are some guidelines that should aid you in your essay development.
Note: This year’s essay prompt for Bryn Mawr College has slightly changed from that of previous years; however, it is still asking essentially the same thing.
Bryn Mawr College Application Essay Prompt
The Bryn Mawr Honor Code and Self-Government Association (SGA) affirm the importance of our academic and social communities. In your response please reflect on how you see the Honor Code and/or SGA shaping your experience at Bryn Mawr.
This classic type of essay prompt essentially asks the applicant to respond in terms of how she sees her Bryn Mawr experience coming to fruition. You should take note of the emphasis that the prompt places on the Honor Code and the Self-Government Association — two documents that have been specifically crafted to establish the campus culture at Bryn Mawr.
In order to successfully respond to this prompt, you should closely read through the documents and make an effort to understand the impact they have on student life; and more importantly, the specific impact they would have on your life. Links to the reads (Honor Code and SGA Constitution) are available, and every applicant should digest them prior to developing her response, so as to set a mental framework about how to create the best possible response.
A quick glance through the Honor Code details Bryn Mawr’s intention of creating an environment in which every student can reach her maximum potential, all the while maintaining integrity and respect for one another, as well as creating a strong bond between members of the college community. It highlights the importance of gaining perspective through not only academic learning, but also through exposure to students of various backgrounds.
As you develop your thoughts, it would be wise to include any experiences that relate to your interaction with various communities in the past, whether similar or different from what you are used to.
This could include an experience in which you spent a spring break in an American city rebuilding homes, and you stayed with a local family; stayed at a local community college’s dorm one summer as part of academic camp and had to talk about upcoming global issues with students of diverse backgrounds; or even your experiences as a contributor to a media outlet (news, publication, etc.) in which pitched ideas are constantly challenged because different people must agree on what ideas to pursue.
Whatever experience you choose to write about, you should try to point out your response to being confronted with ideologies foreign to you. Moreover, a strong essay might include how exposure to a community challenged you, and more importantly, how you benefited from it. Then, explain how your thinking and approach to life has changed as a result of your interaction with the academic/social community.
Your finished essay should not be focused on either the Bryn Mawr institution itself or the Honor Code/SGA Constitution, since admissions officers are already fully aware of whatever praises and facts you may offer them. Rather, it should present an analysis of how your goals align with the academic and community-oriented support system that Bryn Mawr has established for its students.
Whether you have decided to invest your time studying the humanities while playing a sport, or if the sciences combined with playing the violin are your calling, your interests and aspirations — as they are particular to you — should shine through in your essay. Basically, the goals you mention should reflect how much in-depth thought you have given to your own personal development, and why Bryn Mawr is the perfect catalyst for your personal advancement.
These admissions officers might question any admissions essay that lacks either uniqueness or demonstration of some high-level introspection. By combining your specific goals with an understanding of how Bryn Mawr will bolster your efforts to achieve those goals, you will create a more competitive essay. As always, when writing this essay, responses should be specific and not easily replicable by other applicants.
This does not mean that you need to have your future plans clearly outlined in great detail; rather, this means that you should have an idea of your current situation and what you think you need in order to succeed. Remember that many students can have a similar goal at first glance, but the success in college admissions comes when you effectively present your story — which includes the emotions, motivations, and method of achieving your dreams. This is where you can individualize your essay.
For example, an applicant may start by writing about how as a competitive person with high-reaching goals, she seeks to take advantage of various opportunities at Bryn Mawr College. She might then go on to explain how these goals relate to and tie in with the strong community so heavily elaborated in the Honor Code. For this example, a key component of this response might make note of the inherently competitive nature of such a tight-knit community, and how as a competitive person, such an environment gives her the perfect opportunity to better herself.
This prompt gives you creative license in interpreting the principles set forth in the Honor Code and SGA Constitution, and how they relate to your ambitions at Bryn Mawr College. As always, you should take advantage of this creative freedom, as long as the goals you describe are within the scope of reason. It is important to strike a balance between being ambitious, and yet remaining grounded enough to be realistic about what college can offer a developing scholar. Be sure to share your essay with a reliable reader (or several!) before submitting it in order to get an idea of how effective your finished product is.
Want help with your college essays to improve your admissions chances? Sign up for your free CollegeVine account and get access to our essay guides and courses. You can also get your essay peer-reviewed and improve your own writing skills by reviewing other students’ essays.