2 Occidental College Essay Examples by Accepted Students

 

Occidental College is a pretty selective school, so it’s important to write strong essays to help your application stand out. In this post, we’ll share essays real students have submitted to Occidental College. (Names and identifying information have been changed, but all other details are preserved).

 

Read our Occidental College essay breakdown to get a comprehensive overview of this year’s supplemental prompts.

 

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Example 1

 

Prompt: Research is an integral part of an Oxy education. Completing a senior comprehensive is a requirement of every Oxy student. Additionally, there are opportunities with the Institute for the Study of Los Angeles, the Urban and Environmental Policy Institute, the International Richter Grant, the Summer Undergraduate Research Center, and other departments to conduct research. What is something you would like to research and why?

 

Imagine this: You’re going to your doctor for your bi-monthly medical checkup. You step into the doctor’s room and sit down. He checks your blood pressure, sugar levels, and weight. He then types the results onto his computer, hits a few buttons, and a machine alongside starts whirring. A few minutes later, it spits out a tiny pellet. This pellet contains your DNA, with all your medical history coded in it. 

 

This concept may seem extremely far-fetched and unnecessary. After all, it’s way easier just to save your medical history to your phone than it is to keep a pellet. This idea of storing data on DNA is relatively new, and I want to love to learn how. At Occidental, I would like to utilize the resources available to research how to store information in DNA strands, to analyze this data, and to hold discussions with my peers about the implications of what this means in the future. 

 

By the time I graduate from college, it is predicted that the internet will produce 463 exabytes of data per day. That is equivalent to 212 million DVDs per day! The data-storage systems that currently hold this volume of 0s and 1s typically cannot last for more than a century. Further, running data centers takes enormous amounts of energy. In short, we are about to have serious data-storage problems that will only become more severe over time. The answer to all this is DNA-based data storage. DNA can accurately stow massive amounts of data at a density higher than electronic devices do. I believe that the key to the future is harnessing this power and utilizing it. At Occidental, I want to find out how. 

 

What the Essay Did Well

 

On the whole, this essay effectively answers the prompt with clear and direct language such as, “DNA can accurately stow massive amounts of data at a density higher than electronic devices do. I believe that the key to the future is harnessing this power and utilizing it. At Occidental, I want to find out how.” The primary objective of any college essay is to answer the prompt, and this one passes the test. The reader is not left wondering what subject the student wants to research during their time at Occidental. 

 

Another strong point of this essay is the hook. Readers unfamiliar with the concept of storing data on DNA pellets might be gripped by the author’s description of such a strange scenario, which piques further interest. The immediate language of “Imagine this:” invites the reader to actively participate in the essay through exercising their imagination, which is an effective method of keeping them interested. Although this is an academically-oriented essay, the author’s language is not overly-complex to the point that the end result is boring or illegible. 

 

While the author’s academic language is easily digestible, it is also clear that they are knowledgeable about the topic. Specific facts and figures like, “By the time I graduate from college, it is predicted that the internet will produce 463 exabytes of data per day. That is equivalent to 212 million DVDs per day!” add credibility to the author’s claim that they will research this subject. Using specific and well-researched language that is also understandable to the average reader is crucial to effectively answering this prompt. 

 

What Could Be Improved

 

While the author’s response is effective overall, there is an unfortunate typo when the writer says, “and I want to love to learn how.” They could also refine unnecessarily-wordy phrases such as “and to hold discussions with my peers about the implications of what this means in the future.” Being economical with your sentences and phrases will empower you to say as much as possible within often slim word count limits. 

 

 

Example 2

 

Prompt: Oxy’s central mission emphasizes the value of community amidst diversity. What do you value in a community and how do you see your perspectives and life experiences enhancing it? (200 words max).

 

“I’m from Syria. About 4km from the capital.” Farid told me. His words underplayed the truth of his situation. He wanted to study in the USA, away from the conflicts near his hometown. And through , I was going to get him there, one question at a time. Farid’s words resonated with me. As an international student, I struggled to find free tutoring options, and now I know how much of a difference it can make. To me, the most crucial part of a community is the willingness to help each other out and to have each others’ backs. As the CEO of an organization that connects volunteers to tutors and values community more than ever, I have seen the joy and relief that free support provides. At Oxy, I would love to continue this by joining the Coding and Community club to help other students code and learn myself. I believe that I will be able to apply my collaboration skills to the community by communicating clearly, actively listening to others, and respecting the diversity of my colleagues. I would also love to join the diverse international community at Oxy, and contribute by holding cultural events and festivals.

 

What the Essay Did Well

 

This essay starts off strong with a quote that leads into an anecdote, which engages the reader by showing them an example of the author’s community work (rather than providing a boring, dry description). The author then follows up with language that directly addresses the prompt by indicating how their unique life experiences relate to community: “Farid’s words resonated with me. As an international student, I struggled to find free tutoring options, and now I know how much of a difference it can make. To me, the most crucial part of a community is the willingness to help each other out and to have each others’ backs.” 

 

Another strong aspect of this essay is its structure. There are two primary components to this essay: the first half where the author depicts their relationship to community through a strong anecdote, and the second half where they relate these principles to their future visions of student life at Occidental. This is a simple and effective way to answer the prompt by breaking it down into smaller, more digestible pieces. In this way, they spend an appropriate amount of time on the key components necessary to adequately answer the prompt. 

 

Beyond the hook and structure, another strong aspect of this essay is the author’s ability to teach us about themselves and how they have acted upon their values. We not only learn about their struggles as an international student and the values they hold regarding their capacity to be in community with others, but we also learn that they are the CEO of a company attempting to act upon these values. This is an effective use of space because it tells the reader not only what the author values, but what they have done to act upon those values to make the world a better place. 

 

What Could Be Improved 

 

One area that could be improved in this response is the conclusion. The author is in the middle of describing their prospective involvements at Oxy, and they end things by stating that they want to help host cultural events and festivals. However, this statement does not wrap up the essay as a whole. It would be better to close with a sentence that expresses the intended higher significance of their goals at Oxy, or to restate and broaden the themes they introduce in the first half of the essay. At present, thee final sentence is an afterthought that is not conclusive in any meaningful way. 

 

More Free Essay Resources

 

How to Write Occidental College Essays: See our in-depth guide of each supplemental essay prompt for Occidental College. 

 

All of Our Essay Guides: Don’t miss our essay guides for all of the top schools.

 

How to Write the Common App Essays: Learn how to write a strong Common App essay for each of the prompts, with examples.

 

Free CollegeVine Peer Essay Review: Submit your essay and get feedback from another student. Editing other students’ essays will also help you improve your own writing skills!

 

 


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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.

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