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College Application Essay Prompts

COMMON APP ESSAY PROMPTS

This year’s Common App might look familiar. While the prompts haven’t changed since last year, there is one significant change: an optional “additional information” essay about how you have been affected by COVID-19. For the main essay, think carefully about the prompt that will help you tell a unique story and highlight your accomplishments as a leader and scholar. Not sure where to begin? We’re here to help!

COMMON APP 2020-2021 ESSAY PROMPTS
  1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
  2. The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
  3. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
  4. Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma – anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.
  5. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
  6. Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?
  7. Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.

New optional 250-word question under Additional Information.

Community disruptions such as COVID-19 and natural disasters can have deep and long-lasting impacts. If you need it, this space is yours to describe those impacts. Colleges care about the effects on your health and well-being, safety, family circumstances, future plans, and education, including access to reliable technology and quiet study spaces

  • Do you wish to share anything on this topic? Y/N
  • Please use this space to describe how these events have impacted you.

 

COALITION APP ESSAY PROMPTS

The Coalition App includes five prompts, many of which echo those on the Common App. We especially like Prompt #1 (Tell a story from your life) and Prompt #2 (Describe a time when you made a meaningful contribution to others). With that said, you are not confined to these prompts! If you already have the perfect essay idea in mind, you can always choose Prompt #5 (Submit an essay on a topic of your choice).

COALITION APP 2020-2021 ESSAY PROMPTS
  1. Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.
  2. Describe a time when you made a meaningful contribution to others in which the greater good was your focus. Discuss the challenges and rewards of making your contribution.
  3. Has there been a time when you’ve had a long-cherished or accepted belief challenged? How did you respond? How did the challenge affect your beliefs?
  4. What is the hardest part of being a teenager now? What’s the best part? What advice would you give a younger sibling or friend (assuming they would listen to you)?
  5. Submit an essay on a topic of your choice.

Optional Essay: Natural disasters and emergency situations like COVID-19 pandemic have impacted the lives of many students and their families. While entirely optional, you may share information here regarding how any of these events have affected you or your family circumstances. Please provide any additional information you would like to share regarding how these events have affected you or your family. (300 words max)

 

SUPPLEMENTS 2020-2021

As you approach your supplements, we suggest categorizing the prompts based on theme. You will quickly notice some patterns emerge! For example, many schools will ask a version of the “Why Essay.” In other words, be prepared to explain what it is you like about their specific scholarly community and how you would contribute to campus life, both in the classroom and elsewhere!

AMERICAN UNIVERSITY

*2019-2020 Essay Prompt

Why are you interested in American University? (150 words)

AMHERST COLLEGE

*2020-2021 Essay Prompts

In addition to the main essays you must write as part of the Common Application, Coalition Application or QuestBridge Application, Amherst requires a supplementary writing sample of all applicants.

There are three options for satisfying Amherst's supplementary writing requirement for the first-year application: Option A, Option B or Option C. Applicants may elect only to one of those options. Before deciding, you should carefully read the descriptions of all three options (including specific conditions associated with Option B and Option C) to determine which is most appropriate for you. Please note that these descriptions are provided for convenience of preview only; your actual writing supplement should be submitted through the Common Application online system or the Coalition Application online system (unless you are submitting the QuestBridge application only, in which case you will be instructed on how to email, mail or fax your supplement to our office).

Option A   Respond to one of the following quotations in an essay of not more than 300 words. It is not necessary to research, read, or refer to the texts from which these quotations are taken; we are looking for original, personal responses to these short excerpts. Remember that your essay should be personal in nature and not simply an argumentative essay.

“Rigorous reasoning is crucial in mathematics, and insight plays an important secondary role these days. In the natural sciences, I would say that the order of these two virtues is reversed. Rigor is, of course, very important. But the most important value is insight—insight into the workings of the world. It may be because there is another guarantor of correctness in the sciences, namely, the empirical evidence from observation and experiments.”
Kannan Jagannathan, Professor of Physics, Amherst College

“Translation is the art of bridging cultures. It's about interpreting the essence of a text, transporting its rhythms and becoming intimate with its meaning... Translation, however, doesn't only occur across languages: mentally putting any idea into words is an act of translation; so is composing a symphony, doing business in the global market, understanding the roots of terrorism. No citizen, especially today, can exist in isolation-- that is, I untranslated."
Ilán Stavans, Professor of Latin American and Latino Culture, Amherst College, Robert Croll '16 and Cedric Duquene '15, from "Interpreting Terras Irradient," Amherst Magazine, Spring 2015.  

“Creating an environment that allows students to build lasting friendships, including those that cut across seemingly entrenched societal and political boundaries... requires candor about the inevitable tensions, as well as about the wonderful opportunities, that diversity and inclusiveness create."
Carolyn "Biddy" Martin, 19th President of Amherst College, from Letter to Amherst College Alumni and Families, December 28, 2015. 

“Difficulty need not foreshadow despair or defeat. Rather, achievement can be all the more satisfying because of obstacles surmounted.” Attributed to William Hastie, Amherst College Class of 1925, the first African-American to serve as a judge for the United States Court of Appeals

Option B  Submit a graded paper from your junior or senior year that best represents your writing skills and analytical abilities. We are particularly interested in your ability to construct a tightly reasoned, persuasive argument that calls upon literary, sociological or historical evidence. You should not submit a laboratory report, journal entry, creative writing sample or in-class essay. Also, if you have submitted an analytical essay in response to the "essay topic of your choice" prompt in the Common Application writing section, you should not select Option B. Instead, you should respond to one of the four quotation prompts in Option A.

Curious about Option B?  Learn more....

Option C: If you were an applicant to Amherst’s Access to Amherst (A2A) program, you may use your A2A application essay in satisfaction of our Writing Supplement requirement. If you would like to do so, please select Option C on either the Common Applications or the Coalition Application. However, if you would prefer not to use your A2A essay for this purpose and you wish to submit a different writing supplement, select either Option A or Option B. [Please note that Option C is available only to students who were applicants to Amherst’s A2A program.]

BABSON COLLEGE

*2020-2021 Essay Prompts

Your moment has arrived. Share with us the moments or experiences that have led you to apply to Babson College (500 words maximum).

BARNARD COLLEGE

*2020-2021 Essay Prompts

  1. Required: What factors encouraged your decision to apply to Barnard College and why do you think the college would be a good match for you?
  2. Required: At Barnard, academic inquiry starts with bold questions. What are some of the bold questions you have pondered that get you excited, and why do they interest you? Tell us how you would explore these questions at Barnard.
  3. Optional: Pick one woman — an historical figure, fictitious character, or modern individual — to converse with for an hour and explain your choice. Why does this person intrigue you? What would you talk about? What questions would you ask them?
BAYLOR UNIVERSITY

*2019-2020 Essay Prompt

What are you looking for in a university, why do you want to attend Baylor, and how do you see yourself contributing to the Baylor community?

BOSTON COLLEGE

*2020-2021 Essay Prompts

All applicants, except those applying for the Human-Centered Engineering (HCE) major, should respond to one of prompts #1-4 listed below. Students applying to the HCE major must respond to prompt #5 only.

