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College Essay Appreciation

Chapman University 2017-18 Application Essay Question Explanations

This Chapman supplement offers some of the most serious supplemental questions we have ever seen — and some of the silliest. As a religiously-affiliated school, Chapman takes its values seriously, so be prepared to examine your own… right before coming up with your own personal hashtag. To help you keep your ranging responses #onbrand, we made you a guide.

The Requirements: 3 essays of 200 words or less; 1 list of short answers

Supplemental Essay Type(s): Why, Community, Short Answer

Please explain your interest in the major(s) you selected. (200 words or fewer)

This is the first half of a deconstructed why essay so do your research and divide it into two tidy piles: academics and everything else. This prompt gives you a chance to geek out about your intended major among Chapman’s diverse offerings. Do you and calculus have some unfinished business? Or are you planning to get a jump on your Hollywood career with a major in creative production? Whether your goals are intellectual, professional, or somewhere in between, your reasoning should be grounded in what Chapman has to offer. If you’re interested in marketing, make sure you talk about a program they actually offer: Communication Studies or English, perhaps. If you’re undecided, fear not! Chapman has a great tool to help you narrow down your options based on your interests and then all you have to do is read up on the departments that pique your interest.

200 words isn’t a lot of space, but that doesn’t mean you can’t offer a detailed response. Get ambitious and aim to answer these two key questions: What do you absolutely love about your intended major? Why is Chapman the ideal place for you to study it? As a prospective English major who aims to become the next awesome #Girlboss, how would access to Chapman’s business programs complement your way with words? Think about what excites you about the department at Chapman: professors, classes, guest speakers, alumni. Dig deep to show how Chapman will help you achieve your goals.

There are thousands of universities and colleges. Please share with us why you are interested in attending Chapman. (200 words or fewer)

Here’s the second half of this why essay duo and we’re sure you’ve seen it before: why here? Now’s the time to turn to your second pile of research and paint a picture of what your life would be like as a Chapman student. In other words, show off your fit! Maybe you grew up in a small town with a tiny high school, and you’ve been dreaming of attending a huge university. Beyond what you would gain, you should also think about what you would contribute. What kind of energy would you bring to such a large school? Maybe your religion has always been an important part of your life and you’ve been looking for a community that fosters spirituality and interfaith communication. Whatever your angle, make sure to tell admissions something new! Don’t re-trace old academic territory that you already covered in your first essay, and be sure to go beyond the basic facts and figures listed on the school website.

Choose one of the two prompts below to answer (200 words or fewer):

The ‘I Am Chapman’ campaign on our campus was created to foster an appreciation and awareness of diversity, inclusion, equity and social justice for all. We celebrate our students’ individuality in all of its forms including their personal experiences, culture, religious beliefs, opinions, ancestry, race, ethnicity, interests, ability, geographic backgrounds and family traditions. Given the diverse experiences and perspectives of our community members, the admission committee would like to know what makes you ‘Chapman?’ (200 words or fewer)

This unique prompt is a spiced up background question. What makes you you? What aspects of your upbringing align with some of Chapman’s diversity-related values? Before you get too lost in the big issues, ask yourself a simple question: what doesn’t admissions know yet? What information about your background or family simply doesn’t appear elsewhere on your application? Is it the genealogy project you’ve been working on with your grandma? Your silly secret handshakes with the school bus driver? At the end of the day, the word “culture” can describe the practices of almost any community, virtual or real, so once you zero in on a significant relationship or encounter, you should be able to connect that experience to Chapman’s values. This prompt is fairly broad and a great option for people who still have more stories to tell.

The Chapman Diversity Project is a campus-wide initiative with eight different Advisory Groups. These groups identify, recommend, and support creative strategies for promoting and enhancing our campus community. They also respond to any issues, needs, and concerns identified on our campus. Suggest an Advisory group or select one of the existing groups below and share how you would contribute to the advancement of our campus community. (200 words or fewer)
Existing Advisory Groups:
Disabilities and Accessibility, Faith, Spirituality, and Secularism, LGBTQ Communities, Military Affiliates, People of Color, Socio-economic Stratification, The Status of Women, International Communities

Although similar to the other essay option, this prompt asks you more directly to select a group with which you identify. This is a great option for applicants looking for a little more direction, but proceed with some caution. While we always encourage creative storytelling, now is not the time to get clever or metaphorical with your advisory group choice. Remember that all of the groups on this list face unique and distinct challenges in today’s society and you risk coming across as insensitive or ignorant if you choose a group whose experience you do not share. That said, Chapman offers a wide array of options that span from faith (or lack thereof) to gender, and if you don’t see an advisory group that speaks to your experience, you can always suggest a new one! Again, think carefully before making an overly-cheeky suggestion. This question is plumbing for your earnest ability to engage with and advocate for a community or issue that matters to you personally. Luckily, choosing your group is half the work!

As you think about your contribution to the campus community, think first about your personal experience. If the socio-economic stratification advisory group speaks to you, think about your own family’s struggles in this arena. Maybe you grew up in a gentrifying neighborhood. When did you first notice the changes to your community? Did you favorite bodegas slowly close one-by-one? Or if you were on the gentrifying side, when did you first realize that people were getting squeezed out of your community? Did you feel responsible? How did these lessons affect you and how might they inspire you to engage with the Chapman community? Remember that your contributions don’t have to be large-scale (events, forums) to be meaningful. Simply showing that you will bring a unique perspective or open mind will go a long way. Chapman wants to see that you will arrive on campus prepared to have challenging dialogues about some of society’s biggest issues.

