Writing the Villanova Application Essay
UPDATE: The Villanova application essay options have changed for 2020-21! Take a look at our new guide!
Applicants to Villanova, the oldest and largest Catholic university in Pennsylvania, must submit one essay in addition to the Common App personal statement. The Villanova application essay is a great opportunity to show how your ideas, values, and goals align with Villanovan ideals of critical thinking, ethical and compassionate action, and service to others.
Villanova provides three prompt options for this essay, so let’s look at how to choose the prompt and topic that’s right for you!
Note: Your Villanova application essay should be 250-1000 words.
In the spirit of Saint Augustine, we believe that everyone in the Villanova community learns from each other. What is a lesson that you have learned in your life so far that you will share with others?
Choose this prompt if: you can think of a specific experience (or several experiences) that significantly transformed who you are and how you see the world. Perhaps you volunteered at a nursing home and were surprised at how much you learned from the residents, or perhaps you had an international pen pal (or email pal) who opened your eyes to another culture. Don’t be afraid to show how you didn’t know everything—and still don’t! Remember, you’re just starting out on your lifelong journey of learning, and don’t have to have all the answers; what’s important is to demonstrate to your readers that you’re committed to growing as a person.
You may live in one of the busiest cities in all the world or come from a small town with just one traffic light. The place that you call home has probably shaped who you are in some way. Tell us about where you are from and what, from there, you will bring to Villanova.
Choose this prompt if: you feel that your community, family, or cultural background has been a primary influence on your perspectives and values. Be sure to include details about specific interactions, observations, and realizations that make your home meaningful to you. You could even take an unconventional approach and discuss how you dislike or disagree with certain aspects of your home or background, and are committed to pursuing a different lifestyle or different values from what you grew up with. Perhaps you grew up in a family of professional musicians and absorbed their love of music, or perhaps your hometown had some serious environmental issues that inspired you to study environmental science. Don’t forget to touch on how these formative experiences might help you “shape” others at Villanova.
Please describe a choice for change that you have made in your life that has greatly affected your life or the lives of others.
Choose this prompt if: you have a bit of an activist streak, or have otherwise worked to transform the status quo or improve others’ lives. You don’t need to have done something political or led a protest or become a vegan—your “choice for change” might be some action that’s small yet meaningful to you. Think about choices that illustrate your unique personality and how you’re not afraid to take your own path. For example, maybe you gifted your friends and family copies of a book that changed your life and worldview, and you discussed the book with them after they’d read it. The key is to show that you took concrete actions based on your passions and values, and that you’ve reflected on the impact of your actions.
Villanova’s admissions readers want to see a solid structure, with a thesis statement and supporting paragraphs. Your thesis should summarize your answer to the prompt in 1-2 sentences; include this thesis somewhere in your introduction. Then use 2-3 supporting paragraphs to illustrate your main points with specific details and examples.
- Your Villanova application essay could have as few as 250 words, but we’d suggest picking a prompt that allows you to go a bit more in-depth. That said, don’t feel obligated to write 1000 words. Impress your readers through honesty, insight, and clarity, rather than by bulking up your essay with “filler,” or by writing what you think they want to hear.
Remember, choose a topic that complements, rather than repeats, the themes in your Common App essay. This way, your Villanova application essay can give readers a fuller picture of who you are as a person and why you’re a great fit for the school!