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Writing the “Why Major” Bucknell Supplement

Bucknell University, a private liberal arts college in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, offers a wide variety of majors and the freedom to remain undeclared until your sophomore year. The required “Why major” Bucknell supplement is a great opportunity to let admissions readers know not only why you’re so passionate about your main interests, but also why you might want to hold off on focusing on just one.

Here’s the prompt for the Bucknell supplement:

Please explain your interest in your first-choice major/undecided status and your second-choice major, should you opt to list one (250 words maximum).

There are several paths to take here, depending on how focused you are in your interests.


If you have a single main focus...

If you know exactly what you want to study, your first-choice major should be your main essay topic. So how do you “explain” your interest in a compelling way?

Follow these steps to develop a story that shows why your major is meaningful to you. (Examples are for a student majoring in Philosophy.)

Step 1: Make a list of 1-2 specific reasons your main interest fascinates you, perhaps touching on how you’re drawn to a certain aspect of the subject.

  • Reading Camus’ The Stranger spurred interest in existentialism
  • Always pondering deep questions about the nature of existence


Step 2: List 1-2 specific future goals you have related to your major.

  • Write philosophical novels
  • Teach philosophy at a high school or university


Step 3: Research your major at Bucknell and identify 1-2 specific opportunities (classes, faculty, events) that would help you pursue your specific interests and put you on the path to achieving your goals.

  • Course PHIL 258:Existentialism
  • Philosophy Lunch Chats


Now you’re ready to tell your story! Connect your reasons from step 1 to your goals from step 2; show how your goals grew out of your specific interests. Try describing a few key moments when your thinking changed or you had a powerful realization. Conclude your story by covering how the Bucknell resources you listed in step 3 make Bucknell an ideal place for you to pursue this major.


If you’re undecided...

If you’re undecided, you can still use these steps to tell a story about your interests and goals. In step 1, list at least two of your main interests and why they fascinate you. In step 2, list at least two related goals; they don’t have to be super specific, just things you think you might want to do after college. In step 3, list ways that Bucknell would let you explore your various interests and help you to narrow your focus or perhaps expose you to new academic areas. Then, in your essay, show the connections between your interests and your potential goals; discuss why and how these goals would satisfy your intellectual needs. Close by discussing the “exploratory” aspects of Bucknell you listed in step 3.

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