Essay & Activities List Tips

Writing your essay

Grades and test scores are important when applying for college admission, but it takes a lot more than "the numbers" to tell your story. The essay is a chance to give us a snapshot of who you are – your voice, your experiences, your goals. Remember that your essay is reviewed for both admission as well as scholarship purposes.

Freshman essay questions for Fall 2016

Students are asked to respond to one of the prompts below as part of the application for admission. Most essay responses are about 500 words, but this is only a recommendation, not a firm limit. Feel free to take what space is necessary for you to tell your story.

  • Share a meaningful experience and how this has helped shape you in your preparation for college. This could be related to your passions, commitments, leadership experience, family or cultural background.

  • Describe any activities you have been involved in related to diversity or multiculturalism and explain how you will actively contribute to a diverse campus community at Western.

  • Admissions Essay – topic of your choice. If you have written another essay that captures what you want the Admissions Committee to know about you, feel free to share it with us.

Essay tips

  • Spend time reflecting before you start your essay. Your college essay is your chance to "speak" to the Admissions Committee, so make yourself come alive! Our essay questions are listed above so you can start composing a well-written essay that reflects you and your potential before you apply. The best college essays are those that make the reader feel like they know you, so write with sincerity.

  • Demonstrate sustained involvement. Committing to—and staying in—a particular activity that you're passionate about or your experience in an academic course is more interesting than occasional or one-time participation. Tell us how those experiences affected you as a student or as a person.

  • Express your pride and appreciation for cultural diversity. Enthusiasm for and experience within culturally diverse environments will be key to your success here at Western and beyond.

  • Don't be shy. Applying to college is great practice for eventually applying for jobs in the "real world," where you are expected to "sell" yourself. Have you made a positive difference in the lives of others, whether in your family, community or school? Let your talent shine by telling us about your accomplishments in your activities list or by submitting additional information with your application. Letters of recommendation aren't required, but if a teacher or counselor has written one for you, feel free to submit it as well.

  • Proofread! The content of your essay is important, but so is the written quality. Ask a teacher, parent or friend to read through your essay; they can catch errors or help you strengthen your message.

  • If you are applying as a transfer student, please review the separate essay tips for transfer students.

Activities list

We believe that ability and potential are measured by more than grades and test scores. Help us learn how you spend your time by providing a list of your most meaningful activities and achievements in grades 9-12. This could include areas like: community involvement, volunteer experience, employment, athletics, extracurricular clubs, arts, family responsibilities, or special awards and recognition.

Please list your activities in order of importance to you and be sure to include:

  • The name of the organization or involvement

  • Your position or role

  • How long you have participated

  • A short description about the activities that are most significant to you. You do not need to describe all activities.

If you submit your application online, you can either upload your activities list to your application or type the list directly within the online form. If you apply using the paper application, please attach your activities list to your application. There is no prescribed format for your activity list, but you can see some activity list examples here.