Fall 2017 College Admissions Essay Prompts and Common App Supplements

Updated August 18, 2016
Most college essay prompts, including Common Application supplemental essays and Coalition Application (CAAS) supplemental essays are available. We have pulled prompts for over 65 universities, and they can be found on this page.
Remember to start early! The biggest mistake people make is waiting until the week before the deadline. Starting early will allow you to hone your writing skills and give you time to make mistakes. Find a few trusted people that know you well and will provide you honest feedback. You may go through many drafts and multiple ideas and that’s completely fine. By starting early and giving yourself time you will have the opportunity to write essays that reflect the best you. The important thing is to express who you are – and what matters to you. You can use IvyAchievement’s free essay review service to get a free review to make sure you’re on the right track!


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Common Application Prompts

Limit: 650 words

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.
The lessons we take from failure can be fundamental to later success. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again? 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. Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.

Coalition Application Prompts

Recommended limit: 550 words; suggested 300-400 words.

Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.
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.
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?
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)?
Submit an essay on a topic of your choice.

Universal Application Prompts

Personal Statement
Please write an essay (650 words or fewer) that demonstrates your ability to develop and communicate your thoughts. Some ideas include: a person you admire; a life changing experience; or your viewpoint on a particular current event. Please attach your response to the end of your application.

Multimedia Information
Optional: You may provide your selected college(s) with a link to
any online content you feel:
1. Tells the college more about yourself
2. Demonstrates a particular talent you possess
3. Highlights an activity in which you participated
Some ideas include linking to an online video you created, a portfolio (pictures or photographs), a musical composition, or a newspaper article.

Amherst College

Amherst College

Personal Statement
(Accepts the Common Application, Coalition Application and QuestBridge Application)

To satisfy Amherst’s supplementary writing requirement for the first-year application, you may choose either Option A or Option B, described below. 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.

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Bates College

Bates College

(Accepts the Common Application only)

In addition to the Common Application essay, please select one phrase from the Bates mission statement below and comment on how it inspires you and draws you to Bates (1–2 paragraphs).

Since 1855, Bates College has been dedicated to the emancipating potential of the liberal arts. Bates educates the whole person through creative and rigorous scholarship in a collaborative residential community. With ardor and devotion — Amore ac Studio — we engage the transformative power of our differences, cultivating intellectual discovery and informed civic action. Preparing leaders sustained by a love of learning and a commitment to responsible stewardship of the wider world, Bates is a college for coming times.

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Boston College

Boston College

(Accepts the Common Application only)

We would like to get a better sense of you. Please select one of the questions below and write an essay of 400 words or less providing your response.

1. Human beings have a creative side that tends to shine most when we are truly invested in the world around us. Describe a situation when you responded effectively to a particular need and found yourself at your creative best.
2. Experience teaches us the importance of being reflective when making major decisions. Share an example from a recent event when a leader or an average person faced a difficult choice. What were the consequences of the decision? Would you have done the same?
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 stresses the importance of the liberal arts and sciences, character formation, commitment to the common good, and living a meaningful life. How do you think your personal goals and academic interests will help you grow both intellectually and personally during college?

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Boston University (BU)

Boston University (BU)

(Accepts the Common Application only)

  • In no more than 250 words, please tell us why BU is a good fit for you and what specifically has led you to apply for admission.

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Bowdoin College

Bowdoin College

(Accepts the Common Application, Coalition Application and QuestBridge Application)

  • How did you first learn about Bowdoin?
    (Limit 140 characters.)
  • In an effort to understand your interests and aspirations for college, we ask you to select one of the three topics below and provide a response of up to 250 words.  Bowdoin students and alumni often cite world-class faculty and opportunities for intellectual engagement, the College’s commitment to the Common Good, and the special quality of life on the coast of Maine as important aspects of the Bowdoin experience.  Reflecting on your own interests and experiences, please select and respond to one of the following topics:
    • Intellectual Engagement
    • The Common Good
    • Connection to Place

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Brandeis University

Brandeis University

(Accepts the Brandeis Application, Common Application and Universal Application)

For International Students Only:

  • Brandeis attracts students from many corners of the world. As an international student at Brandeis, how would you enrich the campus community? (250 words or fewer)

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Brown University

Brown University

(Accepts the Common Application Only)

  • Why are you drawn to the area(s) of study you indicated earlier in this application? If you are “undecided” or not sure which Brown concentrations match your interests, consider describing more generally the academic topics or modes of thought that engage you currently. (150 word limit)
  • Why Brown? (150 word limit
  • Tell us where you have lived – and for how long – since you were born; whether you’ve always lived in the same place, or perhaps in a variety of places. (100 word limit)
  • We all exist within communities or groups of various sizes, origins, and purposes; pick one and tell us why it is important to you, and how it has shaped you. (100 word limit)

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California Institute of Technology (Caltech)

California Institute of Technology (Caltech)

(Accepts the Common Application and the Coalition Application)

