How to Write the Pepperdine Supplemental Essay

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November 17, 2023
8 min read


Reviewed by:

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 8/21/23

Stuck on the Pepperdine supplemental essay? Struggling with writer’s block? Unsure where to start or how to end? This guide has got you covered!

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The Pepperdine supplemental essay can feel like a daunting hurdle in the college application process. Despite being only 300-500 words, this essay may prove to be the most challenging you’ve ever written! 

But, fear not! In this guide, we’ll break down how to approach this essay and provide you with tips and tricks to ensure you wow the judges!

Pepperdine Essay Prompts

Fortunately, there is only one Pepperdine supplemental essay you’ll have to write:

Pepperdine is a Christian university where all are welcomed and encouraged to challenge each other in the pursuit of truth. Students, faculty, and staff members from all backgrounds participate in conversations of faith inside and outside of the classroom. Considering that Pepperdine is a Christian university, why are you interested in attending and how would you contribute to conversations of faith on campus?

That’s it! No need to choose between several prompts or stress about crafting your own unique topic. All you have to do is begin brainstorming!

How to Write the Pepperdine Supplemental Essay

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The Pepperdine supplemental essay is an opportunity for you to showcase your genuine interest in attending this Christian university and actively engage in conversations of faith on campus. However, you don’t have to be Christian or overly religious to craft a compelling response! 

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to write a thoughtful essay that highlights your unique perspective and contributions, regardless of your specific beliefs.

Step One: Research

Begin by thoroughly researching Pepperdine's values, mission, and Christian identity. Reflect on your own beliefs and experiences, considering how they align with the university's core principles. Take note of the specific faith-related programs, activities, or organizations offered by Pepperdine that resonate with your interests.

This is your brainstorming phase, so make connections between Pepperdine’s values and your own. Think about the experiences you’ve had that have shaped your values and faith and how your perspectives can contribute to Pepperdine’s community.

Step Two: Be Authentic

Embrace your authentic self in your essay. Be genuine and honest about your motivations for wanting to attend a Christian university like Pepperdine. Avoid generic or clichéd answers, and instead, focus on your personal journey and how faith has shaped your life, values, and aspirations. 

If you aren’t Christian, that’s okay! Share your beliefs and tie them to the universal themes that Pepperdine stands by, such as excellence, service, and leadership. 

Step Three: Demonstrate Your Knowledge 

You did your research; now it’s time to show it! Clearly articulate your understanding of Pepperdine's emphasis on open and inclusive conversations of faith. Show that you comprehend the university's commitment to welcoming diverse perspectives and how it fosters an environment where individuals can challenge each other in pursuit of truth.

Link your own values and beliefs to Pepperdine's Christian identity. Explain how the university's focus on faith aligns with your personal growth and academic journey. Emphasize the importance of a supportive and inclusive environment in fostering your intellectual and spiritual development.

Step Four: Discuss Your Intentions

Discuss how you plan to contribute to conversations of faith on campus. Draw from your unique experiences, background, and talents to demonstrate how you can enrich the campus community. 

Mention specific extracurriculars, clubs, or events that you would like to participate in and explain how your involvement would positively impact the community.

Step Five: Polish Your Essay 

Revise and edit your essay carefully to ensure it flows coherently and effectively communicates your message. Check for grammar (with a free grammar checker), spelling, and punctuation errors. 

Consider seeking feedback from teachers, counselors, or peers to gain additional insights and make improvements, but ensure you do not lose your unique voice in the process! You can accept suggestions to make your essay flow better, but do not accept complete rewrites that will diminish your personality!

Pepperdine Essay Examples

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Let’s look at some Pepperdine essay examples to see these steps put into action: 

Essay Example One

Here is a Pepperdine supplemental essay example written by a student who has had a complex relationship with their faith:

"You're lucky to be alive. You must have had someone looking out for you." These words echoed in my ears as I lay in the hospital bed, my body bruised and battered, my heart heavy with gratitude and wonder. The car crash that had just transpired left me shaken to the core, but it also sparked a transformation within me that I never saw coming. In the midst of what could have been my final moments, I found myself miraculously surviving, and with that survival came a profound restoration of my faith.
Life had taken me on a tumultuous journey, one filled with highs and lows, successes and failures, but it was the crash that served as the turning point in my spiritual quest. In the days leading up to that fateful event, I had found myself questioning the very existence of a higher power. 
Yet, in that moment of crisis, as I emerged from the wreckage with a beating heart, I could not deny the presence of something greater than myself. I couldn't help but believe that there was a purpose behind my survival, that someone or something had been looking out for me. I realized that the accident had been a wake-up call.
It was this renewed sense of faith that led me to consider institutions of higher learning where I could foster my spiritual growth. Pepperdine University stood out as a beacon of hope, a Christian university that not only welcomed individuals from diverse backgrounds but also encouraged open dialogue and exploration of faith. Pepperdine's commitment to nurturing a community where truth and faith could coexist resonated deeply with my newfound beliefs and previous doubts.
As I envision myself at Pepperdine, I am eager to contribute to conversations of faith on campus. My journey from doubt to redemption has taught me the significance of sharing one's story, of opening up about the complexities of faith and the power of divine intervention. I hope to inspire others by recounting my own experience, reassuring those who may be grappling with doubt that they are not alone in their spiritual struggles.
Furthermore, I believe that diversity enriches our understanding of spirituality, and I eagerly anticipate engaging in respectful conversations with fellow students, faculty, and staff. By embracing differing perspectives, I aim to contribute to a community that celebrates unity amidst the diversity of beliefs.
Beyond discussions in the classroom, I envision actively participating in faith-based organizations and outreach programs. My survival has ignited in me a desire to serve others, extend a helping hand to those in need, and embody the teachings of compassion and love that my faith now embraces.
In essence, the car crash that brought me to the brink of life's precipice served as a catalyst for my spiritual awakening. I am grateful for my second chance at life, and I hope to make a meaningful impact as I embark on the next chapter of my spiritual and academic journey at Pepperdine.

