2018-2019 Supplemental Essay Prompts: Essay List Early Release

Some top colleges have released their 2018-2019 supplemental essay questions early and we’re happy they did! As our students can attest, the best time to write college application essays is the summer before senior year, which is why we have run our trademark Application Boot Camp® every August since 2005. Producing quality essays before the school year begins reduces students’ stress and allows them to focus on the other critical components of their applications — such as grades and test scores — during the fall semester.

Although the 2018-2019 Common App does not go live until August 1st, a number of top schools have already released their supplemental essay questions for the upcoming application season. This provides a great opportunity for rising seniors to leverage their summer breaks to begin drafting and revising essays now.

2018-2019 SUPPLEMENTAL ESSAY PROMPTS: EARLY RELEASE

college admissions essay

DARTMOUTH COLLEGE

Dartmouth’s writing supplement requires applicants to write brief responses to two essay prompts.

  1. Respond in 100 words or less:
  • While arguing a Dartmouth-related case before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1818, Daniel Webster, Class of 1801, delivered this memorable line: “It is, Sir…a small college. And yet, there are those who love it!” As you seek admission to the Class of 2023, what aspects of the College’s program, community or campus environment attract your interest?
  1. Choose one of the following prompts and respond in 250-300 words:
  • “I have no special talent,” Albert Einstein once observed. “I am only passionately curious.” Celebrate your curiosity.
  • The Hawaiian word mo’olelois often translated as “story” but it can also refer to history, legend, genealogy, and tradition. Use one of these translations to introduce yourself.
  • “You can’t use up creativity,” Maya Angelou mused. “The more you use, the more you have.” Share a creative moment or impulse—in any form—that inspired creativity in your life.
  • In the aftermath of World War II, Dartmouth President John Sloane Dickey, Class of 1929, proclaimed, “The world’s troubles are your troubles…and there is nothing wrong with the world that better human beings cannot fix.” Which of the world’s “troubles” inspires you to act? How might your course of study at Dartmouth prepare you to address it?
  • In The Bingo Palace, author Louise Erdrich, Class of 1976, writes, “…no one gets wise enough to really understand the heart of another, though it is the task of our life to try.” Discuss.
  • Emmy and Grammy winner Donald Glover is a 21stcentury Renaissance man—an actor, comedian, writer, director, producer, singer, songwriter, rapper, and DJ. And yet the versatile storyteller and performer recently told an interviewer, “The thing I imagine myself being in the future doesn’t exist yet.” Can you relate?

EMORY UNIVERSITY

In addition to your Personal Statement, please choose two (2) of the short answer prompts below. Be thoughtful in your responses, but don’t stress about what the right answer might be. We just want to get to know you a bit better. Each response should be no more than 150 words.

  • What is your favorite fiction or non-fiction work (film, book, TV show, album, poem, or play)? Why?
  • What motivates you to learn?
  • What do you want to bring from your community to the Emory University community?
  • In the age of social media, what does engaging with integrity look like for you?

POMONA COLLEGE

Please write an essay on one of the following prompts:

  • For Pomona students, the College’s location in Southern California is integral in shaping their experience. Tell us about a location, real or fictional, that has shaped you in a meaningful way.
  • “Let only the eager, thoughtful and reverent enter here,” is inscribed on one side of Pomona’s College Gates. Dating from 1914, the gates remain a potent symbol today as we welcome every new class of students to enter them together. If you were to inscribe a fourth quality into the gates to describe students who enter Pomona today, which adjective would you choose? What quality would you want your Pomona peers to share, and why?
  • Oscar Wilde said that there are two tragedies in life: not getting what one wants and getting it. Tell us about an experience of not getting what you wanted or getting it and why it was a tragedy.

Please note that Pomona College does not specify a word limit for supplemental essays, although on past applications, they have recommended an essay ranging from 400-600 words.

UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO

The University of Chicago requires students to submit two supplemental essays.

Essay 1 (Required of all applicants):

  • How does the University of Chicago, as you know it now, satisfy your desire for a particular kind of learning, community, and future? Please address with some specificity your own wishes and how they relate to UChicago.

Essay 2 (Applicants are required to address one of the prompts below):

  • In 2015, the city of Melbourne, Australia created a “tree-mail” service, in which all of the trees in the city received an email address so that residents could report any tree-related issues. As an unexpected result, people began to email their favorite trees sweet and occasionally humorous letters. Imagine this has been expanded to any object (tree or otherwise) in the world, and share with us the letter you’d send to your favorite.
    -Inspired by Hannah Lu, Class of 2020 
  • You’re on a voyage in the thirteenth century, sailing across the tempestuous seas. What if, suddenly, you fell off the edge of the Earth?
    -Inspired by Chandani Latey, AB’93 
  • The word floccinaucinihilipilification is the act or habit of describing or regarding something as unimportant or of having no value. It originated in the mid-18th century from the Latin words “floccus,” “naucum,” “nihilum,” and “pilus”—all words meaning “of little use.” Coin your own word using parts from any language you choose, tell us its meaning, and describe the plausible (if only to you) scenarios in which it would be most appropriately used.
    -Inspired by Ben Zhang, Class of 2022 
  • Lost your keys? Alohomora. Noisy roommate? Quietus. Feel the need to shatter windows for some reason? Finestra. Create your own spell, charm, jinx, or other means for magical mayhem. How is it enacted? Is there an incantation? Does it involve a potion or other magical object? If so, what’s in it or what is it? What does it do?
    -Inspired by Emma Sorkin, Class of 2021 
  • Imagine you’ve struck a deal with the Dean of Admissions himself, Dean Nondorf. It goes as follows: you’re guaranteed admission to the University of Chicago regardless of any circumstances that arise. This bond is grounded on the condition that you’ll obtain a blank, 8.5 x 11 piece of paper, and draw, write, sketch, shade, stencil, paint etc., anything and everything you want on it; your only limitations will be the boundaries of both sides on the single page. Now the catch… your submission, for the rest of your life, will always be the first thing anyone you meet for the first time will see. Whether it’s at a job interview, a blind date, arrival at your first Humanities class, before you even say, “hey,” they’ll already have seen your page, and formulated that first impression. Show us your page. What’s on it, and why? If your piece is largely or exclusively visual, please make sure to share a creator’s accompanying statement of at least 300 words, which we will happily allow to be on its own, separate page.PS: This is a creative thought experiment, and selecting this essay prompt does not guarantee your admission to UChicago.
    -Inspired by Amandeep Singh Ahluwalia, Class of 2022 
  • In the spirit of adventurous inquiry, pose your own question or choose one of our past prompts. Be original, creative, thought provoking. Draw on your best qualities as a writer, thinker, visionary, social critic, sage, citizen of the world, or future citizen of the University of Chicago; take a little risk, and have fun.(You can find some past prompts here.)