  • Please list three books, along with their authors, that have been particularly meaningful to you. For each book, please include a sentence explaining their influence upon you. Please note that your response is not limited to math, science or school-assigned texts. What three experiences or activities have helped you explore your desire to study and possibly pursue a career in STEM? (200 max)
  • Members of the Caltech community live, learn, and work within the Honor System with one simple guideline; “No member shall take unfair advantage of any other member of the Caltech community.” While seemingly simple, questions of ethic, honesty and integrity are sometimes puzzling. Share a difficult question that has challenged you. What was your response, and how did you arrive to a solution? (200 words max)
  • Caltech students have long been known for their quirky sense of humor and creative pranks. Please describe an unusual way in which you have fun. (200 words max)
  • In an increasingly global and interdependent society, there is a need for diversity in thought, background, and experience in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. How do you see yourself contributing to the diversity of Caltech’s community? (200 words max)
  • Scientific exploration clearly excites you. Beyond our 3:1 student to faculty ratio and our intense focus on research opportunities, how do you believe Caltech will best fuel your intellectual curiosity and help you meet your goals? (500 words max)

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Carleton College

Carleton College

(Accepts the Common Application, Coalition Application and QuestBridge Application)

  • When did you first learn of Carleton? (no more than 150 words)
  • Why are you applying to Carleton? (no more than 150 words)
  • Carleton is powered by wind turbines. What empowers you? (no more than 150 words)
  • What is the first thing that comes to mind when you see the word (word association – just a few words):
    • Knowledge?
    • Play?
    • Future?

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Carnegie Mellon University (CMU)

Carnegie Mellon University (CMU)

(Accepts the Common Application only)

Please submit a one page, single-spaced essay that explains why you have chosen Carnegie Mellon and your particular major(s), department(s) or program(s). This essay should include the reasons why you’ve chosen the major(s), any goals or relevant work plans and any other information you would like us to know. For freshmen applying to more than one college or program, please mention each college or program to which you are applying. Because our admission committees review applicants by college and program, your essay can impact our final decision. Candidates applying for early decision or transfer may apply to only one college and department.

List the books (if any) you’ve read this year for pleasure. Choose one and in a sentence describe its impact on you.

If there was an interruption during your secondary school or collegiate experience or between your secondary school and collegiate experience (gap year(s)) when you were not enrolled and as a result, not making normal academic progress, please explain the reason for the interruption.

While not a requirement, have you been interviewed by an alumni or on campus representative prior to applying for admission? If so, indicate the name of your interviewer and tell us how it impacted your decision to apply. (500 word maximum.)

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Claremont McKenna College (CMC)

Claremont McKenna College (CMC)

(Accepts the Common Application, Coalition Application and QuestBridge Application)

  • What influenced you the most in your decision to apply to CMC? Please limit your response to no more than 200 words.

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Clemson University

Clemson University

(Accepts the Clemson University Application only)

  • Does not have a supplement

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Colgate University

Colgate University

(Accepts the Common Application and the Coalition Application)

In addition to your personal statement, Colgate requires a supplemental short-answer essay. Please respond, in 250 words or less, to one of the following prompts:

  • The Mission Statement for Colgate University sets forth 13 Goals for a Colgate Education. One goal for Colgate students is listed as: Be engaged citizens and strive for a just society: embrace the responsibilities to local, national, and global communities; use their influence for the benefit of others. Please describe how you would embrace this goal as a Colgate student.
  • Colgate prides itself in tradition. Please describe a religious, cultural, or family tradition you can share with the Colgate community.
  • We want to get to know you better. What are three words that your best friend would use to describe you and why?
  • Colgate’s core curriculum teaches students empathy, informed debate, and critical thinking. Please tell us what book or piece of literature you believe is important for the entire Colgate Class of 2021 to read. Why?

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College of William and Mary

College of William and Mary

(Accepts the Common Application and the Coalition Application)

  • Beyond your impressive academic credentials and extra curricular 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. 

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Columbia University

Columbia University

(Accepts the Common Application and the Coalition Application)

In addition to the primary components of the Common Application and Coalition Application, 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 very carefully in order get a full sense of each unique individual beyond his or her transcripts and test scores.

We encourage you to familiarize yourself with these questions before beginning your application:

In 150 words or fewer, please briefly describe what aspect of the Columbia community, outside of the classroom, would you most want to impact and why.

Please list the following (150 words or fewer for each question):

  • the titles of the required readings from courses during the school year or summer that you enjoyed most in the past year;
  • the titles of books read for pleasure that you enjoyed most in the past year;
  • the titles of print or electronic publications you read regularly;
  • and the titles of the films, concerts, shows, exhibits, lectures and other entertainments you enjoyed most in the past year.

It is not necessary to italicize or underline books or other publications. Author names may be included, but are not required. You may use semicolons or colons instead of line breaks to separate items. Lists do not need to be numbered or in any specific order.

Please answer the following short answer questions (300 words or fewer for each question):

  • Please tell us what you value most about Columbia and why.
  • If you are applying to Columbia College, tell us what from your current and past experiences (either academic or personal) attracts you specifically to the field or fields of study that you noted in the Member Questions section. If you are currently undecided, please write about any field or fields in which you may have an interest at this time.
  • If you are applying to The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, please tell us what from your current and past experiences (either academic or personal) attracts you specifically to the field or fields of study that you noted in the Member Questions section.

