3 University of Rochester Essay Examples
- Prompt 1 – Community Impact
- Prompt 2 – Personal Qualities
- Prompt 3 – Activism at Rochester
- Where to Get Your University of Rochester Essays Edited
The University of Rochester is a selective school, so it’s important to write strong essays to help your application stand out. In this post, we’ll share an essay a real student has submitted to the University of Rochester. (Names and identifying information have been changed, but all other details are preserved).
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 University of Rochester essay breakdown to get a comprehensive overview of this year’s supplemental prompts.
Prompt 1 – Community Impact
Prompt: The University of Rochester motto of Meliora – or “ever better” – deeply integrates critical core values into all that we do. These core values of equity, leadership, integrity, openness, respect, and accountability define not only who we are, but also who we hope to become. Please use the space below to highlight a time, creative idea, or research experience when you put into action one or more of these characteristics in order to make yourself, your community, or the world even better. (250 words)
My interest in dance wouldn’t be as pronounced as it is today if not for the mentors I met along the way. From my senior peers to my dance instructor, their leadership put me on the right path to success. Recently, I got the chance to make the same impact on the next generation of Dancers.
For my community’s cultural day, a few students were putting together a dance performance, albeit with no prior dance experience. They were looking for an instructor and choreographer for their group and asked me to lead. Although excited, I soon realized this would require more from me. When I started teaching the group, their movements were offbeat and messy. With the performance only a few weeks away, I had to take charge to ensure a great performance. I increased the number of practices, sacrificed more time from my week, and used incentives to lead them to do their best at every practice.
On the day of their performance, I sat at the front of the auditorium, nervous but also excited to see the final product. But when they started the routine, I knew I was proud regardless.
These kids have done 5 performances after this one. While they received a new appreciation for dance from my leadership, I have grown as a person and a dance teacher, further understanding the importance of mentorship. In the future, I hope to continue teaching others about dance and helping expand its prevalence in our community.
What The Essay Did Well
This is a version of the Community Service essay, where you’re asked to discuss the positive impact you’ve had on others. Through discussion of their past, present, and future in the dance community, this applicant has helped us understand the depth of their passion for dance, and the dance community. This story about helping the next generation of dancers choreograph a performance gives readers a positive impression of the author’s commitment both to the discipline of dance, and to their younger peers. The demonstration of these positive qualities, like commitment, generosity, and service to the community, are undoubtedly one of the strengths of this essay.
Along with the demonstration of positive qualities, this is a particularly clear and effective essay. The word count is tight, but the author manages to cover a good amount of information about themselves and their involvement with dancing, from their own mentors, to the mentorship they extend to these younger dancers. This helps give the essay breadth as well as depth, which is key in a successful essay.
What Could Be Improved
While this essay is well-written, we would’ve loved to see more vivid language and sophisticated sentence structure, to help it stand out from the crowd. Consider the first paragraph.
My interest in dance wouldn’t be as pronounced as it is today if not for the mentors I met
along the way. From my senior peers to my dance instructor, their leadership put me on the right
path to success. Recently, I got the chance to make the same impact on the next generation of Dancers.
Now, what if it were rewritten like this:
From the time I slipped into my first leotard, I have loved dance and the community that surrounds it. Older dancers and instructors have always helped to guide me on the path to success. Because of all of this support, I was overjoyed when I recently had the chance to mentor the next generation of dancers.
These introductions have the exact same number of words, but one makes use of more dynamic sentence structure and stronger language choices. Remember, your essays aren’t just a place to show off your most compelling stories, but they’re also where you demonstrate your storytelling skills. Making strong language choices, and making use of interesting essay structures can really help your essay stand out from other applicants.
Another thing we would’ve loved to see from this essay is some imagery. Vivid descriptions stick in an admissions officer’s mind more so than broader, more vague statements. In the example above, just referencing that first leotard puts an image in the reader’s mind, whereas the other example gives vague impressions of older dancer figures without further detail. This essay is anchored in a narrative, but that narrative has very little detail attached to it. Even with only 250 words, it’s a good idea to include detail wherever possible.
Finally, detail goes hand-in-hand with another important principle of storytelling: specificity. The more specific your story, the easier it is to imagine it, connect with it, and envision your part in it. Though we have learned a lot about this student’s value for mentorship and giving back to the community, we still don’t know basic details, like what kind of dance was being performed. Ballet, tap, and the Argentine tango all have very different associations. Just using the name of the dance would convey images of what kinds of movement, choreography, and costume the dancers might have been working with, all of which would’ve strengthened this essay’s uniqueness and detail. In writing your own essays, remember to make your essay specific so admissions teams remember you along with it.
Prompt 2 – Personal Qualities
Prompt: Dr. Donna Strickland, University of Rochester alum and 2018 Nobel Prize winner in Physics said, “There’s no point in me being anything other than me.” The University of Rochester encourages each student to embrace who they are and create their own individual curricular path and experience. How will you use the opportunities here to fully be who you are? What unique perspectives will you bring to our community? 200 words
I look in the mirror as I put on my jhumka earrings and fix my lehenga skirt. This traditional Indian costume has become an important part of my identity and every one of my dance performances. As a Bollywood dancer, my life isn’t complete without monthly performances or dance practices. At Rochester, I hope to continue my exploration of this passion. Rochester Raas is a competitive Indian dance team, focused on traditional folk dance. By joining Raas, I will be able to continue the activity I love, while also learning more about my traditional roots and heritage.