  1. Great art evokes a sense of wonder. It nourishes the mind and spirit. Is there a particular song, poem, speech, or novel from which you have drawn insight or inspiration?
  2. When you choose a college, you will join a new community of people who have different backgrounds, experiences, and stories. What is it about your background, your experiences, or your story, that will enrich Boston College’s community?
  3. Boston College strives to provide an undergraduate learning experience emphasizing the liberal arts, quality teaching, personal formation, and engagement of critical issues. If you had the opportunity to create your own college course, what enduring question or contemporary problem would you address and why?
  4. Jesuit education considers the liberal arts a pathway to intellectual growth and character formation. What beliefs and values inform your decisions and actions today, and how will Boston College assist you in becoming a person who thinks and acts for the common good?
  5. For Human-Centered Engineering major applicants only: One goal of a Jesuit education is to prepare students to serve the Common Good. Human-Centered Engineering at Boston College strives to develop people who will integrate technical knowledge, creativity, and a humanistic perspective to address societal challenges and opportunities. How would a Boston College engineering education enable you to contribute towards these goals?
BRANDEIS UNIVERSITY

*2020-2021 Essay Prompts

Please include a short response to one of the three prompts below (250 words or fewer).

  1. Why would you like to attend Brandeis?
  2. Justice Brandeis once said “If we would guide by the light of reason, we must let our minds be bold.” Tell us about something bold you have recently done.
  3. There are approximately 171,476 words in the English dictionary. Pick your favorite word and why you picked it.
BROWN UNIVERSITY

*2020-2021 Essay Prompts

First Year applicants to Brown are asked to answer three supplemental essay questions, which are provided below if you would like to begin work on your essays now.

  1. Brown’s Open Curriculum allows students to explore broadly while also diving deeply into their academic pursuits. Tell us about an academic interest (or interests) that excites you, and how you might use the Open Curriculum to pursue it. (250 words)
  1. At Brown, you will learn as much from your peers outside the classroom as in academic spaces. How will you contribute to the Brown community? (250 words)
  1. Tell us about a place or community you call home. How has it shaped your perspective? (250 words)
CALTECH

*2020-2021 Essay Prompts

In addition to the personal essay in the Common Application or the Coalition Application, applicants for first-year admission to Caltech must complete required supplemental short-answer essays. These are questions that the Admissions Committee has devised to get to know you better as a student, scientist, and person, and ascertain who you'll be on our campus. Below are the essay prompts for Caltech's application for first-year admission.

  • Describe three experiences and/or activities that have helped develop your passion for a possible career in a STEM field. (Your response for each experience/activity should range between 10–120 words.)
  • Much like the life of a professional scientist or engineer, the life of a "Techer" relies heavily on collaboration. Knowing this, what do you hope to explore, innovate, or create with your Caltech peers? (Your response should range between 250–400 words.)
  • Caltech students are often known for their sense of humor and creative pranks. What do you like to do for fun? (Your response should range between 250–400 words.)
  • The process of discovery best advances when people from various backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives come together. How do you see yourself contributing to the diversity of Caltech's community? (Your response should range between 250–400 words.)
COLUMBIA

Applicants are asked to respond to Columbia-specific questions to tell the Admissions Committee more about their academic, extracurricular and intellectual interests. We review the responses to these questions in order to get a full sense of each unique individual beyond the other parts of the application.

For the four list questions that follow, we ask that you list each individual response using commas or semicolons; the items do not have to be numbered or in any specific order. No explanatory text or formatting is needed. Please respond to each of the three short answer questions in 200 words or fewer.

  • List the titles of the required readings from academic courses that you enjoyed most during secondary/high school.
  • List the titles of the books, essays, poetry, short stories or plays you read outside of academic courses that you enjoyed most during secondary/high school.
  • List the titles of the print or digital publications, websites, journals, podcasts or other content with which you regularly engage.
  • List the movies, albums, shows, museums, lectures, events at your school or other entertainments that you enjoyed most during secondary/high school (in person or online).
  • Columbia students take an active role in improving their community, whether in their residence hall, classes or throughout New York City. Their actions, small or large, work to positively impact the lives of others. Share one contribution that you have made to your family, school, friend group or another community that surrounds you. (200 words or fewer)
  • Why are you interested in attending Columbia University? (200 words or fewer)
  • For applicants to Columbia College, please tell us what from your current and past experiences (either academic or personal) attracts you specifically to the areas of study that you previously noted in the application. (200 words or fewer)
  • For applicants to Columbia Engineering, please tell us what from your current and past experiences (either academic or personal) attracts you specifically to the areas of study that you previously noted in the application. (200 words or fewer)
CORNELL

*2020-2021 Essay Prompts

Please see the instructions on Cornell’s Admissions website at admissions.cornell.edu/apply/first-year-applicants prior to completing the Cornell University Questions and Writing Supplement in the My Colleges section of the Common Application.

The primary focus of your college interest essay should be what you intend to study at Cornell.

In the online Common Application Writing Supplement, please respond to the essay question below (maximum of 650 words) that corresponds to the undergraduate college or school to which you are applying.

College Interest Essays for Fall 2021 Applicants

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences: Why are you drawn to studying the major you have selected? Please discuss how your interests and related experiences have influenced your choice. Specifically, how will an education from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) and Cornell University help you achieve your academic goals?

College of Architecture, Art, and Planning: What is your "thing"? What energizes you or engages you so deeply that you lose track of time? Everyone has different passions, obsessions, quirks, inspirations. What are yours?

College of Arts and Sciences: Students in Arts and Sciences embrace the opportunity to delve into multifaceted academic interests, embodying in 21st century terms Ezra Cornell’s “any person…any study” founding vision. Tell us about the areas of study you are excited to explore, and specifically why you wish to pursue them in our College.

Cornell SC Johnson College of Business: What kind of a business student are you? The Cornell SC Johnson College of Business offers two distinct business programs, the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management and the School of Hotel Administration. Please describe how your interests and ambitions can be met through one or both of the Schools within the College.

College of Engineering: Tell us about what excites you most about Cornell Engineering and/or studying engineering at Cornell University. How do you see yourself becoming a part of the Cornell Engineering community?

College of Human Ecology: How has your decision to apply to the College of Human Ecology been influenced by your related experiences? How will your choice of major impact your goals and plans for the future?

School of Industrial and Labor Relations: Using your personal, academic, or volunteer/work experiences, describe the topics or issues that you care about and why they are important to you. Your response should show us that your interests align with the ILR School.

DAVIDSON COLLEGE

*2019-2020 Essay Prompts

  1. Why Davidson? (250-300 Suggested Word Limit)
  2. List the books you have read in the past year for school or leisure. Place an asterisk by those books required for classes you have taken. (No word limit)
  3. Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences. (200 Word Limit)
DUKE

*2020-2021 Essay Prompts

The following question is required for all applicants to Duke University:

Please share with us why you consider Duke a good match for you. Is there something in particular about Duke’s academic or other offerings that attract you? (200 words maximum)

The following questions are optional for all applicants to Duke University:

  1. Duke University seeks a talented, engaged student body that embodies the wide range of human experience; we believe that the diversity of our students makes our community stronger. If you’d like to share a perspective you bring or experiences you’ve had that would help us understand you better, perhaps a community you belong to or your family or cultural background, we encourage you to do so here. Real people are reading your application, and we want to do our best to understand and appreciate the real people applying to Duke. (250 words maximum)
  1. Duke’s commitment to diversity and inclusion includes sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. If you would like to share with us more about your identity, you can do so here, or use any previous essay prompt you feel is appropriate. (250 words maximum)
ELON UNIVERSITY

*2019-2020 Essay Prompts

In addition to the essay you provided with your Common Application, Elon would like to learn more about you and your interests.