Please note that the University of Chicago’s early release prompts do not include word limits, but on past applications, they have required applicants to upload a one- or two-page response for Essay 2.

Yale admissions essay

YALE UNIVERSITY

Students applying with the Coalition Application are asked to upload a digital file of their creation along with a short reflection. Those applying with the Common Application are asked to respond to two short essay prompts. Those applying with the QuestBridge Application are asked to complete a short Yale QuestBridge Questionnaire.

Yale applicants submitting the Coalition Application, Common Application, or QuestBridge Application are asked to respond to the following short answer questions:

  • Students at Yale have plenty of time to explore their academic interests before committing to one or more major fields of study. Many students either modify their original academic direction or change their minds entirely. As of this moment, what academic areas seem to fit your interests or goals most comfortably? Please indicate up to three from the list provided?
  • Why do these areas appeal to you? (100 words or fewer)
  • What is it about Yale that has led you to apply? (125 words or fewer)

Applicants submitting the Coalition Application or Common Application will also select from the following topics:

  • What inspires you? (35 words or fewer)
  • Yale’s residential colleges regularly host conversations with guests representing a wide range of experiences and accomplishments. What person, past or present, would you invite to speak? What question would you ask? (35 words or fewer)
  • You are teaching a Yale course. What is it called? (35 words or fewer)
  • Most first-year Yale students live in suites of four to six people. What do you hope to add to your suitemates’ experience? What do you hope they will add to yours? (35 words or fewer)

Applicants submitting the Coalition Application (choose one and respond in 300 words or fewer; also upload upload an audio file, video, image, or document you’ve created that is meaningful and relates to your essay. Above your essay, include a one-sentence description of what you’ve submitted) or Common Application (choose two and respon in 250 words or fewer) will select from the following essay topics:

  • Think about an idea or topic that has been intellectually exciting for you. Why are you drawn to it?
  • Reflect on your engagement with a community to which you belong. How do you feel you have contributed to this community?
  • Yale students, faculty, and alumni engage issues of local, national, and international importance. Discuss an issue that is significant to you and how your college experience might help you address it.

Optional Engineering Essay (For applicants submitting the Coalition Application or Common Application):

  • If you selected one of the engineering majors, please tell us more about what has led you to an interest in this field of study, what experiences (if any) you have had in engineering, and what it is about Yale’s engineering program that appeals to you. Please respond in 300 words or fewer.

UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA AT CHAPEL HILL

UNC’s supplement will have four prompts of which you must choose two. Each response is limited to 200-250 words.

  • Tell us about a peer who has made a difference in your life.
  • What do you hope will change about the place where you live?
  • What is one thing that we don’t know about you that you want us to know?
  • What about your background, or what perspective, belief, or experience, will help you contribute to the education of your classmates at UNC?

UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA

  1. UVA is looking for passionate students to join their diverse community of scholars, researchers, and artists. Answer the question that corresponds to the school/program to which you are applying in a half page or roughly 250 words.
  • College of Arts and Sciences – What work of art, music, science, mathematics, or literature has surprised, unsettled, or challenged you, and in what way?
  • School of Engineering and Applied Sciences– If you were given funding for a small engineering project that would make everyday life better for one friend or family member, what would you design?
  • School of Architecture – Describe an instance or place where you have been inspired by architecture or design.
  • School of Nursing – School of Nursing applicants may have experience shadowing, volunteering, or working in a health care environment. Tell us about a health care-related experience or another significant interaction that deepened your interest in studying Nursing
  • Kinesiology Program– Discuss experiences that led you to choose the kinesiology major.
  1. Answer one of the following questions in a half page or roughly 250 words.
  • What’s your favorite word and why?
  • We are a community with quirks, both in language and in traditions. Describe one of your quirks and why it is part of who you are.
  • Student self-governance, which encourages student investment and initiative, is a hallmark of the UVA culture. In her fourth year at UVA, Laura Nelson was inspired to create Flash Seminars, one-time classes which facilitate high-energy discussion about thought-provoking topics outside of traditional coursework. If you created a Flash Seminar, what idea would you explore and why?
  • UVA students paint messages on Beta Bridge when they want to share information with our community. What would you paint on Beta Bridge and why is this your message?
  • UVA students are charged with pushing the boundaries of knowledge to serve others and contribute to the common good. Give us an example of how you’ve used what you’ve learned to make a positive impact in another person’s life.

We’ll be updating this essay list as additional schools make their prompts available, so be sure to check back often!

If you look at the above list and feel stuck, writer’s block is a real thing, then reach out to us for help!

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