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Occidental College 2024-25 Supplemental Essay Guide

Occidental College 2024-25 Application Essay Question Explanations

The Requirements: 1 essay of 200-250 words

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

For Fall 2025 entry, you may choose to answer one of these questions at the time of application or you may submit an answer later via your application portal.

Why are you applying to Occidental? Why do you think Occidental, and our location in Los Angeles, is the right place for you to pursue your interests?

This is a classic Why essay if we’ve ever seen one. How much thought went into your decision to apply to Occidental? Regardless of any long or short-standing personal connection you may have with the school, we still recommend starting with at least an hour to do some good old-fashioned research. Dig beyond the basic facts and figures to learn about your prospective major(s), uncover classes you want to take, find out about notable alumni who have inspired you, explore the greater offerings of L.A., and/or peruse the list of clubs and volunteer opportunities. Next, answer the second part of the question: Why do you think Occidental, and its location in Los Angeles (or more specifically, the neighborhoods of Eagle Rock/Highland Park) is the right place for you to pursue your interests? Is it just far enough from the city’s center to give you a college town feel while also being close enough for day trips to DTLA’s Grand Central Market? Given the tight word limit, you’ll want to be succinct, so focus on one key interest (a love of music?) and goal (to one day perform at Carnegie Hall?) and describe how an Occidental education will get you there. Then just fill in the details with examples from your stellar research!

Oxy’s central mission emphasizes the value of community amidst diversity. What do you value in a community and how do you see your perspectives and life experiences enhancing it?  

This Community essay prompt is as classic as apple pie. What do you value in a community and what do you bring with you to contribute? First, think about what you value; maybe it’s the sense of belonging or acceptance, or perhaps it’s a group of people that support you and know that a win for you is a win for the community as a whole. Next, consider the facets of your personal identity and ask yourself: What could I teach my new friends about over breakfast in the dining hall? More than likely, you’ll come up with an aspect of your identity that you want to share with the world. Try to think of how that aspect enriches the lives of your peers. Can you regale them with stories of what it was like growing up in a commune? Can you share your perspective as the child of an immigrant family? What is it about your background or experiences makes you unique? What would your friends say is your “superpower”? These are all ways to break into a discussion of what you bring to the table as part of a group, and how you would promote diversity on Oxy’s campus next fall.

Research is an integral part of an Oxy education. Completing a senior comprehensive is a requirement of every Oxy student and there are a myriad of opportunities for research throughout your four years. Imagine you were just awarded one of our research grants for a project of your choice. What are you researching and why?

This question is pretty straightforward. Research is fundamental to an Occidental education, so what would you like to research as an Oxy student? Odds are, if you’ve done your research on the school, this question doesn’t come as a surprise to you. And you probably already have an idea of what you’d like to research. If that’s not the case, however, we recommend looking into the research opportunities available to you as a student as Oxy. From there, you’ll be able to pick one or two that are of particular interest to you, and expand on your “why”. We encourage you to be as detailed as possible, to show admissions that you’ve put thought into your response (and research plans!).

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School Stats:

State: California
Acceptance Rate: 36%
Undergrad Population: 1,942
Tuition: $65,678
Supplemental Essay Prompt Guides:
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