How to Write the Worcester Polytechnic Institute Essay 2021-2022

Worcester Polytechnic Institute is located in Worcester, Massachusetts. With 6,642 students, and around 50 degree programs, the school is on the smaller end. However, the city of Worcester is home to nine institutions of higher education, so the central Massachusetts area has closer to 36,000 students. This unique dynamic offers the individualized attention of a small institution while still providing the social perks of a larger university. 


Another unique facet of this college is its distinctive “project-based” learning model. This approach emphasizes experiential learning to optimize real-world impact. Additionally, the grading system has no failing grades, which encourages students to experiment with an interdisciplinary approach to their education.


WPI’s acceptance rate is 42%, meaning that it’s moderately selective. Writing a strong essay can certainly improve your chances, so read on to learn how to answer WPI’s supplement! Want to know your chances at WPI? Calculate your chances for free right now.


Want to learn what WPI will actually cost you based on your income? And how long your application to the school should take? Here’s what every student considering WPI needs to know. 


WPI Supplemental Essay

Worcester Polytechnic Institute seeks students who are the right fit for its academic and campus community. In what ways are you the right fit for the distinctive educational and campus experience that Worcester Polytechnic Institute offers? (500 words)

At its core, this prompt is a “Why this College?” essay, designed so admissions officers can better gauge your interest in WPI. The goal of this essay is to demonstrate what specific aspects of this school you are drawn to based on your specific background and personality. 


However, WPI phrases this prompt a bit differently, asking how you will fit into their college rather than how they are a good fit for you. Essentially, this shouldn’t change your response too much, but you may want to talk about yourself slightly more than you would in a typical “Why this College?” prompt.


The key to this essay is to draw connections between unique elements of the school and your own interests. A great place to start is by perusing the school website to see what classes, activities, research, and programs appeal to you based on your past experiences. 


For example, an applicant could connect their passion for helping the homeless with WPI’s Shelter the World seminar. Another applicant could mention how the recent pandemic has inspired them to pursue biotechnical public health solutions through WPI’s Data Science Program. 


The possibilities might seem overwhelmly endless, but the best approach is to write about something that you are genuinely interested in so that your essay exudes passion and authenticity. Here are two examples demonstrating how students might approach this prompt:


Weak: “Worcester Polytechnic Institute is the nation’s leading college when it comes to a project-based education. I greatly prefer working with my hands and actively participating in a project rather than poring over tedious theories and reading textbooks. The small classroom size will be ideal in allowing me to network with my peers and professors, and can provide the individualized attention that can only be found at a small school. I plan to hone my creativity and problem-solving abilities during my Interactive Qualifying Project to tackle real-world issues. WPI will afford me the leadership skills I need in order to be successful in the workforce.” 


Strong: “When I started volunteering at the hospital last year, my training did not prepare me for the drastic impact of COVID-19. Working in a facility on the frontline of this pandemic has filled me with a newfound respect for healthcare. I want to design tools that will streamline everyday processes while prioritizing public health in case this virus continues or another superbug occurs. For example, I could design a minimally invasive tool that can take multiple people’s temperature at the same time. This could help keep communal spaces, like offices and stores, safe in an efficient manner. Utilizing WPI’s partnerships, I could commence biotechnology research with Pfizer Inc. and potentially begin implementing my product before I even graduate. This fast-paced, hands-on approach will complement the theoretical nature of a traditional classroom setting. Through WPI’s project-based approach, I can thrive in an environment and see my brainstorms come to fruition.”


The first response contains many common mistakes that prospective students make when answering a “Why this College?” prompt. Mentioning the school’s accolades and ranking can come across as preaching to the choir and contributes no new information to your response. Admissions officers want to know that you want to attend WPI beyond its superficial qualities. 


Moreover, WPI stresses “Theory and Practice,” so the applicant’s response espousing hands-on learning over theoretical learning might actually detract from the quality of their essay. Therefore, make sure you thoroughly research the university and understand what they’re trying to convey before you write about it.


Another mistake made in the first response is mentioning the small classroom size. Though this is a valid reason for choosing a specific college, it could be applied to copious schools and does not demonstrate how WPI in particular can meet your individual needs. The applicant mentions wanting to network with professors, but the response would be much stronger if they named a specific professor and discussed how they could collaborate with them on a specific project. 


Although the applicant in the first response name-drops buzzwords from the website like “project-based education” and the “Interactive Qualifying Project,” they fail to express exactly how they plan to take advantage of these opportunities. While WPI does not expect you to have your projects planned out before you even step foot on campus, they do want to see how you would hypothetically approach the curriculum. 


Designing a hypothetical project, like what was done in the second example, contributes to a more detailed response that provides valuable insight into the applicant’s mindset. Providing specific details based on WPI’s existing programs will go a long way in showing, rather than telling, officers your interest in the school compared to platitudes about skill building.


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