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Cornell University

Cornell University

(Accepts the Common Application and the Universal Application)

College Interest Essays

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 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 Science (CALS) and Cornell University help you achieve your academic goals?
  • College of Architecture, Art, and Planning: Describe two or three of your intellectual interests and why you are excited to pursue them within your chosen major in AAP. What personal experiences, background, or future goals will you bring to your scholarly and artistic pursuits at Cornell?
  • College of Arts and Sciences: Describe two or three of your current intellectual interests and why they are exciting to you. Why will Cornell’s College of Arts and Sciences be the right environment in which to pursue your interests?
  • College of Business: Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management: Why are you drawn to studying the major you have selected? Please discuss how your interests and related experiences have influenced your choice.
  • College of Business: School of Hotel Administration: The global hospitality industry includes hotel and food service management, real estate, finance, entrepreneurship, marketing, technology, and law. Describe what has influenced your decision to study business through the lens of hospitality. What personal qualities make you a good fit for SHA?
  • College of Engineering: Cornell Engineering celebrates innovative problem solving that helps people, communities…the world. Consider your ideas and aspirations and describe how a Cornell Engineering education would allow you to leverage technological problem-solving to improve the world we live in.
  • College of Human Ecology: How have your experiences influenced you to consider the College of Human Ecology and how will your choice of major(s) impact your goals and plans for the future?
  • School of Industrial and Labor Relations: Tell us about your intellectual interests, how they sprung from your course, service, work or life experiences, and what makes them exciting to you. Describe how ILR is the right school for you to pursue these interests.

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Darthmouth College

Darthmouth College

(Accepts the Common Application only)

Please respond in 100 words or less:

  • Oh, The Places You’ll Go is one of the most popular books by “Dr. Seuss,” Dartmouth Class of 1925.  Where do you hope to go?  What aspects of Dartmouth’s curriculum or community might help you get there?

Please choose one of the following prompts and respond in 250-300 words:

  • Shonda Rhimes, Dartmouth ’91, creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, recently documented her Year of Yes; for one year she vowed to say YES to everything that scared her. Share a moment when you stepped out of your comfort zone, and describe how it helped you grow into who you are today.
  • Celebrate an example of excellent teaching and how it illuminated the subject you were studying. Why did it resonate with you and excite your intellectual curiosity?
  • In the wake of World War II, Dartmouth President John Sloan Dickey proclaimed, “The world’s troubles are your troubles…and there is nothing wrong with the world that better human beings cannot fix.” If you could tackle any of the world’s “troubles,” which one captures your imagination and inspires you to act?  What would you invent or devise to mitigate it and how might your coursework at Dartmouth inform your ambitions?
  • “It’s not easy being green” was a frequent lament of Kermit the Frog. Discuss.
  • “Three things in human life are important,” said the novelist Henry James. “The first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.” Share a moment when kindness guided your actions.
  • “Won’t you be my neighbor?” was the signature catchphrase of Fred Rogers, the creator and host of Mister Rogers Neighborhood. What kind of neighbor will you be in our undergraduate community at Dartmouth? What impact have you had on the neighbors in your life?

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Davidson College

Davidson College

(Accepts the Common Application only)

  • Why Davidson? (250-300 Suggested Word Limit)
  • 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.
  • Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences. (200 Word Limit)

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Duke University

Duke University

(Accepts the Common Application and the Coalition Application)

The following question is required for Engineering applicants.

  • If you are applying to the Pratt School of Engineering as either a first-year or transfer applicant, please discuss why you want to study engineering and why you would like to study at Duke. (150 words maximum)

The following question is required for Arts & Sciences applicants.

  • If you are applying to the Trinity College of Arts & Sciences as either a first-year or transfer applicant, please discuss why you consider Duke a good match for you. Is there something particular about Duke that attracts you? (150 words maximum)

The following question is optional for all applicants to Duke University.

  • 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 to help us understand you better—perhaps related to a community you belong to, your sexual orientation or gender identity, or your family or cultural background—we encourage you to do so. 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)

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Emory University

Emory University

(Accepts the Common Application and the Coalition Application)

Supplement not yet available.

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Georgetown University

Georgetown University

(Accepts the Georgetown Application only)

 

Short Essay

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

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

Essay One

  • 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 Two

  • APPLICANTS TO GEORGETOWN COLLEGE: Please relate your interest in studying at Georgetown University to your goals. How do these thoughts relate to your chosen course of study? (If you are applying to major in the FLL or in a Science, please specifically address those interests.)
  • APPLICANTS TO THE SCHOOL OF NURSING & HEALTH STUDIES: Describe the factors that have influenced your interest in studying health care at Georgetown University. Please specifically address your intended major (Health Care Management & Policy, Human Science, International Health, or Nursing).
  • 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.
  • 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.

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Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech)

Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech)

(Accepts the Common Application only)

  • Beyond rankings, location, and athletics, why are you interested in attending Georgia Tech? (max 150 words)

Please choose ONE of the following questions and provide an answer in 150 words or less.

  • Tech’s motto is Progress and Service. We find that students who ultimately have a broad impact first had a significant one at home. What is your role in your immediate or extended family? And how you seen evidence of your impact on them?
  • Students are often told what classes they should take. If you had the opportunity to create a class, what would it be and why?
  • We challenge our students to “be comfortable being uncomfortable”. Tell us about a time in high school that you felt outside of your comfort zone and the resolution. 

