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How to Write the Drexel University Supplement Essays 2020-2021

We’ve updated this post! Please check out the 2021-2022 Drexel essay guide.


Drexel University, located across three campuses in urban Philadelphia, is a private research institution that is ranked #23 in Most Innovative Schools and among the Top 100 National Universities and Best Value Schools by U.S. News and World Report.


Drexel is well known for its cooperative-education program that offers students the opportunity to gain 18 months of full-time, major-related work experience while pursuing a degree.


Though Drexel does not have a universal required prompt outside of the Common App, certain schools and programs have specific required essays. This post will help you understand those prompts. Want to know your chances at Drexel? Calculate your chances for free right now.


Drexel University Application Essay Prompts

Custom-Designed Applicant Prompt


Please write a 500- to 800-word vision statement/essay describing in detail what you want to study, what you hope to accomplish during your time in the program, and why your educational goals cannot be met by pursuing a traditional Drexel major, a double major, or a major combined with minors. Your vision statement/essay should also include how you expect this program to prepare you for life after college, detailing what career or pursuits the custom-designed major will facilitate and how you plan to impact the world. Finally, the vision statement/essay should contain a plausible plan of study for achieving your goals by drawing upon two or more existing Drexel programs. A sample vision statement can be found on the Custom-Designed Major Prospective Students page. Information about existing programs and courses at Drexel can be found in the University Catalog. (Response required in 500-800 words.) *This essay is required for custom-design applicants only.

Drexel’s Custom-Designed Major offers students the opportunity to pursue an individualized and interdisciplinary course of study that uniquely satisfies their interests. Designed for the highly motivated, it allows students to lay out their own educational roadmap that is supplemented with one-on-one mentorship from faculty.


Note: Prior to applying for the Custom-Designed Major, check out Drexel’s extensive list of majors and minors to make sure that your desired course of study cannot be fully satisfied by an existing program. Some examples of Custom-Designed Majors include Quantitative Behavioral Finance, Sustainable Design, Science and Technology Policy, and New Media Entrepreneurship.


Despite appearing in the essay section of the Common App, this prompt can be more accurately described as a “vision statement.” It is very specific in its requirements and outlines all of the content that Drexel wants to see from applicants. It can be broken down into five key points.


Vision Statement Key Points:


  1. What do you want to study?
  2. What do you hope to accomplish while in the program?
  3. Why do you need a Custom-Designed Major?
  4. How will a Custom-Designed Major prepare you for your career/pursuits and help you impact the world?
  5. What is your plan of study?


Don’t be intimidated by the large block of text in the prompt because at it’s core, the vision statement simply asks you to explain why and how a personalized education path at Drexel will benefit you.


Why a Custom-Designed Major?

A strong way to start off your vision statement is by identifying a societal or professional need for an educational pathway that is currently nonexistent at the school. You can open with a personal experience or an observation that shows why an interdisciplinary approach is necessary. By doing so, you immediately grab the attention of your reader and give him/her the lenses to understand the rest of your writing from your perspective.


Once you highlight that need, you should specify a course of study by selecting at least two existing programs and discussing their intersection to form a Custom-Designed Major. Ideally, you want to come up with a name for your major, which could be based on either a professional field or your own experiences. Make sure you describe the programs in detail because your vision statement is centered around them.


Make sure to answer the “why” by explaining the future benefits of your course of study. Higher education helps you become better prepared for your pursuits later on in life, so you must express some kind of a trajectory that necessitates your Custom-Designed Major.


If you know exactly what you want to do in the future, write about your specific career path and how having a solid foundation in multiple fields will strengthen your skills and insight. If you are not certain of the specific job you would like to work at but have a general idea of what you want to do, discuss the shortcomings that currently exist and how your interdisciplinary studies prepare you to better respond to situations.


How will you take advantage of the program?

How will you use your time at Drexel? The admissions officers want to know that you are going in with clearly defined goals. Remember, this program is for students who are driven to pursue a specific path, and not for those who are still exploring. You need to make sure that you clearly demonstrate that you will make full use of the resources available.


That said, your vision statement must outline your key goals while in the program. Think about what you want to accomplish. For example, maybe you want to develop an in-depth understanding of how two fields relate so that you can one day make improvements to an existing industry. Whatever you decide your goals should be, make sure that they connect back to the interdisciplinary nature of your custom-designed major.


Plan of Study

Once you know what you hope to accomplish in the program, ask yourself how you will achieve those objectives. What academic resources will put you on the right trajectory? Here, Drexel wants you to be specific and discuss which aspects of existing programs you will merge to form the crux of your Custom-Designed Major.


Your proposed Plan of Study should be a term-by-term outline of the courses that you want to take. Notice how the prompt specifies you to look at existing courses in the University Catalogue. You want to create an organized table that lists out the specific classes you plan on taking during each term of each academic school year.


