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How to Write the Worcester Polytechnic Institute Essay 2017-2018

Worcester Polytechnic Institute, located in Worcester, Massachusetts, has a long history of offering a distinctive “project-based” learning model. In order to apply to the school, you will need to demonstrate that you are a good fit for this unique educational curriculum. From WPI’s website:


Projects are at the core of the WPI curriculum, requiring students to apply the knowledge learned in classes and labs to real-world situations, developing solutions to problems that matter to real people. Project work helps students become better collaborators, critical thinkers, public speakers, and communicators — vital to success at WPI and the skills that distinguish WPI graduates throughout their careers.


Our signature project-based approach to undergraduate education, known as the WPI plan, prepares students for success. These great young minds bring ingenious approaches to an astounding array of challenges — and the projects fundamentally change the students, building leaders who possess passion, proficiency, and a certainty that their life’s work can change the world.


What this means is that in order to make it into Worcester Polytechnic, you will need to do more than just articulate an interest in science and technology. The school admits about 48% of its applicants, 65% of whom are in the top 10% of their high school class, so admissions are somewhat competitive. In order to make the best case for admission you will need to explain why WPI’s project-based curriculum is right for you.


Worcester Polytechnic Application Essay Prompt

Required Prompt

In what ways are you a good match for WPI’s distinctive educational and campus experience? (500 words)

To answer this question effectively, you will need to address two interrelated issues: (1) What are the unique programs and opportunities at WPI that appeal to you; and (2) what is it about your background that has prepared you to make the best use of those offerings?


In order to answer the first part of this question, you will need to do some digging on their website. You might mention WPI’s recently launched Global Projects for All Initiative, which is featured prominently on their homepage. Maybe you are excited to return to your grandfather’s hometown in Mexico and work on water quality issues in rural farming countries. And more than that, maybe you are particularly excited to be part of a student body where you can learn from others who will be engaging in a similarly global learning enterprise.


However, if you really want to get into Worcester Polytechnic Institute, your research should probably extend beyond those programs that are mentioned on the homepage. Maybe you hope to enter the distinctive major in Robotics Engineering because you want to create a machine that will help your grandmother manage her pill regime. Focusing on human-machine interfaces, you might be particularly concerned with making your pill-sorting-and-distributing robot that can be used even by those patients with severe arthritis.


Are there symposiums or events that WPI has held related to your particular interests? If so, highlight them in order to both signal your interest in attending future events on similar topics and prove that you really have looked deeply at the school’s offerings.

At the same time that you are demonstrating that you have studied what WPI has to offer, you will also need to say something about what you have done to prepare yourself for a project-based curriculum. After all, anyone can go onto a webpage and say that they have an interest in robotics or water-quality research. What is it about your background and your experiences that make you committed to “developing solutions to problems that matter to real people?”


As I’ve already suggested in the water quality and robotics examples above, maybe your passion for solving real-world problems comes from your direct experience of people suffering from those problems.


To give one more example, maybe your mother’s vision has become very poor, but she always loved art and going to museums. In order to make the museum experience more interactive and multi-modal, engaging her sense of touch instead of forcing her to rely on her vision, maybe you want to experiment with using 3-D printers to make the art on museum walls into something that people can touch. Often, you will be best equipped to study those problems that touch your life in some direct way.


If you do not have any directed research experience or “official” project-based learning activities, there is still a lot that you can write about for this part of your essay. The capacity to work well with others and solve problems as a team is probably more important (and more difficult to teach) than technical know-how. If you can point to those moments in your life when you have had to work with others to solve a difficult problem, then you will go a long way towards demonstrating that you will make a positive contribution to the WPI community.


Maybe you needed to get together with the other section leaders in your marching band and come up with a new fundraising plan after the truck that held all of your timpani and marimbas got into a car crash. Maybe you and your co-workers did not speak the same language, but you had to work together to figure out the best way of maneuvering a forklift through the warehouse where you worked. What did you learn about the difficulties and rewards of working as a team from these experiences? You might mention that Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s unique curriculum will challenge you by asking you to continue working with others to solve hard problems.


Best of luck on your essays and applications!


Check out our a list of all current essay prompts for all colleges and universities.


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