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Grinnell College

Grinnell College

(Accepts the Common Application only)

  • Does not have a supplement 

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Hamilton College

Hamilton College

Accepts the Common Application and the Coalition Application)

  • While the primary criteria for admission to Hamilton are academic achievement, intellectual promise and community engagement, Hamilton also seeks to admit candidates who are a good fit with the programs and experiences offered by the College. Please take this opportunity to tell us about your interest in Hamilton and, particularly, why you believe it is a place where you can thrive. Be open. Be honest. Be brief. (250 word maximum) 

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Harvard University

Harvard University

(Accepts the Common Application and the Universal Application)

 You may wish to include an additional essay if you feel that the college application forms do not provide sufficient opportunity to convey important information about yourself or your accomplishments. You may write on a topic of your choice, or you may choose from one of the following topics:
–           Unusual circumstances in your life
–           Travel or living experiences in other countries
–           What you would want your future college roommate to know about you
–           An intellectual experience (course, project, book, discussion, paper, poetry, or research topic in engineering, mathematics, science or other modes of inquiry) that has meant the most to you
–           How you hope to use your college education
–           A list of books you have read during the past twelve months
–           The Harvard College Honor code declares that we “hold honesty as the foundation of our community.” As you consider entering this community that is committed to honesty, please reflect on a time when you or someone you observed had to make a choice about whether to act with integrity and honesty.
–           The mission of Harvard College is to educate our students to be citizens and citizen-leaders for society. What would you do to contribute to the lives of your classmates in advancing this mission?

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Harvey Mudd College

Harvey Mudd College

(Accepts the Common Application only)

Short Answer Response

Please answer the following (500 word limit)

What influenced you to apply to Harvey Mudd College? What about the HMC curriculum and community appeals to you?

Essay

Choose any one of the essay topics below (500 word limit)

1. “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?

2. What is one thing we won’t know about you after reading your application that you haven’t already reported in the Common Application “Additional Information” section?

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Haverford College

Haverford College

(Accepts the Common Application only)

Haverford College has one of the oldest and one of the very few student-run Honor Codes in the U.S. Our Honor Code is not a set of rules, but rather a statement of shared values centered on the concepts of trust, concern, and respect. Our Honor Code serves as an educational tool in and of itself and provides a powerful framework for our community, emphasizing and supporting qualities we see as essential to a Haverford education. Among other things, the Honor Code at Haverford shapes:

  • Academic Freedom: The Honor Code fosters an atmosphere emphasizing academic integrity, collaboration over competition, and the cultivation of intellectual curiosity. Differences and disagreement are respected, valued, and embraced, and open discourse is seen as fundamental to the academic endeavor.
  • Student Agency: The Honor Code upholds a culture in which students are deeply trusted to take substantial ownership of their education and to profoundly shape and define the Haverford community. Student ownership is reflected in self-scheduled exams, in the fact that every student completes a Senior Thesis, in shared responsibility for the residential experience, and of course in oversight of the Honor Code itself.
  • Community: The Honor Code establishes a supportive environment for living and learning, where the community experience plays a central role in one’s education. The inherent value of every community member is recognized, and diversity in all respects – including diversity of background, experience, and perspective – is nurtured, celebrated, and embraced.
  • Leadership and Engagement: The Honor Code allows every student to find and develop their own voice, to practice ways of improving community and acting on issues of importance, to learn methods of problem solving and conflict resolution, and to examine the ways they can and will impact the world beyond Haverford.

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

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Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University

(Accepts the Common Application, Universal Application and Coalition Application)

  • Johns Hopkins University was founded in 1876 on a spirit of exploration and discovery. As a result, students can pursue a multi-dimensional undergraduate experience both in and outside of the classroom. Given the opportunities at Hopkins, please discuss your current interests (academic, extracurricular, personal passions, summer experiences, etc.) and how you will build upon them here. (300-500 word limit)

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Lehigh University

Lehigh University

(Accepts the Common Application only)

  • What do you and Lehigh have in common? Please reply with 250-350 words.
  • Please select one of the following prompts and respond with 150 to 250 words.

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Macalester College

Macalester College

(Accepts the Common Application only)

  • Macalester is a community that includes people from many different backgrounds. Please write an essay about how your background, experiences, or outlook might add to the Mac community, academically and personally. (250-500 words)

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Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Personal Statement
(Accepts the Common Application, Coalition Application and QuestBridge Application)

To satisfy Amherst’s supplementary writing requirement for the first-year application, you may choose either Option A or Option B, described below. 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.

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Middlebury College

Middlebury College

(Accepts the Common Application only)

  • Does not have a supplement

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New York University (NYU)

New York University (NYU)

(Accepts the Common Application only)

  • We would like to know more about your interest in NYU. We are particularly interested in knowing what motivated you to apply to NYU and more specifically, why you have 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 tell us why you are interested in each of the campuses, schools, colleges, or programs to which you have applied. You may be focused or undecided, or simply open to the options within NYU’s global network; regardless, we want to understand – Why NYU? (400 word maximum)

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Northeastern University

Northeastern University

(Accepts the Common Application and the Coalition Application)

  • Does not have a supplement

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Northwestern University

Northwestern University

(Accepts the Common Application and the Coalition Application)

  • In the Northwestern Writing Supplement, we ask students to explain why they would like to attend Northwestern.

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Oberlin College

Oberlin College

(Accepts the Common Application only)

  • How did your interest in Oberlin develop and what aspects of our college community most excite you? (250 words max)

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Ohio State University- Columbus

Ohio State University- Columbus

(Accepts the Common Application and the Coalition Application)

  • Does not have a supplement

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Penn State University- University Park (Penn State)

Penn State University- University Park (Penn State)

(Accepts the MyPennState Application only)

  • Does not have a supplement

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Pepperdine University

Pepperdine University

(Accepts the Common Application only)

  • Write a letter to your future roommate at Pepperdine. Tell them what characteristics would make you a good roommate and what you are looking forward to most in college. (50-300 words)
  • The university affirms that truth, having nothing to fear from investigation, should be pursued relentlessly in every discipline. Although Pepperdine University is a distinctly Christian institution, students, faculty, and staff members of all faith traditions are welcome to become part of the Pepperdine University community. Please tell us a little bit about how faith has influenced your life. (50-300 words)

