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How to Write the Scripps College Essays 2019-2020
Scripps College is a private women’s liberal arts college in Claremont, California. Boasting small class sizes and over 65 academic majors, Scripps currently enrolls 1,066 undergraduate students. All students complete a senior thesis or project before graduation, and many students win prestigious research and fellowship grants.
Scripps requires SAT or ACT scores and superscores both tests. The acceptance rate for the Class of 2023 was 29.8%, which was actually almost a 6% increase from the previous year. Still, Scripps is a selective college, and your essays will play a big role in your application. Read on to learn how to tackle this year’s prompts! Want to know your chances at Scripps College? Calculate your chances for free right now.
How to Write the Scripps College Essays
This is a very standard “why this school” essay, so should start with some research into Scripps. Look into the programs, extracurriculars and opportunities that are specific to Scripps and pinpoint the ones that are most interesting to you. Remember that “why this school” essays are really “why this school and you” essays. You want to show how Scripps is the best place for you to develop your academic and extracurricular interests.
For example, your passion for both the environment and public policy might draw you to the Environmental Analysis Program, a 5-college collaboration designed to prepare students for careers in many environmental problem-solving fields. Or, maybe you’ve always found knitting to be a stress relief, so you’re interested in the Babes and Blankets club to combine your passion for knitting with community service. If you’re interested in economics and a career in finance, the Finance Accounting and Consulting club may help you on that path. You should aim for this level of specificity, rather than citing general aspects such as Scripps’ location, small courses, all-women setting. You want to show the admissions committee that you’re truly invested in Scripps, so do your research!
Be cautious though—in only 200 words, you certainly can’t discuss more than 3-4 different aspects of Scripps. Remember to also spend just as much time elaborating upon academic opportunities as extracurricular ones. College is about more than just its academics, so make sure your essay reflects this as well.
When it comes to actually writing your essay, you can feel free to be straightforward. There’s no need to incorporate any flowery language or anecdotes, unless they’re relevant. If you’ve visited Scripps or spoken to current students/alumni, you can include these stories in your essay, especially if they were integral in your desire to apply. Just make sure your anecdotes have substance, and aren’t only a narrative of how nice it was to walk around campus and how the school felt like home.
Choose one of the following. (150-300 words)
Since you have three choices, think about each prompt and choose the one that you feel the strongest connection to. If you have good answers for more than one prompt, decide which one demonstrates a trait of yours that hasn’t been covered in other parts of your application. These are all creative prompts, so you’re allowed to have a little more fun!
Remember that the person you choose doesn’t have to be a real person, but you do have to make it clear where this fictional character comes from. You might want to provide some background, especially if they’re from a book, movie, or show that’s not super well-known. If you choose a real person, the same goes; give some background, especially if they’re from your personal circles.
Once you’ve chosen your person, think about why you are fascinated by this person’s life. Do you aspire to have a similar career one day? Do they lead a life very different from yours that you would like to experience? Do you want to understand their creative thought process? What is it about their life that you want to try for a day?
Try to avoid vague or generic responses—don’t tell us that you want trade lives with Mother Teresa because you like charitable work. Many students can say that they enjoy charitable work. Be more personal! A more appropriate answer would be that you admire her dedication to educating the impoverished, because you grew up in a low-income household with little access to educational opportunities. Mother Teresa, however, may be too “obvious” a choice, as are really famous figures like Gandhi or Oprah. You want to aim for a person that reveals more of your ambitions and aspirations, not just someone anyone could pick.
In the case of the student from a low socioeconomic background, a more personal choice might be the director of a summer program they attended, which aimed to tutor and the expand the extracurricular opportunities of disadvantaged students. Or, maybe you want to go for something more lighthearted. Maybe you want to be the lead character in your favorite anime, such as Luffy in One Piece. You admire his endless resolve, irreverently carefree nature, and trust in his abilities. Plus, it would be pretty cool to be a pirate for a day, and have a rubber body…
Remember that you could go in the future or in the past, but you should have a very clear idea of where and when that is. If you’re aiming to head to the past, then you may not have a specific year or event in mind, but you should at least have a specific range of years—like the Cold War or the Roaring Twenties.
Once you know when and where you want to go, think about why you are so interested in this time period. Is there a specific moment in time you’ve always been fascinated by because of its importance to history? Is there a person you’ve admired who performed some incredible feat that you want to witness? If you want to travel to the future, perhaps there’s a technological innovation you want to see developed.
Remember that you don’t have to travel very far backwards or forward—you could go weeks or months forward or backwards in your own life! Perhaps you handled some major conflict poorly and wish you could go back and do things differently—this is a good sign of maturity. If you have a big event you’re looking forward to, like the birth of a sibling, then you might want to travel forwards in time because you’re so eager to be an older sibling and mentor.
With 300 words, you should spend about a third of your essay on where/when you would go, and the last two-thirds of your essay should focus on the why. Make sure your answer is unique to you. If your answer feels like something that any student could write, then you want to keep digging deeper. Remember that the key to supplemental essays is to reveal more about who you are.
For this essay, you should discuss something you’re genuinely passionate about—even if it isn’t necessarily a traditionally “intellectual” passion. Forcing yourself to write about something you don’t care as much about, but you think will make you look like a better applicant, will not only be boring to write about, but also boring to read.
Keep in mind that any topic that can be extremely divisive—like politics—should be avoided. Even if it’s very well-written, the admissions officers reading your essays might disagree and have some unconscious bias. Instead, stick to somewhat more “harmless” topics that you’re still passionate about.
Once you’ve chosen your topic, think about why you want that to be the topic of your TED talk. Is it something that you enjoyed learning, and think that it will benefit other people’s lives? Maybe you have a really compelling and dramatic story to discuss in “What To Do When You Forget Everything.” Your TED talk doesn’t have to be some crazy topic, either. You could give a TED talk on the “Art of the Perfect Cookie.” As long as you answer the “why” in a personal way, your supplement will be strong.
Of your 300 words, you can spend most of that on explaining why you chose that topic. We recommend around 100 words (or fewer) for the topic iteself, and the rest of the essay for the “why.” Maybe you had an accident that led to retrograde amnesia, which you then had to go through rehabilitation and extensive treatment for. Because of the challenges you faced and the way it impacted your family, you want to share your experience with others—it’s totally possible that those in the audience have a family member with memory loss, whether through amnesia or other disorders such as Alzheimer’s. On the other hand, maybe you’re an avid baker and found that baking cookies was a source of comfort during tough times in your life. Maybe you’ve also perfected a cookie recipe that you think deserves to be shared. Think beyond the simple “this topic is interesting” and highlight why you specifically are so passionate about this.
Want help with your college essays to improve your admissions chances? Sign up for your free CollegeVine account and get access to our essay guides and courses. You can also get your essay peer-reviewed and improve your own writing skills by reviewing other students’ essays.
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