How to Write the Montclair State University Essay 2023-2024
A public research university located in New Jersey, Montclair State University prides itself on innovation and unique programs. Across its 10 colleges and schools, the university offers 300 majors, minors, and concentrations.
Montclair State requires one supplementary essay for all applicants, unless you’re applying to a major with a more specific essay. If you’re applying to the School of Nursing or College of Arts, you must detail your interest in the chosen field instead of answering the general Montclair State essay. Adult learners must also submit an additional essay.
All Applicants (Minus School of Nursing and College of Arts)
Explain your reasons for seeking admission to Montclair State University, including what you believe are your academic strengths and interests. Be sure to explain any situations that may have had an impact, either positively or negatively, on your academic record. (Required)
This prompt is essentially asking “Why Montclair State?”. Most students’ first instinct is to respond with nebulous sentiments about the perks of a smaller class size or the breadth of the curriculum offered at Montclair. To avoid this common pitfall, you will have to do some research on your own – we suggest the school’s site as a great starting point.
Look into programs that stand out to you, as well as your course of study’s departmental offerings and major-specific programs. When you find an item that piques your interest, explore it further until you feel you know much about the opportunity in enough detail to comfortably speak about it. Keep in mind that you should ponder how this opportunity would help you achieve your long-term goals. An important note is that this prompt specifically stresses that you also include your academic strengths and interests, so it may be well suited to incorporate this heavily, by talking about your prospective major and connecting it to your previous academic experience.
Here’s a strong and weak example:
Weak: Montclair State’s internationally renowned political science program appeals to me because I have always been fascinated with politics.
Strong: Growing up, I had a knack for engaging in fiery debates with my family members. My parents would look on with a sigh while I hotly defended Captain Kirk over Spock, or championed Oreos as superior to Chips Ahoy (my brother’s favorite). I was proud of my ability to drum up counterattacks and rebuttals to my family’s arguments. My interest only grew after I joined the debate club and started getting into politics during the recent presidential election. My love for debate morphed into a passion for logic, wordplay, and spin tactics.
As a debate and politics aficionado, I naturally gravitated towards Montclair State’s political science major because of its multifaceted approach to the subject. I can see myself engaging with the works of Aristotle and Plato in Essentials of Political Thought, and then launching myself into the future in classes like Politics of Science Fiction.
Outside of the classroom, I hope to join The Political Science Club, which will allow me to promote political awareness and involvement on campus. I’m especially interested in helping host debates and talks by those in the field on important issues such as gun control and climate change.
The former response is vague, and the resource mentioned can be found at almost any school. This latter response, written after doing research on the school website, abounds with detail and crafts a compelling narrative. This response gives specific information about the applicant’s personal interests and the school’s unique opportunities, while creating imagery that makes the essay more engaging.
Often, when students are faced with the “Why School” prompt, they forget to mention potential extracurriculars and the social aspect of college. College isn’t only about academics, but also your activities outside of the classroom. Look into extracurriculars or clubs that you would like to join, using your current interests as a reference. Doing this will illustrate genuine interest in Montclair’s extracurricular offerings.
For instance, you could say something along the lines of:
“Ever since I remember, I have loved to dance – growing up, I loved making my siblings laugh with zany new moves set to our favorite Justin Bieber songs. In high school, I started an initiative called Shake it Up Seniors, where my peers and I would volunteer to teach dance classes at the senior center. I look forward to joining Complexions at MSU because I love making people smile and spreading the love of dance everywhere I go. I can’t wait to perform at halftime during football games to jazz up my fellow Hawks!”
This response integrates the student’s personal past experience with potential future opportunities at Montclair State. While many schools have a dance team, this one is specific to MSU.
This prompt also asks you to provide examples of situations that may have had an impact, either positively or negatively, on your academic record. You should use this space to describe any circumstances that may have impacted your education. If you feel that the parameters apply to you, you can explain any topic that was not addressed in the other parts of your application. Since this part of the essay will likely have a more serious tone, it might be better to be straight and to the point in this part, rather than painting a picture with vivid imagery as you would in other parts of this essay or application.
A potential response might sound something like this: “In my first year of high school, my sister was diagnosed with leukemia, and it profoundly affected me both emotionally and academically. My main focus was helping her get better in any way I could, and I often prioritized her treatment over my studies. For that reason, there is a significant decline in my grades in the second trimester of that year.”
Another response might sound like this: “Because my family owns a small gift shop, I am often called on to help by translating for my parents as they do not speak English very well. I also clean up around the shop and take care of my siblings when both of my parents are working. I was unable to join as many extracurriculars as my peers, as a significant portion of my time went towards helping ensure the family shop was running smoothly.”
With these tips in mind, you are ready to begin crafting an effective and powerful essay for your application to Montclair State University! We at CollegeVine wish you the best of luck!
Adult Learner Applicants
Submit a Personal Statement that demonstrates what you have learned through formal education and/or life experiences. (Required)
Montclair State defines an adult student applicant as someone who is at least 25 years old who has never taken a college-level course within the past two years or attended college at all. Recognizing that adult learners come with different experiences from those of applicants who are recent high school graduates, the university asks those who fall into this category to complete this additional essay.
