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How to Write the Lehigh University Supplemental Essays 2018-2019
Known for its strength in interdisciplinary studies, Lehigh is an esteemed private university in eastern Pennsylvania’s Bethlehem. The surrounding area is rich in history and boasts a compelling combination of urban amenities and open spaces. As for those seeking a faster pace, New York City and Philadelphia are both a mere car ride away.
Lehigh has long had a reputation for academic prominence, priding itself on strength in a variety of fields. In particular, its nationally ranked engineering program prompts a growing pool of Lehigh hopefuls to send in their applications each year. But whether you are interested in engineering or a different area of study, you can’t get around the reality of a 25% acceptance rate, Lehigh’s lowest to date.
Luckily, we at CollegeVine are here to help with all the tips and tricks needed to give your supplements the edge they need.
This first prompt is the only one that all applicants will have to answer, regardless of their intended program. The question itself is straightforward (why Lehigh?), but because you are only given 150 words to answer it, every word counts. Here are the three components to heed while writing this essay:
- Choose a big picture you’re trying to convey
- Choose 2-3 qualities specific to Lehigh that contribute to showing this big picture
- Discuss how you will take advantage of these qualities or how they will help you achieve your goals
Whether a ‘why this college’ essay allows for 650 words or 150, specificity is key to a convincing essay, but in the case of the latter, there’s certainly less room for error. In order to ensure that you use your words wisely, a good strategy is to choose two or three qualities specific to Lehigh that you wish to discuss.
However, because you need your response to read as one cohesive essay, we recommend that you pick a theme you’re trying to convey. For example, if you’re a prospective engineering student, you may want to choose two or three resources at Lehigh that relate to this. Alternately, let’s say the most important thing to you is a tight-knit community: choose clubs or qualities at Lehigh that promote this.
- Listing statistics (The admissions officers already know their student-to-faculty ratio. You don’t need to tell them.)
- Name-dropping (If you’re excited about a club, talk about why that club appeals to you. Saying ‘such and such club seems fascinating’ isn’t enough.)
- Vague qualities (Example: “Lehigh’s engineering program is highly esteemed.” Instead, you should discuss elements of the engineering program that stand out to you).
- Inconsequential details (Don’t discuss things like dorm quality or dining hall reputation).
Once you have chosen your theme and the qualities you want to discuss, you need to show Lehigh why the resources would be better spent on you than another applicant. In other words, how will you take advantage of what Lehigh has to offer? As an example, let’s say one of the resources you choose is Lehigh’s program “Hatchery.” Here’s how it might read:
“One of the resources at Lehigh I was most excited to discover is the summer Hatchery program, an immersive accelerator for students interested in entrepreneurship. Though I am pursuing a pre-med track, I have always been interested in applying innovation to medicine, and the healthcare sector of Hatchery would allow me to experiment with the intersection of the two.”
The previous response connects Lehigh’s program to the student—and the student’s goals and interests—but does so in a way that keeps the focus on the program itself. This is key: ultimately, this is still a ‘why I choose this school’ response and not ‘why you should choose me.’ The second should be hinted at without ever taking over the focus of the essay.
The example above is just shy of sixty words, giving the rest of the essay room to discuss one or two more qualities. As for the big picture, the rest of this essay can continue to focus on the student’s concurrent interests in medicine and entrepreneurship.
Though these prompts are for three different programs at Lehigh, the question itself is the same for all of them: how is this program going to help you achieve your goals? There should be two aspects included in your answer:
- Why this program appeals to you
- How this program will help you attain your goals
In answering the first part, there’s actually a hidden subquestion: why are you choosing an interdisciplinary program? It’s not enough to discuss an interest in each topic individually; you have to demonstrate why you want to study them in conjunction with one another.
This is a great segue into the next part of the essay: how will it help you attain your goals? Here you need to show that your goals are the embodiment of this interdisciplinary track and can therefore only be attained by studying these topics concurrently. How will a program in computer science and business, for example, prepare you for your dream career in a way that studying one or the other alone would not?
Show drive, ambition, and a confidence in your goals. This is not the place to seem hesitant or uncertain about your plans, or the reader may question whether such a specific track is right for you.
Finally, with whatever room you have remaining, you should discuss why you’re interested specifically in Lehigh’s program. What makes it stand out from comparable programs? Again, specificity is key!
As you may have noticed, the prompt given for these scholarships has no word limit. Before you get carried away, though, we recommend that you keep it to around 500 words, unless there’s something more you feel you absolutely need to say.
Within those 500 words, there are three main components to include:
- Your musical experiences
- Your interest in pursuing performance in college
- One memorable performance you’ve had
Ideally, you want to use your musical experiences to tell a story leading up to your performance. In this way, you’ll have a narrative arc rather than a mere list of accomplishments. In fact, you want to steer clear of lists—if Lehigh wanted this, they would’ve asked for a resume.
If there are more musical experiences that came about after the performance, then of course, discuss those as well. Don’t sell yourself short. However, it will be a lot more satisfying to the reader if the performance serves as a climax or pinnacle of sorts in your musical journey.
For the performance component, be absolutely sure to use the method of “show, don’t tell.” Let the reader see and feel exactly why this performance stuck with you; show them what made it so special. If you merely state the facts of the performance, you will lose an opportunity to get your reader emotionally invested.
Following your discussion of the performance, transition into why and how you are interested in pursuing performance in college. Discuss specific goals and dreams. How will studying performance in college help you achieve these? What are you excited to learn about regarding the art of performance in college? The more specific you can be here, the more you will convince your reader; this is crucial.
Finally, make sure your essay conveys passion and confidence. The choice to pursue performance isn’t one that comes down to a list of pros and cons; it’s about a love for the art. You need to show that you are certain this is the path for you.
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.
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