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How to Write the Syracuse Essays 2016-17

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Syracuse University, founded in 1831, is a private research university located in Syracuse, New York. Although originally founded by the United Methodist Church, the university became non-sectarian in 1920. It’s motto, Suos Cultores Scientia Coronat — “knowledge crowns those who seek her” — speaks volumes about the university’s nationally renowned academics.


Admissions to Syracuse are not as competitive as one might think. With an acceptance rate of 53.2%, Syracuse can be an appealing choice for students seeking a less competitive admissions process but still want a top-notch, private research university experience. The average high school GPA is 3.6 (out of 4.0) and the average SAT score is 1730 (old standard) and 1240 (new standard). The average ACT score is a 26.


Syracuse is a great fit for students who are looking for a school that is moderately sized. With roughly 15,000 undergraduate students, Syracuse is bigger than your average small liberal arts college yet not as large as a public state school. Most of the athletic teams at Syracuse, known as “the Orange,” compete in NCAA Division I in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Notable alumni from Syracuse include Vice President Joe Biden. Students who choose to wear the Syracuse Orange have a lot to be excited about.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]



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Syracuse Application Essay Prompts


Who or what influenced you to apply to Syracuse University? (Maximum: 250 words)

Who is the person you dream of becoming and how do you believe Syracuse University can help you achieve this? (Maximum: 250 words)


An overarching note, both of the prompts are pretty short (only 250 words each). This means that pretty much every word and sentence has to be chosen with care; with such limited space, every bit counts. Both prompts are essentially asking you why you want to apply to Syracuse, and also what you hope to get out of a Syracuse education.


The first prompt asks you “who or what” influenced you to apply. This is a purposefully broad prompt, yet the limited word count demands concise responses. The key to navigating this tension is to focus on a short story or narrative that can be told quickly and leaves you plenty of space to connect that story to why you want to be a Syracuse student.

If you choose to write about someone (answering the “who” part of the prompt), think carefully about who you want to choose and why. A bad example would be to say, “My mom influenced me to apply to Syracuse because she likes it.” Although, if one of your parents did go to Syracuse, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to write about how Syracuse has always been a part of your life and how you have consistently been motivated by specific qualities and traits that Syracuse espouses.


Another option would be to investigate notable alumni from Syracuse and talk about why that person inspires you and how that relates to your pursuit of a Syracuse education. Syracuse has a long list of notable alumni that can easily be found through a Google search.


The key here is to identify specific values that these people exemplify, and tie that into why Syracuse has those values and why you are attracted to them. For example, if you choose to write about Vice President Joe Biden (who is a Syracuse alumnus), consider writing about values such as public service, dedication, and courage that are nurtured at Syracuse.


That being said, clearly, individuals like the Vice President are very well known and it is not uncommon to write about an alumnus. Therefore, if you choose to write about an alumnus, the more specific the reference to your individual application, the better.


If you choose to write about something (answering the “what” part of the prompt), it is worth considering an experience or an event in your life that motivated you to apply to Syracuse. This can be a time when you faced adversity, or you felt challenged in a way that you hadn’t experienced before. Again, the goal here is similar to that of writing about a person: identify specific values or traits that you can connect to why you want to be a student at Syracuse.


A key point that should be demonstrated in your answer to this prompt is that you have done your research on the university. Pepper in a couple of details about the school you’re applying to, the location, and the specific Syracuse experience. For example, Syracuse has an interesting program supporting student entrepreneurship, it has 18 dining halls, and a particularly interesting mascot, “Otto the Orange.” These are all details that you can incorporate in subtly to show that your interest and the influences that inspire your application to Syracuse are genuine.


The second prompt asks you to describe the person you want to become as a result of a Syracuse education. This is an opportunity to describe specific aspects of the school that draw you to Syracuse and demonstrate a qualified interest in the school. Moreover, this is also your chance to communicate your ambitions for a Syracuse education.


It is important to be cautious about showing ambition without being perceived as cocky. If you have aspirations to develop the next revolutionary startup company, definitely mention that, but contextualize those goals by explaining how a Syracuse education best equips you to meet those goals. Mention the tools and resources that Syracuse has for student entrepreneurs, and why they’ll be so helpful to you.


This prompt also provides an opportunity to build on existing narratives of yourself as presented through other parts of your application. If your Common Application essay or extracurricular activities strongly emphasize a passion of yours, this prompt is an opportunity for you to explain why Syracuse is the best place to pursue those interests. If your Common Application essay was all about your passion for business and interest in economics, this is a chance to show that you’ve done research on Syracuse’s business major and the specific parts of it that are attractive to you.


Despite Syracuse’s relatively less competitive admissions, it is always important to have strong essays for your application that will persuade any undecided reader that you’re really serious about the school. A key challenge in both of these prompts is to fit in a lot of information and qualities — personal narratives, specific details, demonstrated interest in the school — in concise essays.


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