Give College Essay Academy a try.
The Requirements: Choose one out of three prompts. 1-2 pages.
Ah, the infamous “community” essay. Many schools ask students about their communities because they want to know how said students relate to the people around them, forge connections, and commune with their peers. In this particular instance, the question emphasises diversity, equity, and inclusion. What do these words mean to you and how do they relate a community that you’re involved in? Maybe you’re very involved in your local church youth group that celebrates its members differences, including trans and nonbinary members. Perhaps friends you made at salsa dancing club have introduced you to a new culture and language that you love. Maybe there are different languages spoken by the volunteers in your community garden and now you know how to say tomato in five different dialects. How do you see diversity and inclusion play out in your community? How would you keep those values alive at this school? Villanova wants to know about your life beyond the classroom and how you will contribute to diversity, equity, and inclusion on their campus.
This question is deep, but not that deep. We promise. If you take a few minutes to ponder it, you might even notice it’s similarities with Common App prompt 3 (about a time when you challenged a belief or idea) and prompt 4 (about problems of personal importance, including ethical dilemmas). In other words, think of this supplemental question from Villanova as an opportunity to tell a story that illuminates your values. What’s the hardest decision you’ve ever made? Or the biggest risk you’ve ever taken? Mine your memory for moments when the stakes felt high, and the mind/heard structure will follow. If it was really hard to stand up to someone who made a racist or homophobic comment, why was that so? Maybe you were worried about provoking or exacerbating an already-tense situation. Or perhaps you didn’t cope well when you learned a dear friend had a terminal illness. You wanted to be there, but you couldn’t. How did you make your peace with the situation? How did you change? You may end up telling a story of personal triumph, but it isn’t a requirement. This prompt is designed to create space for vulnerability. So if you choose to dig into a situation that you wish you had handled differently or long-standing regret, just remember that no matter what, your story should demonstrate personal growth, self-awareness, and reflection.
If you’re once again feeling a sneaking sense of déja vu as you read this prompt, we get it. Does this ring a bell: “Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?” It should. It’s the second prompt on this year’s Common App and it asks essentially the same question Villanova asks here, if in a less pointed way. So if you’ve already described a personal challenge or moment when you needed to seek outside help, avoid this prompt. Otherwise, consider the same basic advice we offered on the Common App version. Writing about a time when you felt defeated or needed help requires vulnerability and perspective, but at the end of the day, you should still aim to tell a positive story about yourself. As we’ve said before, a question about failure is really an opportunity for you to tell a story of resilience and success. But in this case, it’s also your chance to demonstrate your level of maturity, and your ability to appreciate others for their strengths and life experience. So as you zero in on a key moment, ask yourself: At what point did you know you couldn’t do it alone? Who did you choose to lean on and why? What did you learn about yourself and the person or people who helped you?