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The Requirements: 4 essays of 250 words each, 1 essay of 750 words
This is a fun one. Another way to think about it: if you had a Ted Talk, what would it be about? Sustainable fashion? The theory of time travel? How to make the best peanut butter and jelly sandwich? We all have our moments of “nerding-out,” and this is your chance to proudly wave your flag. Don’t worry about this being too academic—unless you just can’t get enough of Operation Overlord, in which case, go for it! This is your time to shine in a way that your resume and application won’t let you. Give admissions a peek into your passions; get off the page and let them know that you are a three-dimensional person who contains multitudes!
Howard University is assuming that you have done your homework on their academic offerings and you’re prepared to prove it. So if you haven’t already, familiarize yourself with Howard’s website. We’re talking courses, clubs, professors, you name it! In order to ace this essay response, you’ll need to not only articulate why your first-choice major is the obvious next step for you in accomplishing your goals, but also explain why you are a great fit for Howard (and why admissions should be clamoring to get you on campus!). So why does your intended major pique your interest? What related experiences have you had? When did you start exploring this area of interest? Why are you a perfect fit for the program? And how do you hope to use this education in the future?
You’ve probably been asked a version of this question before: Who would you invite to an imaginary dinner party? If you could summon anyone from the grave, who would it be? In this case, unsurprisingly, Howard wants you to write about an alum. A question like this one is probing for an inkling of your interests and motivations. Who do you admire? What are your aspirations? What kinds of things drive your curiosity? When you come upon a prompt that directly or indirectly asks you to demonstrate your academic or cultural knowledge, the key is to be confident and genuine. Don’t second guess your own interests or strain to write about a topic simply because you think it will impress admissions—spoiler alert: they’ll be able to tell. It will be easier to write about someone you are genuinely interested in—and the results will be more personal and memorable, hopefully telling them more about you than the person you chose!
Activity essays like this one are quite common and really are as straightforward as they seem. The most difficult part is usually selecting the activity you want to talk about. So, we return to our favorite mantra: tell the admissions department at Howard something they couldn’t glean from anywhere else in your application. If you wrote your personal statement about your time managing the most popular taqueria in your town you should focus, this time, on a different activity or work experience that reveals a new aspect of your personality, character, drive, etc. This can be a great opportunity to highlight your leadership skills and any accolades you may have received as a result of participating in a particular activity. Did you win any awards? Receive any promotions? Make any significant connections? No matter what you choose, it should probably be something you’ve been involved in for a while, so you can demonstrate your growth to admissions!
You can get a degree at thousands of schools across the country, so why are you so keen to study at Howard, specifically? Regardless of which college you’re applying to, admissions is looking for applicants to demonstrate fit, interest, and authenticity in their responses. Remember that your choices here aren’t set in stone, so don’t stress over your vision; just show that you’ve done your research. Maybe you fell head over heels for Howard when you joined your older brother on his campus visit while you were still in grade school. Maybe there’s an alum who is doing what you aspire to do, and you want to follow in their footsteps! Whatever it is that draws you to Howard, admissions wants you to describe that motivation and then connect it to your academic interests and aspirations.