Application essays differ from the typical Lawrence assigned writing in that they are persuasive writing. Therefore, a different approach to the process is necessary. Presentation should be clear, concise, and illuminating.


The off-campus programs admission committee will be four or five faculty members and the Director of Off-Campus Programs. They will read your essay and discuss, as a group, the appropriateness and timing of the program choice for your academic career.  Committee members will be reading 100-150 off-campus program applications. It is key that the committee clearly and quickly see the 'how' and 'why' of your choices.

Academic Essay

Focus: How this program is the appropriate choice for you given your academic interests, preparations, and passions.

Goal: To convince each of the committee members that:

  • The program of your choice and the timing of your off-campus study are appropriate academically
  • You have carefully considered your choice and the impact it will have on your studies at Lawrence and your future
  • You have the qualifications required for your choice of program
  • You are mature, prepared and independent enough to handle studying off-campus

Goals Essay

Focus: Your goals and anticipated challenges

Goal: To convince each of the committee members that:

  • You have thought about what you hope to accomplish by participating in this program
  • You have thought about how you will achieve these goals
  • You are aware of challenges you may face


  • Length - Follow the suggested length for each essay. This is one of those less is more situations; go for the most impact in the fewest words.
  • Tone -   You should avoid clichés and generalizations.
  • Content – Tell the truth. Nothing will get you out of consideration faster than a lie or obvious exaggeration. Highlight your academic passion. If you love plants, Eastern philosophy, renaissance oboe music, or British literature and that is a major part of your program of choice, express that passion and give examples. Basic personal information that demonstrates your strengths or attributes that are directly related to the program are encouraged. Extensive and/or unrelated personal information is not. Here are a few examples:
    • Very Good - While I am excited about many aspects of the ACM field studies program in Tanzania, I am most looking forward to the opportunity to carry out an independent study project during the semester.  I have completed Anthropology classes through the 300 level and am progressing through the requirements of a major in Environmental Studies.  These experiences have prepared me well with relevant knowledge and skills which will help me shape, carry out, and process the findings of the independent study project in Tanzania which I hope to use as a starting point for my Senior Experience project.
    • Good - My endurance training on the cross-country team will help me to meet the physical challenges of the SEA semester.
    • Bad - My extensive wardrobe and love of fashion will help me to fit into the culture in Milan.
    • Very Bad - Ever since I was a wee child, I’ve felt the history of Eire flowing in my veins. My great-great-great-great grandfather on my mother’s side came here a poor miner. He scrimped and saved every penny and endured much personal hardship, to come to America and now I wish to return to that homeland, to experience the breadth of his freedom, to see the green hills and feel the cool rains, to kiss the blarney stone.
  • Proofread! - Read your essays over and over again for errors. Read them out loud to yourself and to your friends.  Take them to the writing tutors at the Center for Learning and Teaching. The more proofing your essays receive the better they will be. Good writing takes time and revision. Do yourself a favor and start early.

Write something worthwhile! Many students find that creating these essays is actually a pleasant experience. They are a reason to think carefully about your program choice, set academic and personal goals, and anticipate the excitement and adventure of your off-campus study experience.