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The Requirements: Community, Activity, Why
Supplemental Essay Type(s): 2 essays of 650 words each
When answering this question, resist the urge to rewrite your resume. The University of Oklahoma isn’t asking you for a list! Remember: it’s your job, as an applicant, to use every essay as an opportunity to reveal something new about yourself. Think of a moment when you were in a position where you worked really hard to help a group of friends or loved ones. Maybe you are always the one helping your younger siblings with school projects and you’ve found ways to attain and keep your little brother’s attention (to your mother’s welcomed surprise). Maybe, as a volunteer, you were in charge of teaching new staff the proper policies for walking dogs at the local shelter. Perhaps, during a group project at school, you organized and planned all of your meetings and drove home classmates who wouldn’t have otherwise been able to attend group sessions outside of school hours. Try to isolate a single leadership moment, so you can tell a story to admissions (after all, you have 650 words!). Describe where you were, what was happening around you, and what you were feeling. Discuss what challenges you faced and what you ultimately learned from the experience. Don’t shy away from challenges, or even failures, since these are exactly the kinds of character-building experiences that can demonstrate resilience and quick thinking (a.k.a. awesome leadership skills!).
Chances are, you’ve done some community service at some point in your life, and this prompt asks you to reflect on that experience. The prompt is clear about what it wants you to cover and you have up to 650 words, so this is not the kind of essay you want to leave ‘til the last minute (though what kind of essay is?!). In some ways, this is a glorified resume entry, but you can bring it to life by devoting more of your word count to concrete, personal details than to a verbatim recitation of the organization you volunteered for’s mission and vision (or worse, a bloated list of clichés related to the value of service). Why do you care so deeply about a particular cause, culture, or community? What change do you hope to see (or even create!) in the world? Remember that, fundamentally, community service is not about personal glory or achievement, it’s about doing what you can to help others. Reflect on why being part of a community is important to you and, for bonus points, touch on how you would like to contribute to “the OU family.”
This is your opportunity to nerd out about the field that interests you. What do you envision for yourself after graduating with your degree? When did you first become interested in the subject? Have you had any meaningful experiences that led you to pursue this kind of work? What impact do you hope to have during your career? Once you get down all the details about your intellectual curiosities, see if you can build a bridge between your own interests and the resources available at OU, and you’ll be well on your way to demonstrating your fit. Set aside some time to peruse OU’s offerings. (Sorry, there’s no way around this, folks!) Beyond the basic departmental listings, look up information about news and research coming out of your department of interest, the kinds of courses available, and the opportunities other undergrads have had studying in your area of choice. If you can show admissions that you’ve thought carefully about not only your career choice, but also how OU can make it possible, you’ll be sure to leave a lasting impression.