Here’s a quick equation for you: 1 prompt + a word limit <250 = no excuses. Claremont McKenna is expecting you to focus all of your energy on crafting a single stunning essay (really, a long paragraph). Don’t let them down.
College is a transformative experience; an exciting time for you to discover yourself. During your four years of college, you will have opportunities that will allow you to learn, adapt, and develop into a young adult ready to take on the real world. Today, you believe Claremont McKenna College is a good match for you based on your aspirations and based on your knowledge of our institution. How can Claremont McKenna College both challenge and complement the person you aspire to become during your undergraduate career? (150-250 words)
This lengthy paragraph almost meets the minimum character count, but don’t be fooled. This reflective prompt is nothing more than a Why essay with a few extra requirements. Feel free to ignore all the introductory sentences. The closing question says it all: “How can Claremont McKenna College both challenge and complement the person you aspire to become during your undergraduate career?” As we see it, this essay has three requirements:
You must provide some description of “the person you aspire to become.” Don’t worry, we doubt Claremont admissions expects all applicants to have a five-year plan. If you have a career in mind, that’s a great place to start, but you could also reflect on the kind of impact you would like to have or even the experiences you’d like to have. Perhaps a grandparent’s battle with dementia has motivated you to study neuroscience; to pursue a lucrative career to help your family pay for treatment; or even simply to envision a future where you actively connect with and advocate for the elderly.
You must demonstrate how Claremont McKenna will complement or support this vision you have for yourself. In other words: do your research! What classes, clubs, research, and experiences will pave the way to your goal? If you’re interested in the science of dementia, perhaps you’ll seek out information on the psych department and faculty as well as volunteering opportunities on and off campus.
You must demonstrate how Claremont McKenna will also challenge you. After all, college is about moving beyond your comfort zone. Based on your research, what do you expect to do that will be totally new and uncomfortable. This could be anything from taking a challenging class (psych stats), to living alone for the first time (without the support of your family), to moving across the country (and being far away from your grandparents).
This prompt lends itself to a clear narrative structure and you can play around with the order to make sure it suits you. Whatever order you choose, remember that your main goal should be to paint a picture of the person you aspire to be and how a Claremont McKenna education will help you get there.