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Duke University
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Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

How to Write the Pepperdine University Essays 2019-2020

Note: We have the updated 2020-2021 Essay Breakdown available now.

Pepperdine University is a private research Christian university near Malibu, California. There are over 40 areas of study for undergraduates to pursue, including two certificates. The largest academic divisions for undergraduates include business, communication, social science and natural science. Over half of Pepperdine students study abroad at some point. 


Outside of the classroom, there are 14 Division I sports, and the Volunteer Center offers extensive opportunities for students to participate in service. 


In the 2018-2019 admissions cycle, Pepperdine received 13,721 applications and admitted 4,241 students for an acceptance rate of 31%. It’s clear students will need more than strong academics to be admitted, and writing strong essays can certainly give you a boost. Read on to get our best tips on this year’s Pepperdine supplements. Want to know your chances at Pepperdine? Calculate your chances for free right now.

Pepperdine University Application Essay Prompts


Prompt 1:

Pepperdine is a Christian university where all are welcomed and encouraged to challenge each other in the pursuit of truth. Students, faculty, and staff members from all backgrounds participate in conversations of faith inside and outside of the classroom. Considering how Pepperdine is a Christian university, why are you interested in attending and how would you contribute to conversations of faith on campus? (300-500 words)

This is essentially a “why this school” essay, but with an emphasis on the religious aspects of the school. To write this essay, you’ll need to have a grasp on how your own faith fits into your life so that you can discuss what you’ll bring to Pepperdine.


The first part of this prompt, however, is much simpler: why are you interested in attending Pepperdine? The more specific you are, the more genuine your interest seems. The best way to do this is to find a few aspects of Pepperdine that appeal to you, like programs and clubs, and describe why those are important to you. 


For example: 


  • Your involvement with your church at home might lead you to want to continue that kind of work at college, and the Student-Led Ministry Service would appeal to you. 


  • If you’re passionate about filmmaking—and maybe incorporating your faith with your film—you might be interested in the Sundance IGNITE club, where you can learn how to prepare for a career in film. 


  • Students interested in pursuing a career in law might be interested in the Certificate in Conflict Management, where they could enroll in courses in Pepperdine’s law schools to supplement their undergraduate classes. 


You’ll have to do some research into Pepperdine to find those specific programs—whether academic or not–that interest you. If possible, try to incorporate your faith into at least one of these programs, like the Student-Led Ministries, since the prompt specifically notes that Pepperdine is a Christian university. 


The second half of the prompt is how you’ll contribute to conversations of faith on campus. This is a little more complicated, but there are several ways you could think about it. 


  • What unique religious experiences have you gone through that caused the development of your perspectives? Did you turn to faith after some sort of trauma, like a death in the family or a serious injury? Did you travel to a place where you had the opportunity to delve deep into your connection to religion?


  • Do you have some unique way of practicing your religion? Pepperdine is a Christian university, but perhaps you feel that you can better understand Christianity by learning about and engaging with other religions. 


  • Maybe you’re fairly new to religion and still questioning and challenging—your contributions to conversations might be very different from that of other students, but you would be able to push people to think about things in a way they hadn’t before.


  • You might not be a Christian at all, but your experiences with a different religion might allow you to engage in more thoughtful conversations about the differences in faiths and beliefs. 


Overall, the way you contribute to conversations of faith is really a commentary on how your faith is a part of you. It’s how you think about or practice your faith. You can also refer back to the programs and groups at Pepperdine that appeal to you. There, you could bring your own personal faith and beliefs to the student body. By pointing that out, Pepperdine can see that you’ve thought about how to combine your faith with your life on campus. 


The ultimate point of this essay is to show to Pepperdine that you are genuinely interested in the school, and have put some thought into how your faith will fit in with the Pepperdine community at large. You’ll accomplish this by pointing out specific details about both Pepperdine and your unique perspective on faith, which will show us how you plan to find your place at the school. 


Prompt 2

 A liberal arts education challenges you to think critically, reflect purposefully, and broaden perceptions. Describe ways in which you seek to step outside of your comfort zone and challenge the worldviews you hold. (50-300 words)

Stepping out of your comfort zone can mean a lot of things to different people—you could literally be stepping out of your comfort zone by going somewhere or doing something you’ve never done before. You could also mentally and emotionally step outside of your comfort zone, by confronting fears or thinking about something you haven’t wanted to think about before. 


The best way to write this essay would be to tell a story. Show us you stepping outside of your comfort zone and challenging your own beliefs. Telling us this story will allow you describe how you push your comfort zone. Here are some examples: 


  • You might not be a particularly athletic person, but you decided to try out for your local basketball team. Even though you had always felt like someone had to be inherently athletic, you were able to practice and learn until you were proud of your achievements. 


  • For someone who isn’t very comfortable in social situations, stepping out of their comfort zone might involve making an effort to join new clubs at school and having conversations with strangers. 


The more description and detail you can offer in this story, the better we can see how you leave your comfort zone and try something new. Discuss what you did to step outside of your comfort zone—like joining a sport or a new club, and then how it changed you—like learning how to play a sport, or becoming more comfortable talking to strangers. 


It’s important that we not only see the literal change, but also the emotional and mental changes. Did becoming comfortable talking to strangers help you be more comfortable with yourself? Did learning how to play a sport help you gain self-confidence in your abilities? Let us see all of the positive ways this impacted you. 


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