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How to Write the Villanova University Essays 2022-2023

 

Villanova is a private, Catholic university located roughly 30 minutes outside of Philadelphia. The university takes pride in the fact that it is the only Augustinian university in the United States, as all first year students are required to take a course called “The Augustine and Culture Seminar.” Villanova also has a tradition of athletic excellence, and won the NCAA March Madness tournament in 2016 and 2018.

 

Villanova requires two supplemental essays, one of which can be chosen from 5 possible options. Writing strong essays will help your application stand out and improve your chances of acceptance. 

 

Read these Villanova essay examples to inspire your writing.

 

Want to know your chances at Villanova? Calculate your chances for free right now.

 

Villanova University Supplemental Essay Prompts

All Applicants

 

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

 

Prompt 2: Please select one of the five essay prompts listed below to fulfill the writing requirement. (recommended 250 words)

 

Option 1: 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? (recommended 250 words)

 

Option 2: What is the truest thing that you know? (recommended 250 words)

 

Option 3: 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. (recommended 250 words)

 

Option 4: In the Villanova community, we believe that we all learn from one another. What is a lesson in life that you have learned that you would want to share with others? (recommended 250 words)

 

Option 5: Augustine’s “Miracles are not contrary to nature but only contrary to what we know about nature.” Tell us about a societal issue that you believe the wonder of technology is well-poised to help solve. (recommended 250 words)

 

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? (recommended 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 1

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? (recommended 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 2

What is the truest thing that you know? (recommended 250 words)


This may sound more like a question for an upper-level philosophy class than a college essay, but there are a variety of approaches to this prompt, and you definitely don’t have to be Aristotle to write a great essay. If you have a set of core values that are deeply important to you, this prompt provides an opportunity for you to show that.

 

First, of course, you must identify the “truest thing that you know.” This is no small task, so if you choose this prompt make sure you give yourself enough time to brainstorm what you want to say and exactly how you want to say it. We have a few guiding questions that will hopefully help you with your brainstorming process.

 

1. What is important to you? This may seem just as broad as the prompt itself, but listing your values can be a good first step towards developing the more refined statement the prompt is asking for. Try to go beyond the obvious: pretty much everyone values their family and friends, so try to think of things that are more personal. Perhaps you have a passion for photography, or are proud of your sense of humor.

 

2. Which experiences have been most formative for you? This is also incredibly broad, but try to think of moments in your life that stick out as significant, and then go a step further and think about why they were significant. If you have a list of experiences you considered writing about for your Common App, look over that list again.

 

3. Who are your role models? By thinking about what you admire in others, you may realize something about what guides your own life. Again, try to think outside the box. You may admire how hard Beyoncé works on her music, but hard work is a universal value. If you shift your focus to how she uses her platform to raise awareness for issues that are important to her, you are more on track towards something unique to you.

 

4. What are some of your favorite quotes? Although we discourage you from directly quoting someone else, as you should express your truth in your own words, quotes that have impacted you may show you something about how you look at life.

 

Once you have a pretty clear sense of what your truth is, you want to figure out how to say it in a clear, concise way. 250 words isn’t very many, and the bulk of the essay should be focused on how you have learned your truth, not on stating the truth itself. 

 

If turning your ideas into a compact sentence or two sounds daunting, remember the purpose of this essay: to show your reader something about yourself. Nobody is going to get this tattooed, so focus less on sounding wise and more on communicating something you genuinely believe.

 

Here are a few examples of how to go about packaging your ideas:

 

1. Say you’re a photographer, and you value the patience and awareness of your surroundings that photography has taught you. Your truth could be something like “The world would be a better place if we all spent just five minutes a day appreciating the beauty around us.”

 

2. Say there are many people who have made an impact on your life, from your parents and teachers to the residents at the nursing home you volunteer at. You might say that “Nearly everyone you meet can tell you something about the world, so long as you’re open to listening.”

 

3. Say you love to drive, and have gone on a lot of road trips with your family and friends. You could tell your reader that “On the open road, I’ve realized just how big the world is, and how important it is to keep my life in perspective.”

 

Once you have identified your truth, the hard part is over. The rest of the essay should be about specific moments in your life that illustrate for your reader how you learned this truth, and why it is so meaningful to you. Hopefully, all the brainstorming you did will make this relatively easy.

 

Our hypothetical photographer, for example, could write about the time he spent an entire day trying to photograph a bald eagle in the mountains. Even though he didn’t end up even seeing one, he still remembers this day fondly because he got to spend it in a beautiful place.

 

Or our driver might describe a road trip she took with her dog. Partway through the trip, her dog chewed up her hotel bed sheets, and she had to pay to replace them. At first, she was furious with her dog, but by that night she had totally forgotten it even happened: she could only remember the towns she had visited, the food she had tried, and the people she had met.

 

We also want to address a few things not to do with this prompt, or at least to be very cautious about doing.

 

  1. Keep your audience in mind. It’s very hard to predict if humor will land with an admissions officer, who is a total stranger. Say your truth is “The movie Mean Girls taught me to push all of my problems in front of a bus.” Although your friends might find this joke very funny, your admissions officer may have been recently involved in a bad car accident, and you never want any of your essays to offend.

 

  1. Avoid political statements. As just mentioned, you have no idea who will be reading your essay, and if your truth espouses a particular policy, you run the risk that one of your readers will vehemently disagree.

