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How to Write the Purdue University Essays 2016-2017
Founded in 1869 in West Lafayette, Indiana, Purdue University has established itself as one of the top institutions worldwide for engineering and agriculture.
Offering over 200 majors and many more opportunities outside the classroom, including internships with Fortune 500 companies and research positions under renowned faculty, coupled with just under 30,000 undergraduate students, Purdue allows for a diverse range of pursuits. Furthermore, as a member of the Big Ten Conference, the Purdue Boilermakers are sure to hit the front pages for their performance in college bowl games and March Madness.
In addition to its rigorous engineering curriculum, which includes highly regarded agricultural and industrial engineering departments, Purdue is known for a top-notch aviation program that features graduates like Neil Armstrong. However, it is also known for creating the Online Writing Lab (OWL), which you’ve most likely consulted at least once when writing papers.
Outside the classroom, Purdue has made a sizable commitment to its research programs, with hundreds of millions of dollars in sponsored research funding from federal organizations. Purdue’s footprint in improving society’s understanding of agriculture, business, and engineering is sizable. Students may also boost their pre-professional preparation through a variety of co-op and internship offerings.
In this blog post, we’ve created a guide to answering Purdue University’s prompts for the 2016-2017 application cycle. Armed with our guide, you’ll be able to craft unique essays that will set you apart from the competition.
Purdue University Application Essay Prompts
How will opportunities at Purdue support your interests, both in and out of the classroom? (Respond in 100 words or fewer.)
There are two major components to this prompt. First and foremost, you have to demonstrate your knowledge of Purdue and its unique offerings. You can then establish a connection between your knowledge of Purdue and your own interests. When considering what you’ll write about regarding Purdue’s offerings, you want to include specific details that will demonstrate that you’ve done your homework on the school.
Some examples of what differentiates Purdue from other universities include:
- Aeronautical engineering program and work in flight (whether terrestrial or extraterrestrial) is one of the best in the world
- Unique First-Year Engineering program that’s designed to test students’ critical thinking both inside and outside the classroom
- Strong research activity with unique opportunities like its Discovery Park, nanotechnology program, and Research Park
- Honors College, where you’re able to live with similarly driven and like-minded students, or Learning Communities, where you also gain a more focused academic and extracurricular experience that’s tailored to meet your interests
- Even if you’re not interested in joining a specific community, the large campus and diverse student body offer plenty of niches where you can find your best fit
- Division I Athletics with plenty of spectating opportunities, though a caveat would be that this shouldn’t be a key driver in your response unless you are an athlete yourself
- Dominant Greek Life presence offers networks of kindred spirits for you to bond with, if you’re interested
Brainstorm ways in which your unique pursuits could enable you take full advantage of these offerings. Integrate as many elements of your extracurricular and academic profile as are reasonably possible into your essay, in order to cement both your compatibility with and commitment to the university.
For example, a prospective engineer might be attracted to Purdue’s strong engineering programs, particularly in aeronautics. Purdue also offers many research opportunities, allowing this student to realize his or her dream of constructing a drone. Finally, the student might consider joining a social organization to recruit similarly passionate and reliable teammates for this project.
While you want to present a strong case for how you’ll take advantage of the opportunities available to Purdue students, be wary of packing too many elements into your essay. Your primary goal should be to establish a clear connection between your interests and accomplishments and the opportunities that await you at Purdue; don’t jeopardize the clarity of your essay by mentioning every possible activity you could pursue, especially given the tight word count.
Briefly discuss your reasons for pursuing the major you have selected. (Respond in 100 words or fewer.)
This prompt is primarily seeking to understand the story behind your major choice by asking you to cite your high school coursework, extracurricular activities, and other relevant experiences that shaped this decision. However, it is necessary that in your response you demonstrate not only a thorough understanding of the major you wish to pursue, but also what it would truly entail to pursue this major in college. This can make the prompt challenging.
For students seeking traditional majors that most high schools provide ample exposure to, their coursework is a fairly reliable source to draw from. Examples of these majors include the core subjects like mathematics, science, English, or history. Your choice to major in any of these subjects can be framed by your initial experiences in these classes.
For example, you may have relished the analytical thinking and theoretical perspective required of you in completing a geometry proof. Science may have been appealing for the lab work, which replicated groundbreaking experiments conducted centuries ago by visionaries of their time. English and history may have been exercises in close reading with limitless possibilities in terms of the arguments to be made.
However, although you may have a stronger background in these subjects, a real concern is whether your experiences accurately reflect what you can expect from the major in college. AP English Language and AP Euro classes won’t exactly present the same challenges as a seminar class, in which you might scrutinize the dense opening chapter to Marx’s Capital for a week or the same 3 lines in Dante’s Inferno in hopes of gaining some new understanding that scholars have missed.
In this case, you have to be careful to research the expectations of your college major, specifically how it exists at Purdue, and identify the overlaps between your high school coursework and the major. For example, as an econ major in college, you thankfully won’t be drawing supply and demand curves over and over, but you can expect to learn key economic models, which share a similar goal of understanding phenomena in the global markets.
To supplement discussion of your academic qualifications, you may also consider mentioning your extracurricular activities or your internships, which may be a more accurate representation of your chosen college major — this is true for internships in particular. Talking about the rigors of a math competition that involved completely unfamiliar concepts but required similar modes of thinking or tinkering in a research lab would all be valid examples.
Some students, however, may be interested in majors with which there isn’t any real overlap with their current coursework. For example, an International Relations major in college isn’t grounded in any one high school subject. However, the thinking required for the major can definitely be found in other subjects. You merely have to conduct more granular research into the subject and its program at Purdue to better understand why it attracts you, what relevant experience you have, and how you expect to pursue it at the university.
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