Following the pattern established by the prompt, you will want to choose a short mission statement that is no more than a sentence long. The bulk of your essay will be spent parsing that statement and showing how its words are carefully chosen to reflect the way you have moved through the world and what you hope to accomplish.
The important part about this mission statement is not so much the statement itself as how you use that statement as a launching pad to tell the admissions officers a story about your life that they would not be able to get from looking at your activities list and your grades.
To craft the best possible answer to this question, you can brainstorm in two different ways.
First, you can try to think up a mission statement and then reflect on your life and the stories that might support that statement. For example, maybe you can say that “what gets me up every morning is the desire to serve those who have been marginalized.” You might next tell a specific story about how you interned for an organization that was trying to help those who had been released from prison to find employment. What did you learn from that experience, not only about yourself as an individual, but also about the world in which you live?
Maybe after you start writing your story, you will want to go back and change your mission statement to better set up the story you want to tell. For example, maybe you learned that in many states those convicted with felony charges are barred from voting after they have served their sentences. Perhaps learning this fact got you involved in doing more than just trying to help individual former prisoners find jobs; maybe it also lead you to advocate for new laws.
In light of these developments, you might want to go back and edit your initial mission statement a little bit: “What gets me up every day is the desire to serve those who have been marginalized, both by addressing their individual needs and advocating for changing the system that marginalized them in the first place.”
But maybe you do not have any one particular focus that lets you tell a single, coherent story. A second way to approach this prompt is to think about several things that are important to you. Maybe you really love playing flute in your local district orchestra, tutoring kids in math, and also hearing your grandmother tell stories. With some careful thinking, you might see that there is a theme that connects these diverse experiences together. You can write a mission statement that expresses that theme.
After careful consideration, you might notice that all these activities require you to listen, with care and attention. Maybe your mission statement is “listening is an act of love.”
As a musician, you know that you can’t just stare at the page and move your fingers, playing your own part in a perpetual solo — you need to move with others. As a math tutor you know that your job is not just to dispense knowledge from on high but rather to listen to your students and try to figure out why they are having trouble. And maybe you learned the value of listening most of all from your grandmother who would never just “tell” you stories, but would always ask what you thought about the world around you and would listen as you tried to make sense of it all.
Use your essay to explore that theme.
Congratulations on being named a Rensselaer Medalist! We look forward to reviewing your application to Rensselaer.
You may use any of the applications we accept to apply, and, as a Medalist, your application fee is waived. All other requirements are the same as for all incoming freshman applicants.
Every year, we accept hundreds of Medalists into our freshman class; however, please note that being named a Medalist is not an automatic acceptance to Rensselaer.
To receive the Medal Scholarship, you must apply, be accepted, and enroll at Rensselaer. Please be sure to mention on your application that you are a Medalist.
Medalist Scholarship: As a Medalist, should you apply, be accepted, and enroll at Rensselaer, you will receive a merit scholarship with a value of $25,000 per year. This award is guaranteed to be applied to your tuition for each year of your undergraduate study at Rensselaer. As a Medalist, if you enroll in our School of Architecture, your scholarship will be extended to cover the fifth year of the program. If you enroll in our Co-Terminal (five-year B.S./M.S.) Program, your scholarship will be extended to cover the fifth year of study.
Accelerated Programs: As a Medalist, if you enroll in either our Physician-Scientist Program or one of our Accelerated Law Programs, your Medal Scholarship will only apply to the financial aid package you receive for the three years you are studying on Rensselaer’s campus.
Rensselaer Medallion: As a Medalist, if you enroll at Rensselaer, you will receive your Medallion at Honors Convocation in the fall of your freshman year.
Medal Selection: Medalists are chosen by each individual participating high school. Rensselaer provides general guidelines for selecting a Medalist, but the ultimate decision belongs to the high school. Each high school selects their Medalist differently, so contact your guidance office to see if your high school participates and what their selection process entails.