Villanova University is a private, Catholic research university in Pennsylvania. With a 36 percent acceptance rate, it’s considered moderately competitive—but even that level has an average GPA just shy of 4.0. But acceptance to Villanova isn’t just about your test scores and GPA; you’ll also need to nail the Villanova supplement essay, rounding out your application with a strong representation of yourself.
In this guide, we’ll cover all of Villanova’s essay prompts and how to best answer them, including potential topics and pitfalls.
Find yourself a quiet place and a good study playlist.
What Are the Villanova Essay Prompts?
Villanova University only accepts the Common Application. In addition to the required Common Application essay question, you’ll be writing one additional supplement specifically for Villanova.
Just one supplemental essay is required, but you’ll have three prompts to choose from. Your response should be one page, double-spaced, in length.
No prompt is inherently better than the others — pick whichever appeals to you most. Each one is unique to Villanova, and they all have some unique twists on the expected essay format.
We believe that all members of our community should be committed to diversity, equity and inclusion. How would you contribute to this at Villanova?
At first, this prompt might look like a typical “diversity essay.” It mentions diversity, equity, and inclusion, and asks how you’ll contribute
However, the first part of the question says that “all members of our community should be committed to….” Instead of asking what you’ll contribute to their diverse community, they’re instead asking what you’ll do to foster diversity.
That could mean bringing your unique experiences to campus, but it could also mean looking at how you, personally, will help ensure that everybody feels welcomed and appreciated. How will you contribute to the commitment to diversity?
This prompt is fairly unique because it doesn’t just want to know about what separates you from the rest. Villanova also wants to know how you’ll fit in with other students and appreciate their stories and backgrounds. The use of the word ‘community’ tells us that this is a campus that values the relationships students build with one another. Appreciating and celebrating diversity is part of that mission.
To answer this question, think about the communities you belong to and the ways that they intersect with one another. You can also consider times when you’ve been immersed in another culture—truly immersed, not just watching or participating briefly—and what that meant to you.
Be sure that you’re always answering the question of how you’ll commit to diversity at Villanova, not just what you’ve done in the past. A past experience, such as attending a traditional Indian wedding, might have led you to appreciate how different another culture’s celebrations can be, but Villanova wants to know what you’ll do next.
Will you make a point to attend or organize different celebrations on campus? What does your experience with diversity, whether your own or someone else’s, inspire you to do to foster a welcoming community? On an individual basis, how will you commit to ensuring that the community is full of diversity, equity, and inclusion?
When answering this question, avoid coming off as patronizing or condescending. Though a trip to build wells for impoverished communities may have had good intentions, these trips can sometimes do more harm than good.
Likewise, volunteering at a soup kitchen isn’t all the impressive if the message you come away with is that you’re glad you’re not homeless. Instead of focusing on yourself and your feelings, take the experience and turn it into actionable ideas. “Because I saw firsthand how people all around me are suffering, I devoted every Saturday to fundraising for the homeless, a routine I plan to continue at Villanova,” is a lot stronger than, “Because I saw firsthand how people all around me are suffering, I decided I would spend time every day writing down something I’m grateful for.”
Saint Augustine believed in the essential connection between the mind and the heart. Tell us about a time that your mind and heart were in conflict and how that was resolved.
College applications will often ask for an event where your views were challenged and you learned from it. This question is a little different—instead of being an outside challenge, it’s an internal one.
Still, Villanova wants to know about how you respond to challenges and how you learn from them. Consider times where you’ve been in conflict with yourself and how you ultimately came to a conclusion. What strategies did you use? Were you ultimately happy with your choice?
For example, maybe you struggled with a choice to attend an expensive summer camp that specialized in the field you want to study or to spend your summer working. Both options would be beneficial, but you wanted the summer camp more—only you weren’t sure how you were going to pay for it.
Whatever option you chose, there’s an essay to be found there; maybe you spent the summer working to save up to attend next year, or maybe you sold a video game console you hadn’t played in a while to make sure you could attend this year. The key is that your heart wants one thing (a great summer spent at camp) while your mind wants another (the money to attend that camp) and you found a way to solve the problem.
Remember that the prompt states Saint Augustine’s belief in a connection between the mind and heart. How did your ultimate resolution lead to a greater understanding of what both your heart and mind wanted? Were you able to bridge the gap?
For this question, avoid topics that are too shallow or that aren’t really conflicts. Don’t write about trying to choose which friend you wanted to spend the weekend with unless it was a really deep decision, and stay away from spending too much time on choices with answers that seem obvious, like whether you should study or play video games. Dig deep on this question and pick something with a clear narrative. Your essay should showcase something about you, whether it’s your work ethic, your passion, or your caring for others.
