How to Write the University of San Francisco Essays 2021-2022
University of San Francisco is a private university located in the heart of the Bay Area. USF consistently ranks within the top 100 national universities with particularly acclaimed entrepreneurship and marketing programs.
University of San Francisco is a somewhat selective school with a 65% acceptance rate. Writing strong essays will allow students to stand out during the admissions process by explaining why they are a good fit for USF. Applicants to USF need to submit a brief supplemental essay in addition to their Common Application materials. Applicants to the St. Ignatius Institute will need to complete a series of additional brief essays, to be submitted via the school website.
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For All Applicants
The University of San Francisco’s Jesuit tradition emphasizes community engagement and education for social justice, inspiring our students to become passionate agents for others. How do you see yourself becoming a part of this mission? (200 words)
University of San Francisco’s Jesuit tradition forms the school’s mission and values. The school’s education centers around humanitarian causes, and students take service-based courses and partake in research that helps to better our world. Your response should explain how you plan to contribute to this mission.
Feel free to draw on either the academic and non-academic programs offered by USF. You can choose major-specific ways to get involved, as University of San Francisco strives to have a Jesuit influence on every degree program. You could also focus on your personal interests and experiences, such as your desire to participate in the Arrupe Immersion program to learn more about a marginalized community.
For example, if you are a nursing major, you could discuss getting involved in USF’s Veterans Affairs Nursing Partnership. If you are a business major, you could talk about creating a startup that focuses on helping homelessness or hunger. Your responses should be detailed and actionable ways that you would get involved in the USF community.
You are limited to only 200 words, so focus on only one or two ways that you would get involved. Use your space to provide a detailed response rather than simply listing off various social justice programs.
St. Ignatius Institute Applicants, Prompt 1
Please explain why you would like to join the Institute. (200 words)
St. Ignatius Institute (SII) is a distinct program within University of San Francisco. Students complete an alternative to the university’s core curriculum that emphasizes traditional Jesuit pursuits such as philosophy, theology, and literature. SII students have access to unique community-based learning programs and a study-abroad option in Oxford.
Your reason for applying to St. Ignatius Institute should about the St. Ignatius program specifically, not general aspects of the University of San Francisco. Why are you interested in SII and not a more traditional program at USF? What about SII appeals to you that you could not easily find at another institution?
For example, instead of describing your interest in philosophy, explain why the small class sizes in SII will allow you to have more stimulating philosophical discussions. Instead of saying you would like to study abroad in England, discuss your desire to study at Blackfriars Hall in Oxford. You can also mention aspects of the SII community, such as the weekly liturgy nights or the various opportunities for peer mentoring.
Use your response to touch on aspects of SII that you will not be able to discuss in other prompts. For example, do not write about your interest in a living/learning community in this prompt as you will have the opportunity to address this aspect of SII later. You want to provide new information to the admissions committee.
St. Ignatius Institute Applicants, Prompt 2
The St. Ignatius institute is a living/learning community. Many SII students live on the same floor of a residence hall and take SII courses together. Why does joining a living/learning community appeal to you? (100-200 words)
St. Ignatius Institute seeks to create a dynamic living-learning community. Although optional, the opportunity to live in SII’s residential learning community is the culmination of this effort. Your response should explain why you are interested in a learning community that extends beyond the classroom, regardless of whether you want to live within the SII-specific wing of the residence hall.
How does a learning-living community appeal to you? Do you want to believe spending time with like-minded students will allow you to get more out of your education? Do you believe that being part of a close-knit group will allow you to have closer personal bonds? Your response should clearly explain why you are interested in a community-based education versus the traditional college experience.
St. Ignatius Institute Applicants, Prompt 3
SII tries to foster solidarity in action to honor the Jesuit ideal of being people with and for others. Can you give an example of service you performed in the past? What did you do and why? (200 words)
Charitable acts are a core aspect of the Jesuit tradition. Your response should demonstrate that you also value service. Although your word count is only 200 words for this prompt, a brief anecdote will help ground your response and give it greater impact.
For example, instead of listing your responsibilities while volunteering at a women’s shelter, briefly describe a typical morning. You could also describe a particularly impactful moment you had while volunteering at the women’s shelter, such as a meaningful conversation.
Remember that your anecdote should only be one part of your response. You should also clearly describe your experience for the reader. The prompt asks you why you did your act of service. Instead of focusing on practical answers, such as needing to meet a requirement for National Honors Society, you should focus on a deeper reason. Why did you choose that kind of service? What about the nonprofit’s mission spoke to you?
St. Ignatius Institute Applicants, Prompt 4
What does spirituality mean to you? (200 words)
Although St. Ignatius Institute is open to people of any religion, the program heavily emphasizes spirituality and spiritual development. SII students experience different forms of prayer and engage with the Catholic tradition. Your response should demonstrate your interest in spirituality in whatever form it takes within your life.
Do not use a dictionary definition or focus on creating the most “correct” answer. This prompt asks for your personal relationship to spirituality, so define how you understand the term in your everyday life. Do you view spirituality through connection to a higher power, or do you see spirituality as more of an essence? Where and when do you feel the most spiritually fulfilled?
You do not need to pretend to be Catholic or religious in general in order to answer this prompt. If you are not part of an organized religion, talk about spirituality in a more abstract form and how you believe it impacts your life. There is no wrong answer so long as you write a thoughtful response.
St. Ignatius Institute Applicants, Prompt 5
What do you know about the Jesuits? (no word requirement)
St. Ignatius Institute is rooted in the Jesuit philosophy of faith and learning. Understanding the Jesuits–a Catholic religious order that emphasizes a liberal education and charitable deeds–is key to understanding St. Ignatius Institute.
Your response should demonstrate a firm knowledge of the Jesuits goals and ideals, however you do not need to be overly detailed or recount the entire history of the Society of Jesuits. Your response should focus on your knowledge of the Jesuit’s mission and values, as these aspects will most closely relate to your experience at SII.
Although this prompt does not have a word requirement, try not to extend your response too far beyond the word maximums for your previous answers.
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