How to Write the Claremont McKenna College Essays 2016-17
If you are the kind of person who is interested in a small, top-tier college in sunny, suburban California, Claremont McKenna College (CMC) might be just what you are looking for. One hour away from L.A., the beach, the mountains, and also claiming the ninth spot on the list of Best Colleges in National Liberal Arts Colleges in 2016, this small liberal arts school consistently ranks among the best of its kind.
This institution strives to magnify the entrepreneurial spirit common to many scholars in the surrounding area, but not in the traditional Silicon Valley sense. In fact, CMC seeks to foster students who want to pursue an understanding, advancement, and innovation of studies in economics, government, and public affairs — all while meeting 100% of demonstrated financial need. As its mission alludes to, Claremont McKenna College is a powerhouse of public policy education, substantiated by over 10 different research entities at the college.
Applicants to CMC are evaluated on the basis of the courses they have taken, their grades earned, their class rank (if available), and counselor and teacher recommendations. Competitive candidates for successful admission pursue the most demanding course work possible, receive strong grades, and are highly regarded by their teachers and counselors.
Average GPA and Test Scores of CMC Applicants
This is a general academic breakdown of what the ideal Claremont McKenna College applicant looks like:
- GPA: Top 10% of your class
- SAT Range for Middle 50%: Average of 1407 (new format) and 2030-2290 with average of 2108 (old format)
- ACT Composite Range for Middle 50%: 29-33 with average of 31
The average GPA at CMC ranges from a 3.95 to a 4.0, making it among the most competitive colleges in the country. To be safe, you should aim for the 75th percentile SAT Score (2290) with a 33 ACT and a 3.96 GPA or higher to be above average.
Note: Many colleges have general lists of courses they expect their applicants to have completed by the time they apply, so you should look through CMC’s minimum requirements to get an idea of what you need to be competitive. Make sure that you have met all the requirements, including having taken a foreign language for at least three years.
Claremont McKenna College Application Essay Prompt
If you are feeling good about the basic requirements, then it is time for you to develop your admissions essay. Our essay specialists have created a guide specific to CMC to help you through the admissions essay writing process.
What influenced you the most in your decision to apply to CMC? Please limit your response to no more than 200 words.
This classic “Why us?” prompt requires you to have already thoroughly researched the college so that you are able to clearly articulate (remember, less than 200 words) why you are applying there in the first place. Take the time to peruse the website and its numerous links so that you can explore CMC’s specific fields of study/programs that interest you, the precise extracurricular activities you might harmonize with, and much more importantly (and subtly), if the campus culture and unique mission statement is something that resonates with your personal ideology, and why.
The latter might be easier to do if you have visited the campus or have spoken with a current, reliable student. You really cannot “fake” this sort of essay with cliché statements or generic praise for Claremont McKenna College, because first, your reader is already aware of the school’s positive qualities, and second, discussing the school too much precludes the precious space meant for you talk about yourself.
Furthermore, overusing emotional language in your essay, as passionate as you might be about CMC, can create an overly dramatic effect, and might not be received well by your reader.
Some applicants will be tempted to modify essays already written for other colleges also asking a similar “Why us?” prompt, but we at CollegeVine strongly advise you to refrain from repurposing those essays. In doing so, you are denying yourself your best shot at admission by not writing about how you truthfully feel about the school.
Moreover, no admissions officer is that gullible, and they will definitely not give a second thought to an essay that can easily be replicated by another applicant. Next, by becoming too friendly with copy and paste, you run the risk of submitting essay content that is not relevant to the school you are applying to. This could materialize in the form of an incorrect school mascot, team colors, or any significant people you make reference to — which, needless to say, will not be to your advantage in the eyes of your reader.
We at CollegeVine cannot stress the importance of having done a significant amount of introspection prior to writing your admissions essay, and this one will be no different. Ideally, you will be able to explain why you are set on CMC, based on character traits about yourself you clearly articulate, and how that characterization neatly aligns with an opportunity or environment with which the college can provide you.
Essentially, you need to be able to show your essay reader that you have given your collegiate development some in-depth thought, and that you didn’t just apply on a whim.
One example of how to answer this prompt is to first gather your thoughts about an important class you took in high school. Maybe during your AP Government course, the teacher talked about how U.S. laws are created versus how laws are created in developing countries. You might have begun to wonder about the conditions necessary to create effective laws in developing nations. You now know how catastrophic poor-policy legislation can be for some people, and you want to work to rectify such problems.
You may be a big fan of discussion-based courses (since you learn best by coming up with answers yourself), but it’s often hard to find such small, personalized courses when it comes to the common government major, whose class sizes are often enormous. At this juncture, it is usually difficult to find liberal arts colleges that have expansive government departments that would allow you to hone in on niche knowledge.
Then, you could mention how CMC’s wide diversity in the executive-level background of its government faculty would allow you to have 1-on-1 discussions with professors who have either worked for the UN, the World Bank, the military, etc. The small class size would ensure that you could contribute to in-class discussions about legislative creation and the ideological systems driving them across various countries, which is necessary for you to best comprehend the material.
Remember: You need to assert that your style of learning is too unique to risk at another government program, and that you feel a personal stake in this because of what you have already learned.
This example highlights the experience in one of your interests and explains how the thinking you developed from it has set you on a particular path of inquiry. It also refers to your individual needs as a student, and how you have done the research to conclude that Claremont McKenna College can offer you what you require to succeed.
We at CollegeVine sincerely wish you the best as you complete your application for Claremont McKenna College. Best of luck in your writing!
Still have questions about filling out the Common Application? Check out our blog post How to Write the Common Application Essays 2017-2018.
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