  1. It’s 2040. What’s today’s headline? (30 word limit)
  2. If you could create a food truck, what type of food would you serve? Name the truck. (30 word limit)
  3. Name three songs from your perfect playlist. (30 word limit)
  4. Why Elon University? (200-250 Word Limit)
EMORY UNIVERISTY

*2019-2020 Essay Prompts

In addition to your Personal Statement, please answer two (2) of the prompts below. Choose one prompt from the “Reflections” category and one prompt from the “Tell us about you” category.

We encourage you to be thoughtful and not stress about what the right answer might be. We simply want to get to know you better. Each response should be no more than 150 words. 

“Reflections” Category: Respond to one of the following.

  1. Share about something you want to bring from your community to the Emory University community.
  2. Share about a time when you questioned something that you believed to be true.
  3. Emory University’s shield is a crossed torch and trumpet representing the light of learning and the proclamation of knowledge. It symbolizes our mission to impact the world through discovery. What truth or knowledge do you want to see shared?

“Tell us about you” Category: Respond to one of the following.

  1. Which book, character, song, or piece of work (fiction or non-fiction) represents you, and why?
  2. If you could witness a historic event first-hand, what would it be, and why?
  3. If asked to write a 150-word tweet to tell the world who you are, what would you say?
GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY

*2020-2021 Essay Prompts

University Honors Program

Applicants must indicate their intent to apply to University Honors Program on the Common Application and answer the related essay questions in 250 words or less.

Please address prompt A or B:

  1. Write a letter to the author of a book you loved.
  2. Describe an event in your life, a person, or an experience (choose one) that has had a profound effect on you. How has it influenced change in you, your attitudes, and/or your goals?

2. The Honors Program's core curriculum is comprised of small interdisciplinary courses, discussion-based engagement with complex issues, and reflection on perennial topics of human interest. Why do you want to make this program a priority for your undergraduate experience?

GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY

*2020-2021 Essay Prompts

Indicate any special talents or skills that you possess.

Short Essay

  1. Briefly (approximately one-half page, single-spaced) discuss the significance to you of the school or summer activity in which you have been most involved.

Long Essays

Compose two essays (approximately one page, single-spaced each) on the topics given below.

Essay 1 – All Applicants:

As Georgetown is a diverse community, the Admissions Committee would like to know more about you in your own words. Please submit a brief essay, either personal or creative, which you feel best describes you.

Essay 2 – Applicants to Georgetown College:

What does it mean to you to be educated? How might Georgetown College help you achieve this aim? (Applicants to the Sciences and Mathematics or the Faculty of Languages and Linguistics should address their chosen course of study).

Essay 2- Applicants to the School of Nursing and Health Studies:

Describe the factors that have influenced your interest in studying health care.  Please specifically address your intended major (Health Care Management & Policy, Human Science, Global Health, or Nursing).

Essay 2- Applicants to the Walsh School of Foreign Service:

Briefly discuss a current global issue, indicating why you consider it important and what you suggest should be done to deal with it.

Essay 2- Applicants to the McDonough School of Business:

The McDonough School of Business is a national and global leader in providing graduates with essential ethical, analytical, financial and global perspectives.  Please discuss your motivations for studying business at Georgetown.

GEORGIA TECH

*2020-2021 Essay Prompts

For 2021 applicants, we have assessed the most important aspects of the long and short essays and have decided that we will no longer utilize the long essay portion of the Common Application. If submitted, there are no negative ramifications to your application, but know we will not consider this essay as part of your application.

Instead, we have carefully crafted two short answer questions that we believe more directly assess your fit and potential contribution to Georgia Tech. To keep the required writing throughout your application to a reasonable amount, the Georgia Tech specific questions will each be limited to 50-300 words.

Essay Prompt 1
Why do you want to study your chosen major specifically at Georgia Tech?

Essay Prompt 2 – All applicants must choose one of the two questions below
A. Georgia Tech is committed to creating solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges. Tell us how you have improved or hope to improve the human condition in your community.

  1. If you feel that your personal or community background can provide additional insight to your application that we have not already seen elsewhere, please take this opportunity to share that information with us.
HARVEY MUDD COLLEGE 

*2019-2020 Essay Prompts

  1. What influenced you to apply to Harvey Mudd College? What about the HMC curriculum and community appeals to you? Please limit your response to 500 words.
  1. Please select one of the four prompts to answer. Please limit your response to 500 words.

Choice 1: Many students choose HMC because they don’t want to give up their interests in the Humanities, Social Sciences and the Arts – or HSA as we call it at HMC. Tell us about your dream HSA class. Your answer might (but doesn’t have to) include projects you could do, texts you might want to read, or topics you would want to explore.

Choice 2: ”Scientific research is a human endeavor. The choices of topics that we research are based on our biases, our beliefs, and what we bring: our cultures and our families. The kinds of problems that people put their talents to solving depends on their values.” – Dr. Clifton Poodry – How has your own background influenced the types of problems you want to solve?

Choice 3: Who in your life is depending on you? For what are they depending on you?

Choice 4: What is one thing we won’t know about you after reading your application?

HAVERFORD COLLEGE

*2020-2021 Essay Prompts

Please give us a better sense of what you are looking for in your college experience by answering the following questions:

Tell us about a topic or issue that sparks your curiosity and gets you intellectually excited. How do you think the environment at Haverford and the framework of the Honor Code would foster your continued intellectual growth? Please limit your response to up to 250 words.

Please tell us what motivated you to apply to Haverford and what excites you most as you imagine your Haverford experience. Please limit your response to up to 150 words.

JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY

*2019-2020 Essay Prompt

Applicants to Hopkins are asked to answer our supplemental essay question. 

Successful students at Johns Hopkins make the biggest impact by collaborating with others, including peers, mentors, and professors. Talk about a time, in or outside the classroom, when you worked with others and what you learned from the experience. (Up to 400 words).

LAFAYETTE COLLEGE

*2019-2020 Essay Prompts

Students identify Lafayette as an excellent fit for countless reasons. In your response, be deliberate and specific about your motivation for applying to Lafayette.

  1. Why Lafayette? (Required. Length: 20-200 words.)

Lafayette comes alive each day with the energy of students who are deeply engaged in their academic, co-curricular, and extracurricular explorations. We want to know why you would thrive in such an environment.

  1. What do you do? Why do you do it? (Optional, but recommended. Length:20-200 words.)

Choose one activity and add depth and color to our understanding of your involvement.

MIT

*2020-2021 Essay Prompts

Short answer essay questions:

We know you lead a busy life, full of activities, many of which are required of you. Tell us about something you do simply for the pleasure of it. (100 words or fewer)

Although you may not yet know what you want to major in, which department or program at MIT appeals to you and why? (100 words or fewer)

At MIT, we bring people together to better the lives of others. MIT students work to improve their communities in different ways, from tackling the world’s biggest challenges to being a good friend. Describe one way in which you have contributed to your community, whether in your family, the classroom, your neighborhood, etc. (200-250 words)

Describe the world you come from; for example, your family, clubs, school, community, city, or town. How has that world shaped your dreams and aspirations? (200-250 words)

Tell us about the most significant challenge you’ve faced or something important that didn’t go according to plan. How did you manage the situation? (200-250 words)

There is also one final, open-ended additional information text box, where you can tell us anything else you think we really ought to know.

NEW YORK UNIVERSITY

*2020-2021 Essay Prompts

We would like to know more about your interest in NYU. What motivated you to apply to NYU? Why have you applied or expressed interest in a particular campus, school, college, program, and or area of study? If you have applied to more than one, please also tell us why you are interested in these additional areas of study or campuses. We want to understand - Why NYU?

