Students walking on Malesardi Quad in front of Bertrand Library

What Is Bucknell Looking For in a Student?

September 14, 2020

by Bryan Wendell

Photo by Emily Paine, Communications

You could personally read through all 10,000 applications that Bucknell University receives each year (and we do), but you'll never find any two that are exactly alike.

And so it follows that the same is true of Bucknell students. If there is a common thread that runs through every successful Bucknell applicant, it's that they aren't common. They're breaking the mold again and again. 

So what does Bucknell look for in a student? Let's begin with a look inside the mind of a Bucknell admissions reader. They approach each application with a blank slate, looking for reasons to admit the student not because they check the right boxes but because that student is academically successful and has demonstrated the ability to thrive at Bucknell. 

Bucknell is looking for students whose life experiences so far show the kind of curiosity, innovation and collaborative spirit that embodies the Bucknell experience. 

Detailing every kind of student who succeeds at Bucknell would require 3,600 separate entries (the size of our undergraduate population), but there are a few trends, identified by students themselves, worth exploring. 

What Kind of Student Thrives at Bucknell?

Through interviews with current students, alumni, faculty and staff, we've identified four kinds of students who may thrive at Bucknell. 

You might recognize yourself in one or more of the four types of students below. Or you might find that none of them sounds quite right. Either way, remember that this list is not meant to encompass every Bucknell student (no list could).

  • Active multitaskers who balance a busy schedule in their drive to make the world better and find success in their chosen career.
  • Curious individualists who defy stereotypes and believe that the journey is even more important than the destination.
  • Social sharers who value their wide web of connections with others, live in the moment and enjoy sharing their academic success with others.  
  • Supportive collaborators who believe in the power of the team as they help their community and work hard for what they believe in.  

Let's explore each of these categories a little further. If one stands out as a good fit, go ahead and jump down to that section to learn more.

Active Multitaskers

If your weekly Google Calendar looks like a carefully crafted patchwork quilt, Bucknell might be a great fit for you. Bucknell offers an ideal environment for active students who want to make time for all their priorities — school, extracurriculars, friends, volunteering and more. 

You know that doing it all and making it look easy requires hard work, the wise use of resources and a schedule that often results in not sleeping as much as you should.

If you're skilled at time management, balancing a busy schedule and multitasking, you'll appreciate Bucknell's opportunities to be a socially active leader in campus activities. Before long, you'll be sought out by fellow students for advice and guidance.

  • Academic experiences: After finding multiple interests among our 60-plus academic majors, you might choose to add a second major, welcoming the challenge as a way to extend your impact on the world. 
  • Extracurricular choice: With more than 200 student clubs and organizations, there's every chance to be heavily involved in campus life. And our spirit of innovation means that if you don't find a club to match your interests, we'll give you funding to start your own.
  • Career focus: Bucknell's Center for Career Advancement will help you showcase your academic success, challenging course load and active campus life in a way that will vault your résumé to the top of any employer's stack.

Curious Individualists

If you believe that achievement is good but experiences are better — especially those experiences that defy stereotypes and social norms — Bucknell might be a great fit for you. Students who see college not as a four-year waiting period for a diploma but as a chance to have four years of meaningful, unique experiences will find their curiosity quenched at Bucknell.

Bucknell welcomes students who pursue what interests them, not just what's most popular. We welcome curious, open-minded students who bring unique perspectives to discussions while acknowledging they still have a lot to learn. 

If you're more worried about doing what you love than fitting in, you'll appreciate an environment that supports your freedom to be different and express yourself. You'll find yourself making friends in peer groups that might not have existed at your high school as you define what it means to be a part of a community. 