I am also well known for my vast collection of books and my tendency to read during any free moment. At Rochester, I hope to start a unique book club focused on sharing our passions for reading. Rather than everyone reading the same book, members of this club will recommend books they have liked in the past to their peers, allowing for discussion and the joining of like minds. This practice started with my small group of friends, and I hope to expand it to the Rochester community in order to find others with similar interests as mine.
What The Essay Did Well
This prompt is a version of what we call a Diversity essay, which focuses on applicants’ unique identities and the communities they are a part of. This essay responds perfectly to the prompt, by describing communities this student already inhabits and expanding that to the University of Rochester. Instead of just talking about future ideas or plans, the student makes their existing commitment to these passions clear, so it’s easy to imagine them participating the same way in Rochester.
Along with very concrete examples of communities, we get an idea of the author’s hobbies – dancing and reading – as well as their value for cultural engagement and generating community. Their readiness to start a book club, if one doesn’t exist, demonstrates their readiness and ability to be a positive presence on campus. Overall, this essay paints a clear picture of who this student is, in a few concrete, community-focused ways. This answers the unique perspective component of the essay, and gives an idea of the kind of diversity this student will bring to campus.
Finally, the vivid imagery of donning the jhumpka earrings and lehenga skirt are a powerful way to bring us into the essay, and help readers picture the author as a dancer and a reader. This makes the essay personal and specific, and brings us closer to the applicant.
What Could Be Improved
One thing we would’ve liked to see in this essay is a bit more focus on the flow of the writing. While this essay accomplishes a lot in terms of content, the two sections are pretty disconnected, which makes the essay feel choppy and a bit underdeveloped. While there is a transition sentence, we would’ve liked to see a transition that linked the two ideas, rather than just bringing in the next one. Something like “When I’m not on the dance floor, I’m known for having my nose buried in a book,” is a smoother segue from one subject to the next.
Another thing we would’ve loved to see in this essay is more imagery and vivid details. The essay is just 200 words, so extensive description isn’t really possible, but even something like the common phrase of burying one’s nose in a book has an image inherent in it. Talking about stacks of books or passionate discussions could help readers picture the atmosphere of the book club.
Prompt 3 – Activism at Rochester
Prompt: Susan B. Anthony, champion of abolition and women’s rights, once said, “Organize, agitate, educate must be our warcry.” As you look to join our community of doers and disruptors, in what ways do you envision using both the curricular flexibility and co-curricular opportunities to invoke change for marginalized groups? (200 words)
It’s been eight years since we’ve been subjected to the tyranny of bad governance. Our medical systems have been destroyed, economy devaluated, and freedom of speech banished. But we need not worry for long. Just 5 years left!
By 2027, I will have explored the strategies behind successful revolutions in Prof. Meguid’s Introduction to Comparative Politics Class ( PSCI101) in my world politics cluster, equipping me to successfully lead us through the revolution we’ve eagerly awaited and install a political system that will ensure our happiness. With the help of the Greene Center, I will have gained practical experience of the biomedical engineering career field by interning at Corning’s biochemical department, enabling me to contribute to the rebuilding of our medical system. I will have developed a Parkinson-stabilizing device from my experience analyzing human motion with MATLAB in Professor Buckley’s BME 201-P class. I hope to later extend this device to cater for poliomyelitis, a disease that has plagued us since 1982. I will have strengthened my ability to put corruption under check through music by developing my soprano voice at Vocal point.
But even more importantly, I will have been Meliorad- made ever better and equipped to make you ever better.
I will be made all these at University of Rochester.
What The Essay Did Well
This is a version of the “Why This College” prompt, which asks the writer to discuss their reasons for choosing the University of Rochester. This response really delivers, with great specificity both about the author, and about Rochester. The classes, departments, and club mentioned make it clear that this student has done their research, and knows not just where they will fit in, but how.
Another particularly strong element of this essay is the personal connection that the author has to all of the points mentioned. In tying their ideas and goals to their country and its struggles, the author has chosen not just any marginalized group, but a group that they are a part of and that is truly important to them. This creates connection, not just between the student and the topic they’re discussing, but the admissions committee reading the essay, as well.
Lastly, the unique letter format is attention-grabbing and unique. It’s effective because the author is able to easily introduce the issue at hand and explain how to solve it without coming across as literal or pedantic. This essay stands out, and it accomplishes the author’s goals efficiently.
What Could Be Improved
One thing that stands out in this essay as an easily fixable potential improvement is the language fluency. Some of the writing and phrasing is a bit awkward and some of the word choices may be incorrect. These kinds of edits can be easily made with the help of a friend or peer as a reviewer.
The ending is also a bit abrupt. “I will be made all of these at University of Rochester” is both awkward, and fails to recap some of the most important parts of the essay. While the discussion of becoming ever better and making others ever better is compelling, explaining how the applicant plans to do this would make this conclusion stronger.
Finally, the context of this essay is not very clear. While admissions officers can certainly do a bit of research to understand the situation in Nigeria that this student is describing, the mentions of five more years, and a change occurring in 2027, are a bit more obscure. Is the student taking action to make change in 2027? This is a powerful statement, so making it clear what exactly they are saying would be a great step to making this essay even more effective.
Where to Get Your University of Rochester Essays Edited
Do you want feedback on your University of Rochester essays? After rereading your essays countless times, it can be difficult to evaluate your writing objectively. 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!