The majority of the academic departments at Drexel operate under a quarter system, permitting you to take classes even during the summer if desired. This gives you the option of overloading on courses, but make sure your proposal is one that you could realistically manage.


In addition to listing out the courses you want to take, make sure you include the ones that are degree requirements for all Custom-Designed Majors. These requirements include a number of CSDN/WEST courses as well as fulfilling a number of credits in the humanities, social sciences, mathematics, and sciences.


Note: This plan does not necessarily need to be set in stone, but it should be thorough enough to indicate that you have the foresight to succeed as a student in the program.

Here’s an example:


  • You can write about noticing that current government policies are failing to adapt to the changing pace of technology, and therefore creating a large number of social problems that will have to be resolved by this generation. You could then argue that it is important to have proactive policies that account for likely problems associated with developments in technology, rather than having reactionary policies. By merging Political Science with Computer Science and Computer and Security Technology courses, you would learn to draft government policy as a forward-thinking innovator capable of taking on societal challenges in a way that surpasses career politicians with no technical background. Then, you can proceed to discuss the benefits of gaining experience in the cooperative-education program by working for leading artificial intelligence firms to give you insight prior to working in government. Finally, you would provide a well-documented list of courses you intend on taking for the major requirements and across disciplines.

If you need more concrete examples, Drexel offers vision statements on the Prospective Students section of the Custom-Designed Major page.

Westphal College Applicant Prompt


Please write a short essay describing why you are interested in pursuing your major of choice at Drexel University’s Westphal College. What have you done that prepares you to study in your major of choice? (Response required in 500 words.) *This essay is required for Westphal College applicants only.

Drexel’s Westphal College of Media Arts & Design is unlike traditional arts school. Westphal encompasses a variety of majors that help artistic and creative individuals find practical and sustainable applications of their craft to high-demand industries. Similar to the application for Custom-Designed Major, the Westphal College application is direct and focuses in on your specific path. It also asks a core question: “Why pursue your selected major, and what experience have you had?”


Note: Prior to writing your essay, you should first select a specific Westphal major that has significance/relevance in your life.


Why your major?

When answering the “why,” you can take a number of different approaches as long as you satisfy your primary goal of demonstrating that you are passionate about a subject. Why are you inspired to pursue your desired major? Why is your desired major important to you? Why will your desired major permit you to impact society? These are all questions that you should be considering as you write.


You can write about an experience that significantly impacted your life and has sparked your interest in a subject. Maybe it was a book, movie, or class that just clicked for you and helped you realize what you want to do with your life. Discuss how a subject excites you or changes the way in which you understand the world. Try to zone in on building a narrative so that the reader understands your perspective and thinks, “I can’t see this student studying anything but this major.”


What experience have you had?

After introducing your interest, you want to explain what you have done that makes you qualified to be a student of a particular major at Westphal. Ideally, you want to develop an image of yourself as someone who found a passion and pursued it.


If you have allowed your love for a subject to manifest outside of the classroom in the form of a personal project/pursuit or extracurricular activity, discuss that. It will show that you took advantage of your opportunities and turned an interest into something tangible and impactful.


If you haven’t quite had the chance to further your interests, you can write about classes you’ve taken in school or books that you’ve read that relate to your desired major. Make sure you demonstrate your knowledge by delving deeply into the subjects to build around the underlying passion that you want to drive your essay.


Even if you haven’t had much specific experience relating to your desired major, you can still write a strong essay. Often times, your inspiration for pursuing a subject is the source of your experience. For example, someone seeking to study Game Design & Production may not have actually designed video games before, but perhaps has spent significant hours playing Pokémon and thus understands user interface and graphics.


The primary goal is to indicate that your passion for a subject has manifested in ways that have given you insight and experience into your desired major, to prove that you are suited for the program.

For example:


  • A student can talk about how she grew up playing Pokémon, which provided her with an escape from difficulties in her childhood. It sparked her imagination and brought her immense joy in the form of imaginary adventures in a world that she could control, unlike the real world that often disappointed her. Though she has not had extensive experience with Game Design & Production, she took a programming course in Python in which she made basic games, such as Brick Breaker and Air Hockey. She could express how it excited her to know that if she studied Game Design & Production, she would one day be able to merge her experience as a gamer with technical skills to bring the kind of joy to other children that Pokémon brought to her!
Drexel University is a highly technical school that seeks driven students who know what they want and the means by which to reach those goals. As long as you embed that spirit into your writing, you will be able to create a strong essay. Best of luck from everyone here at CollegeVine!


If you’re applying elsewhere as well, check out our database of essay prompts for hundreds of other colleges!


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Our college essay experts go through a rigorous selection process that evaluates their writing skills and knowledge of college admissions. We also train them on how to interpret prompts, facilitate the brainstorming process, and provide inspiration for great essays, with curriculum culled from our years of experience helping students write essays that work.