How to Write the Fordham University Essays 2020-2021

Established in the Bronx neighborhood of New York City in 1841, Fordham University is known for its deeply-held Jesuit values and Gabelli School of Business. The oldest private Catholic university in the Northeast consists of four undergraduate and six graduate universities across their Rose Hill, Lincoln Center, and Westchester campuses. 

 

“New York City is your campus,” the school website says, and it’s true; students are fully immersed in the urban experience.

 

With an undergraduate population of just under 10,000 spread out over 93 acres, the university has garnered a reputation for its fantastic undergraduate teaching within classes rarely exceeding 30 students. The university has no Greek system, and all students must complete a core curriculum spanning subjects such as mathematics, theology, and the arts.

 

Beyond strong grades and test scores, your essays are your chance to stand out to admissions officers and to show them that you possess the insightful and analytical thinking skills they are looking for. 

 

With a reported 46% Regular Decision acceptance rate and 54% Early Action acceptance rate for the 2019-2020 cycle, this school is rather selective. Want to know your chances at Fordham? Calculate them for free right now.

 

Want to learn what Fordham will actually cost you based on your income? And how long your application to the school should take? Here’s what every student considering Fordham needs to know.

 

Fordham University Supplemental Essays

Prompt 1 (required): At Fordham, we expect students to care for and engage with their communities. Please share a specific instance in which you challenged yourself or stepped out of your comfort zone in order to impact your community (for example, your family, friend group, high school, or town). Or, share a way you hope to do so at Fordham. (150 words)

 

Prompt 2 (optional): We want you to think of the most meaningful compliment and critique you’ve received in recent memory. They might come from a friend, parent, teacher, coach, or advisor. They might be personal, professional, or academic. What was the context for each, and why are they so meaningful to you? (150 words)

Prompt 1 (required)

At Fordham, we expect students to care for and engage with their communities. Please share a specific instance in which you challenged yourself or stepped out of your comfort zone in order to impact your community (for example, your family, friend group, high school, or town). Or, share a way you hope to do so at Fordham. (150 words)

While writing to this prompt, keep in mind that the Fordham admissions office is looking for students who are always seeking to improve themselves and that its placement in one of the biggest, busiest cities in the world requires self-sufficient self-starters.

 

For starters, think of the ways, big or small, in which you have impacted any community you consider a part of your identity. Consider any volunteer work, clubs, jobs, or teams you may have been involved in. Be open to diverse definitions of community, such as your racial identity, religious background, or neighborhood.

 

Out of all of these, which ones were the most challenging for you? It’s easy to help others when it’s convenient for us, so while your anecdote doesn’t have to include an act of heroism, it should still convey your willingness to embrace the uncomfortable.

 

You may write about anything from acting as a board member for an environmental fundraiser to standing up to a bully to stepping in for an injured teammate at a track meet. Consider starting your piece with a lively anecdote to draw the reader in, establishing both who you were fighting for and how the experience required different strengths from those you were used to.

 

Consider this example answer from a student who had always struggled with shyness and public speaking:

 

Butterflies fluttered in my stomach as I approached the front bench of my district’s monthly board meeting, a sea of faces taking in my wide-eyed, reddening face. Feeling positive I’d be laughed at or booed out, I swallowed my nerves and began.

 

As I explained to our administrators why they should work with our Environmental Club to eliminate plastic cutlery from our cafeteria, my flitting glances weren’t met with the disinterest or disdain I had predicted, but instead, with genuine interest and curiosity. 

 

I stumbled and stammered over a few words, but I’d still challenged my apprehensions and realized that public speaking wasn’t the looming danger my anxious thoughts had made it out to be. 

 

Next month, when our cafeteria introduces compostable trays, I’ll be first in line, beaming with the knowledge that my voice is worth listening to and that my words have the power to make a difference.

 

This sample works for a few reasons. An emotion-inducing anecdote draws the reader in, and the community she is stepping out of her comfort zone for—her club and the environmental community as a whole—is quickly introduced. So is the fact that public speaking is a challenge for her; helpfully, admissions officers are likely to connect with this, as public speaking is a very common fear.