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Pomona College

Pomona College

(Accepts the Common Application, Coalition Application and QuestBridge Application)

  • Most Pomona students enter the College undecided about a major, or they change their minds about their prospective major by the time they graduate. Certainly we aren’t going to hold you to any of the choices you’ve made above. But please do tell us why you’ve chosen the major or majors (or Undecided!) that you have (in no more than 250 words).
  • Please respond to one of the following three prompts:
    • Prompt 1: Each year, the Pomona Student Union hosts a “Great Debate.” Thought leaders with opposing views on a certain issue are invited to make their case in front of the student body. What is an issue that you think has two or more sides and what views would be important to capture in order to understand the nuances of the debate? Why do you think it would be important for the Pomona student body to be exposed to this debate?
    • Prompt 2: Tell us about a subject that you couldn’t stop exploring, a book you couldn’t put down, or a Wikipedia rabbit hole you dove into. Why did it fascinate you?
    • Prompt 3: Pomona has a long history of bringing together students of diverse backgrounds who want to push intellectual limits and who want to engage in a community that values difference. Write about a time when you were aware of your difference. How did it change you and what did you learn from the experience?

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Princeton University

Princeton University

(Accepts the Common Application and the Universal Application)

In addition to the essay you have written for the Common Application, please write an essay of about 500 words (no more than 650 words and no fewer than 250 words). Using one of the themes below as a starting point, write about a person, event or experience that helped you define one of your values or in some way changed how you approach the world. Please do not repeat, in full or in part, the essay you wrote for the Common Application.

  1. Tell us about a person who has influenced you in a significant way.
  2. “ One of the great challenges of our time is that the disparities we face today have more complex causes and point less straightforwardly to solutions.” Omar Wasow, assistant professor of politics, Princeton University; founder of Blackplanet.com. This quote is taken from Professor Wasow’s January 2014 speech at the Martin Luther King Day celebration at Princeton University.
  3. “ Princeton in the Nation’s Service” was the title of a speech given by Woodrow Wilson on the 150th anniversary of the University. It became the unofficial Princeton motto and was expanded in 2016 to “Princeton in the nation’s service and the service of humanity.” Woodrow Wilson, Princeton Class of 1879, served on the faculty and was Princeton’s president from 1902–1910.
  4. “ Culture is what presents us with the kinds of valuable things that can fill a life. And insofar as we can recognize the value in those things and make them part of our lives, our lives are meaningful.” Gideon Rosen, Stuart Professor of Philosophy, chair of the Council of the Humanities and director of the Program in Humanistic Studies, Princeton University.
  5. Using a favorite quotation from an essay or book you have read in the last three years as a starting point, tell us about an event or experience that helped you define one of your values or changed how you approach the world. Please write the quotation, title and author at the beginning of your essay.

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Purdue University

Purdue University

(Accepts the Common Application only)

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

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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

(Accepts the Common Application, Universal Application and the Candidate’s Choice Application)

For most of our applicants, the essay completed as a part of the Common Application, the Universal College Application, or the Candidate’s Choice Application (personal statement) will fulfill our essay requirement.

The programs that require a specific essay, along with the essay topics, may be found below.

  • Accelerated Programs (Law/Medical)
    • State your reasons for aspiring to a career in law or medicine.
  • Architecture
    • State your reasons for choosing architecture as your profession.
  • Electronic Arts
    • Discuss your interests in the field of electronic arts and state how this is reflected in your portfolio.
  • Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences
    • State your reasons for choosing the field of games and simulation arts and sciences, making reference to your portfolio if one has been submitted.
  • Electronic Media, Arts, and Communication (EMAC)
    • State your reasons for choosing the field of Electronic Media, Arts, and Communication, making reference to your portfolio if one has been submitted.
  • All Other Programs
    • If you are not applying to a program listed above, the essay that you complete as a part of your application is all that we require.

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Rice University

Rice University

(Accepts the Common Application, Coalition Application and Universal Application) 

  • Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences. (150 word limit)
  • With the understanding that the choice of academic school you indicated is not binding, explain why you are applying to that particular school of study. (150 word limit)
  • How did you first learn about Rice University, and what motivated you to apply? (250 word limit)
  • In keeping with Rice’s long-standing tradition (known as “The Box”), please share an image of something that appeals to you. See the Help Section for more information.

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Smith College

Smith College

(Accepts the Common Application only)

  • We know that colleges ask a lot of hard questions on their applications. This one is not so hard and we promise, there is no hidden agenda – just have fun! We have all heard the saying “laughter is the best medicine.” Recount a time when something really made you laugh. (200 word limit)

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Stanford University

Stanford University

Personal Statement
(Accepts the Common Application, Coalition Application and QuestBridge Application)

To satisfy Amherst’s supplementary writing requirement for the first-year application, you may choose either Option A or Option B, described below. 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.