Music Business Supplement

Write two essays:
Essay topic 1 (350 words minimum, 400 words maximum)

Below is a typical course list for your first year as a Music Business student at NYU. This first-year foundations curriculum will prepare you for success in the rest of your time at NYU. Please write about ways you foresee that these foundation courses will connect with each other and with the future music industry. In your answer, consider career areas that you are specifically interested in.

Course Area Number of Courses
Music Theory and Aural (Listening) Skills 2
Algebra and Calculus or Calculus I (Liberal Arts) 1 or 2
Keyboard Training 2
Business Structure of the Music Industry + Music Business 2
Writing the Essay (Liberal Arts) 2
Private music lesson or music technology class 1
Economics (Liberal Arts) 1 or 2

Essay topic 2 (350 words minimum, 400 words maximum)

According to the 2017 report from the Recorded Industry Association of America (RIAA), revenues from music streaming services totaled $5.7 billion including over $4 billion generated from paid subscriptions to services like Spotify Premium, Apple Music, and TIDAL. Considering this data and the impact of sites like YouTube that deliver ad-supported music to consumers, what will the market for music be like in the year 2023? What do you think are the key areas of growth for the industry and why?

NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY

Essay writing is an excellent opportunity for personal expression and original thought. Applicants to Northwestern complete two sets of essays: essays appearing on the Common Application or Coalition Application, and the Northwestern Writing Supplement essay. The suggested word limit guideline gives you the chance to answer each question in detail, while also challenging you to write in a concise and clear manner.

In the Northwestern Writing Supplement, we ask students to explain why they would like to attend Northwestern. This question is intentionally open-ended. You may choose one or several aspects of Northwestern to focus your writing, though the majority of the essay’s content should relate to your own interests or experiences.

PENN STATE UNIVERSITY 

*2019-2020 Essay Prompt

Please tell us something about yourself, your experiences, or activities that you believe would reflect positively on your ability to succeed at Penn State. This is your opportunity to tell us something about yourself that is not already reflected in your application or academic records. We suggest a limit of 500 words or fewer. (Optional question)

PEPPERDINE UNIVERSITY

*2020-2021 Essay Prompt

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?

POMONA COLLEGE

On the Common Application and the Coalition Application, applicants will be required to submit two short essays. Each essay should be max. 200 words.

  1. Pomona is committed to achieving the benefits of diversity for all students by creating a community that learns and grows together through the exchange of different lived experiences and perspectives. Our community is made up of students from diverse cultures, races, ethnicities, and linguistic backgrounds; political, religious and social views; physical abilities; home environments and socioeconomic backgrounds; hometowns and regions; and sexes, gender identities and sexual orientations. Please choose one of the following two prompts:
    1. Tell us about an experience when you dealt with disagreement or conflict around different perspectives within a community. OR
    2. Tell us about one of the communities you belong to and what it means to bring that shared belief and/or perspective to Pomona.
  2. Helen Keller once said, “The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of tiny pushes of each honest worker.” Whether you aspire to be a hero or an honest worker, what impact do you want to have in the Pomona community, your community back home, or any new community?
PROVIDENCE COLLEGE

*2019-2020 Essay Prompts

Should you choose to complete an optional essay, please select one of the following prompts and limit your response to 250-500 words.

  1. “We must love them both, those whose opinions we share and those whose opinions we reject, for both have labored in the search for truth, and both have helped us in finding it.” -St. Thomas Aquinas, Dominican Philosopher. Providence College students have always engaged in lively intellectual debates through disputatio – the art of disputed questions. At Providence, there is often not one correct answer, but rather many answers that come together to form one truth. In a divided society filled with strong opinions, how do you work to ensure all viewpoints are considered and the ultimate truth is discovered?
  2. As Providence College educates future scholars and leaders, it continuously strives to form a community that reflects the rich diversity of the human family. Please highlight a specific example throughout your time in high school that has strengthened and promoted the flourishing of all and explain how you will use this experience to make an impact on the Providence College community.
PURDUE UNIVERSITY

*2019-2020 Essay Prompts

  1. How will opportunities at Purdue support your interests, both in and out of the classroom? (Respond in 100 words or fewer.)
  2. Briefly discuss your reasons for pursuing the major you have selected.
RENSSELAER POLYTECHNIC INSTITUTE

*2019-2020 Essay Prompt

Why are you interested in Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute? (250 words max.) Respond in 100 words or fewer.

RICE UNIVERSITY

*2019-2020 Essay Prompts

  1. There is a breadth of intellectual opportunities here at Rice. Further explain your intended major and other areas of academic focus you may explore. (150 word limit)
  2. What aspects of the Rice undergraduate experience inspired you to apply? (150 word limit)
  3. Rice is lauded for creating a collaborative atmosphere that enhances the quality of life for all members of our campus community. The Residential College System is heavily influenced by the unique life experiences and cultural traditions each student brings. What personal perspectives would you contribute to life at Rice?

Architecture Applicants

Architecture applicants will not be required to answer question #3 (above). Instead, they will answer questions #1 and #2 above, along with #4 and #5:

  1. Why do you want to study architecture? What research have you done, experiences have you had (or anything else you would like to expound on) to explain this decision?
  2. Outside of academics, what would you like us know about you that is not accommodated by any other prompt in the application?
SANTA CLARA UNIVERSITY

*2020-2021 Essay Prompts

Briefly describe what prompted you to apply to Santa Clara University. If you have had the opportunity to visit campus or experienced Santa Clara virtually, please share your impression of SCU. (Maximum 200 words)

Driven by the Jesuit values outlined in our mission statement, Santa Clara University promises to educate citizens and leaders of competence, conscience, and compassion. We strive to cultivate knowledge and faith to build a more humane, just, and sustainable world. How do you plan to live out and implement these values in your own life to create a more equitable society? (between 150 - 300 words)

SMITH COLLEGE

*2020-2021 Essay Prompt

Music means so many things to so many people. It can bring us joy, inspire us, validate us or heal us. Please tell us about a song or piece of music that is particularly meaningful to you and why. Please include the name of the song/piece and the artist.(50-200 words)

SOUTHERN METHODIST UNIVERSITY 

*2019-2020 Essay Prompts

  1. SMU appeals to students for a variety of reasons. Briefly describe why you are interested in attending SMU and what specific factors have led you to apply. (250-word limit)
  2. SMU is a diverse learning environment shaped by the convergence of ideas and cultures. How will your unique experiences or background enhance the University, and how will you benefit from this community? (250-word limit)
STANFORD UNIVERSITY

*2020-2021 Essay Prompts

Answer several short questions (limit 50 words each), and write a short essay on each of the three topics below.

Short Essay Questions

There is a 100-word minimum and a 250-word maximum for each essay.

