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How to Write Worcester Polytechnic’s 2016-2017 Essays
About Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Founded in 1865, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) was one of the United States’ first universities for instruction in technology and engineering. Cofounder John Boynton—a self-made tin manufacturer—dreamt of creating an institution whose science instruction would create positive social change for the manufacturer and the mechanic without directly teaching the skills required for these occupations. Meanwhile, cofounder Ichabod Washburn—owner of the world’s largest wire mill—valued the idea of the hands-on apprenticeship to effectively teach novices new technical skills. Together, the two founders merged their ideas and formed a university that today offers students more than 50 degree programs in general science, technology, and engineering while also spreading to the social sciences, business management, the humanities, and the arts.
But of course, students seek out this university not just because of its stellar academics (though, that is hopefully one of the primary reasons). Located just 40 miles west of Boston in Worcester, Massachusetts, Worcester Polytechnic lies in the second-largest city in New England. It is situated in one of the nation’s most college-friendly areas, with nine colleges and universities nearby. It’s no wonder then that Worcester Polytechnic is home to roughly 6,000 undergraduate and graduate students. However, to be one of these 6,000 students is no easy task; as with all great schools, even outside the Ivy League, the university is rather selective in assembling its student body. In fact, only 44% of students who apply to the school are accepted. With that being said, it is important that you put your best foot forward in your application to Worcester Polytechnic. This starts with the essay, where you’ll have free reign over how you present yourself to Worcester Polytechnic’s admissions readers.
Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s Application Essay Prompt
And now, you’re probably thinking, “More essays to write… How do I even start?” College Vine is here to help you with that! Here, we will walk you through Worcester Polytechnic’s 2016-2017 prompt, which is listed as follows:
In what ways are you a good match for WPI’s distinctive educational and campus experience?
Now, it’s time to tackle this essay prompt! We’ve divided this prompt’s writing process into various steps below for your convenience:
Overview of the Prompt
Before starting on Step 1, it is important to note the keywords and phrases in the question: “match,” “distinctive,” and “educational… and campus experience.” Given these four keywords and phrases, you should then realize that your aim is to show that you are a good fit for WPI who can also make unique contributions to the campus community. Keep in mind that the essay wants you to focus on the educational experience and the campus experience. The second thing you should note is that there is no word limit for this prompt. With no set length for your composition, you should aim for the general length of your standard essay: about 500 words. It is acceptable to stray slightly over and under this rule-of-thumb length—250 words minimum and 650 words maximum—as the Common Application usually asks of applicants. In most cases, however, essays closer to 500 or 650 words tend to be more complete.
Step 1 of writing the essay
First, consider how you are a match for WPI’s educational experience – we’ll work on the campus experience in the second step. What are specific qualities and programs of the academic scene at WPI? How would you contribute to these programs and qualities? How would you benefit from the different aspects of WPI’s unique academic arena? Brainstorm the answers to these questions, keeping in mind that you may want to conduct some online research about WPI in order to answer these various questions and any questions you may have thought of yourself. Write down all the ideas, research, and shorthand notes you have.
Step 2 of writing the essay
You’ve considered the first key part of the prompt, so you should now focus on the second part – how you are a match for WPI’s campus experience. What are specific traditions and communities within the bigger campus community that you could contribute to? How would you take advantage of WPI’s various campuswide activities and gatherings? Is there even a particular organization or club you would like to start that WPI does not already offer? Brainstorm the answers to these questions, making sure to jot your ideas down and add shorthand notes about each one. At this point, it is highly recommended that you conduct some research on WPI’s campus experience (communities, traditions, activities, location, etc.); you want to ensure your response is very specific to the school. The most important thing is that you show genuine interest in the aspect of the school you describe.
Step 3 of writing the essay
Take a look at your brainstormed list of academic interests and campus interests. For each one, write beside it the specific experiences and personality traits of yourself that would make you both a good match and addition to WPI’s academics and campus community. Be specific and honest with yourself about your own strengths and weaknesses. When weaving your essay together, you can always highlight your weaknesses as traits that might actually be a strength when it comes to being a dynamic match for the school. For example, maybe you’re involved exclusively in extracurricular activities relating to your unique cultural background. You might view yourself as a student who is too confined within your own cultural community, but at the same time, you could add that you would contribute to WPI’s cultural fairs and celebrations while also learning from other cultures at WPI.
Step 4 of writing the essay
Now that you’ve also decided personality traits that make you a good fit for WPI, it’s time to start picking and choosing which academic and campus experiences you’d actually like to discuss in this essay. You may start by eliminating the topics that are less relevant to WPI’s offering of resources. After that, eliminate your activities depending on how important they are to you—if you’re only mildly interested in conducting neurological research, then cross it off! Keep your ultimate goal of contributing to the robotics community instead.
Step 5 of writing the essay
Begin writing your essay! Remember to apply your creativity and ensure that your tone, diction, and content coalesce into a clear voice. Start with an interesting grabber. You may do this in many ways, including the following: plunge readers into the action, write about something seemingly random that then relates to the rest of your essay, or begin with a rhetorical question. Then fill in the body of your essay with what you brainstormed. A suggestion would be to provide anecdotal evidence whenever possible. Wrap up your essay and end in a satisfyingly final and memorable way. There are many ways to do this, including the following: set your essay into a larger context, reiterate something you discussed in your first paragraph (your hook/grabber statement would be perfect for this, too), or write a thought-provoking statement composed of short words. As you can see, there are many ways you can approach the beginning and the end! Once you are done, read through the essay multiple times yourself for edits. Have teachers, parents, and mentors aid you in your essay editing as well.
Now that you have a general idea of how to respond to WPI’s 2016 to 2017 prompt, it’s time to conduct some research and write. Don’t procrastinate! Every word and idea counts, and we hope that our WPI guide will help you reach an essay in which each of these simply shines. In the meantime, you may consider visiting WPI’s campus to check out the campus and get some inspiration. Happy writing!