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The Requirements: 4 short essays of 120 words
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 lays out a basic list of questions that we’d expect you to answer regardless: from details about your involvement to the lessons you’ve taken with you. You only have 120 words, so you will have to cut straight to the chase. 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 a verbatim recitation of the organization’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 or community? What change do you hope to see in the world? Remember that, fundamentally, community service is not about personal glory or achievement. Did you volunteer at a hospital over the summer? Describe how this affected your beliefs about what doctors owe their patients or why bedside manner is as important as medical knowledge. Have you been fundraising for girls’ education in developing countries? Reflect on what drew you to this cause and how you knew your efforts had paid off. Finally, address about how you’d like to continue your service on Virginia Tech’s campus.
Writing about a difficult time in your life requires vulnerability and perspective. Don’t focus too much on the difficulty, but instead on how you rose to the occasion to overcome the challenge. This is your opportunity to show admissions that you are a developing, maturing young adult who can roll with the punches, so to say. As you zero in on a key moment, ask yourself: What healthy coping mechanisms or communication skills did you develop? Who, if applicable, did you choose to lean on and why? What did you learn about yourself? How will you approach difficult situations moving forward? Be honest and open, and we’re sure admissions will be impressed.
At a glance, this might seem like a question about leadership, but secretly, it’s about collaboration. Which role do you choose in group situations and how do you connect to others? The greatest challenge may be choosing the right story. Any time you worked or engaged with others is fair game, so don’t restrict yourself merely to your science fair project or the baseball team. This is also a great opportunity to write about a professional experience (your first time working as a hostess!) or even community service (organizing the county coat drive!). Since the word limit is relatively tight, you’ll want to zero in on a specific moment or challenge. And remember that this question is about collaboration; it’s not just about how you paved the way or saved the day, but about how you interacted with and supported a larger group. How did your contribution affect your team’s ultimate success (or failure)? In the end, you should be driving at a lesson that you will be able to carry with you into the future. In other words: an experience that will have a positive impact on your collaborative work at Virginia Tech.
So many questions! We all have goals we hope to achieve in the future, whether that’s learning how to decorate a cake, running for public office, or leading an expedition to space! Describe a goal that you have set for yourself and then let admissions in on how you plan to make that dream a reality. Your response will demonstrate your grit, tenacity, and determination. No goal is too small, so long as you’re showing admissions that you can follow through and challenge yourself. After all, you’ll be setting new goals and accomplishing them as you earn your degree!