  1. The Stanford community is deeply curious and driven to learn in and out of the classroom. Reflect on an idea or experience that makes you genuinely excited about learning.
  2. Virtually all of Stanford's undergraduates live on campus. Write a note to your future roommate that reveals something about you or that will help your roommate—and us—get to know you better.
  3. Tell us about something that is meaningful to you, and why?
SWARTHMORE COLLEGE

*2020-2021 Essay Prompts

Choose one of the following three questions:

  • Swarthmore students’ worldviews are often forged by their prior experiences and exposure to ideas and values. Our students are often mentored, supported, and developed by their immediate context—in their neighborhoods, communities of faith, families, and classrooms. Reflect on what elements of your home, school, or community have shaped you or positively impacted you. How have you grown or changed because of the influence of your community?
  • We are inspired by students who are flexible in their approach to learning, who are comfortable with experimentation, and who are willing to take intellectual risks that move them out of their comfort zone. Reflect on a time that you were intellectually challenged, inspired, or took an intellectual risk—inside or outside of the classroom. How has that experience shaped you, and what questions still linger?
  • Why are you interested in applying to and attending Swarthmore?
TEXAS CHRISTIAN UNIVERSITY

*2019-2020 Essay Prompts

  1. What makes TCU a great fit for you? (Recommended Length: 100 words)
  2. How would you describe your personal character? (Recommended Length: 100 words)
TRINITY COLLEGE

*2020-2021 Essay Prompts

OPTIONAL: Please consider writing an additional, optional essay that focuses on your specific interest in Trinity College. You may select one of the following prompts and write an essay of 250-650 words. 

  1. We live in an urban-global age with more than half of the planet’s people living in cities. Trinity College is an urban liberal arts college deeply engaged with the local community and committed to making an impact across the world. How do you aspire to use your education to impact local and global communities?
  2. Our mission states: “Engage. Connect. Transform. As the preeminent liberal arts college in an urban setting, Trinity College prepares students to be bold, independent thinkers who lead transformative lives.” Keeping the three pillars of the mission in mind, how do you see yourself contributing to the Trinity community?
TUFTS UNIVERSITY

*2020-2021 Essay Prompts

Short Responses (Required of all Applicants)

Think outside the box as you answer the following questions. Take a risk and go somewhere unexpected. Be serious if the moment calls for it, but feel comfortable being playful if that suits you, too.

Applicants to the School of Arts and Sciences, School of Engineering, and 5-Year Tufts/NEC Combined Degree answer the following two questions:

  1. Which aspects of the Tufts undergraduate experience prompt your application? In short, "Why Tufts?" (100-150 words)
  2. Now we'd like to know a little more about you. Please respond to one of the following three questions. (200-250 words):
  3. A) It’s cool to love learning. What excites your intellectual curiosity?
  4. B) How have the environments or experiences of your upbringing – your family, home, neighborhood, or community – shaped the person you are today?
  5. C) Where are you on your journey of engaging with or fighting for social justice?

Applicants to the BFA or 5-Year BFA+BA/BS Combined Degree at the SMFA at Tufts answer the following two questions:

  1. Which aspects of the Tufts undergraduate experience prompt your application? Why SMFA at Tufts? (100-150 words)
  2. Art has the power to disrupt our preconceptions, shape public discourse, and imagine new ways of being in the world. What are the ideas you’d like to explore in your work? (200-250 words)
TULANE UNIVERSITY

*2020-2021 Essay Prompts

Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences. (250 words)

Please describe why you are interested in attending Tulane University. (optional) (50-800 words)

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA

*2020-2021 Essay Prompts

Personal Insight Questions 

You will have 8 questions to choose from. You must respond to only 4 of the 8 questions.

Each response is limited to a maximum of 350 words.

  1. Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes or contributed to group efforts over time.  

Things to consider: A leadership role can mean more than just a title. It can mean being a mentor to others, acting as the person in charge of a specific task, or taking the lead role in organizing an event or project. Think about what you accomplished and what you learned from the experience. What were your responsibilities? 

Did you lead a team? How did your experience change your perspective on leading others? Did you help to resolve an important dispute at your school, church, in your community or an organization? And your leadership role doesn’t necessarily have to be limited to school activities. For example, do you help out or take care of your family?

  1. Every person has a creative side, and it can be expressed in many ways: problem solving, original and innovative thinking, and artistically, to name a few. Describe how you express your creative side.  

Things to consider: What does creativity mean to you? Do you have a creative skill that is important to you? What have you been able to do with that skill? If you used creativity to solve a problem, what was your solution? What are the steps you took to solve the problem?

How does your creativity influence your decisions inside or outside the classroom? Does your creativity relate to your major or a future career?

  1. What would you say is your greatest talent or skill? How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time?  

Things to consider: If there’s a talent or skill that you’re proud of, this is the time to share it. You don’t necessarily have to be recognized or have received awards for your talent (although if you did and you want to talk about it, feel free to do so). Why is this talent or skill meaningful to you?

Does the talent come naturally or have you worked hard to develop this skill or talent? Does your talent or skill allow you opportunities in or outside the classroom? If so, what are they and how do they fit into your schedule?

  1. Describe how you have taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity or worked to overcome an educational barrier you have faced.

Things to consider: An educational opportunity can be anything that has added value to your educational experience and better prepared you for college. For example, participation in an honors or academic enrichment program, or enrollment in an academy that’s geared toward an occupation or a major, or taking advanced courses that interest you — just to name a few. 

If you choose to write about educational barriers you’ve faced, how did you overcome or strive to overcome them? What personal characteristics or skills did you call on to overcome this challenge? How did overcoming this barrier help shape who are you today?

  1. Describe the most significant challenge you have faced and the steps you have taken to overcome this challenge. How has this challenge affected your academic achievement?

Things to consider: A challenge could be personal, or something you have faced in your community or school. Why was the challenge significant to you? This is a good opportunity to talk about any obstacles you’ve faced and what you’ve learned from the experience. Did you have support from someone else or did you handle it alone?

If you’re currently working your way through a challenge, what are you doing now, and does that affect different aspects of your life? For example, ask yourself, “How has my life changed at home, at my school, with my friends or with my family?”

  1. Think about an academic subject that inspires you. Describe how you have furthered this interest inside and/or outside of the classroom. 

Things to consider:  Many students have a passion for one specific academic subject area, something that they just can’t get enough of. If that applies to you, what have you done to further that interest? Discuss how your interest in the subject developed and describe any experience you have had inside and outside the classroom — such as volunteer work, internships, employment, summer programs, participation in student organizations and/or clubs — and what you have gained from your involvement.

Has your interest in the subject influenced you in choosing a major and/or future career? Have you been able to pursue coursework at a higher level in this subject (honors, AP, IB, college or university work)? Are you inspired to pursue this subject further at UC, and how might you do that?

  1. What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?  

Things to consider: Think of community as a term that can encompass a group, team or a place — like your high school, hometown or home. You can define community as you see fit, just make sure you talk about your role in that community. Was there a problem that you wanted to fix in your community?

Why were you inspired to act? What did you learn from your effort? How did your actions benefit others, the wider community or both? Did you work alone or with others to initiate change in your community?

  1. Beyond what has already been shared in your application, what do you believe makes you stand out as a strong candidate for admissions to the University of California?

Things to consider:  If there’s anything you want us to know about you, but didn’t find a question or place in the application to tell us, now’s your chance. What have you not shared with us that will highlight a skill, talent, challenge or opportunity that you think will help us know you better?

UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO 

*2020-2021 Essay Prompts 

Question 1 (Required)

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.

Question 2: Extended Essay (Required; Choose one)

  1. Who does Sally sell her seashells to? How much wood can a woodchuck really chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? Pick a favorite tongue twister (either originally in English or translated from another language) and consider a resolution to its conundrum using the method of your choice. Math, philosophy, linguistics… it’s all up to you (or your woodchuck).

Inspired by Blessing Nnate, Class of 2024

  1. What can actually be divided by zero?

Inspired by Mai Vu, Class of 2024

  1. The seven liberal arts in antiquity consisted of the Quadrivium — astronomy, mathematics, geometry, and music — and the Trivium — rhetoric, grammar, and logic. Describe your own take on the Quadrivium or the Trivium. What do you think is essential for everyone to know?

