Villanova University’s 23% acceptance rate for the Class of 2026 is less than half of what it was as recently as 2015. Today, admitted students earned a mid-50% SAT of 1430-1520, and you typically need mostly A’s in AP/honors courses to have a serious shot at acceptance. Writing an excellent Common App and Villanova supplemental essays are also incredibly important pieces of the admissions puzzle for wannabe Wildcats.

(Want to learn more about How to Get Into Villanova? Visit our blog entitled: How to Get Into Villanova University for all of the most recent admissions data as well as tips for gaining acceptance.)

In this blog, we will look at the Villanova supplemental essays for the 2022-23 admissions cycle along with tips about how to write essays that will win over admissions officers.

Villanova Supplemental Essays #1: Free Choice (2022-23)

For the first Villanova-specific essay, we hope to gain a deeper understanding of your thoughts, experiences, and opinions. Choose one of the five topics below and submit a written response in about 250 words.

Prompt One:
St. Augustine states that well-being is “not concerned with myself alone, but with my neighbor’s good as well.” How have you advocated for equity and justice in your communities? 

Some students may have more direct experience with equity social justice issues than others, but—no matter your background—this is an opportunity to demonstrate that you care about justice and fairness in your local community as well as the global community. If applicable, you can speak about a time when you spoke up for a peer in a moment of need or, alternatively, an instance when you got involved in a larger cause or movement (politics, activism, volunteer work, etc.). If you don’t happen to have a deeply personal story to tell in this realm, you’ll probably want to select a different prompt. While there’s nothing wrong with simply articulating your basic beliefs in the values of inclusion, equity, tolerance, and diversity, it doesn’t necessarily make for the most compelling essay.

Prompt Two:
What is the truest thing that you know? 

The wide open nature of this prompt is appealing to many applicants, but the high degree of freedom can easily turn intimidating if you don’t keep this one simple. This is a great space in which to communicate about what you care most about in life whether that happens to be historical political patterns, differential calculus, subatomic particles, Peruvian culture, or metaphysical poetry. The bottom line is that you want to convey your passion for a given concept, belief, or philosophy and reveal a bit about the core of your soul in that process.

Prompt Three:
One of the themes in St. Augustine’s book, Confessions, is the idea of redemption. Tell us your story of being given a second chance.

If your first reaction to this prompt is, “But, I’ve never done a single thing wrong in my whole life!?” then you can skip right on to the next prompt. Yet, most of us—albeit to varying degrees—have experienced moments of failure, whether of a skill-based or moral nature. It likely took an adult in your life, or perhaps a peer, to help you through that initial struggle and coach you onto eventual triumph. This setting of these events could be in the classroom, on an athletic field, or within your family or social group. Showing your vulnerability and how you handle adversity can be an excellent way to demonstrate your maturity and readiness for the challenges that await at Nova.

Prompt Four:
In the Villanova community, we believe that we all learn from one another. What is a lesson in life that you have learned that you would want to share with others?

Prompt #4 is trying to assess what type of community member you would be as part of Villanova’s campus. The university greatly values those who have gained wisdom from their extracurricular involvement and leadership while in high school. In fact, the admitted Class of 2026 cohort included 83% who participated in community service, 64% who held paying jobs, and 82% who played sports. This essay presents the chance to communicate the wisdom you have acquired from participation in your present communities; then, you can switch gears to illustrate how the lessons you have learned will impact your future collegiate community.

Prompt Five:
Augustine’s “Miracles are not contrary to nature but only contrary to what we know about nature.” Tell us about a societal issue that you believe the wonder of technology is well-poised to help solve.

This is a common choice for future engineering majors or anyone interested in the realm of scientific research. Alternatively, this one can also make sense for future computer science or communications & media studies majors. Unfortunately, in 2022, there is no shortage of relevant societal issues to pick from: the pandemic, gun violence, world hunger, war in Europe, political polarizations, economic challenges, and the list goes on and on. No matter which issue/technology you choose, show off your creative abilities and optimistic mindset as you present a potential solution.

Essay #2: Why Villanova? (2022-23)

Prompt: Why do you want to call Villanova your new home and how will you become part of our community? 

Please submit a written response of about 150 words.

Villanova wants to know why you desire to pursue your studies at their institution and how you will become part of their campus community. Answering both components of this question in less than 150 words is no easy task. This one is going to require a fair amount of school-specific research. Additionally, you may need a good deal of editing to tighten up your essay to stay under the word count.

Examples of items that quality “Why Villanova?” essays touch upon include:

  • 98% of first-year students live on campus creating a cohesive atmosphere.
  • Students come from roughly 50 foreign countries so you’ll meet people from all over the country/world.
  • 300+ student organizations exist on campus. Pick one or two that are of interest to you.
  • Students donate 250,000 hours per year to community service. Talk about how you will get involved.
  • Talk in detail about the specifics of your academic program whether it is one of the 47 majors in the College of Liberal Arts & Science or part of the business, engineering, or nursing schools.
  • Discuss which undergraduate research opportunities at Villanova you plan to pursue.
  • How will you take advantage of the school’s location which is 12 miles outside Philadelphia? Think about community service, internships, etc.
  • The Office of Education Abroad offers a multitude of semester, summer, and intensive programs abroad. How would you take advantage of these unique opportunities?

Of course, these are just a fraction of the possible features that could be part of a successful essay. As you enter the prewriting stage, you’ll want to avoid some common pitfalls that we observe applicants fall into when attacking the Villanova “Why Us?” essay. We don’t want to label these as “mistakes” (there is nothing inherently wrong with them); they just don’t add any needle-moving value, which is the only goal here!

Common components of a generic “Why Us” essay

  • According to US News, Villanova University is a top-50 school.
  • Showing love for the Villanova basketball team.
  • Recycled statements from your other “Why Us?” essays that come across as stale, impersonal, or worst of all–irrelevant/inaccurate.
  • Statements about how Villanova “feels like home”, or you’ve “wanted to attend since kindergarten”; show this adoration through specifics instead.

How to write a winning “Why Villanova?” essay

  • Address a) why Nova is the perfect fit for you and b) why you are the perfect fit for Nova.
  • Cite specific academic programs, professors, research opportunities, internship/externship programs, study abroad programs, student-run organizations, etc. (like the suggestions cited above).
  • How will you become an active, contributing member of the student body?
  • Show evidence of how your past/current endeavors will carry over onto Villanova’s campus.
  • How will you take advantage of the university’s tremendous resources both inside and outside of the classroom?

How important are the Villanova supplemental essays?

Three factors are viewed as “very important” to the Nova admissions committee. These are: the GPA earned, the rigor of one’s curriculum, and class rank. Seven factors rate as “important”: recommendations, essays, extracurricular activities, talent/ability, character/personal qualities, work experience, and volunteer work. Clearly, the essays are one of the most important application components for any prospective Wildcat.

Want Personalized Essay Assistance?

If you are interested in working with one of College Transitions’ experienced and knowledgeable essay coaches as you craft your Villanova supplemental essays, we encourage you to get a quote today.

Dave has over a decade of professional experience that includes work as a teacher, high school administrator, college professor, and independent educational consultant. He is a co-author of the books The Enlightened College Applicant (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016) and Colleges Worth Your Money (Rowman & Littlefield, 2020).