 

  1. Be careful with unconventional approaches. Say your truth is that “LeBron James is the greatest athlete of all time.” This will certainly make your essay stand out, and you may be able to write a great response by describing how watching LeBron has taught you about hard work, leadership, and success. But if your essay ends up turning into an opinion piece about why LeBron is better than Michael Jordan, you should probably start over; this sort of topic focuses too much on other people, and the goal of college essays is to share more about yourself. The bottom line: only pursue unconventional approaches if you’re an extremely confident writer; don’t do it just to be edgy.

 

 

Prompt 2, Option 3 

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. (approx. 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 4

In the Villanova community, we believe that we all learn from one another. What is a lesson in life that you have learned that you would want to share with others? (approx. 250 words)

 

This prompt is asking applicants to reflect on a time or message that caused them to grow as a person. Additionally, the most important part of the response is explaining why this life lesson is beneficial to share with others. This may require a bit of brainstorming. Here are some questions to consider as you do so:

 

Who have been the most influential people in your life (close or distant) and what have you learned from them? How did you learn from them? Observation? Direct advice?

 

Is there a specific mantra or motto you often repeat to yourself? Where did it come from, and how did it impact you?

 

Think about your most prevalent hobbies and community involvements. What have you learned from them? Which lessons do you apply to your involvement in these activities?

 

Think about your most transformative experiences. What were your main takeaways from these experiences? How do you apply them to your daily life?

 

For example: A student narrates a story of how they were prompted to start a Zero Tolerance for Bullying club after their younger sibling was being picked on because of their learning disability. After the club was founded, other students came forward with similar stories of bullying and the school finally began to take action against the student’s responsible. There could be many life lessons to highlight in this story, but one example is how important it is to advocate for others because your story might resonate with a wider audience, causing a ripple effect for change. 

 

There are many ways to approach this narrative style of essay response. One option is to explicitly state the life lesson  first and then dive into the story afterwards. Using this format you can illustrate how the life lesson impacted your life and actions moving forward. Conversely, you could begin your response with the story and then reveal the life lesson at the end of the response and close with a brief state reflecting on what you would want others to take away from your experience. 

 

Either approach can be a strong narrative response! Just remember to stay true to your authentic voice and avoid overused clichés. Try to keep your lessons specific to your lived experiences or try to think of creative ways to rephrase classic life lessons. For instance, instead of saying “Hard work pays off” or “Kindness is key” let your narrative response show these tropes instead of explicitly stating them. 

 

Here are a few examples: 

 

1. A student trains every morning, at 5am, for a month straight. There were many times when he tried to quit, but his mother assured him that he would thank himself when he finally crossed that finish line at his cross country meet. She was right – after he pushed his body to its physical limits and emotional limits he not only came in first place at the meet, but I also set a new record for his school. 

 

2. An applicant writes that she is fortunate enough to have traveled all over the country and many times overseas with her family. So whenever they leave a hotel, her mom always saves the extra toiletries and brings them back home with her. One day the applicant finally asked her mom what she does with all the unused toiletries, she replied that every time we travelt she collects the extra toiletries and donates them to homeless shelters when we return home. The student was shocked to learn that what she thought was just one of her mom’s quirky habits, actually turned out to be an intentional act of kindness. 

 

Prompt 2, Option 5 

Augustine’s “Miracles are not contrary to nature but only contrary to what we know about nature.” Tell us about a societal issue that you believe the wonder of technology is well-poised to help solve. (approx. 250 words)

 

This essay is a great option for students with interests in the intersectionality between technology and social issues.

 

There are several approaches to this prompt, a couple of which we’ll cover here:

 

The first is to provide as much detail as the word count allows! Remember that although you may be speaking of advancements and issues that exist outside of your lived experience, you should still showcase your mind and personality within this piece. Whenever possible, tie your chosen topic into an area of your interest or experience. If you’re passionate about your chosen social issue or technological advancement, explain your personal connection to it.

 

This is a great place to showcase your intellectual vitality and showcase your knowledge of the fields of tech and social equality. Talk about current technological advancements regarding your chosen interest and where you see them heading next. If you plan on being involved in this incoming tech wave, feel free to explain how. Research? Development? Bonus points if you can explain how you would pursue these interests at Villanova. 

 

Examples:

 

1. Just as technology is always evolving, societal issues are also constantly changing. The use of AI (Artificial Intelligence) facial recognition software has been used in recent years by law enforcement agencies to catch criminals more quickly. However the AI software has also been known to disproportionately misidentify people of color. If the accuracy of AI software could be improved, by eliminating coding bias from predominately white software developers, then the tool could help mitigate racial profiling by police officers rather than enforcing it. 

 

2. On a similar note of law enforcement, 360 degrees cameras could be installed on police cars to more accurately and consistently capture incidents of police brutality. The recorded footage could also be used to train future generations of law enforcement agents on how they should and should not react in tense situations on the job. 

 

Where to Get Your Villanova Essays Edited

 

Do you want feedback on your Villanova essays? After rereading your essays countless times, it can be difficult to evaluate your writing objectively. That’s why we created our free Peer Essay Review tool, where you can get a free review of your essay from another student. You can also improve your own writing skills by reviewing other students’ essays. 

 

If you want a college admissions expert to review your essay, advisors on CollegeVine have helped students refine their writing and submit successful applications to top schools. Find the right advisor for you to improve your chances of getting into your dream school!

 



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Our college essay experts go through a rigorous selection process that evaluates their writing skills and knowledge of college admissions. We also train them on how to interpret prompts, facilitate the brainstorming process, and provide inspiration for great essays, with curriculum culled from our years of experience helping students write essays that work.