Inspired by Peter Wang, Class of 2022

  1. Subway maps, evolutionary trees, Lewis diagrams. Each of these schematics tells the relationships and stories of their component parts. Reimagine a map, diagram, or chart. If your work is largely or exclusively visual, please include a cartographer’s key of at least 300 words to help us best understand your creation.

Inspired by Maximilian Site, Class of 2020

  1. “Do you feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?” – Eleanor Roosevelt. Misattribute a famous quote and explore the implications of doing so.

Inspired by Chris Davey, AB’13

  1. Engineer George de Mestral got frustrated with burrs stuck to his dog’s fur and applied the same mechanic to create Velcro. Scientist Percy Lebaron Spencer found a melted chocolate bar in his magnetron lab and discovered microwave cooking. Dye-works owner Jean Baptiste Jolly found his tablecloth clean after a kerosene lamp was knocked over on it, consequently shaping the future of dry cleaning. Describe a creative or interesting solution, and then find the problem that it solves.

Inspired by Steve Berkowitz, AB’19, and Neeharika Venuturupalli, Class of 2024

  1. 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.

Approximately 250-500 words

UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO BOULDER

*2020-2021 Essay Prompt 

At the University of Colorado Boulder, no two Buffs are alike. We value difference and support equity and inclusion of all students and their many intersecting identities. Pick one of your unique identities and describe its significance. (650 words

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA

*2019-2020 Essay Prompts

Honors Program Essay Prompt 

  1. The University of Florida Honors Program is a “community of scholars” bound together by a shared interest in maximizing the undergraduate experience. Why are you drawn to this type of community at UF, and how do you plan to contribute to it in and out of the classroom? (400 word max.)
  2. During high school, what is the most enriching long-term or ongoing activity in which you have participated outside of the classroom? Tell us about it – Why is it enriching to you? What have you gained or learned by participating in it? How do you plan to continue this type of activity in the future?

The activity does not have to be sponsored by your school, but you should have participated in it since you started high school. Please limit to one activity that has been meaningful to you, and be specific.

Examples could be – but are not limited to – research, involvement, work, performing arts, school or community events, volunteering, mentoring programs, summer programs, athletics, etc.

UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA

*2020-2021 Essay Prompt

The college admissions process can create anxiety. In an attempt to make it less stressful, please tell us an interesting or amusing story about yourself from your high school years that you have not already shared in your application. (200-300 words)

UMASS AMHERST

*2020-2021 Essay Prompts

  1. Please tell us why you want to attend UMass Amherst? (100 word count)
  2. Please tell us why you chose the Majors you did? (100 word count)
UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI

*2020-2021 Essay Prompts

If applying for Fall 2021, you will be required to submit a supplemental essay of 250 words or less in response to the following prompt.

The University of Miami's official mascot is the ibis. Folklore maintains that the native marsh bird is the last to take shelter before a hurricane hits and the first to emerge once the storm passes, making it an apt symbol of courage and resilience.

Considering your ability to control your own motivation and behavior, how have past experiences helped build your courage and resilience to persist in the face of academic and life challenges so that, once these storms pass, you can emerge in continued pursuit of your goals?

UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN

*2020-2021 Essay Prompts

  1. Everyone belongs to many different communities and/or groups defined by (among other things) shared geography, religion, ethnicity, income, cuisine, interest, race, ideology, or intellectual heritage. Choose one of the communities to which you belong, and describe that community and your place within it. (Required for all applicants; 300 word limit)
  2. Describe the unique qualities that attract you to the specific undergraduate College or School (including preferred admission and dual degree programs) to which you are applying at the University of Michigan. How would that curriculum support your interests? (Required for all applicants; 550 word limit)
UNC CHAPEL HILL 

*2020-2021 Essay Prompts

Choose two of the following prompts to respond to in 200-250 words.

  • Expand on an aspect of your identity  – for example, your religion, culture, race, sexual or gender identity, affinity group, etc. How has this aspect of your identity shaped your life experiences thus far?
  • If you could change one thing about where you live, what would it be and why?
  • Describe someone who you see as a community builder. What actions has that person taken? How has their work made a difference in your life?
UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME

The writing supplement gives us an opportunity to get to know you in a more personal way outside of your stats. So, let your personality shine, take risks, and remember that there is no right answer.

The University of Notre Dame Writing Supplement consists of one (1) essay response to a required question and two (2) essay responses to questions you select from a list of options provided. In total, you will write three (3) essay responses. The word count is a maximum of 200 words per essay. 

Required Question:

The founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross, Blessed Basil Moreau, wrote, “We shall always place education side by side with instruction; the mind will not be cultivated at the expense of the heart.”  How do you hope a Notre Dame education and experience will transform your mind and heart?

Additional Prompts (You choose 2):

  • A Notre Dame education is not just for you, but also for those who will benefit from the impact you make. Who do you aspire to serve after you graduate?
  • In response to the rising momentum behind the Black Lives Matter movement during June 2020, G. Marcus Cole, the Joseph A. Matson Dean of the Notre Dame Law School, penned an open letter entitled, “I am George Floyd. Except I can breathe. And I can do something.” He issues a call to the Notre Dame community saying, “Each of us must do what we can, wherever we are.” What is one action you are taking “to change this world for the better?”
  • God and the Good Life is an interdisciplinary course created by the departments of Philosophy and Film, Television, and Theatre that asks students to consider moral questions about what they believe and how they want to live their lives. What do God and a good life mean to you?
  • Notre Dame has a rich history deeply rooted in tradition. Share how a favorite tradition from your life has impacted who you are today.
  • What brings you joy?
UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA

*2020-2021 Essay Prompts

How did you discover your intellectual and academic interests, and how will you explore them at the University of Pennsylvania? Please respond considering the specific undergraduate school you have selected. (300-450 words)

At Penn, learning and growth happen outside of the classroom, too. How will you explore the community at Penn? Consider how this community will help shape your perspective and identity, and how your identity and perspective will help shape this community. (150-200 words)

For students applying to the coordinated dual-degree and specialized programs, please answer these questions in regard to your single-degree school choice; your interest in the coordinated dual-degree or specialized program may be addressed through the program-specific essay.

 DMD: Digital Media Design Program

Why are you interested in the Digital Media Design (DMD) program at the University of Pennsylvania? (400-650 words)

Huntsman: The Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business

The Huntsman Program supports the development of globally-minded scholars who become engaged citizens, creative innovators, and ethical leaders in the public, private, and non-profit sectors in the United States and internationally. What draws you to a dual-degree program in business and international studies, and how would you use what you learn to make a contribution to a global issue where business and international affairs intersect? (400-650 words)

LSM: The Roy and Diana Vagelos Program in Life Sciences and Management

The LSM program aims to provide students with a fundamental understanding of the life sciences and their management with an eye to identifying, advancing and implementing innovations. What issues would you want to address using the understanding gained from such a program? Note that this essay should be distinct from your single degree essay. (400-650 words)

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts” (attributed to Winston Churchill). Tell us about the failure from which you’ve learned the most. (200-250 words)

M&T: The Jerome Fisher Program in Management and Technology

Explain how you will use the M&T program to explore your interest in business, engineering, and the intersection of the two. (400-650 words)

Describe a problem that you solved that showed leadership and creativity. (250 words)

NETS: The Rajendra and Neera Singh Program in Networked and Social Systems Engineering

Describe your interests in modern networked information systems and technologies, such as the internet, and their impact on society, whether in terms of economics, communication, or the creation of beneficial content for society. Feel free to draw on examples from your own experiences as a user, developer, or student of technology. (400-650 words)

NHCM: Nursing and Healthcare Management

Discuss your interest in nursing and health care management. How might Penn's coordinated dual-degree program in nursing and business help you meet your goals? (400-650 words)

Seven-Year Bio-Dental Program

  • Please list pre-dental or pre-medical experience. This experience can include but is not limited to observation in a private practice, dental clinic, or hospital setting; dental assisting; dental laboratory work; dental or medical research, etc. Please include time allotted to each activity, dates of attendance, location, and description of your experience. If you do not have any pre-dental or pre-medical experience, please indicate what you have done that led you to your decision to enter dentistry.
  • List any activities which demonstrate your ability to work with your hands.
  • What activities have you performed that demonstrate your ability to work cooperatively with people?
  • Please explain your reasons for selecting a career in dentistry. Please include what interests you the most in dentistry as well as what interests you the least.
  • Do you have relatives who are dentists or are in dental school? If so, indicate the name of each relative, his/her relationship to you, the school attended, and the dates attended.

