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Your chance of acceptance
Villanova University
Villanova University
Duke University
Duke University
Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

How to Write the Villanova University Essays 2023-2024

Villanova has two supplemental essays, one that asks you to explain why you want to attend Villanova, and an option prompt that allows you to write about equity and justice, your identity, an important life lesson, or the power of leaning on others. In this post, we’ll break down each and every prompt available to you, so that no matter which one you choose, you can be sure the approach you’re taking is a strong one.


Read these Villanova essay examples to inspire your writing.


Villanova University Supplemental Essay Prompts


Prompt 1: Why Villanova? Why do you want to call Villanova your new home and become part of our community? (about 150 words)


Prompt 2: Please select one of the four essay prompts listed below to fulfill the writing requirement and respond in about 250 words.


  • Option A: St. Augustine states that well-being is “not concerned with myself alone, but with my neighbor’s good as well.” How have you advocated for equity and justice in your communities?


  • Option B: As an Augustinian community, we believe that you should see people for who they are. Please share with us a time when you were misjudged based on your identity or background.


  • Option C: In the Villanova community, we learn from one another. What is a lesson in life that you have learned that you would want to share with others?


  • Option D: At Villanova, we often say “each of us strengthens all of us.” In a time of personal challenges, how do you borrow from the strength of others?


How to Approach the Villanova University Supplemental Essays


You should be thoughtful about which prompt you select here. You want to take advantage of the fact that Villanova is giving you some flexibility, particularly since all five options are fairly different from the standard supplemental prompts. 


First, read all of the options carefully, even if you think you are sure about which one you will choose. Second, note which one(s) stick out—for example, perhaps Option 3 reminds you of a meaningful reconciliation with a friend. If you immediately feel an emotional connection to one of the prompts, that can be a good sign that you’ll be able to write a strong response. 


Finally, think about how each prompt would add to your application as a whole, and make sure that the prompt you choose won’t lead to redundancies. For example, say you are drawn to Option 1, however, your Common App essay is about your advocacy work through your school’s Feminism Club, so you might be better off with one of the other options so you don’t repeat yourself. If you do still choose Option 1, make sure that you approach the topic from a new perspective, such as, for example, by describing your wide-reaching work in club social media management rather than your weekly volunteer work at the local women’s shelter.



Prompt 1

Why do you want to call Villanova your new home and how will you become part of our community? (about 150 words)


This is more or less your standard “Why This School?” essay. Here, you’ll simply have to explain not only why you would love to go to Villanova, but also why they should love to have you! In short, you are demonstrating fit.


For a typical essay of this type, we recommend that you do plenty of research about the school, its traditions, and if known, your major within the school. Make a list of things that stand out to you as true, legitimate reasons to attend the school, as well as ways you can contribute. For example, Villanova is the only Augustinian Catholic university in the nation and the school values its duality between faith and learning. A few of the Augustinian values that Villanova references are Veritas, Unitas, and Caritas (meaning truth, unity, and love). What do these values mean to you? How attending a University with these values will impact your learning? 


Additionally, we recommend sticking with only a few talking points in this essay, as your space is limited and you may want to draw from personal experiences to explain how your past work will make you a great addition to the school. In short, how can you make this campus better? How can you stand out, and how can you fit in? Keep your writing specific, concise, and highly personalized. Which traits, or combination of traits, make you a uniquely good fit for this school?


Here are some examples: 


1. An applicant is drawn to Villanova because the Augustinian values resonate with her Catholic upbringing. She has always been passionate about both agricultural science and environmental sustainability, but has struggled to find a major that aligns with her academic interest.. She decides to apply to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) at Villanova and leverage the school’s Individually Designed Major (IDM) program where she can create a unique major in the study of EcoGastronomy (the study of food, agriculture, and environment). 


2. Coming from a rural conservative community, a student wishes he could become a more informed ally to help educate his peers. He is excited to learn that Villanova offers in-depth DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) training through a course called the Advancing Equity & Justice Curriculum. This program will give the applicant the tools that he needs to be a better advocate for diverse individuals. 


For more tips on this prompt archetype, check out our stellar essay examples, research tips, and video guide!


There is a bit of a difference between this essay and your typical “Why This School?” essay, however. They’ve implied an emphasis on community and a sense of home, so it will be helpful to explain why these themes are important to you. Explore them in your essay, perhaps by talking about groups you would like to start or join. Sports teams, student-led magazines, and theater productions are all great examples of places where you can express your collaborative nature. The focus shouldn’t be on the opportunity itself, but on how you will take advantage of it.


This personal connection is what will make your essay stand out, because Villanova receives over 20,000 applications per year. As a result, it’s very likely that someone else is writing about the same thing as you. That’s okay! The committee isn’t reading these essays to learn what opportunities their school offers—they’re reading them to learn about how you specifically will take advantage of these opportunities. If applicable, briefly describe teamwork and leadership experience and how you would now like to apply it to Villanova’s campus.