Why It Works

This “lost and found faith” type of essay is common for this prompt, and it can be successful if done correctly! Here’s how this student used their experience of losing and finding faith to write a compelling essay:

  • Strong opening: The essay begins with a captivating and emotionally engaging opening line that immediately draws the reader's attention. It sets the tone for a personal and introspective narrative.
  • Shows vulnerability: It centers around a deeply personal experience—the car crash that led to the restoration of the writer's faith. The speaker also mentions their loss of faith, which shows deep vulnerability. 
  • Clear interest in Pepperdine: The writer demonstrates a genuine interest in attending Pepperdine University by highlighting its Christian foundation and commitment to open dialogue on faith. The writer explains why Pepperdine is the ideal institution to nurture their spiritual growth.
  • Mentions their contributions: The essay articulates how the writer would actively contribute to conversations of faith on campus by sharing their personal journey and inspiring others, promoting inclusivity, engaging in respectful dialogues, and participating in faith-based organizations and outreach programs.
  • Demonstrates growth: The essay reflects on the writer's personal growth and introspection following the car crash. It showcases how the experience served as a turning point in their faith journey and how it led to a deeper understanding of spirituality.
  • Maintains a positive tone: The writer maintains a positive and hopeful tone throughout, emphasizing their gratitude for a second chance at life and their eagerness to make a meaningful impact.
  • Emphasizes diversity: It highlights the writer's commitment to embracing diverse perspectives and fostering an inclusive environment for faith-based discussions, which aligns with Pepperdine's values.

In summary, this is a strong response because it shows the writer’s introspection, resilience, growth, and deep interest in Pepperdine! 

Essay Example Two

The above example was right around the 500-word maximum mark, but you shouldn’t feel obligated to stretch your essay to meet this count. The following essay just goes to show how a shorter response can still pack a punch!

My interest in attending Pepperdine stems from my belief in the power of education as a transformative force. I am eager to immerse myself in an institution that values both academic rigor and the exploration of faith. The opportunity to engage in conversations of faith, both inside and outside the classroom, excites me, as I recognize the immense value of understanding diverse perspectives. I yearn to learn from individuals with different backgrounds and beliefs, knowing that such interactions will broaden my understanding of the world and enhance my personal growth.
Moreover, as someone who has been shaped by my own faith journey, I look forward to contributing to the conversations of faith on campus. I bring with me a deep sense of respect for various religious traditions and a genuine curiosity to learn from others. I believe that through dialogue, we can bridge the gaps that sometimes separate people of different faiths, fostering a sense of unity and harmony on campus.
In addition to being an active participant in these conversations, I aim to contribute through empathetic listening and a willingness to engage in thoughtful debates. I understand that sharing one's beliefs requires vulnerability and courage, and I am committed to creating a safe and supportive space for these discussions to take place. By fostering an environment of respect and open-mindedness, I hope to encourage others to share their thoughts and perspectives, thus enriching the campus community as a whole.
Furthermore, I am excited to contribute to the wider campus community in various ways. Whether it be through involvement in campus ministries, volunteering for community service projects, or engaging in interfaith initiatives, I am determined to play an active role in promoting a culture of understanding and compassion.
Ultimately, my desire to attend Pepperdine is rooted in the belief that this Christian university will not only provide me with an excellent education but also nurture my personal and spiritual growth.
I am eager to embrace the challenges and opportunities that come with being part of such a vibrant and diverse academic community. Through my active involvement in conversations of faith and my commitment to promoting unity and understanding, I hope to make a meaningful and positive impact during my time at Pepperdine University and beyond.

Why It Works

Here’s why this Pepperdine supplemental essay works:

  • Personal engagement and reflection: The essay is not just a generic response but a reflection of the applicant's own experiences and beliefs. They share their faith journey and how it has influenced their desire to engage in conversations of faith with others. 
  • Specific examples: It mentions concrete ways in which the student would contribute to the conversations of faith on campus, such as empathetic listening, promoting a safe space, and engaging in interfaith initiatives. These examples show that the applicant has thought about their potential impact on the campus.
  • Demonstrates cultural awareness: The applicant expresses a genuine interest in learning from individuals with diverse backgrounds and beliefs. This cultural awareness and openness to different perspectives are essential in contributing to meaningful conversations of faith in a diverse university setting.
  • Well-structured and concise: At only 375 words, the essay is written in a clear and concise manner. It effectively communicates the applicant's key points without being overly flowery or wandering off-topic.

Overall, the essay is well-written, engaging, and showcases the applicant's unique perspective and potential impact on campus.

FAQS: Pepperdine Supplemental Essay

You can find the answers to any remaining questions about the Pepperdine supplemental essay below.

1. How Many Supplemental Essays Does Pepperdine Require?

Pepperdine only requires one supplemental essay.

2. How Long Should the Pepperdine Essay Be?

Your Pepperdine essay should fall between 300-500 words. Prioritize quality over quantity and ensure your answer is concise! Just because you have a 500-word limit doesn’t mean you have to meet it!

Final Thoughts

At Pepperdine, faith plays a pivotal role in shaping the university's culture and community. The supplemental essay offers you a golden opportunity to not only share the significance of faith in your own life but also to showcase how you plan to contribute to Pepperdine's values and foster a thriving environment on campus!

Avoid telling the admissions team what you think they want to hear. Be sincere, and let your passion and desire to contribute to Pepperdine's values shine through!

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