VIPER: The Roy and Diana Vagelos Integrated Program in Energy Research

Describe your interests in energy science and technology drawing on your previous academic, research, and extracurricular experiences that allow you to appreciate the scientific or engineering challenges related to energy and sustainability. If you have previous experience with research, describe your research project (outlining the goals, hypotheses, approach, results, and conclusions). Describe how your experiences have shaped your research and interests, and identify how the VIPER program will help you achieve your goals. Also, please indicate which VIPER majors in both science and engineering are most interesting to you at this time. (400-650 words)

UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH

*2019-2020 Essay Prompts

In lieu of an essay or personal statement, we ask interested applicants to answer short answer questions. The Admissions Committee reviews responses for quality rather than length. However, the most effective responses typically range from 200-300 words per question. Responses that are longer or shorter are acceptable. The first two questions are required for PittHonors consideration.

  1. A hallmark of students in PittHonors is intellectual curiosity. Please describe how you have demonstrated intellectual curiosity in the past and how you expect to manifest that intellectual curiosity as a student at the University of Pittsburgh.
  2. An important emphasis of PittHonors is working for the public good. Please describe how you have worked for the public good in the past and how you expect to continue to do so as a student at the University of Pittsburgh?

Short Answer Questions
Coming soon…

UNIVERSITY OF RICHMOND

*2020-2021 Essay Prompts

Please choose one of the following essay prompts for the 2020-2021 application cycle: (1) What is an urgent global challenge, social justice topic, or racial injustice issue about which you are passionate? What solutions or outcomes do you hope to see? (2) By the time you graduate from college, there will be jobs that don’t exist today. Describe one of them and how Richmond might prepare you for it. (3) You are required to spend the next year in either the past or the future. To what year would you travel and why?

UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

*2020-2021 Essay Prompts

Please respond to one of (the three) the prompts below. (250 word limit)
1. USC believes that one learns best when interacting with people of different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives. Tell us about a time you were exposed to a new idea or when your beliefs were challenged by another point of view.
2. USC faculty place an emphasis on interdisciplinary academic opportunities. Describe something outside of your intended academic focus about which you are interested in learning.
3. What is something about yourself that is essential to understanding you?

Describe how you plan to pursue your academic interests at USC. Please feel free to address your first- and second-choice major selections. (250 word limit)

Describe yourself in three words (25 characters).
1.
2.
3.

The following prompts have a 100 character limit:
What is your favorite snack?
Best movie of all time:
Dream job:
If your life had a theme song, what would it be?
Dream trip:
What TV show will you binge watch next?
Which well-known person or fictional character would be your ideal roommate?
Favorite book:
If you could teach a class on any topic, what would it be?

UT AUSTIN

*2020-2021 Essay Prompts

Main Essay (500-700 words)

Tell us your story. What unique opportunities or challenges have you experienced throughout your high school career that have shaped who you are today?

Short Answers (250-300 words)

  1. Why are you interested in the major you indicated as your first-choice major?
  2. Leadership can be demonstrated in many ways. Please share how you have demonstrated leadership in either your school, job, community, and/or within your family responsibilities.
UNIVERSITY OF VERMONT

*2020-2021 Essay Prompts

Essay Prompts

Optional Essay: Please answer one of the five questions:

1.Why UVM?

2.Established in 1978 in a renovated gas station in Burlington, VT, Ben and Jerry’s is synonymous with the ice cream business. The company’s success and unique brand identity are due in part to their one-of-a-kind flavors. Which Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavor (real or imagined) best describes you?

3.Whether they are constructing a robot, a stronger sense of community or an identity, UVM students are builders. What would you like to build?

4.At UVM, learning extends far beyond the walls of our classrooms. From student-led organizations, to internships and study abroad experiences, UVM students are encouraged to pursue knowledge in all environments. Describe a time when you’ve learned in a non-traditional setting.

5. Communities and organizations are stronger when they value diversity of thought. How do you create meaningful connections or conversations with others when they express opinions that differ from your own?

UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA

*2020-2021 Essay Prompts

We are looking for passionate students to join our 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, literature, or other media has surprised, unsettled, or inspired you, and in what way?

– School of Engineering and Applied Sciences – Describe an engineering feat that serves the common good and why it inspires you to study engineering.

– School of Architecture – Describe significant experience that deepened your interest in studying in the School of Architecture.

– School of Nursing – Describe a health care-related experience or another significant interaction that deepened your interest in studying nursing.

– Kinesiology Program – Discuss experiences that led you to apply to the kinesiology major.

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?

– Rita Dove, UVA English professor and former U.S. Poet Laureate, once said in an interview that “…there are times in life when, instead of complaining, you do something about your complaints.” Describe a time when, instead of complaining, you took action for the greater good.

UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON

*2020-2021 Essay Prompts

At the UW, we consider the college essay as our opportunity to see the person behind the transcripts and the numbers. Some of the best statements are written as personal stories. In general, concise, straightforward writing is best, and good essays are often 300-400 words in length.

Please note: You must submit your essay and short response within the UW application questions. We are not able to retrieve your essays from the Coalition Essay section of your Profile. If you only submit your essays through the Coalition Essay section of your Profile, we will not receive them, and your application will be incomplete.

REQUIRED

  1. Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it. (500 words)
  2. Our families and communities often define us and our individual worlds. Community might refer to your cultural group, extended family, religious group, neighborhood or school, sports team or club, co-workers, etc. Describe the world you come from and how you, as a product of it, might add to the diversity of the UW. (300 words)

OPTIONAL

You are not required to write anything in this section, but you may include additional information if something has particular significance to you. For example, you may use this space if:

– You have experienced personal hardships in attaining your education

– Your activities have been limited because of work or family obligations

– You have experienced unusual limitations or opportunities unique to the schools you attended

UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN

*2020-2021 Essay Prompts

All Campuses: This part is all about you. Tell us about something you’ve done—academically or personally—and what you’ve learned from it. Was it a success or a challenge? Did it represent a turning point in your life? How did this particular moment in your life influence you, and how will it continue to influence you as you pursue your college education? (650 words max.)

UW-MADISON

Tell us why you would like to attend the University of Wisconsin–Madison. In addition, please include why you are interested in studying the major(s) you have selected. If you selected undecided, please describe your areas of possible academic interest. (650 words max.)

UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN - MADISON

*2020-2021 Essay Prompts

Tell us why you would like to attend the University of Wisconsin–Madison. In addition, please include why you are interested in studying the major(s) you have selected. If you selected undecided, please describe your areas of possible academic interest. (650 words max.)

