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Catawba College 2020-21 Supplemental Essay Guide

Regular Decision: 

Catawba College 2020-21 Application Essay Question Explanation

The Requirements: 3 short essays of 100-200 words; 1 essay of 250 words

Supplemental Essay Type(s): Why, Oddball, Activity

Please answer the following short-answer questions using 100-200 words and your imagination.

Short Answer #1: If you could have permanent possession of any single object in the world, what would you want it to be and what would you do with it?

If you read this prompt and an object immediately comes to mind, follow it. Start writing down whatever comes to your mind and see where the story goes. If, however, you read this prompt and were left feeling dumbfounded, we recommend working backward. Ask yourself these questions: What gives your life meaning? What brings you joy? What kind of footprint would you like to leave on the world? Your answers to these questions will likely give you some insight into your answer. For example, maybe you are passionate about astronomy and hope to be part of space exploration missions in the future. If you could have possession of any single object, would it be the government’s top secret file on alien life? What would you do with your findings? Feel free to get creative and give yourself some time to mull it over. You’ll be surprised what can fall into place when you keep a prompt in the back of your mind while going at it from a different angle.

Short Answer #2: If you could have been the author of any single piece of literature already written, which piece would you have penned and why? Thinking about a book, novel, poem, short story, etc…

What this question is really asking is this: What is a book, poem, or short story that has had a profound impact on you and why? We don’t recommend saying you would have written Harry Potter or Twilight for the fame and fortune… instead think about a book or poem that really made you think or feel something, one that stuck with you. Maybe, if you could, you would have written Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl because you know that many parents and children would bond over the book for generations to come. Perhaps, if you could, you would have written “Pretty Is A Lie,” a poem by Nikita Gill, because it empowered you to see yourself as so much more than a vehicle for the male gaze. Whatever you choose, make sure to emphasize the “why” part of the question, so admissions can get to know you on a deeper level.

Short Answer #3: At Catawba, the ideals of Scholarship (being an academic scholar), Character, Culture and Service are central to the mission and life of the college. Which of these ideals do you find most compelling in your own life and why?

Reflect on the concepts of Scholarship, Character, Culture, and Service. Which one stands out to you? Maybe you find service to be the most compelling, since your parents instilled in you from a young age the importance of service to your fellow man (and creature!). Or perhaps you’ve always had a strong moral compass and your character and integrity are paramount to your identity. Are you a part of a diverse and grounded cultural community dating back hundreds of years? Be sure to connect the ideal you select to the work you’re already doing in your own life (e.g. lifelong learning and self-improvement, giving back to your community through volunteer work and monthly donations, or keeping traditions alive through dance or song). Show admissions that you are not only already connecting with Catawba’s ideals, but also committed to carrying your mission with you to campus next fall. 


Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences. (250 words)

Activity essays like this one are more common than tater tots in a high school cafeteria, which means you may very well already have an activity essay that you can recycle here. If you don’t, however, no worries! This prompt is super straightforward. The challenge is in figuring out which activity you want to write about in just 250 words. We recommend choosing a topic that’s not covered anywhere else in your application. If you wrote your Common App essay about your experience as the captain of the cross country team, then you may want to steer clear of sports for this essay. Think about what you do outside of school, whether that’s washing dishes at your local diner, teaching Sunday school, or fishing with your grandpa. No matter the topic, make sure admissions will learn something new about YOU by reading your essay.

Please note: the information below relates to last year's essay prompts. We are going to update this guide with the prompts for 2021-22 as soon as they become available. Check back soon!
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