Honor Essay

Each year, the Schreyer Honors College requires potential Scholars to answer three essay questions. These questions change on a yearly basis and are meant to elicit well-written, comprehensive responses. Essay responses do not have word count or formatting requirements.

The essay questions are posted here a few months before the Penn State and Schreyer Honors College application is made available on September 1. We strongly encourage you to begin working on your essays immediately after they are posted.

2018 Essay Questions

  • It has been said that art imitates life, which implies that what we see depicted in entertainment is merely a reflection of what is happening in real life. Review this video clip and tell us if you believe it reflects experiences of teenagers in the world today. In your response, address the ethical issues presented in this clip and how you would address them.
  • Following the terrorist attack at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England in May of 2017, the artist and her management team decided to hold a benefit concert to raise money for those injured and killed during the bombing and to spread a message of love and unity after the attack. Do you think the arts can play a role in solving international conflicts? Please cite examples to support your perspective.
  • In the last few years, youth around the world have gravitated toward podcasts, YouTube, blogs and social media for educational and entertainment purposes. Please list one or two of these different types of media that you follow or subscribe to and explain why you identify with and consume their content. Note: please be mindful that some application readers may not be familiar with media platforms you mention in your response.


Writing an Honors College Essay

A college essay is a chance for you to tell us what all your records cannot: who you really are, how you think, and how well you write. It is not an invitation to tell a story, write a novel, or write about other people's experiences. The main point of your essay is to tell us what you have to offer and how you will take advantage of what we have to offer.

  1. Write an essay that addresses the topic specified on the application form. A general essay about yourself or an experience you had is not acceptable.
  2. Do not write your essay as if it were a novel. "The baby cried until it had to be comforted by its mother;" "I could not believe as I walked into my first class that this was the beginning of my engineering career." These tell us nothing about yourself. Regardless of what you may have been told in school, write a straightforward descriptive essay that directly addresses the question asked.
  3. Avoid clichéd, generic, and predictable writing, such as "I want to help people." This is particularly applicable to essays for accelerated program candidates.
  4. Do not quote our own description of our program. We know what we have to offer; we are interested in knowing what you have to offer and how you will use what we offer. Tell us about your interests and why the Albert Dorman Honors College is the right place for you.
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