How to Write the Pepperdine University Essays 2018-2019
Located in sunny Malibu, California, Pepperdine University is ranked 46th in the U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities rankings and has a 38% acceptance rate. Pepperdine couples its academic rigor with Christian values, and while students do not have to identify as Christian, they are required to take at least three religion classes to graduate. the university is known for its focus on morals, ethics, and service, as well as for its picturesque campus.
Pepperdine applicants have average GPAs of 3.64, with the middle 50% of admitted students scoring between 1270 and 1420 on the SAT and between 28 and 32 on the ACT. With over 12,000 people applying last fall, it can be intimidating to figure out how to make your supplemental essays stand out from the rest. We here at CollegeVine are here to quell those nerves. Read on to find out how to put your best foot forward when writing the Pepperdine essays!
Pepperdine University Application Essay Prompts
Prompt 1: Stepping Outside Your Bubble
First and foremost, it’s essential to understand that this prompt requires that you are conscious of whatever bubble you’re in. Pepperdine admissions officers want to see that you have the intellectual strength to interrogate the people and ideas you surround yourself with, as well as how those factors contribute to your “bubble.”
Identify Your Bubble
Often times, people talk about bubbles when referring to political echo chambers. This is a valid experience to talk about, but don’t let yourself be limited by it. When this prompt talks about “building your own bubble,” they’re asking you how you shut yourself off from things that challenge your beliefs, opinions, and habits. When deciding what bubble you’ve built yourself, ask yourself: What are the things that are hard to change my mind about? What kinds of people and ideas am I uncomfortable around? What are things that I don’t often experience? These questions will help you pinpoint what your bubble is.
The bubble that you choose to talk about can be almost anything. Maybe it’s that you and all your friends are on the robotics team, and so you don’t often get opportunities to step into free-form, traditional art spaces. Maybe you’ve held a certain opinion for all of your life, and only surround yourself with people that affirm that opinion. Maybe your hometown isn’t very diverse, and as a result, most people have mostly narrow political or socioeconomic worldviews. Or maybe your family only eats American food, and you almost never get to explore other cultures through their food.
Explain How to Break Through Your Bubble
After you’ve decided on what bubble you’re going to talk about in this essay, the challenge becomes discussing how you’ve broken, or will break, out of that bubble.
It’s important to recognize that this prompt is not written in the past tense. If this is your first time realizing you’ve built a bubble around yourself at all, that’s totally fine! This essay does not have to be a history of how you discovered a bubble around yourself, popped in, and are now bubble-free. You can spend this essay talking about the intentional steps you are currently taking to help minimize the effect your bubble has on your life. The essay readers want to see your intellectual vitality. How do you wrestle with your worldviews on a daily basis? How do you interrogate the things that you believe?
For example, if you’re only friends with people on the robotics team and decided that is your bubble, you could use this essay to talk about how you’ve started going to monthly readings by local novelists at your public library. Then, you could explain how doing this has shifted your worldview — no longer do you think that professions in STEM are the only professions that matter. Now, you have a greater respect for the arts.
Discuss How You Will Tune Out Noise
Perhaps the most interesting — and most confusing — part of this prompt is the last phrase: “hope to rise above the noise.” This phrase signals that Pepperdine essay readers don’t only want you to talk about how you are interrogating your own worldviews. They also want you to discuss how doing so helps you differentiate yourself from other people who haven’t considered what their bubble is. In other words, they’re asking you how your intellectual strength makes you unique. How did your bubble-breaking allow you to see past common convention?
Since this is only a 300-word essay, you don’t have to devote a whole paragraph to this idea. But you could spend a portion talking about, for example, how introducing your family to new food allowed you to have meaningful discussions about different cultures with your family for the first time. In essence, application readers want to get a sense for how you stepping outside of your bubble allowed you to challenge those who were still in their bubbles.
Prompt 2: Faith and Values
It’s important to understand that this prompt is not testing you on how religious you are. Pepperdine University is a Christian school, but it is also inclusive to students of all religions. Pepperdine welcomes diversity of faith. What this essay is asking you to do is to show that you’re interested and committed to having conversations about faith in which you discuss the role it’s played in your life.
Leverage Personal Experiences
If you’re a devout Christian, you could write about your experiences serving at your church or a moment during a summer camp that changed the way you perceive faith.
Remember, this prompt isn’t necessarily asking for a manifesto on your religion; instead, the prompt is looking for how faith has impacted your decisions. So don’t just quote your favorite bible verse in your essay — talk about how, because of that bible verse, you realized that serving underprivileged populations is critical and how this drove you to start a canned food drive at your school. Alternatively, if you’re a practicing Muslim, you can talk about how practicing your faith actively by praying five times a day helps you center your priorities on a consistent basis.
Analyze Religious People or Ideas
You don’t have to come from a traditional faith background to write an excellent essay for this prompt. For starters, most people, regardless of how religious or non-religious they are, have had encounters with religious people and ideas.
For example, you could write about how faith has driven many Catholic saints to create vastly positive impacts on the world. If you have met or come into contact with a religious group, for example, the LaSallian Brothers or Sisters of Mercy, you could explain how their faith inspires them to dedicate their lives to education and service. You could even delve into what it means for an individual to choose a life of faith and, especially, how faith can compel people to choose lives of “purpose, service, and leadership.”
Incorporate Intellectual Support
Within your essay, it should be obvious that you have wrestled with questions about faith and religion. It could be that you had a spiritual crisis after your grandfather died suddenly, or that you, an atheist, always have spirited arguments with your religious friends.
These examples show essay readers that you have seriously considered your faith from an intellectual lens and that you have thoughtful points to add to the conversations about faith at Pepperdine. If you haven’t considered faith or religion in your life, you may want to consider reading classical texts, such as “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl or “The Seven Storey Mountain” by Thomas Merton, to provide more context for what “faith” can mean.
Regardless of your faith — or lack of faith — including your perspective is the most important thing about this essay. Detailed anecdotes about times in which your beliefs were shaped or challenged will make this essay shine. The best way you can contribute to a conversation about faith on campus is by being you. Your unique perspective, and your unique voice, is what applications readers are looking for.
With these tips in mind, writing Pepperdine University’s supplemental essays will be a breeze. And if you still have questions, CollegeVine is here to help!
Be creative and confident. Don’t be afraid to challenge perceptions and explain your ideas.
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