What are your chances of acceptance?

Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
Duke University
Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

A Strong Syracuse Essay Example by an Accepted Student

Designated as a place where “game changers rise,” Syracuse University is a medium-sized private school located in upstate New York. Syracuse offers over 200 majors and 100 minors, and that variety is attractive to many students, which means you’ll need to write strong essays to stand out in a competitive applicant pool. Here, we have an example of a real essay that helped a student gain acceptance to Syracuse, so that you can get a sense for what admissions officers are looking for.


Please note: Looking at examples of real essays students have submitted to colleges can be very beneficial to get inspiration for your essays. You should never copy or plagiarize from these examples when writing your own essays. Colleges can tell when an essay isn’t genuine and will not view students favorably if they plagiarized. 


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


Essay Example 1 – Why Syracuse?


Prompt: Why are you interested in Syracuse University and how do you see yourself contributing to a diverse, inclusive, accessible and respectful campus? (250 words)


As a potential Mechanical Engineering major, I hope to gain the tools needed to succeed in this complex and diverse field. I’m especially interested in how mathematics and computer science are used in modern engineering practice. At Syracuse, I’ll take “Engineering Computational Tools” course in addition to Applied Statistics minor, which will give me hands-on experience in computer-modeling, which I’ll use to simulate complex mechanical systems. 


During my research on Mars’ artificial magnetic field, I initially struggled to analyze huge amount of data available. With the acquired knowledge, I can take even more complex problems and succeed in solving them. As my interests also lie in mechanics of transportation and combustion, I can contribute to the research that’ll make modern chambers more efficient and ecologically-friendly: professor Akih-Kumgeh’s research on laser ignition in internal combustion chamber, that’s to reduce Nitrogen emissions in internal-combustion engines, is an important step towards this goal. I’m excited I can contribute to his research through Syracuse Center of Excellence (CoE) in Environmental Energy Systems undergraduate research program.


Apart from academic endeavors, I’ll also have chances to pursue my passions outside the learning environment. As someone who dedicated much time to peer and youth-tutoring in High-School, I know teaching is a valuable and rewarding experience, and getting people excited about the topics you find interesting too is a pure joy for me. To that end, I’m excited to join PAL STEAM Camp and Remote Tutoring Program that’ll gift me rewarding and meaningful pastime outside the classroom.


Please note that this essay was written by a non-native English speaker, so grammatical and phrasing issues will not be discussed in this analysis. While these issues would be problematic for a native speaker, admissions officers understand that non-native speakers face additional challenges in writing their essays, so they won’t judge minor linguistic mistakes.


What the Essay Did Well


This is a perfect example of the “Why this College?” essay prompt, which helps admissions officers understand what specific opportunities at their school a student is interested in, and this student does an excellent job of describing how Syracuse’s resources align with both their past experiences and their goals for the future.


In the very first line, the author informs readers of their specific interest in mechanical engineering, which right away provides the focus point that will sustain the rest of the essay. By mentioning a specific course and minor at Syracuse later in the first paragraph, the writer also immediately shows that they have spent time and energy thinking about and researching their potential future at Syracuse, which in turn helps admissions officers imagine how this student would fit into their campus community.


In the same vein, in the second paragraph, the student zooms in on two subfields of mechanical engineering–data analysis and the mechanics of transportation and combustion–that they find particularly interesting. By anchoring those specific interests to a past project and research opportunities at Syracuse respectively, the student shows they already have a solid foundation in the subject, which will allow them to hit the ground running at Syracuse.


The writer also continues filling in the picture of what they would look like as a Syracuse student by mentioning a specific professor, area of research, and research center. Specificity is crucial to the “Why School?” essay, as, if you just say you want to do engineering research, that’s something you could do at nearly any school in the country. Providing school-specific details, on the other hand, shows admissions officers that your interest in their school is genuine, which gives them confidence you would be motivated to contribute to their campus community.


In the final paragraph, the writer does a great job of sharing a non-academic interest, which, like their academic interest, is something they have already both explored in high school, and researched in the context of Syracuse specifically. While academics will of course be a huge part of your college experience, admissions officers also want to see how you will contribute to their school outside the classroom. By answering that question, this last paragraph makes the essay a more comprehensive response to the prompt.


What Could Be Improved 


While the writer does a great job of incorporating school-specific opportunities, the essay would be even stronger if they provided more details about their personal, rather than merely surface-level, connection to these activities.


For example, in the second paragraph, the writer talks about how their interest in data analysis emerged from a project they did on Mars’ artificial magnetic field. But they don’t say anything about how that interest has affected their way of thinking, or goals for the future–the line “With the acquired knowledge, I can take even more complex problems and succeed in solving them” could be talking about just about anything.


The essay would be stronger if, instead of the “acquired knowledge” line, the writer said something like “Data analysis is a skill I hope to refine at Syracuse, as the ability to make sense of seemingly incoherent information will help me with everything from identifying the faults in a water synthesizing device for Mars habitation, to crafting the perfect fantasy football roster.” This line gives the reader a much clearer sense of why the student cares so much about learning how to analyze data, and throws in some humanization as well with the fantasy football reference.


Similarly, in the final paragraph, the author says they are interested in the PAL STEAM Camp and Remote Tutoring Program because it will give them a “valuable and rewarding experience, and getting people excited about the topics you find interesting too is a pure joy for me.” While these motivations come across as genuine, they are also things many applicants say about all kinds of activities, and thus feel both generic and somewhat vague. A more personal, specific explanation of their interest in this program would be something like: 


“As someone who dedicated much time to peer and youth-tutoring in High-School, I have seen how much a simple misunderstanding of a mathematical concept can deflate someone’s confidence, and, on the flip side, how much their excitement about the subject can grow once that one point of confusion is cleared up. To that end, I’m excited to join PAL STEAM Camp and Remote Tutoring Program that’ll gift me the opportunity to continue utilizing my knack for helping students make small changes with big effects.”


This version paints a much clearer picture of what exactly the student finds valuable and rewarding about tutoring, which in turn gives admissions officers a much clearer sense of what kind of mindset they’ll bring to their non-academic activities at Syracuse.


Where to Get Feedback on Your Essay 


Want feedback on your Syracuse essay before you submit? That’s why we created our free Peer Essay Review tool, where you can get a free review of your essay from another student. You can also improve your own writing skills by reviewing other students’ essays. 


If you want a college admissions expert to review your essay, advisors on CollegeVine have helped students refine their writing and submit successful applications to top schools. Find the right advisor for you to improve your chances of getting into your dream school!

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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.