By: Caroline Koppelman
The “Why X school?” question on the college application is often considered one of the easiest. You research the school and find classes that catch your eye and extra curriculars that match your interests. Unlike some of the more amorphous Common App questions, there’s a relatively standard formula. Syracuse’s supplements, however, throw a bit of a wrinkle into the equation.
- Who or what influenced you to apply to Syracuse University?
- Who is the person you dream of becoming, and how do you believe Syracuse University can help you achieve this?
Unlike some of the more traditional supplements, these require some serious thought and a passionate response. They ask you to think deeply about why you’re applying to Syracuse and give a reason beyond the boilerplate.
There’s no right answer as to how to respond to these questions. But for those students who are struggling below are some ideas to help you get started.
Who or what influenced you to apply to Syracuse University?
If you have a family member or close family friend who attended Syracuse, you may be in luck. But for those of you who don’t have an aunt or grandfather who attended the school, this question will require a fair amount of research.
Start by looking online at some of Syracuse’s prominent alumni and people. Find one who worked in a field that you enjoy or have studied with some level of depth. Perhaps you’re a huge fan of the author George Saunders, an alum and current professor, who has received acclaim as one of the US’ preeminent short story authors. Or you love the artist Sol Lewitt and his massive, groundbreaking installations. Find someone whose life speaks to you. Research what they did and if possible how they got their start at Syracuse. If you pick someone you’re passionate about, this question should be easy, as long as you do your homework.
Who is the person you dream of becoming, and how do you believe Syracuse University can help you achieve this?
This question on the surface seems easier. You can pick anyone, famous or not, and describe their life and how you take influence from them. The difficult part comes in aligning the curriculum and opportunities at Syracuse with how you hope to achieve your dreams. Make sure that the courses you write about are classes that will help shape you into the person you want to become. There should be a clear narrative thread about your development in this essay, that shows how you will mold yourself to become your dream person.
Some students will see the Syracuse essay questions and groan because of the amount of work they require. But if you are diligent and select people whose lives and achievements you are truly inspired by, this has the potential to be one of your strongest essays, and become a template for many of the other essays you write.