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Stanford University

Stanford University

(Accepts the Common Application and the Coalition Application)

Short Answer Questions

  • Name your favorite books, authors, films, and/or artists. (50 word limit)
  • What newspapers, magazines, and/or websites do you enjoy? (50 word limit)
  • What is the most significant challenge that society faces today? (50 word limit)
  • How did you spend your last two summers? (50 word limit)
  • What were your favorite events (e.g., performances, exhibits, competitions, conferences, etc.) in recent years? (50 word limit)
  • What historical moment or event do you wish you could have witnessed? (50 word limit)
  • What five words best describe you?
  • Briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences. (50-150 words)

Short Essays

(100-250 words each)

  • Stanford students possess an intellectual vitality. Reflect on an idea or experience that has been important to your intellectual development.
    • From Stanford admissions website: We want to see your commitment, dedication and genuine interest in expanding your intellectual horizons; both in what you write about yourself and in what others write on your behalf. We want to see the kind of curiosity and enthusiasm that will allow you to spark a lively discussion in a freshman seminar and continue the conversation at a dinner table. We want to see the energy and depth of commitment you will bring to your endeavors, whether that means in a research lab, as part of a community organization, during a performance or on an athletic field. We want to see the initiative with which you seek out opportunities that expand your perspective and that will allow you to participate in creating new knowledge.
  • 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—know you better.
  • What matters to you, and why?

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Swarthmore College

Swarthmore College

(Accepts the Common Application, Coalition Application and QuestBridge Application)

  • Please write about why you are interested in applying to and attending Swarthmore. (250 word limit)

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Tufts University

Tufts University

(Accepts the Common Application, Coalition Application and QuestBridge Application)

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.

  • Which aspects of Tufts’ curriculum or undergraduate experience prompt your application? In short: “Why Tufts?” (50–100 words)
  • There is a Quaker saying: “Let your life speak.” Describe the environment in which you were raised – your family, home, neighborhood, or community – and how it influenced the person you are today. (200–250 words)
  • Now we’d like to know a little bit more about you.  Please respond to one of the following six questions (200-250 words). Students applying to the SMFA at Tufts’ BFA program or the Five-Year BFA + BA/BS Combined Degree program must answer prompt F:
  • A) Nelson Mandela believed that “what counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived.  It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”  Describe a way in which you have made or hope to make a difference.
  • B) It’s cool to be smart. Tell us about the subjects or ideas that excite your intellectual curiosity.
  • C) Whether you’ve built blanket forts or circuit boards, produced community theater or mixed media art installations, tell us: what have you invented, engineered, created, or designed? Or what do you hope to?
  • D) What makes you happy?
  • E) Celebrate the role of sports in your life.
  • F) Artist Bruce Nauman once said: “One of the factors that still keeps me in the studio is that every so often I have to more or less start all over.” Everyone deals with failure differently; for most artists failure is an opportunity to start something new. Tell us about a time when you have failed and how that has influenced your art practice.

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Tulane University

Tulane University

(Accepts the Common Application and the Tulane Online Application)

  • Does not have a supplement

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University of California (UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Los Angeles/UCLA, UC Irvine, UC Merced, UC Riverside, UC San Diego/UCSD, UC Santa Cruz/UCSC)

University of California (UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Los Angeles/UCLA, UC Irvine, UC Merced, UC Riverside, UC San Diego/UCSD, UC Santa Cruz/UCSC)

(Accepts the University of California application only)

Answer any 4 of the following 8 questions (max 350 words):

  • Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes, or contributed to group efforts over time.
  • 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.
  • What would you say is your greatest talent or skill? How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time?
  • Describe how you have taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity or worked to overcome an educational barrier you have faced.
  • 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?
  • Describe your favorite academic subject and explain how it has influenced you.
  • What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?
  • What is the one thing that you think sets you apart from other candidates applying to the University of California?

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University of Chicago (UChicago)

University of Chicago (UChicago)

(Accepts the Common Application, Coalition Application and Universal Application)

  • 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 (Optional):
    • Share with us a few of your favorite books, poems, authors, films, plays, pieces of music, musicians, performers, paintings, artists, blogs, magazines, or newspapers. Feel free to touch on one, some, or all of the categories listed, or add a category of your own.

Extended Essay Questions:

(Required; Choose one)

  • Essay Option 1.
    • What is square one, and can you actually go back to it?
      —Inspired by Maya Shaked, Class of 2018
  • Essay Option 2.
    • Once, renowned physicist Werner Heisenberg said: “There is a fundamental error in separating the parts from the whole, the mistake of atomizing what should not be atomized. Unity and complementarity constitute reality.” Whether it’s Georges Seurat’s pointillism in “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte,” the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls, quantum physics, or any other field of your choosing, when can the parts be separated from the whole and when can they not?
      —Inspired by Ender Sahin, Class of 2020
  • Essay Option 3.
    • The ball is in your court—a penny for your thoughts, but say it, don’t spray it. So long as you don’t bite off more than you can chew, beat around the bush, or cut corners, writing this essay should be a piece of cake. Create your own idiom, and tell us its origin—you know, the whole nine yards. PS: A picture is worth a thousand words.
      —Inspired by April Bell, Class of 2017, and Maya Shaked, Class of 2018 (It takes two to tango.)
  • Essay Option 4.
    • Alice falls down the rabbit hole. Milo drives through the tollbooth. Dorothy is swept up in the tornado. Neo takes the red pill. Don’t tell us about another world you’ve imagined, heard about, or created. Rather, tell us about its portal. Sure, some people think of the University of Chicago as a portal to their future, but please choose another portal to write about.
      —Inspired by Raphael Hallerman, Class of 2020
  • Essay Option 5.
    • Vestigiality refers to genetically determined structures or attributes that have apparently lost most or all of their ancestral function, but have been retained during the process of evolution. In humans, for instance, the appendix is thought to be a vestigial structure. Describe something vestigial (real or imagined) and provide an explanation for its existence.
      —Inspired by Tiffany Kim, Class of 2020
  • Essay Option 6.
    • 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. 