  • Hands-on experiences: It's not about what you learned; it's about how you learned it. Bucknell classes are built around immersive experiences rather than textbook memorization. Work alongside your professors as you pursue your curiosity through research, express your creativity on the stage or investigate new ways to overcome problems. 
  • Atypical activities: With more student organizations and clubs (at least 200 and counting) than other universities our size, Bucknell helps you express your self-identity in whatever ways suit you best. Bring your optimism, energy and enthusiasm as you share experiences with students who share your passions.
  • In pursuit of inclusivity: You know that our differences make us stronger, and Bucknell will help you question stereotypes and become an advocate for change. Through dialogue and action, you'll open the doors toward a better world.

Social Sharers

If you believe that success is best shared with others and that being a good student and having an active social life aren't mutually exclusive, Bucknell might be a great fit for you. Bucknell is a perfect place to build a wide web of connections — a network that will lead to immersive academic experiences, lifelong friendships and meaningful career opportunities.

Bucknell students strongly value friendships as they support the members of their social circle through life's inevitable ups and downs. They understand the importance of planning ahead but still remember to live in the moment and enjoy each experience as it happens.

But you know that living in the moment doesn't mean ignoring societal problems. At Bucknell, you'll meet others who share your desire to care for those who need a hand. 

  • Academic immersion: Bring your enthusiasm for learning to the classroom, lab and performance space as you go beyond theory into real, hands-on practice. 
  • Chances to engage: With on-campus activities every night of the week, you'll never run out of ways to let off some steam. Expand your social circle by joining a student club, where you can meet new people, grow an existing passion or acquire a new skill.
  • Safe and supported: Bucknell's campus is safe and walkable, and the charming shops and restaurants of downtown Lewisburg are just a quick stroll away. It won't be long before you and your friends find a favorite meeting spot for coffee, ice cream or sandwiches.  

Supportive Collaborators 

If you see your peers not as obstacles in the way of your dreams but as partners in the academic experience, Bucknell might be a great fit for you. You'll find a supportive community of students and professors who share your interests and understand that success doesn't come from competition but from collaboration.  

Collaboration extends beyond the classroom at Bucknell. You'll join fellow socially aware students, faculty and staff as you advocate for your beliefs in ways that gain attention. 

Many students choose Bucknell not because they want to start giving back to the community but because they want to continue doing so. Bucknell students are naturally empathetic and have a desire to help other people. Our Office of Civic Engagement can connect you and your peers to volunteer opportunities both in Lewisburg and around the world.  

  • Collaborative academics: Our classes are small (20 students on average), meaning you'll answer questions and solve problems through discussion and experimentation — not lectures and PowerPoint presentations. 
  • Social awareness: Bucknell works hard to make sure every voice is heard. The University is making meaningful progress toward what we call "equity and inclusive excellence." And our socially aware students are helping us work toward that goal. 
  • Chances to give back: Bucknell students never lose sight of the fact that the pursuit of higher education is a privilege not available to everyone. That explains our students' desire to advocate for those who are less fortunate and creative positive community change. 

What Bucknell Alumni Demonstrate About the 'Typical' Bucknell Student

Our 54,000 worldwide alumni symbolize the kind of students who choose Bucknell and the ways Bucknell equips those students to reach their goals. You'll find these graduates in every industry you can imagine — entertainment and engineering, technology and transportation, medicine and management, and far beyond.

Many alumni can trace a direct path from their Bucknell major to high-paying, impactful careers. Their employer was looking for someone with curiosity, ingenuity and a particular set of skills. They quickly discovered the unique ways that our graduates sharpened those skills at Bucknell. 

But it's equally important to consider the alumni who didn’t follow an A-to-B path from their Bucknell majors to their careers. They're ready for jobs in fields that don't yet exist and equipped to try new things if plans or passions shift.

That's the benefit of a broad-reaching degree like you can earn from Bucknell. We won't pigeonhole you into a rigid track where you'll master a specific skill but have little flexibility to explore interests outside that major.

At Bucknell, you can become the best, most complete version of yourself. Because in the end, that's the kind of student we're most interested in: someone who is uniquely you

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