How to Write Occidental Supplemental Essays in 2022-23

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    Occidental College is a small, private liberal arts college located on a beautiful, 120-acre residential campus in the heart of Los Angeles in Southern California. Occidental College has an undergraduate student population of 1,839, over 40 majors and minors to choose from, and an overall acceptance rate of 37%. 

    As is the case with many competitive schools, Occidental supplemental essays are a key application factor and help personalize the admissions process. Read on for Occidental College supplemental essays tips.

    Before you get started on your Occidental College supplemental essays

    Before you get started on your Occidental supplemental essays, make sure you know all the correct details and requirements. In this article, we will discuss frequently asked questions and answers — such as how many supplemental essays for Occidental are there? — as well as tips and advice for how to get into Occidental College. Learn more about what admissions officers are looking for in addition to the CommonApp essay questions.

    How to write the 200-word supplemental essays for Occidental College

    Like many highly-selective colleges, Occidental College requires supplemental application essays. In this article, we will discuss how to write Occidental supplemental essays, as well as several important factors to keep in mind while considering how to answer college application questions. Your college essays are your best chance to advocate for yourself and show why you would be a dynamic addition to the Occidental College campus. 

    In this section, we will discuss strategies for the 200-word supplemental essays Occidental College requires as part of their overall application. Read on to learn valuable Occidental College supplemental essay tips as you continue with your college applications.

    The “Why Occidental” essay

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    Almost every college that requires additional college application essays includes a “Why This College” essay prompt. Colleges want to know that you have researched their school thoroughly and have mature, thoughtful reasons for wanting to attend. 

    Of all of Occidental’s applicants, why are you most suited to attend? What are you most excited about in terms of academics, research, extracurricular activities, and other educational opportunities? 

    Why are you applying to Occidental? What are your intellectual curiosities and why do you think Occidental is the right place for you to pursue them? (200 words max)

    01

    Research occidental college

    Before you begin answering this prompt, make sure to do your research! Lots of qualified students apply to Occidental College every year but only 37% are admitted. Use this essay prompt to convey why you are passionate about attending Occidental College.

    Spend at least an hour reviewing the college website before writing this personal statement. Find academic programs, classes, professors, research topics, extracurricular activities, and other educational opportunities that interest you.

    02

    Include specific details

    Be as specific as possible and include lots of details. This is where your research comes into play. What stands out about Occidental College? Of all the colleges on your college list, what excites you about Occidental? What makes it different from other schools, such as the University of California, the University of Virginia, the University of Chicago, Columbia, Dartmouth, Chapman University, or the University of Texas?

    Consider mentioning specific classes, professors, study abroad programs, extracurricular activities, and more. Some notable programs include a student-run organic garden FEAST (Food, Energy, And Sustainability Team), the Food Studies minor, the Kahane United Nations Program, and the Campaign Semester.

    03

    How can Occidental College help you reach your goals?

    Occidental College admissions committee wants to have clear, compelling reasons to admit you. What are your personal, professional, and academic goals? How can Occidental’s unique resources help you achieve these goals?

    Of course, not all first-year will know exactly what they want to study. This is to be expected. The admissions committee wants to get a better understanding of your interests, passions, and goals.

    Be as specific as possible and use your research. Use this admissions essay to showcase your passions, goals, and initiative, as well as your ability to research and focus on details. 

    The community essay

    Occidental College wants to admit a vibrant, diverse incoming class. It’s important to cultivate a positive campus culture, where students, faculty, and staff can grow alongside one another. In this essay, be sure to address what community means to you, what you value in a community, and the unique ways you can enhance your community.

    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?

    01

    What does community mean to you?

    An important consideration for this essay is how you view community in general. What are some communities you were a part of in high school? How did you feel belonging to these communities? How have these experiences shaped your understanding of what it means to be a part of a community?

    02

    What do you value in a community?

    There are countless types of communities. In fact, every community is different. That said, what do you think is an important value regarding the community? Ideally, what does a healthy community look and act like?

    03

    What can you add to your community?

    Make sure to personalize this essay by including details about how you could enhance the Occidental College community. Reflect thoughtfully on the following questions before writing: Are you willing and able to learn from others? Are you able to think critically and change your mind if need be? 