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University of Connecticut (UConn)

University of Connecticut (UConn)

(Accepts the Common Application and the UConn Application)

  • Does not have a supplement

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University of Florida

University of Florida

(Accepts the Coalition Application only)

Please submit one essay. Remember to keep within the 500-word maximum length.

Essay Topics

  • Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.
  • 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.
  • 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?
  • 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)?
  • Submit an essay on a topic of your choice.

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University of Illinois- Urbana Champaign (UIUC)

University of Illinois- Urbana Champaign (UIUC)

(Accepts the myIllini Application only)

  • Explain your interest in the major you selected and describe how you have recently explored or developed this interest inside and/or outside the classroom. You may also explain how this major relates to your future career goals. If you’re applying to the Division of General Studies, explain your academic interests and strengths or your future career goals. You may include any majors or areas of study you’re currently considering. (300-400 words)

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University of Miami (UMiami)

University of Miami (UMiami)

(Accepts the Common Application only)

  • Does not have a supplement

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University of Michigan- Ann Arbor

University of Michigan- Ann Arbor

(Accepts the Common Application only)

Essay #1 (Required for all applicants. Approximately 250 words.)

  • 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.

Essay #2 (Required for all applicants. 500 words maximum.) FRESHMEN APPLICANTS

  • 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?

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University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill (UNC)

University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill (UNC)

(Accepts the Common Application only)

The second essay will be specific to the UNC application. You’ll choose one prompt and respond in an essay of 400-500 words. Here are the questions:

  • Teen activist and 2014 Nobel Peace prize winner Malala Yousafzai said, “I raise up my voice-not so that I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard”.  For whom have you raised your voice
  • Students learn both inside and outside the classroom. What would other members of the Carolina community learn from you?
  • You get one do-over of any moment in your life. What would you do over, and why?
  • You’ve been invited to give a TEDtalk. What is yours about?
  • There are 27 amendments to the Constitution of the US. What should be the 28th?

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University of Notre Dame

University of Notre Dame

(Accepts the Common Application and the Coalition Application)

Please provide a response between 150 and 200 words to the following question (required).

  • Notre Dame is an adventure that will develop more than just your intellect. Blessed Basil Moreau, founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross, believed that to provide a true education “the mind will not be cultivated at the expense of the heart.” What excites you about attending Notre Dame?

Please select two of the following four prompts and provide a response between 150 and 200 words to each.

  • Home is where your story begins. Tell us about your home and how it has influenced your story.
  • Think about when you first meet people. What is a common first impression they might have of you? Is it a perception you want to change or what else do you want them to know about you?.
  • The late Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., Notre Dame’s president from 1953 to 1987, served as a trusted adviser to U.S. presidents and popes. A champion for human rights, Fr. Hesburgh was one of the architects of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Reflect on the current state of civil rights, the progress that has been made, or the problems still being faced today.
  • This is your chance to take a risk.

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University of Pennsylvania (UPenn, Penn)

University of Pennsylvania (UPenn, Penn)

(Accepts the Common Application only)

  • How will you explore your intellectual and academic interests at the University of Pennsylvania? Please answer this question given the specific undergraduate school to which you are applying. (400-650 words)

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University of Rochester

University of Rochester

(Accepts the Common Application, Coalition Application and Universal Application)

  • The abolitionist and Rochester luminary Frederick Douglass said, “Man’s greatness consists in his ability to do and the proper application of his powers to things needed to be done.”Your ‘ability to do’ will appear in other parts of this application. Please illustrate here how you properly apply your powers to ‘things needed to be done.’ The Rochester region and its University enroll, employ, and foster independent thinkers who create positive change in their communities. In seeking to join them, show us how you approach this ideal in your own life, family, and/or community.You may answer the above prompt by any one of the following methods:
  • Essay Response
  • Creative Response
  • Research Response

Essay Response: Write an analytical or creative response (max 100 words).

Creative Response: Upload or otherwise submit up to three works of your own art (you can include pictures, video, performances, literary works) along with a few sentences explaining the connection. Please submit your upload through your MyROC account at https://enrollment.rochester.edu/myroc/. Your uploads to your MyROC must not exceed 1MB, for larger files, including videos please include a link, if possible.

Research Response: Upload or otherwise submit an abstract describing your own related research, along with a few sentences explaining the connection. Please submit your upload through your MyROC account at https://enrollment.rochester.edu/myroc/. Your uploads to your MyROC must not exceed 1MB, for larger files, including videos please include a link, if possible.

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University of Southern California (USC)

University of Southern California (USC)

(Accepts the Common Application only)

Please respond to one of the prompts below. (250 word limit)

  • 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. 
  • Describe something outside of your intended academic focus about which you are interested in learning.
  • 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
  • What is your favorite snack?
  • Favorite app/website?
  • Best movie of all time:
  • Hashtag to describe yourself:
  • Dream job
  • What is your theme song?
  • Dream trip?
  • What TV show will you binge watch next?
  • Place you are the most content?

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University of Texas- Austin (UT-Austin)

University of Texas- Austin (UT-Austin)

(Accepts the ApplyTexas Application only)

Applications for Spring 2017

All applicants must submit an essay responding to Topic C, along with a second essay addressing topic A, B, D or S.