 

Finally, at the end, the writer establishes not only the practical results of her stepping out of her comfort zone to help her community, but also her growth as a person. She paints a picture of herself as someone brave enough to do the scary and uncomfortable things in order to fight for what is important to her. 

 

If you instead choose to share your hopes to impact your Fordham community, avoid vague phrases like “I hope to be a supportive roommate.” In this supplemental essay and all others, aim for specificity. This prompt includes a bit of a “Why this College?” element, as it requires demonstrating your understanding of Fordham’s unique opportunities. Talk about Fordham’s clubs and organizations or perhaps suggest starting one, being sure to include how, exactly, you expect to step out of your comfort zone.

 

For example, consider the case of a student who hopes to join Wavelengths, Fordham’s student radio station. He may write about how in high school, he was a dedicated staff writer for the student newspaper but struggled to find his voice and profess strong opinions, instead choosing to stick to objective reporting. He is excited for the opportunity to be self-expressive through Wavelength’s outspoken audible, visual, and written medium, as well as the challenge of finally finding his own voice.

Prompt 2 (optional)

We want you to think of the most meaningful compliment and critique you’ve received in recent memory. They might come from a friend, parent, teacher, coach, or advisor. They might be personal, professional, or academic. What was the context for each, and why are they so meaningful to you? (150 words)

Unlike the previous prompt, this prompt is optional; however, we fully recommend you answer it. If you don’t answer it, you run the risk of not looking interested enough in Fordham. Providing a meaningful answer here can help distinguish your application to admissions officers. Like Prompt 1, there’s a lot of ground to cover here in only so many words. Remember, Fordham is looking for students who are always seeking to improve themselves, a quality that requires deep self-awareness. 

 

Only choose compliments and critiques which resonated with you deeply and are somewhat specific to who you are. Many students have been described as “good people” or told they needed to “work harder,” but what is something that has been said about you?

 

Feel free to start with the quoted compliment or criticism, as animated dialogue will draw a reader in before you elaborate on the context. 

 

A compliment may hold significant meaning if it addresses skills you work especially hard on, qualities that relate to your prospective career or major, or values you were raised with. For example, a student who was told “You’re incredibly analytical and detail-oriented” by her robotics instructor may reflect upon how much it meant to her as a prospective mechanical engineering major, and how it motivated her to push past her self-doubt in pursuing the field.

 

Critiques present a different, but nonetheless interesting challenge to conquer in writing. Note that “critique” doesn’t necessarily entail negative feedback or criticism (though it may). Consider critique to be any remark made about you through another’s perception. A meaningful critique may have inspired you to grow or to understand yourself better. 

 

For example, a student who was critiqued for her curly hair being too “unprofessional” for her summer engineering internship may write about how it sparked a period of self-discovery and growth for her. Despite initially feeling insecure about the comment, this critique taught her to learn to take pride in her hair as a natural part of her ethnicity and to not internalize other people’s opinions about integral and permanent elements of her identity.

 

Meanwhile, a student who was always told he needed to “pick up the pace” as a grocery store cashier may discuss how he at first bristled at the unwelcome critique before learning to apply it in all elements of his life, learning to work in a more efficient and timely manner in the classroom, workplace, and even in doing chores at home.

 

Let’s look at a response which combines a few elements of our aforementioned examples:

 

“Olivia, could you tie your hair back tomorrow?” asked the supervisor of my summer engineering internship. “We have a dress code here, so let’s stay professional.”

 

I was taken aback. Professional? My curly hair has always been my source of pride, a thread connecting me to my family in Brazil. How could it impede upon my ability to test mechanical models or analyze data? 

 

Half-defiantly, I worked hard, hair down, and was recognized as Intern of the Month. When I came back to work as a member of my school’s robotics team, my coach told me, “You’re incredibly analytical and detail-oriented.” 

 

It meant the world to me to have the skills I’d worked so hard to grow recognized by a mentor I so deeply respect, and now I know I have what it takes to make it as a mechanical engineer. 

 

My curls won’t get in the way.

 

This sample gives admissions officers a picture of the applicant’s identity, showing them that she is dedicated to her passions, stays true to herself, and is eager to learn from others. Additionally, this essay connects the compliment and critique within one storyline. While it isn’t entirely necessary to do so, it does make the essay a more cohesive read.

 

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