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Loyola Marymount eases you into their supplement with a classic why essay, but don’t let your guard down. There are some challenging options in the second section. The instructions say it best: these prompts are an opportunity for you to show off your “creative and critical thinking.” So it’s important to select one that will allow you to showcase your strongest academic skills and intellectual passions. This could be the most direct opportunity you’ll ever get to show (and not tell) admissions how you think. Enjoy it!
The Requirements: Two essays of 500 words
Supplemental Essay Type(s): Why
You’ve probably seen this before: the why essay. Clocking in at 500 words, LMU’s take on this classic prompt is on the long side. There’s only one thing to do, the same thing we always tell you to do: research, research, research. Set aside some quality time to get up close and personal with the school website (or the campus if you’re able to visit) and take some detailed notes on everything that appeals to you. Go deep. Beyond the classes and professors in your department, explore the options for other subjects you’ve always wanted to study. Learn about clubs and special events on campus to get a feel for student life. Read over the school’s mission statement, and get a feel for the local community beyond the campus. You might even want to read up on the notable alumni you admire. By the time you’re done, you’ll have a whole list of reasons for applying to LMU. Now all you have to do is arrange them. Think about telling a story that illustrates your path to LMU: how do its offerings align with your own interests and goals? Or you could paint an aspirational picture of what you’d be like on campus. If you choose to focus on your major, make sure you connect your past experiences to the ones you hope to have at LMU. Show admissions that LMU the ideal fit for you.
This prompt isn’t just for future politicians and world leaders, but for anyone who aspires to make a difference and take responsibility for critical decisions at some point. More than the other options, this one is asking you to make a somewhat academic argument, so it’s important to present an informed opinion. We’d recommend setting aside a little time to brush up on the articles, documentaries, and other sources that may have shaped your understanding of what makes a good leader – and where compassion fits in. That said, this essay is still supposed to reveal something about you, so don’t be afraid to incorporate experiences or examples from your own life. Perhaps your essay will chronicle how your own views on leadership have changed over the years. Or maybe your essay will be about your firsthand experience as a leader, or observing a leader you admire. Perhaps you were a student representative on a search committee for a new faculty member and you observed your principal struggle to consider different points of view. How did this affect the process? Did the principal ever come around? What did you learn?
Unlike the previous question, this prompt directly solicits a personal story. A somewhat nebulous term, “critical thinking” could mean a whole range of things from media literacy to problem-solving. So think about a time in your life when you decided not to take something at face value, whether it was a big challenge or a seemingly basic aspect of the status quo. Maybe hearing adults say, “no” has always felt like the start of a negotiation, from convincing your parents to extend your bedtime to visiting your local elected officials to lobby for important issues. What has this lifelong experience taught you about human stubbornness and compromise? Or perhaps you’re a movie buff who also happens to be a future chemistry major, and you decided to start a blog to break down the science in some of your favorite movies. As you can see the examples can be both big and small, formal and informal. The key is to choose a story that connects to an issue or idea that matters to you enough to take an intellectual risk or two.
Well, it wouldn’t be right of us to break down this quote, since that’s a part of the assignment. Plus, your unique interpretation will reveal a lot about how you see the world. But we can advise you not to dwell on it for too long. There’s a second part to this question that we think is much more interesting (and it might help guide your interpretation of the quote!). LMU wants you to tell a story about someone special in your life “who works for justice for the least of their neighbors.” The first challenge is to come up with someone outside of your parents and teachers who fits the bill. Who do you admire? Your cousin who always has time to listen to you or anyone else who needs her help? Or maybe it’s George, at the old age home where you volunteer, who always regales you with tales of his years in the Peace Corps. No matter who you come up with, it’s almost inevitable that you’ll choose someone you’ve connected to beyond your most immediate community — and that’s the whole point of this question. Even though LMU is technically asking you to write about someone else, this essay should still reveal something about you. What are the qualities you admire in other people? How have the people in your life helped you understand and define the meaning of justice and service to others? Use vivid anecdotes to reveal yourself as a keen observer and demonstrate how this person has shaped who you are today.