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How to Write the Macalester College Essays 2016-2017



Nestled between the bustling cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Macalester College is often listed among the top liberal arts colleges in the nation, and for good reason. Macalester’s mission is all about providing students with a global education. In order to do so, it offers fantastic faculty-to-student ratios, many stimulating extra and co-curricular opportunities, a firmly established reputation for spectacular undergraduate teaching, and incredible opportunities for international learning.


Macalester can also claim several famous alumni, including former United Nations Secretary General and Nobel Peace Prize winner Kofi Annan and former Vice President of the United States Walter Mondale. Considering that Macalester identifies its central mission as providing an “educational program known for its high standards for scholarship and its special emphasis on internationalism, multiculturalism, and service to society,” it stands to reason that several of its graduates have gone on to become powerful world leaders.


Like many other top schools, Macalester College continues to be extremely competitive when it comes to undergraduate admissions. According to U.S. News and World Report, the admissions rate currently stands at 36.4% as of the most recent available data. Considering this degree of competitiveness, it is of utmost importance to craft a winning essay to help yourself stand out from other applicants.


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Macalester is a community that includes people from many different backgrounds, some whom have lived around the world and others who have lived in one place their entire lives. Please write an essay about how your background, experiences, or outlook might add to the Mac community, academically and personally. (250-500 words)


Given Macalester’s strong and stated commitment to the value of international education, it comes as no surprise that Mac’s essay question alludes to the same principles of internationalism and multiculturalism that the school so strongly espouses. This essay is not only a great way to help admissions officers get to know you better, but also to demonstrate why you would be a good fit for Macalester, specifically, and the multicultural educational community Mac has worked to establish.


However, you do not necessarily have to have had international experiences in order to join this community. On the contrary, what this essay is trying to gauge is what you’ll bring to Macalester’s incoming freshman class, thanks to your specific background, relevant experiences, or unique perspectives.


Let’s think about this in a different way. An oft-repeated aphorism related to college admissions goes something like this: Colleges aren’t necessarily looking to find well-rounded individuals, but to build a well-rounded class. Even if you don’t necessarily have an international perspective to share, you can still demonstrate what you will contribute to Macalester that no other applicant in the pool can, as a result of your own specific set of circumstances and ideas.


For instance, maybe your upbringing in a small American town taught you the value of a strong sense of unity and the importance of relying on one’s neighbors. Perhaps this experience spurred an interest in local politics, influenced the way you go about solving problems, or instilled your approaches to working in a team.


Such an experience would certainly be extremely formative and greatly impact the way you interact with the world — and, thus, the way you would interact with life at Macalester College. Additionally, these kinds of values can be tied back to the central ideals Macalester views as important: “internationalism, multiculturalism, and service to society.”


No matter what aspect of your background you choose to focus on, it is extremely important to tie it back to community, academics, and your personal life. Remember, Mac isn’t looking for you to just zero in on one of these aspects — they want to know about all three. Imagine how your upbringing, the perspective you have developed as a result of your upbringing, or past experiences have impacted all three aspects. Then, think about how these factors will interact with your life in the future — specifically, your future at Macalester.


We hope that, armed with this guide, you will be able to write successful essays for Macalester College. Make sure to get an early start and try to avoid procrastination. Good luck!


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Lydia Tahraoui
Senior Blogger

Short Bio
Lydia is a Social Studies concentrator at Harvard University who is deeply committed to helping guide students through the college admissions process. In addition to writing for the CollegeVine blog, Lydia enjoys analyzing Middle Eastern and North African politics and keeping up with all things pop culture.