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How to Write Every RPI Essay

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is known for its awesome undergraduate STEM programs and research opportunities. If you want to join the class of 2024, you’ll need to write two supplemental essays. One is optional, but we recommend writing them both.

Let’s take a look at the first (required) RPI essay prompt!

 

Why RPI?

Why are you interested in Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute? (250 words)

To write a strong Why RPI essay, you’ll need to provide specific examples to explain your interest in RPI. Head over to the RPI website and do some research! These brainstorming questions may help.

Experiences: What experiences can RPI offer you? Maybe you are looking for a specific type of academic experience, like the flexibility of the Arch Program curriculum. Or maybe you’re interested in research opportunities at RPI, like the Biomedical Engineering department’s research program in Tissue and Regenerative Medicine. You might also be excited about RPI’s 200+ extracurriculars and student groups, like the Rensselaer Electric Vehicle Team and the Statler & Waldorf literary magazine.

Values: Are you drawn to any of RPI’s values? If so, how do they put those values into practice? For example, you might like the way that RPI values entrepreneurship, and how the Severino Center for Technological Entrepreneurship connects students with resources.

Traits: Do you like any specific traits of students or faculty at RPI? If so, try to include an example. For instance, you might be a future engineer who likes the fact that more than 50% of RPI freshmen are engineering students.

Visit: If you’ve visited RPI or talked to RPI staff at an admissions event, try to work that experience into your essay! What were the moments or conversations that made you really want to attend RPI?

 

Let’s look at an example student’s brainstorming list for this 250-word essay.

Experiences:

  • Interdisciplinary learning - Biomedical Engineering and Medicine program for undergraduates
  • Biomedical engineering research with the Center for Modeling, Simulation & Imaging in Medicine
  • Study abroad - Nanyang Technological University in Singapore
  • Competing with the Club Ski Team

Values:

  • Experiential learning: the Arch program will allow me to fit a study abroad program into my Biomedical Engineering curriculum

Traits:

  • Intellectual curiosity: When I visited, many students were exploring subjects outside of their major and they were excited to talk about their research projects

 

Describe an Activity

Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences. (300 words)

In this optional-but-reccomended 300-word RPI essay, try to draw a connection between an activity and one of your values, goals, positive traits, or broader interests. For example, maybe you were drawn to an activity because it aligned with your values, or maybe a work experience inspired one of your future goals. What made this activity a really important part of your life?

 

Let’s look at a few example students’ topics:

Student 1:

  • Activity: Volunteered at the library every summer
  • Connection to values: I care about giving back to the community

Student 2:

  • Activity: Internship at biomedical research lab
  • Connection to goals: I want to be an orthopedic surgeon

Student 3:

  • Activity: Started a jewelry business on Etsy
  • Connection to interests: I’m interested in entrepreneurship

Click here for our guide to writing the Common App Essay

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