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How to Write the Wellesley College Application Essays 2016-17
Just west of Boston lies the town of Wellesley, Massachusetts, home to the eponymous liberal arts college for women that boasts a ranking of #4 on the U.S. News and World Report ranking of national liberal arts colleges. Situated amidst breathtaking vistas of classic-New England natural beauty, the Wellesley Campus—all 500 acres of it, from its golf club to its private lake—is easy to fall in love with.
And of course, there’s much more to Wellesley than what meets the eye. Wellesley’s superficial appeal only represents a much more intrinsic culture of open-hearted welcoming and careful teaching at the college. Dedicated to educating, empowering, and inspiring women who will make lasting global change, Wellesley offers its students world-renowned resources, caring teachers, and a supportive community.
If you’re hoping to join the ranks of Hillary Clinton, Madame Chiang Kai-Shek, or Diane Sawyer—all proud Wellesley grads—we’re here to help you put your best foot forward when writing the Wellesley supplemental essay.
When choosing a college community, you are choosing a place where you believe that you can live, learn, and flourish. Generations of inspiring women have thrived in the Wellesley community, and we want to know what aspects of this community inspire you to consider Wellesley. We know that there are more than 100 reasons to choose Wellesley, but the “Wellesley 100” is a good place to start. Visit the Wellesley 100 and let us know, in two well-developed paragraphs, which two items most attract, inspire, or energize you and why. (PS: “Why” matters to us.)
The postscript at the end of this prompt tells all: amidst all of the details and directions, this question is a standard “Why X School” supplemental essay. Additionally, this prompt features an added twist that is a bit of a gift: you are provided with a list of 100 responses to jumpstart your brainstorming in the form of the “Wellesley 100.”
The Wellesley 100, as per its very own website, is “a constantly evolving, totally web-tastic list of 100 marvelous things about Wellesley, including blue ice cream, particle physics, and many women who permanently alter, for the better, the way the world works.” This prompt asks you to pick two of these reasons to love Wellesley and make them your own. Though another person has identified these items as reasons to love Wellesley, your job is to explain why they are exciting to you in particular.
It should go without saying that, since Wellesley has taken the time to craft the Wellesley 100, you should take the time to read through it—all of it. If you think that you can get away with choosing the first two items from the list that catch your eye without considering more options, you are sorely mistaken. It will be painfully obvious to an adcom if you have not taken the time to explore the Wellesley 100 thoroughly, in its entirety.
On the other hand, do not get too hung up on choosing the perfect two items to discuss. While you should choose these items with care, you should know that there are no right or wrong answers here. Any of the items on the Wellesley 100 is fair game for your response. In other words, this question is not a trick or a test.
What the adcom will focus on when they read your response to this question is not which two items you chose, but instead how you used them to talk about yourself. Every applicant will likely choose a unique pair of items from the Wellesley 100 that excite her—your job is to explain why the two items that you chose ”attract, inspire, and energize” you specifically. Thus, you should take care to tie in your personal connection to the school and its vibe in as many instances as possible.
In the end, your job is not to convince Wellesley’s adcom that the school is worth choosing because of Items #3 and #57 (or any other two items)—Wellesley already knows that it is a great place to learn and, anyway, reasons #3 and #57 were someone else’s ideas, not yours. Instead, since space is limited, you need to use this question to talk about how you would fit into Wellesley’s community by explaining why your personal experiences and values make t #3 and #57 appeal to you specifically.
All the while, you should keep in mind that Wellesley has reminded you of the obvious in the text of their prompt: that your response should come in the form of two paragraphs that are “well-developed.” This serves as a friendly reminder that the supplement, despite its name, is just as important to Wellesley’s adcom as any other part of your application, and you should treat it as such. Craft your response with the same level of care and effort that you did your personal statement—this is not a question to brush off.
The Word Limit
If you are wondering what this means for the length of your piece, you are not alone. Wellesley’s directions on this front—that you provide “two well-developed paragraphs”—are purposely vague. There is no magic word-count number that Wellesley is looking for, so the best way to approach this question is to worry about the quality of your response rather than the length.
A stellar essay should tie in your personal connection to the school in as many sentences as possible. The best way to do this is to avoid expository writing that reiterates information about certain programs at Wellesley, since the college already knows all about the kinds of stellar programs it can offer you. They are, after all, responsible for all of the promotional material and webpages you have been reading. Instead, talk about yourself in relation to these programs.
In other words, an essay that describes Wellesley’s programs and opportunities in detail is great proof that you have read their website and spent time looking through the Wellesley 100—but beyond that, it doesn’t say much. Meanwhile, an essay that mentions these programs and instead describes in detail how you would make use of them to further your own academic goals will prove that you have not only researched the school but actually thought about how you might fit into its community.
If you’re the kind of person who likes straightforward directions, here is our advice: aim to write a piece that is about 600 words in length. This should give you ample time to discuss what you love about Wellesley and demonstrate that you’ve taken the time to both research the school and respond thoughtfully to its prompt. While an extremely short essay risks sounding curt or hasty, a long-winded one of 1,000 words or more will likely be rambling or repetitive. Neither scenario would be ideal.
Now you’re ready to write your response to Wellesley’s supplement—good luck and don’t stress! Remember, by starting well in advance, you will have ample time to craft a stellar response to this question, edit it multiple times, and send it off with confidence in the fall.