    What to say in your “quirk or peculiarity” essay

    This Occidental supplemental essay is meant to help you showcase your sense of creativity. This essay is brief, so it’s important to be focused and succinct. Use this essay to convey your personality and perhaps your sense of humor.

    Quirks, idiosyncrasies, peculiarities. They help differentiate us. What is one of yours? (134 words max)

    01

    Brainstorm

    If something immediately comes to mind, follow your instinct! For many students, however, you’ll probably have to brainstorm. Ask your family and friends for ideas and insights. Remember, a “quirk” doesn’t necessarily have to be bizarre, just something unique, or special, to you.

    02

    Be succinct

    You only have 134 words to complete this essay, so be succinct! Make each word and detail count. For your first draft, simply get all of your ideas on paper, regardless of your word count. Then decide which details are most interesting and productive and go from there. 

    03

    Provide a sense of context

    While this essay prompt is quirky and fun, make sure that your response is related to something a bit deeper — rather than just an amusing anecdote. In other words, make sure you include a greater sense of context. 

    For example, maybe you always paint your nails blue on Friday nights, because you and your three sisters grew up with this as a weekly ritual. Now that you’re going off to college, you are planning to continue with this tradition as a reminder of home. 

    How to answer the 300-word Occidental supplemental essay prompts

    In this section, we will focus on how to write Occidental supplemental essays for the 300-word essay prompts.

    Essay option 1

    Research is an integral part of an Oxy education. Completing a senior comprehensive is a requirement for every Oxy student. Additionally, there are opportunities with the Institute for the Study of Los Angeles, the Urban and Environmental Policy Institute, the International Richter Grant, the Summer Undergraduate Research Center, and other departments to conduct research. What is something you would like to research as an Oxy student and why?

    Should you choose this prompt?

    This is a great prompt to choose if you are passionate about your prospective course of study and have clear academic goals. 

    The right strategy for this prompt

    Make sure you do your research! Impress the admissions committee with your ability to think deeply and actively reflect on your plans for the future. Include lots of specific details. Mention specific courses, professors, and resources by name. Make it clear that you are invested in your education and have taken the time to reflect on this question seriously. 

    Essay option 2

    Briefly describe a current event or social movement that is affecting a city, town, or place that is important to you. Describe its significance to the community, its significance to you, and future implications for that community.

    Should you choose this prompt?

    Choose this prompt if you are passionate about a current event or social movement and can discuss it with depth and insight. 

    The right strategy for this prompt

    Be sincere. There are no right, wrong, or impressive answers to this question. Write about something that is important to you and resonates with your sense of community. Community is important to Occidental College, so use this essay to actively reflect on what community means to you and how you can fight for the betterment of your community. 

    Occidental College supplemental essays tips for the short answer prompts

    Occidental College’s short answer prompts are meant to be fun and lighthearted so treat them as such! There are no right, wrong, or impressive answers. These short answer questions give you the chance to show off your personality, sense of humor, likes, and interests. Try not to overthink these prompts. Instead, try to have fun!

    Short answer prompt 1

    What is the first song you would play for your roommates on move-in day?

    Use this prompt to convey something about your overall personality. Write the way you speak! And remember, there is no right, wrong, or impressive answer to this question. The admissions committee simply wants to get a better sense of who you are and what you’re interested in. 

    According to Occidental College, the admissions committee used 2022 student responses to create a move-in day playlist!

    Short answer prompt 2

    If you had your own food truck or restaurant, what would it be called?

    Los Angeles, California, has a diverse, vibrant food culture! There are lots of popular food trucks located a short walk from campus. This is the impetus for this short answer question. Again, this question is meant to be fun and lighthearted. The admissions committee simply wants to know a bit more about you. 

    The Oxy essays that worked: 3 successful Occidental essay examples

    Read several examples of successful Occidental College supplemental essays from past years, including Occidental supplemental essays 2022. Learn what makes each of these supplemental essays stand apart and how you can employ similar strategies in your college essays. 

    Example 1

    Here in Macon, NC, not much goes on. Our largest attraction is the post office, and we have more pine trees than people. I want to study at Occidental College because it will break my bubble.

