News Flash! Colleges are Releasing their Supplementary Essay Prompts!

By: Joseph Corace | Last Updated: July 7, 2020

News Flash! Colleges are Releasing Their Supplementary Essay Prompts!

Typewriter showing NEWSHere are a number of supplemental essay prompts that colleges have recently made public, along with our comments – shown in bold, red font – about some of them. As a general principle, we consider prompts presented as “Optional” to be optional only for students who have no real interest in attending the school! If you’re serious about applying to the school, then Optional = Mandatory. So, beginning in alphabetical order, here’s what we can relay to you. As you read through these essay prompts, you’ll see some common themes (Why do you want to attend our school?) and unique prompts, such as UChicago’s. In every case, your responses are important for the essay reader, because what you write reveals whether you’ve done your homework about the school, and how mature and thoughtful you are as an applicant for admission to a particular academic community.

In our decades of working with students, we’ve always provided insightful inspiration and support to students who tackle these supplemental essays. Can we help you? Call us.

American University LogoAmerican University:

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

Babson College:

Babson College LogoYour moment has arrived. Share with us the moments or experiences that have led you to apply to Babson College (500 words maximum). We invite you to submit your answer in either essay OR video format. If you     choose to submit a video, please limit your response to a 1-minute video, which can be submitted via a shared link to YouTube or another video hosting website.

Baylor University:

Baylor University LogoWhat 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? [This prompt asks three questions and calls for a response that answers all of them.]

Boston College:

Boston College LogoAll 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.

The writing supplement topics for the 2020-2021 application cycle (400 word limit):

  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?

Brown University:

Brown University LogoFirst 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)
  2. 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)
  3. Tell us about a place or community you call home. How has it shaped your perspective? (250 words)

Carleton College:

  1. Carleton College Logo1. When did you first learn of Carleton? (no more than 150 words)
  2. Why are you applying to Carleton? (no more than 150 words)

We’d like to know you better. Please complete the following 3 questions (each in 300 characters or less), and have a little fun doing so: [This is a clear invitation to be creative!]

  1. I am empowered by people who…
  2. I appreciate my community because …
  3. In the future, I hope to explore…

Catholic University:

Catholic UniversityAs you consider your college and career aspirations, please describe why you are interested in attending The Catholic University of America? (750 words max.)

College of Charleston:

College of CharlestonOPTIONAL: The College of Charleston will carefully consider all parts of your application. Information provided below will be considered in the context of the rest of your application and does not necessarily prevent you from being admitted. Why do you want to attend the College of Charleston? (750 word limit) [This is a prime example of Optional = Mandatory.]

Cornell University:

Cornell UniversityIn 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 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:

  1. Davidson College LogoWhy 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 University:

Duke UniversityThe 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: [Another prime example of Optional = Mandatory.]

  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)
  2. 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:

Elon University LogoIn 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)

  1. Name three songs from your perfect playlist. (30 word limit)
  2. Why Elon University? (200-250 Word Limit)

Emory University:

Emory University LogoIn 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 a time when you questioned something that you believed to be true.
  2. If you could go back in time, what advice would you offer yourself at the beginning of secondary/high school?
  3. Reflect on a personal experience where you intentionally expanded your cultural awareness.

“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. Introduce yourself to your first-year Emory University roommate.

Furman University:

Furman University LogoThe Furman Advantage guarantees every student an educational experience that combines excellent academics with real-world experiences and self-discovery. Describe how you believe The Furman Advantage will prepare you for a life of purpose, community impact, and career success. (350 word limit)

Georgetown University:

Georgetown University LogoIndicate 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:  

Georgia Tech LogoFor 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:  

  1. Harvey Mudd College LogoWhat 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.
  2. 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?

High Point University:

  1. High Point University LogoDescribe any special interests or hobbies that you may have. (50 Word Limit)
  2. Describe any meaningful travel experiences (both national and international). (50 Word Limit)
  3. Why do you want to attend High Point University? (50 Word Limit)

Indiana University Bloomington:  

Indiana University LogoDescribe your academic and career plans and any special interest (for example, undergraduate research, academic interests, leadership opportunities, etc.) that you are eager to pursue as an undergraduate at Indiana University. Also, if you encountered any unusual circumstances, challenges, or obstacles in pursuit of your education, you may share those experiences and how you overcame them. (200-400 words max.)