Prompt 2, Option A

St. Augustine states that well-being is “not concerned with myself alone, but with my neighbor’s good as well.”  How have you advocated for equity and justice in your communities? (about 250 words)


It seems that Villanova greatly values community and group efforts. It’s important to do a little bit of research about the key values of the schools you’re applying to, which are often made evident by their application prompts, mottos, marketing messages, and even conversations with current students. 


In this essay, highlight your concern for fairness, community, and selflessness through concrete and specific details. When possible, reference specific organization names, people you have worked with, and raw numbers (i.e: number of people served, amount of money raised, total attendance of a charity event, etc.) Avoid vague generalities and consider starting off your essay with a lively, brief anecdote to bring your story to life. 


Many applicants may write about posts they shared or reposted on social media during times of social crisis. Although these are valuable forms of activism to raise awareness on important issues, sharing a more unique experience may help you stand out! Did you write or speak to any local authorities, for example? Attend/organize a protest?


Here are some questions to consider as you brainstorm: 


Advocacy specifically refers to the act of speaking on the behalf of or in support of another person, place, or thing. How did you speak up? Whose voices have you amplified?


Example: A student writes about her experience attending the 2017 Women’s March in Washington, D.C with her mother and sisters to protest sexual harassment and advocate for women’s reproductive rights. 


What community service work have you done? Who did this work serve, and how did it help bring them closer to justice? Remember, your response doesn’t have to be directly related to the social, economic, racial or political justice of human beings; advocacy for animals and the environment counts as well!


Example: A student illustrates how his family’s tradition of volunteering at a soup kitchen every Thanksgiving, has sparked a passion in him to research and combat food insecurity and food deserts in the US in his city.  


Are you a part of a group that has historically suffered injustice? How have you advocated for yourself and your community?


Example: A Native American student from the Zuni Reservation in New Mexico narrates the injustices her community has faced in cultural erasure. She creates content on social media to increase awareness of her tribe’s rich history and fading language. 


The most important thing to remember when approaching this prompt is to focus on an issue that really resonated with you. Sometimes social media can make it seem like there is a right and wrong way to approach activism – stay true to yourself! The way you advocate for equity and justice in your community may differ from other applicants. Allow these differences to let you stand out and illustrate what you’re truly passionate about. 


Prompt 2, Option B

As an Augustinian community, we believe that you should see people for who they are. Please share with us a time when you were misjudged based on your identity or background. (about 250 words)


This option, which has some overlap with the common “Diversity” prompt, has two pieces to it. First, you need to choose an aspect of your identity or background, ideally one you haven’t yet had a chance to dive into elsewhere in your application. Then, you will discuss a time you were misjudged because of this aspect of yourself, and how you responded or what you learned from this experience. Let’s break down each of those pieces. 


Usually, in writing about identity, you would want to choose a feature of yourself that is important to you and/or affects how you see the world. For this prompt specifically, however, you may want to channel your brainstorming less towards what’s important to your own self-image, and more towards features of your identity that affect how others see you. Of course, there may well be overlap between the two, but if you aren’t sure where to start, the latter category is a better jumping off point.


If you’ve experienced prejudice in the form of racism, sexism, homophobia, or something of the sort, this is a good place to talk about it, but you also don’t have to have experienced bigotry to answer this prompt effectively. Here are some examples of essays that could fit this prompt.


  • A student who struggles with people asking him if he fits the stereotype of the neglected, forgotten middle child. 
  • A student writing about how after she started lifting, her mom warned her that she wouldn’t like the way she looked with muscles, because muscles look weird on women. 
  • Another student could write about how the GSA at his school assumed that he could not be religious because he was gay. 
  • Another student wrote about how he was considered weird for asking his older sister to teach him to sew. 


All of these stories involve identity, but they come at the topic from unexpected angles. As you write your essay, try to think about times that you’ve surprised the people around you, or even surprised yourself. 


After you’ve chosen the moment of misjudgment that you’re going to write about, the second piece of this essay is discussing how you felt about this experience, and what you learned from it. In the moment, it likely didn’t feel great. But were you able to talk your feelings out with the person you had the interaction with, or debrief with friends or family after? Did it strengthen your resolve to keep doing what you were doing, or make you decide to work towards changing people’s perceptions of you? Or maybe it made you more aware of the way that snap judgments can hurt. 


This kind of reflection should be the real focus of your essay – the aspect of your identity you’ve chosen to write about may be important to you, but this essay is asking you to see people for who they truly are, and the impact it can have when others don’t do that. So, the majority of your essay should discuss how it felt to be misjudged, how you got past it (if applicable), and how you plan to take what you’ve learned from this experience into your future. 


Finally, we’d like to note that this prompt is asking you to reflect on an experience that was undoubtedly painful, and sharing that pain with a bunch of strangers thousands of miles away can be hard. But this is also a chance to showcase your resilience and capacity for reflection, so we would recommend not focusing merely on the experience of prejudice, bigotry, or simple misunderstanding. Rather than prioritizing the negative feelings associated with this encounter, center your own ability to learn from it, and apply your new knowledge in the future.