Adult learners often bring unique backgrounds and experiences to their schools. You may have worked for a long period, for example. This is an opportunity to demonstrate how you will contribute to the community through these experiences and different perspectives.
There’s no trick, here. Simply describe what you’ve learned from your own life experiences, whether or not they are directly relevant to education itself. After all, often, the greatest lessons come from events and circumstances outside of a formal classroom.
Some questions to consider include:
- What events or circumstances have shaped your life and learning?
- Why are you interested in pursuing your bachelor’s degree now?
- What do you hope to accomplish through your education?
This prompt calls for a narrative response, describing your journey to get to this point. Perhaps you weren’t able to pursue a degree due to finances in the past, and now your work is helping pay for your education. This is a chance to explain what you’ve learned from the time since then and how the experience has shaped your life. Simply tell your story and connect it with your desire to earn a college degree now.
School of Nursing Applicants
Please provide a brief personal statement describing why you wish to pursue a career in Nursing. (Required)
Here’s an example of a classic “Why this Major?” prompt, asking you to illuminate your motivations for pursuing a career in nursing.
When considering this prompt, ask yourself questions like:
- What experiences have shaped your interest in nursing (use specific examples)?
- What inspires you about the field?
- What do you hope to do in your career as a nurse/what are your goals?
- What coursework has prepared you for this discipline?
Avoid using cliched topics or overgeneralizing, such as “I want to help people.” Instead, dive deeper into the why of it. While family illness or death is usually considered an off-limits topic because it’s overused, for an essay about nursing, it is possible to spin this to explore the impact it’s had on you and your career choices.
Perhaps, for example, you connected with a nurse who was caring for your loved one, which sparked your interest in the field. Then, you might explore experiences you pursued because of that connection, like upper-level science coursework, volunteering at a hospital, or serving your community in other ways.
A strong word of caution: This year, it may be especially tempting to write about COVID-19 and how the nurses on the frontlines were such an inspiration to you. Montclair State and other schools with nursing programs will receive hundreds of essays on this topic. Unless you have a truly unique spin on the pandemic, it’s best to choose another topic to avoid falling into this trap.
College of Arts Applicants
Please discuss why you wish to study your program of choice in the College of the Arts at Montclair State. Be sure to include highlights of your experience related to your chosen academic program and how those experiences have shaped your current career goals. (Required)
This is a combination of the archetypal “Why this College?” and “Why this Major?” prompts. It requires you to grapple with your own experiences and desire to pursue your program of choice at Montclair State and connect this with the university itself and why it’s the right fit for you.
The College of Arts is divided into four units:
- John J. Cali School of Music
- School of Communication and Media
- Department of Art and Design
- Department of Theatre and Dance
If you’re responding to this prompt, you should already have a unique talent and be interested in pursuing a program within a specific unit. This prompt applies to majors in: Animation and Illustration, Dance, Music, Music Therapy, Musical Theatre, Theatre, Visual Arts and Visual Communication Design
Generally speaking, the best approach to this essay is to extensively research the program in question. You might see if you can learn more about the professors, find syllabi, and read up on the courses and opportunities.
For the majority of your response, you should take a factual approach, addressing specific reasons why you want to attend this particular program within Montclair State. Be sure to include some creative elements — just because it’s factual doesn’t mean you should sacrifice your unique spin.
Because the programs within the College of Arts are highly prestigious, it may be tempting to list basic qualities that make your program of choice so appealing, such as the caliber of performances, noteworthy faculty, and unique classes. You can certainly mention these things, but be sure to flesh them out and connect them to your own experiences. Rather than writing, for example, “I hope to study under Professor X,” say “I hope to study under Professor X, whose work in [specific area] connects to my own interests in [specific area].”
You might discuss the College’s designation as a “Center of Excellence in the Arts” and highlight the Peak Performances that promote a culture of the arts. If you’re applying for, say, the Music Therapy program, speak to your own experiences, first, with studying music and how it appeals to your interest in assisting others through the art.
Discuss some unique facets of the program that appeal to you, like how you’re looking forward to the clinical work in facilities in New Jersey and New York. You could add that the program is one of the oldest and most prestigious programs of its kind in the country, but avoid harping on its fame too much, and, instead, focus on specifics.
Explore, for instance, the type of work you’re excited to pursue through the Music Therapy Training Group and the particular instruments you’re looking forward to working with in the program, as well as previous experiences working with the community and playing music. If you have experience specific to music therapy, definitely highlight it, but don’t worry if you’ve explored the two interests separately, too.
In any case, no matter what specific program you’re hoping to pursue, make sure to spend ample time discussing your own interests and background in the arts and draw connections between what Montclair State, in particular the College of Arts, has to offer you.
Where to Get Your Montclair State Essays Edited for Free
Have you written your Montclair State Essays? Are you looking for guidance and feedback on how to make them even better? It’s always a good idea to get another set of eyes — or two or three — on your essays to ensure you’re representing yourself and your interest in the school to the best of your abilities. That’s why CollegeVine offers a free essay peer-review service, where you can get a critique of your essay and feedback to help you improve.
Just create a free CollegeVine account, and you’ll be able to use this and other resources that will benefit you during the college admissions process.