Fast Facts: Please answer all of the following Fast Facts in one sentence (sometimes even one word will suffice). There are no right or wrong answers to these questions. We hope that you have as much fun doing this as we will reading it.

What is your dream job?
Please list three words to describe yourself.
What song should we be listening to while reading your application?
Who is your role model?
Name one dish you would cook for our admission team.
What is your favorite quote and by whom?
Name a “”hashtag”” to describe you.
What is your favorite subject?
What is the top thing on your bucket list?
What is your most prized possession?
What makes you happy?
What are you most grateful for?
What do you spend too much time doing?
Aside from necessities, what is one thing you can’t go a day without?

After forcing you to address so many serious topics earlier in the supplement, Chapman also wants you to have some fun. These quirky short answer questions present a prime opportunity to let your sense of humor shine through, and the random assortment of topics ensure you can reveal many facets of your personality.. If we went through each question individually we’d probably end up writing a zillion times as many words as you’re allowed for these short answer questions. Fortunately, there’s really just one trick for quickie prompts like these: go with your gut. Chances are your first instincts will lead you to the most unique and genuine answers. Since you don’t have to produce much to answer each question, brainstorming is key. Set aside maybe 30 minutes to jot down as many ideas as you can think of for each question. Allow yourself to approach each question from a few different angles: funny, earnest, clever, surprising. The point is not to waste any time agonizing over what you think admissions wants to hear. Trust yourself.

While technically optional, we at CollegeVine highly recommend that you take the opportunity to respond to Bowdoin’s “Offer of the College” prompt.


The Common Application allows you to select 1 of the 7 lines included in Bowdoin’s Offer and provides a section for you to elaborate in a 250-word response. The key to writing this response is to demonstrate how you align with Bowdoin’s values by using relevant and poignant examples. Overall, the response is open-ended, as Bowdoin wants you to go with your gut and focus on which line is most compelling to you. The purpose is not for you to explicitly analyze the text word by word; rather, Bowdoin intends for you to use your chosen line as a springboard for further rumination.


For example, if you choose “To be at home in all lands and all ages,” you could discuss how you are excited to expand your horizons from living in small town to absorbing all of the cultures and perspectives that life at Bowdoin has to offer. Whether you want to have challenging discussions about society with international students or prefer to physically go to another country to deepen your studies, there are many examples you can use to show your enthusiasm for a global and unifying experience. As you write, don’t forget to tie your reflection to tangible experiences that demonstrate the root of your interest.


Alternatively, if you choose the line “To count nature a familiar acquaintance,” you may want to discuss “Nature” as it pertains to conservation initiatives or you could take a more unorthodox approach by discussing your own place in Nature. Oftentimes, we separate humans from nature, as technology becomes increasingly prominent in the world; however, it could be interesting to discuss how innovation and learning are still deeply rooted in natural forces.


“And…Art an intimate friend” seems an obvious choice for artistically-minded people, but there are nuanced ways to handle the prompt. Instead of discussing art directly, you could describe your own creative/innovative thought process and how they play a role in your goals. Further, you could develop that idea by tying in concrete extracurriculars at Bowdoin, explaining how you would like to deepen your artistic skill-set to be a more diverse creator at Bowdoin. On the other hand, you could discuss how “expression” plays an integral in your life and use examples of art, dance, music, or writing to explain how and why you are expressive.


The line “to gain a standard for the appreciation of others’ work and the criticism of your own” has a lot of merit when looking forward to college. While you are likely a successful high school student in multiple regards, it is time for you to raise your bar and expand your horizons, to learn from people more experienced than you. Entering an environment in which your ideas will be challenged is refreshing and transformative. In addition, being open to criticism and change will allow you to confidently select new paths, as nothing is laid out so directly anymore. Feel free to discuss how you want to be challenged, as well as times when you have been in awe of others work.


“To carry the keys of the world’s library in your pocket, and feel its resources behind you in whatever task you undertake” is a relatively straightforward springboard, as it leaves open opportunities to discuss impactful works you’ve read. You may want to provide insights into what books and writing mean to you. It is incredible that people’s life experiences and obstacles all contribute to words that resonate through time. How will you learn from the past and use others knowledge to make decisions?


Friendship is often a common theme of college. By choosing “To make hosts of friends… who are to be leaders in all walks of life,” you can touch on how your own friendships up until this point have molded you into a leader. Explain what you value in a friend or relationship, whether it be honesty, transparency, loyalty, or diverging ideas. Don’t be afraid to include personal or intimate information about your best memories or experiences. College is all about the late-night, deep conversations that shake the way you look at the world, so show Bowdoin that this type of relationship is something you strive to cultivate.


“To lose yourself in generous enthusiasms and cooperate with others for common ends” can be understood in a variety of ways. One take is to discuss the concept of community collaboration, as in college individuals come together to accomplish tasks greater than oneself. You could discuss the most important communities in your life, how a common goal can compel people to work alongside each other. One strategy is to discuss a vital “common end” that you care about. For example, if gender equality is very important to you, go ahead and explain why, as well as what you would like to do to address it at Bowdoin.


The Bottom Line

As you write your Bowdoin supplemental response, keep in mind that each question is designed so that a different aspect about yourself can be shared with the applications committee. If you get stuck, ask your friends and family what the most unique things about you are and then connect these memories or characteristics to your past accomplishments, future goals, and of course, future at Bowdoin College.


Also, don’t be afraid to write an unconventional essay. If you have any questions about the Bowdoin supplemental essays, feel free to contact us about CollegeVine’s mentorship or essay editing opportunities.


Best of luck, and happy writing!


Want help on your Bowdoin application or essays? Learn about our College Apps Program and Essay Editing Program.


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