Johns Hopkins:

Johns Hopkins LogoWrite a brief essay (300-400 words) in which you respond to the following 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.

We’re happy you’re keeping up to date. Follow us in our next installment that will give you essay prompts for supplements from schools L-T.

Lafayette College:  

Lafayette College LogoStudents identify Lafayette as an excellent fit for countless reasons. In your response, be deliberate and specific [generalities won’t do] 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.

  2. What do you do? Why do you do it? (Optional, but recommended
[= mandatory]. Length: 20-200 words.)

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

PennState LogoPenn State University:

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 [= mandatory] question)

Providence College LogoProvidence College

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

  1. As a liberal arts school, Providence College provides students with the opportunity to explore several different academic areas. While you may not be ready to declare a major, what have you experienced, inside or outside of the classroom, that has led you to an interest in a particular field of study?

  2. Diversity, Inclusion, and Democracy is a class on campus that encourages conversation with people from different perspectives. There are several spaces on campus where this class posts questions to the PC community, and dialogue forms from there. One of the questions this class posted recently was “Name a time where you’ve felt empowered or represented by an educator.” What question would you like to pose to the PC community and why?


  3. If you could have a theme song, what would it be and why?

Reed College LogoReed College:  

For one week at the end of January, Reed students upend the traditional classroom hierarchy and teach classes about any topic they love, academic or otherwise. This week is known as Paideia after the Greek term signifying “education” – the complete education of mind, body and spirit. What would you teach that would contribute to the Reed community? (200 words minimum, 500 words maximum)

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute LogoRensselaer Polytechnic Institute:

Why are you interested in Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute? (250 words max.)

Rice University:  

  1. Rice University LogoThere 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)

Southern Methodist University LogoSouthern Methodist University:  

  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)

Texas Christian University LogoTexas Christian University

  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 LogoTrinity College Essay Prompt

OPTIONAL [No, it’s not.]: 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. you can type directly into the box or you can paste text from another source.

  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?

Tulane University LogoTulane University:  

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 LogoUniversity of California 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.

– Which questions you choose to answer is entirely up to you: But you should select questions that are most relevant to your experience and that best reflect your individual circumstances

– All questions are equal: All are given equal consideration in the application review process, which means there is no advantage or disadvantage to choosing certain questions over others.

– There is no right or wrong way to answer these questions: It’s about getting to know your personality, background, interests and achievements in your own unique voice.

  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?

From your point of view, what do you feel makes you an excellent choice for UC? Don’t be afraid to brag a little.

Note: The UC schools do not utilize the Coalition Application or Common Application and therefore do not consider those essay prompts.

University of Chicago LogoUniversity of Chicago:  

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.

Extended Essay (Required; Choose one) [Creativity is absolutely essential for your response.]

  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).
  2. What can actually be divided by zero?
  3. 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?
  4. 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.
  5. “Do you feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?” – Eleanor Roosevelt. Misattribute a famous quote and explore the implications of doing so.
  6. 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.
  7. 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 at Boulder LogoUniversity of Colorado Boulder:

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 Georgia LogoUniversity of Georgia:

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)

University of Massachusetts Amherst LogoUniversity of Massachusetts Amherst:  

1. Please tell us why you want to attend UMass Amherst? (100 word count)

  1. Please tell us why you chose the Majors you did? (100 word count)

University of Michigan LogoUniversity of Michigan:

  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)

University of North Carolina Chapel Hill LogoUniversity of North Carolina Chapel Hill:  

Please choose two of the prompts below and respond to each in 200-250 words.

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

University of North Carolina Wilmington LogoUniversity of North Carolina Wilmington:

All writing is carefully reviewed by the Admission Committee for content, clarity, mechanics and effort. Responses are an important factor in distinguishing admissible candidates within the applicant pool. Please respond to the following prompt thoughtfully. Your response should be approximately 250 words. Please describe why you are interested in attending UNC Wilmington.

University of Pittsburgh LogoUniversity of Pittsburgh:

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. Respond to two of the four questions.

