If you're applying to college, there's a good chance you'll be writing a Community Essay for one (or lots) of your supplementals. In this post, we show you how to write one that stands out.
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How to do Community Essay school research
Looking at school values means doing research on the school’s motto, mission statement, and strategic plans. This information is all carefully curated by a university to reflect the core values, initiatives, and goals of an institution. They can guide your Community essay by giving you more values options to include.
We’ll use the Rice mission statement as an example. It says,
As a leading research university with a distinctive commitment to undergraduate education, Rice University aspires to pathbreaking research, unsurpassed teaching, and contribution to the betterment of our world. It seeks to fulfill this mission by cultivating a diverse community of learning and discovery that produces leaders across the spectrum of human endeavor.
I’ve bolded just a few of the most important values we can draw out.
As we’ll see in the next section, I can use these values to brainstorm my Community essay.
How to write a Community Supplemental Essay
Step 1: Read the prompt closely & identify any relevant values.
When writing any supplemental essay, your first step should always be to closely read the prompt. You can even annotate it. It’s important to do this so you know exactly what is being asked of you.
With Community essays specifically, you can also highlight any values you think the prompt is asking you to elaborate on.
Keeping track of the prompt will make sure that you’re not missing anything an admissions officer will be on the lookout for.
Step 2: Brainstorm communities you’re involved in.
If you’re writing a Community essay that asks you to discuss a community you belong to, then your next step will be brainstorming all of your options.
As you brainstorm, keep a running list. Your list can include all kinds of communities you’re involved in.
- Drama Club
- Model United Nations
- Youth group
- My city
- Instagram book club
- My Discord group
Step 3: Think about the role(s) you play in your selected community.
Narrow down your community list to a couple of options. For each remaining option, identify the roles you played, actions you took, and significance you’ve drawn from being part of that group.
|Section leader||Lead sectionals, be available for others to ask questions, coordinate with orchestra director to set section goals, set a good example for the rest of the section||My involvement in this community is significant because it’s taught me to balance my own technical skill with teamwork and collaboration.|
|Fundraiser coordinator||Coordinate fundraiser activities to raise money for orchestra room upgrades||I showed my dedication to my orchestra community by putting in a lot of extra work to raise $5,000 for the new equipment we needed.|
These three columns help you get at the most important details you need to include in your community essay.
Step 4: Identify any relevant connections to the school.
Depending on the question the prompt asks of you, your last step may be to do some school research.
Let’s return to the Rice example.
After researching the Rice mission statement, we know that Rice values community members who want to contribute to the “betterment of our world.”
Ah ha! Now we have something solid to work from.
With this value in mind, I can choose to write about a perspective that shows my investment in creating a better world. Maybe that perspective is a specific kind of fundraising tenacity. Maybe it’s always looking for those small improvements that have a big impact. Maybe it’s some combination of both. Whatever it is, I can write a supplemental essay that reflects the values of the university.
Community Essay Mistakes
While writing Community essays may seem fairly straightforward, there are actually a number of ways they can go awry. Specifically, there are three common mistakes students make that you should be on the lookout for.
They don’t address the specific requests of the prompt.
As with all supplemental essays, your Community essay needs to address what the prompt is asking you to do. In Community essays especially, you’ll need to assess whether you’re being asked to talk about a community you’re already part of or the community you hope to join.
Neglecting to read the prompt also means neglecting any help the prompt gives you in terms of values. Remember that you can get clues as to what the school is looking for by analyzing the prompt’s underlying values.
They’re too vague.
Community essays can also go awry when they’re too vague. Your Community essay should reflect on specific, concrete details about your experience. This is especially the case when a Community prompt asks you to talk about a specific moment, challenge, or sequence of events.
Don’t shy away from details. Instead, use them to tell a compelling story.
They don’t make any connections to the school.
Finally, Community essays that don’t make any connections to the school in question miss out on a valuable opportunity to show school fit. Recall from our supplemental essay guide that you should always write supplemental essays with an eye toward showing how well you fit into a particular community.
Community essays are the perfect chance to do that, so try to find relevant and logical school connections to include.
Community Supplemental Essay Example
Example essay: Robotics Community
University of Michigan: Everyone belongs to many different communities and/or groups defined by (among other things) shared geography, religion, ethnicity, income, cuisine, interest, race, ideology, or intellectual heritage. Choose one of the communities to which you belong, and describe that community and your place within it. (Required for all applicants; minimum 100 words/maximum 300 words)
From Blendtec’s “Will it Blend?” videos to ZirconTV’s “How to Use a Stud Finder,” I’m a YouTube how-to fiend. This propensity for fix-it knowledge has not only served me well, but it’s also been a lifesaver
for my favorite community: my robotics team((The writer explicitly states the community they’ll be focusing on.)). While some students spend their after-school hours playing sports or video games, I spend mine tinkering in my garage with three friends, one of whom is made of metal.
Last year, I Googled more fixes than I can count.
Faulty wires, misaligned soldering, and failed code were no match for me. My friends watched in awe as I used Boolean Operators to find exactly the information I sought.((The writer clearly articulates their place in the community.)) But as I agonized over chassis reviews, other unsearchable problems arose.
First((This entire paragraph fulfills the “describe that community” direction in the prompt.)), there was the matter of registering for our first robotics competition. None of us familiar with bureaucracy, David stepped up and made some calls. His maturity and social skills helped us immediately land a spot. The next issue was branding. Our robot needed a name and a logo, and Connor took it upon himself to learn graphic design. We all voted on Archie’s name and logo design to find the perfect match. And finally, someone needed to enter the ring. Archie took it from there, winning us first place.
The best part about being in this robotics community is the collaboration and exchange of knowledge.((The writer emphasizes a clear strength: collaboration within their community. It’s clear that the writer values all contributions to the team.)) Although I can figure out how to fix anything, it’s impossible to google social skills, creativity, or courage. For that information, only friends will do. I can only imagine the fixes I’ll bring to the
University of Michigan and the skills I’ll learn in return at part of the Manufacturing Robotics community((The writer ends with a forward-looking connection to the school in question.)).
Want to see even more supplemental essay examples? Check out our college essay examples post.