VANDERBILT UNVERSITY

*2020-2021 Essay Prompt (Under Activity Section of Common App)

Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences. (200-400 words)*

VILLANOVA

*2020-2021 Essay Prompts

Villanova requires applicants to submit both their Common Application essay and two short Villanova Essays. The two supplemental responses must be different from the response shared in the Common Application essay section.

Villanova Essay Free Choice Prompts

Clearly indicate which selection you choose at the top of your essay. Please respond in about 250 words.

Option One:
What is the truest thing that you know? How did you come to this conclusion?

Option Two:
Villanovans are known for "holding doors open" because inclusion is at the core of who we are. Take us on a journey through your background and describe how your life experience has shaped your understanding of the word "inclusion".

Option Three:
Generation Z is arguably the most technologically savvy cohort in history. They find answers to questions, discover troves of new music, or even start the next global social movement, all within seconds. How has this seemingly limitless connectivity influenced the person you have become?

Option Four:
In St. Augustine's book Confessions, one of the themes is the idea of redemption and second chances. Tell us a story about second chances. It can be your experience or one that you have come across through others or through media.

Why Nova Essay

You may be aware that our community, which we have affectionately named “Nova Nation,” is an exciting place to be. With a legacy spanning 178 years, there is rich history to look back on, and an abundant future to look forward to. Our second Villanova essay question asks: Why do you want to call Villanova your new home and become part of our community? For this short response, please reveal what you find appealing about Villanova in about 100 words.

WAKE FOREST

*2020-2021 Essay Prompts

Briefly discuss which of the accomplishments (jobs (including summer employment) you have held during the past three years) has had the most meaning for you and why.

Help us get to know you better by responding briefly to these questions.

1a. List five books you’ve read that intrigued you.
1b. Explain how a work of fiction you’ve read has helped you to understand the world’s complexity.
2. Tell us more about the topic that most engages your intellectual curiosity.
3. Describe a community that is important to you. How has that community prepared you to engage with, change, or even build the Wake Forest community?
4. Give us your Top Ten list.
Theme:________________________________

Essay: On a separate page, using 250-650 words, please submit an essay on a topic of your choice.

WASHINGTON AND LEE UNIVERSITY

*2020-2021 Essay Prompts

Please describe how you have familiarized yourself with Washington and Lee University and what aspects of W&L's community are most exciting to you.

Please describe an aspect of your life outside of school that is important to you, such as an extracurricular activity, a job or a family responsibility. How does your involvement impact you and those around you?

WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY AT ST. LOUIS

*2020-2021 Essay Prompts

In about 250 words, tell us about something that really sparks your intellectual interest and curiosity, and compels you to explore more in the program/area of study that you indicated. It could be an idea, book, project, cultural activity, work of art, start-up, music, movie, research, innovation, question, or other pursuit.

If you indicate an interest in the Beyond Boundaries program on your application for admission, you will be asked to respond to a different prompt.

Many of our students broadly explore the connections across WashU’s five undergraduate divisions and three graduate schools and engage with the community before declaring a major. The Beyond Boundaries Program equips students with a set of tools to critically understand and make a difference in a complicated world where challenges do not come pre-packaged as territory of a single discipline. In about 250 words, tell us what great challenge you might want to understand and tackle leveraging two or more of WashU’s schools and how you would pursue an interdisciplinary path of study that explores that challenge or an aspect of that challenge in a unique and innovative way.

 

WILLIAM AND MARY

*2020-2021 Essay Prompts (Common App)

Beyond your impressive academic credentials and extracurricular accomplishments, what else makes you unique and colorful? We know nobody fits neatly into 500 words or less, but you can provide us with some suggestion of the type of person you are. Anything goes! Inspire us, impress us, or just make us laugh. Think of this optional opportunity as show and tell by proxy and with an attitude.

WILLIAMS

*2020-2021 Essay Prompts

Optional: Please respond to one of the prompts below in an essay of no more than 300 words, or upload an academic paper (preferably in the humanities or social sciences) completed in the last academic year.

  1. The first-year Entry–a thoughtfully constructed residential microcosm of the student community that’s a defining part of the Williams experience–brings together students from around the world with different perspectives, interests and backgrounds. Imagine having a late-night conversation with your Entrymates about a community that you value. Describe that community and why it’s important to you.
  2. All-Campus Entertainment (ACE), a student organization, hosts events called “Stressbusters”–an opportunity for students to focus on self-care by stepping away from their typical routine and enjoying some unscheduled time (and snacks!) with friends. Weekly Stressbuster activities might include a concert, playing with a therapy dog, painting pumpkins, building with Legos, etc. What’s your version of a “stressbuster,” and how does it help you rejuvenate in the midst of a hectic week?
  3. At Williams we believe that bringing together students and professors in small groups produces extraordinary academic outcomes. Our distinctive Oxford-style tutorial classes—in which two students are guided by a professor in deep exploration of a single topic—are a prime example. Each week the students take turns developing independent work—an essay, a problem set, a piece of art—and critiquing their partner’s work. Focused on close reading, writing and oral defense of ideas, more than 60 pre-determined tutorials are offered across the curriculum each year. Imagine yourself in a tutorial at Williams. What topic would you be most excited to study in that setting and why?
  4. As part of your application, you’ll have the option of uploading an essay from a humanities or social science course.
WORCESTER POLYTECHNIC INSTITUTE

*2020-2021 Essay Prompts

Worcester Polytechnic Institute seeks students who are the right fit for its academic and campus community. In what ways are you the right fit for the distinctive educational and campus experience that Worcester Polytechnic Institute offers? (500 word max.)

YALE

*2020-2021 Essay Prompts

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? (125 words or fewer)

What is it about Yale that has led you to apply? (125 words or fewer)

Short Takes

Please respond in no more than 300 characters (approximately 35 words), to each of the following questions:

What inspires you?

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?

You are teaching a Yale course. What is it called?

Most first-year Yale students live in suites of four to six students. What do you hope to add to your suitemates’ experience? What do you hope they will add to yours?

Yale Essays

Applicants submitting the Coalition Application or Common Application: use the two short essays (250 words or fewer) below to reflect on topics and personal experiences that will help the Admissions Committee learn more about you.

  1. Yale’s extensive course offerings and vibrant conversations beyond the classroom encourage students to follow their developing intellectual interests wherever they lead. Tell us about your engagement with a topic or idea that excites you. Why are you drawn to it?
  1. Respond to one of the following prompts:

2A. Reflect on your membership in a community. Why is your involvement important to you? How has it shaped you?  You may define community however you like.

2B. Yale students, faculty, and alumni engage issues of local, national, and international significance. Discuss an issue that is important to you and how your college experience could help you address it.

2C. Tell us about your relationship with a role model or mentor who has been influential in your life. How has their guidance been instrumental to your growth?

Applicants submitting the Coalition Application: In addition to responding to the prompts above, upload an audio file, video, image, or document you have created. The upload should complement your response to one of the prompts. Above your response, include a one-sentence description of your upload. Please limit uploads to the following file types: mp3, mov, jpeg, word, pdf. Advanced editing is not necessary. Uploads provided via the Coalition Application will be reviewed by the Admissions Office only. Review the Supplementary Material instructions for material that may be evaluated by Yale faculty.

Engineering Essay

Applicants submitting the Coalition Application or Common Application who select one of Yale’s engineering majors will also respond to the prompt below in 250 words or fewer:

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.

 

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