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Acing the Santa Clara University Essay Prompts 2018-19

UPDATE!  There have been some changes to the Santa Clara supplement for the 2019-20 application cycle.  Click here to read our updated guide to the Santa Clara University essay prompts.


Santa Clara University, a top-ranking private Jesuit university located in the heart of Silicon Valley, asks prospective students for three short responses in addition to the Common App personal statement. These three Santa Clara University essay prompts all encompass the basic question of “Why SCU,” and give you the chance to let readers know why you and SCU are such a great fit for each other!

Let’s look at how to approach each Santa Clara University essay prompt in order to give a full picture of who you are and how you’ll contribute to the SCU community.


Santa Clara University’s strategic vision promises to educate citizens and leaders of competence, conscience, and compassion and cultivate knowledge and faith to build a more humane, just, and sustainable world. What aspect of SCU’s strategic vision appeals to you? Why? (150-300 words)

First, research what SCU’s strategic vision entails in practical terms. Hint: they’re big on integrating high-tech innovation with social consciousness and a commitment to improving the world. The key here is not to echo back at them their own stated goals, but to show a value, passion, achievement, or commitment in your own life that aligns with a specific part of their vision. For example, perhaps you’ve designed a website that aims to help others in some way that’s important to you, and consequently you’re drawn to SCU’s blending of knowledge and compassion.


Briefly describe how you learned about Santa Clara University. (150 words maximum)

As you describe your introduction to the school, try to give a glimpse into your wider life. For example, if an SCU alumnus told you about the school, you could talk a bit about your relationship to this person. What made you take this person’s recommendation to heart? Perhaps you respected their values, and that reflected well on the school. If you learned about SCU in a less personal way, think about what jumped out at you and piqued your interest. What was the very next step you took to find out more about the school? In general, your response to this prompt can show readers how you process and pursue new opportunities.


If you visited campus, describe what aspect of your visit experience most influenced your impression of SCU. (Maximum 150 words)

Remember: they already know all about the beauty of their campus, their prime location, the perks of their Silicon Valley surroundings. You can certainly mention some of these aspects, but keep the focus on you and how you see yourself fitting into the SCU community. First, write down everything that stood out to you on your campus visit. List tangible things, but also moods, attitudes, or interactions you picked up on. Then, to identify the aspect that most influenced you, think about how each aspect specifically affected your thoughts and feelings. Pick the aspect that allows you to give the best glimpse into who you are as a person, and who you’ll be on that campus. For example, perhaps you were struck by the enthusiasm of students volunteering in SCU’s on-campus urban garden; you could tie this to your own passionate interest in sustainable farming and describe how excited you are to get involved in SCU’s sustainability efforts.

With your responses to these Santa Clara University essay prompts, try to show other sides of yourself from what you cover in your Common App personal statement. Remember, this is your chance to show readers not only that you’re a stellar college candidate, but that you’re an ideal candidate for SCU in particular.

Click here for our guide to writing the Common App Essay




Prompt’s Essay Specialists reviewed 13,000 admissions essays in 2018, helping thousands of students submit their applications with confidence.

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