  1. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are integral to the Pitt community. Please identify and describe one element of your personal identity, and explain how that element would positively impact and/or progress Pitt’s community.
  2. Resumes and lists of activities provide the Admissions Committee with an overview of your accomplishments. Please use this opportunity to provide more information by identifying one of your accomplishments and explaining how it has prepared you for a transition into collegiate life.
  3. If you could create a new product, process, business, or organization, what would it be? Please describe its purpose and how it would function. (We especially encourage applicants interested in the College of Business Administration or the Swanson School of Engineering to respond to this question.)
  4. With thousands of colleges and universities in the United States alone, discuss why the University of Pittsburgh is a good fit for you.

The two following 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?

University of Texas Austin LogoUniversity of Texas Austin:

All freshman applicants must submit a required essay: Topic A in ApplyTexas, OR the UT Austin Required Essay in the Coalition application.

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.
  3. Please share how you believe your experiences, perspectives, and/or talents have shaped your ability to contribute to and enrich the learning environment at UT Austin, both in and out of the classroom.

University of Vermont:  

The optional [No, it’s not.] essay is a chance for us to get to know you better — a wonderful way to share your interests while demonstrating your creativity [there’s your invitation to respond creatively]. Applicants can submit their optional essay through the Common Application or the Coalition Application; you can also submit the essay after the application deadline by uploading through the application status page. [Interesting info on after-deadline submissions]

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 LogoUniversity of Virginia:  

  1. 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.

  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?

– 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 LogoUniversity of Washington:  


  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 [Although not mandatory, your well-written response to one of these prompts can make you stand out from your competition.]

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 LogoUniversity of Wisconsin:  

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.)

UW – La Crosse: Please respond to the following: How will your life experiences, commitments, and/or characteristics enrich the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse campus community? Tell us why you are interested in attending UW–La Crosse and what aspects of the campus are especially important to you? (650 words max.)

Villanova University LogoVillanova University:

Nova Nation Essays

The Office of Undergraduate Admission seeks applicants with characteristics that reflect our three core values: Veritas (Truth), Unitas (Unity) and Caritas (Love). These values define us as Villanovans. They are indelibly printed on our University seal and are a clear indication of our Augustinian identity.

At Villanova, we view our essay as a unique opportunity for students to move beyond the transcript and introduce the individual behind the application. 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.

For the first Villanova-specific essay, we have offered a range of topics to pique your interest. We hope to gain a deeper understanding of your thoughts, experiences, and opinions. Choose one of the four topics below and submit a written response in about 250 words.

For your second response we would like to know a little bit more about why you are interested in attending Villanova University. This is a shorter essay and should be about 100 words.

Villanova Essay Free Choice Prompts (2020-21)

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 (2020-21)

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.

Washington University St. Louis LogoWashington University St. Louis:

Each student who completes an application for admission by the completion deadline will be considered for the appropriate academic scholarship for the division indicated on the application. As you write your supplemental essay, you should keep in mind that it will be used by the scholarship committees in selecting the scholarship finalists. Therefore, you may wish to craft your response within an academic framework.

How long should the supplemental essay be?

While we don’t want to limit you from fully expressing your ideas and responding to our supplemental essay question, we recommend that you keep your response to around 250 words. The word allowance on the Common Application and Coalition Application forms is 300 words. This is to give you flexibility and to ensure your essay is not cut off. You should use only the number of words you need to express your answer.

Writing supplement prompt

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.

Beyond Boundaries writing supplement prompt

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 to make a difference in a complicated world where challenges do not come pre-packaged as the territory of a single discipline. Tell us what great challenge you might want to tackle leveraging two or more of WashU’s schools and how you would pursue a path of study in an interdisciplinary way.

William & Mary LogoWilliam & Mary:

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. [Here’s another invitation to be creative.]

Worcester Polytechnic Institute LogoWorcester Polytechnic Institute:

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 University LogoYale University:

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

All first-year applicants will complete a few Yale-specific short answer questions. These required questions are slightly different based on the application platform an applicant chooses. The 2020-2021 Yale-specific questions for the Coalition Application, Common Application, and QuestBridge Application are detailed below.

Short Answer Questions

Applicants submitting the Coalition Application, Common Application, or QuestBridge Application will 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? (125 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 respond to the following short answer questions, in no more than 200 characters (approximately 35 words):

– 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?


typing on computerApplicants 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?
  2. 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.

Topics: College Application Essay College Planning Supplemental Essays


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