"Each of us strengthens all of us" is a concept that resonates deeply in the Villanova community. While this phrase may mean many different things, one aspect is that Villanovans rely on each other. Share a situation when you have needed help and what you have taken away from this experience.
Colleges, especially research universities like Villanova, are all about community and collaboration. You might have a particularly brilliant mind, but that’s not all it takes to succeed—the ability to work with others is also key, and Villanova wants to hear about how you recognize those who have helped you get to where you are.
This is a good opportunity to be humble and acknowledge the support you’ve had along the way. Think about self-reflection, including why you needed help in a particular situation and how the support you received changed your thinking or improved you in some way.
This prompt invites you to share your understanding of the importance of collaboration by discussing an experience in which others helped you achieve something. Don’t spend too much time worrying about choosing an experience or situation that’s particularly impressive—instead, focus on something that really demonstrates how important a good team can be.
The biggest thing to avoid in answering this question is prioritizing your achievement over the assistance you received. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write about a great achievement—if you won an impressive award or invented something new, definitely share that!—but rather that you should focus on showcasing the support that got you there, such as your mother spending time teaching you how to connect circuits or your teacher spending time after school to coach you through curating a perfect photography portfolio.
Show Villanova you understand how important it is to work as a team to achieve great things, and you'll be set to impress!
Believe it or not, relaxation is an important part of writing your college essays.
Key Tips for Writing the Villanova Essay
Though Villanova’s essay prompts are targeted specifically for their school, there are quite a few guidelines you can follow to make your essay strong regardless of what school you’re applying for.
Brainstorming doesn’t have to be an intensive process. Beginning a project is often the hardest part; taking a minute or five to get a bunch of ideas down on paper, regardless of their quality, lets you get to work without pressure. Take a deep breath, set a timer, and start jotting down as many ideas as you can think of. Once you’re done, pick the ones that sound most appealing and move on to the next step.
Now that you have some ideas, you can start spinning them into outlines. Take a few of the ideas that are most appealing to you and start answering the supplemental questions that should come up in your essay. For example, if you’re answering the first prompt, you should not only be thinking about your personal experiences with diversity, but also how you hope to support equity at Villanova.
Sketch out a brief plan for each topic. If you find you don’t have enough points to make, it’s probably not the right idea. Repeat until you have a few outlines to choose from, and then choose the one that you feel strongest about.
Now that you already have an outline, it’s far easier to actually write your essay. On your first draft, don’t worry too much about staying within the page limit. Don’t even worry about word choice or having something you’re ready to show somebody else. Just focus on getting all of your ideas down on the page so that you have something to do for the next stage.
Now comes the point where you start taking what you’ve done and turning it into gold. Editing isn’t just about fine-tuning your grammar and spelling; read your draft aloud to find places where your sentences run on too long, or places where you’ve used the wrong word. Cut extra words and take out sections that aren’t serving your thesis. Be brutal; you can always add things back in if you find you miss them!
Once you’ve done a few editing passes on your essay, it’s time for the scariest part: showing it to others. Ask a few people who are invested in your success but who aren’t likely to be too harsh or overly kind in their suggestions—teachers, coaches, and other authority figures are generally good choices—to take a look at your essay and let you know what they think. Let them mark up your draft with any mistakes that they find, and set all that feedback aside for a bit. It’s a good time to take a break from your essay so that you can come back to it with fresh eyes.
Now that you’ve had some time away from your essay, it’s time to revise. Take all that feedback you received and consider it. You don’t have to fix anything that doesn’t feel right to you, but do consider why your reviewers may have made that suggestion. Does your essay lack clarity? Could you have chosen a better word? Why are they confused?
Always be sure that your essay sounds like you wrote it, though. Remember: your essay is meant to showcase the things that make you unique. If it reads like every other students’ application, it’s not working right! If one of your readers has made big suggestions that don’t sound like something you’d say, rephrase them until they do, or just don’t use them. It’s more important that your essay represents you.
A great essay is just one part of a successful Villanova application. Find out what ACT scores and GPA the admissions office is looking for with this handy guide!
If you're seeking financial aid from Villanova, this guide to their tuition and financial aid will help you figure out how much you need and how much you can expect to get.
Though Villanova has some unique considerations for their essays, there are some common tricks and strategies you can use to write your college essay. This guide covers some of the best ways to ensure your application essay is a success!
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Melissa Brinks graduated from the University of Washington in 2014 with a Bachelor's in English with a creative writing emphasis. She has spent several years tutoring K-12 students in many subjects, including in SAT prep, to help them prepare for their college education.