Prompt 2, Option C 

One of the themes in St. Augustine’s book, Confessions, is the idea of redemption. Tell us your story of being given a second chance. (about 250 words)


Though this prompt is a little similar to your classic “Overcoming Challenges” essay, it’s still quite different from those you normally come across, so unless you immediately feel a connection to it, it will likely be the hardest to brainstorm for. On the other hand, it gives you a chance to write a genuinely unique essay that can take your application to the next level.


The most important thing is to pick a story that is genuinely about redemption. Remember, redemption is about paying back debt, being saved from true error and wrongdoing. For example, getting a B+ on one test and an A on the next is not redemption. The prompt is asking you to write about a genuine low point in your life, not a success disguised as a failure. Remember, the essays are your chance to be interesting and impressive, not necessarily perfect! If you’re having trouble being vulnerable because you’re worried about not looking good, remind yourself that you have the rest of your application to show off!


Here are some examples of true low points: being overconfident for a debate tournament and not preparing properly, losing your best friend’s trust, or getting rejected for a job you really wanted. Whatever you choose, you should tell your reader not only what happened, but also what you were feeling: disappointment, frustration, embarrassment, etc. At the same time, pick something you’re comfortable writing about. If your emotions about something are too raw, you probably won’t be able to write a strong essay about it.


Don’t overload your story with repetitive content about your failure or difficult emotions. Essays concerning difficult experiences should be primarily concerned with how you grew and bounced back. Therefore, the second half of your essay is where you show that this story is about redemption, not failure. Show your reader not only what you learned, but also what you did differently with your second chance.


Take the example of being overconfident for a debate tournament. Because of the opposing team’s poor reputation, you barely prepared, and fully expected to wing it and win the debate. However, your opponent ended up being incredibly skilled, and you stumbled all over your words. As a result of your loss, your team didn’t advance to regionals. While there was nothing you could do about that, you organized a tournament for all the teams that didn’t make it, so your team could still compete. You didn’t completely win over your teammates again, but you came back the next season and fully prepared for each tournament.


For another example, perhaps you did something that really upset your best friend. At first, you were angry at her, but after talking to your sister, you realized that you had to take accountability for your actions, so you baked her a cake as a peace offering.


This essay is a great chance to showcase your humility and willingness to take positive action. End your essay on a positive note to leave your audience interested and inspired.


Prompt 2, Option D

At Villanova, we often say “each of us strengthens all of us.” In a time of personal challenges, how do you borrow from the strength of others? (about 250 words)


In responding to this prompt, you get to showcase how you use your network of support, and in what circumstances. How do you make this a unique essay? Here are some questions to help you brainstorm.


  • Are there particular friends or family members who you go to with certain issues, or for certain kinds of advice? What qualities make these people especially good in these situations?
  • Have you ever been having a hard time, and someone did or suggested something that was unexpectedly helpful?
  • Did a person or community help you acquire or develop your current coping skills? 
  • Are there people whose stories, values, or personal traits you find particularly inspiring? Has someone else’s story or strategy for handling challenges ever pulled you out of a rut?


These questions all frame potential approaches to this essay, or can help you think of your own unique angle. The important thing to remember is that you want to center yourself, even as you talk about borrowing from the strengths of others. This sounds challenging, and a bit self-centered, but Villanova wants to get to know you, not the people around you. After all, you’re the one they’re thinking about accepting, not anybody else.


You can give information about yourself in a few different ways, but ideally you want to use a story or a few stories to convey your message. To do that effectively, you’ll need to choose your challenging situations with an eye towards demonstrating what’s important to you. 


Maybe you’re an environmentalist who can get discouraged over the state of carbon emissions, but you’re inspired by the number of organic, energy efficient coffee shops opening in your town. Or perhaps you’re a member of the school band, and bad performances used to throw you into a funk, but then your friends started blasting Taylor Swift music after every performance, good or bad, which helped you keep a more level head regardless of performance.


Try to avoid cliché stories, like a sports injury and how your team helped you come back from it – while that can absolutely be an incredibly formative experience, many other high school students across the country can and will write that same essay, and you want yours to stand out. 


In writing about your support system and your challenging situation, you should have used up about half of your word count, or maybe a little more. The rest of your essay should be devoted to explaining what you learned from these encounters in which you borrowed the strength of others. To figure out what you want to say here, you can ask yourself questions like the following:


  • Have you adopted some of the traits that you admire in the people you lean on?
  • Have you developed coping strategies of your own? 
  • Has seeing your problem through someone else’s eyes changed your perspective? 


Finish your essay strong by talking about how borrowing from the strengths of others makes you, and all of us, stronger, so that the Villanova admissions team learns not just about the supportive community around you, but about you and your values too.


Where to Get Your Villanova University Essays Edited


Writing essays takes a lot of time and focus, and after seeing the same essay time and time again, it can be hard to tell what to change. Going through the editing process with another pair of eyes can help identify areas where your essay could be stronger, as well as areas that you’re already doing well. CollegeVine has created a free Peer Review Essay Tool, where you can get feedback on your essay, and give feedback to other students just like you!


CollegeVine also offers essay review by our team of experienced advisors, who have helped hundreds of students submit successful applications to top schools. Find the right advisor for you and get the feedback you need to make your application a success!


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