    Oxy’s Intercultural Community Center events and MSI course would give me a unique quirk-friendly environment to meet people I could never engage within Macon. While I would immerse myself in domestic diversity, I would expand my horizons internationally through workshops at the McKinnon Center and a semester abroad studying drama at the University of East Anglia.

    Part of the reason why Oxy’s diversity and drama opportunities pique my intellectual curiosity is that I’d like to major in Theater. As a potential Theater major, I aspire to gain the tools to showcase the human condition on stage. My dream since my small 9th-grade theater class has been to produce plays that showcase the humanity of those hard of hearing like me. No other place could offer me Professor Angell’s Comedy and Social Change course, the humorous inspiration of Fantasiprov, all in one of the most artistic cities in the world. No other place would pop my Macon bubble-like Oxy.

    Why did this essay work?

    This essay is warm, genuine, and clearly explains why this student wants to attend Occidental College. The student’s use of details is impressive and thorough. It is clear that they took their time researching Occidental’s extensive resources and opportunities. Furthermore, this student’s personal and academic goals distinctly align with Occidental’s unique opportunities. Overall, this is a successful essay because it characterizes the student well and makes a compelling case for why this student would succeed at Occidental College. 

    Example 2

    Yes, I eat noodles with my hands. I started the tradition when I was 13 and interested in competitive eating. Ramen noodles were my practice food, and I quickly found out that utensils only took away from my eating time. I performed the best with nature’s utensils, and have been eating noodles this way ever since. 

    My hand eating has made me a more confident person. After breaking one social norm, I feel empowered to question all of them. I now take stares at restaurants to mean that I’m likely doing something right in this world. My questioning, and eating, and questioning about food, have compelled me to live a life asking “why not?” rather than “why so?” Picking up noodles has inspired me to encourage myself to stray from the norm.

    Why did this essay work?

    This essay is witty and unique. It is also unexpectedly profound. This student is able to communicate their willingness to think critically and question social norms through a lighthearted, personal anecdote. Not only does this essay convey a distinct sense of humor, but it also demonstrates deeper personal truths about this student. 

    Example 3

    The 2008 financial crisis hit my family hard. After both my parents lost their jobs, my family had to make sacrifices to keep a roof over our heads. My meals came to consist of rice and beans and beans and rice, and on Sunday’s bologna with pasta. My frequent grumbling stomach was the one lifestyle adjustment I had trouble powering through, and so I learned about food insecurity. I would like to research solutions to make healthy food more accessible to all, so others can stay hungry for knowledge rather than protein.

    Why did this essay work?

    This essay is brief but powerful. It speaks to the student’s sense of family, personal resiliency, and social responsibility. Through this essay, it is clear that this student is mature, self-aware, and has a clear academic focus that can be pursued at Occidental College. They are passionate about their prospective course of study, and as a reader, you want them to succeed. 

    Key takeaways on the Occidental supplemental essays 2022-23

    Be genuine, be specific, and be yourself! Occidental supplemental essays are meant to personalize the college admissions process. Use each essay prompt to share something new about yourself and to enhance your overall application. If you feel like you could benefit from individualized attention after reviewing this essay guide, consider reaching out for additional college counseling and guidance services. 

    FAQs related to Occidental supplemental essays

    College application season can be overwhelming, especially when you have to keep track of so many different deadlines and requirements. In order to stay organized and work efficiently, review these frequently asked questions and their accompanying responses. 

    Occidental College requires five supplemental essays. The first Occidental College supplemental essay is 200 words maximum; the second supplemental essay is 134 words maximum; the third essay is 300 words maximum and has three prompts to choose from, and the last two essay prompts are a maximum of 150 characters each.  

    In total, you are required to submit five supplemental essays. The third required essay, however, has three prompts to choose from. Choose the one that resonates most with you. Remember, to review the maximum length of each question before beginning to write.

    Most supplemental college essay prompts are released sometime around August 1st. This date, however, is an estimate and can vary from year to year. To receive the most up-to-date information, refer to Occidental College’s website. 

    Your Occidental College supplemental essays allow you to better showcase who you are as a person and as a student. Be sincere and succinct. Do your best to make each of your essays unique. Each essay should add something new to your application. If Occidental College is your first choice, consider applying for Early Decision.

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