Topic S, used to detail special circumstances you want considered as part of your admissions application, may be submitted as a second essay, or as a third essay if you are required to submit an essay in response to Topic D due to the major you selected. You may also submit it as a third essay at your discretion.

Applications for Summer/Fall 2017 and later

All applicants must submit an essay responding to Topic A, along with a second essay addressing topic B, C, D, N, S or W.

Topic S, used to detail special circumstances you want considered as part of your admissions application, may be submitted as a second essay, or as a third essay if you are required to submit an essay in response to Topic D, N or W due to the major you selected. You may also submit it as a third essay at your discretion.

Applications for Spring 2017

Topic A

Describe a setting in which you have collaborated or interacted with people whose experiences and/or beliefs differ from yours. Address your initial feelings and how those feelings were or were not changed by this experience.

Topic B

Describe a circumstance, obstacle or conflict in your life, and the skills and resources you used to resolve it. Did it change you? If so, how?

Topic C

Considering your lifetime goals, discuss how your current and future academic and extracurricular activities might help you achieve your goals.

Topic D

Personal interaction with objects, images and spaces can be so powerful as to change the way one thinks about particular issues or topics. For your intended area of study (architecture, art history, design, studio art, visual art studies/art education), describe an experience where instruction in that area or your personal interaction with an object, image or space effected this type of change in your thinking. What did you do to act upon your new thinking and what have you done to prepare yourself for further study in this area?

Topic S

There may be personal information that you want considered as part of your admissions application. Write an essay describing that information. You might include exceptional hardships, challenges, or opportunities that have shaped or impacted your abilities or academic credentials, personal responsibilities, exceptional achievements or talents, educational goals, or ways in which you might contribute to an institution committed to creating a diverse learning environment.

Applications for Summer/Fall 2017 and later

Topic A

What was the environment in which you were raised? Describe your family, home, neighborhood or community, and explain how it has shaped you as a person.

Topic B

Most students have an identity, an interest or a talent that defines them in an essential way. Tell us about yourself.

Topic C

You’ve got a ticket in your hand—Where will you go? What will you do? What will happen when you get there?

Topic D

Personal interaction with objects, images and spaces can be so powerful as to change the way one thinks about particular issues or topics. For your intended area of study (architecture, art history, design, studio art, visual art studies/art education), describe an experience where instruction in that area or your personal interaction with an object, image or space effected this type of change in your thinking. What did you do to act upon your new thinking and what have you done to prepare yourself for further study in this area?

Topic N

Considering nursing as your first-choice major, discuss how your current and future academic activities, extracurricular pursuits and life experiences will help you achieve your goals.

Topic S

There may be personal information that you want considered as part of your admissions application. Write an essay describing that information. You might include exceptional hardships, challenges, or opportunities that have shaped or impacted your abilities or academic credentials, personal responsibilities, exceptional achievements or talents, educational goals, or ways in which you might contribute to an institution committed to creating a diverse learning environment.

Topic W

Discuss the reasons you chose social work as your first-choice major and how a social work degree from UT Austin will prepare you for the future. 

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University of Virginia (UVA)

University of Virginia (UVA)

(Accepts the Common Application only)

Answer the question that corresponds to the school you selected above. Limit your answer to a half page or roughly 250 words.

  • College of Arts & Sciences: What work of art, music, science, mathematics, or literature has surprised, unsettled, or challenged you, and in what way?
  • Engineering: Discuss experiences that led you to choose an engineering education at U.Va. and the role that scientific curiosity plays in your life.
  • Architecture: What led you to apply to the School of Architecture?
  • Nursing: Discuss experiences that led you to choose the School of Nursing.

Answer one of the following questions in a half page or roughly 250 words:

  • What is your favorite word and why?
  • Describe the world you come from and how that world shaped who you are.
  • Discuss something you secretly like but pretend not to, or vice versa.
  • “We might say that we were looking for global schemas, symmetries, universal and unchanging laws – and what we have discovered is the mutable, the ephemeral, the complex.” Support or challenge Nobel Prize winner Ilya Prigogine’s assertion.

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University of Washington (UW)

University of Washington (UW)

(Accepts the UW application only)

Maximum length: 550 words

Choose one topic from the five prompts listed below.

  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 younger siblings or friends (assuming they would listen to you)?
  5. Submit an essay on a topic of your choice.
  1. Short Response (Required)

Maximum length: 400 words

  • 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 University of Washington.

Tip

Keep in mind that the University of Washington strives to create a community of students richly diverse in cultural backgrounds, experiences, values, and viewpoints.

  1. Additional Information About Yourself or Your Circumstances (Optional)

Maximum length: 200 words

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 are hoping to be placed in a specific major soon
  • A personal or professional goal is particularly important to you
  • 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

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University of Wisconsin- Madison

University of Wisconsin- Madison

(Accepts the UW application only)

  • Consider something in your life you think goes unnoticed and write about why it’s important to you (you may enter up to 650 words).
  • Tell us why you decided to apply to the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In addition, share with us the academic, extracurricular, or research opportunities you would take advantage of as a student. If applicable, provide details of any circumstance that could have had an impact on your academic performance and/or extracurricular involvement (you may enter up to 650 words).
  • Briefly explain (in 50-100 words) which activity you entered in the Common App Activities section is the most important to you.

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Vanderbilt University (Vandy)

Vanderbilt University (Vandy)

(Accepts the Common Application, Coalition Application, Universal Application and QuestBridge Application)

  • No supplemental essay

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Vassar College

Vassar College

(Accepts the Common Application only)

  • Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences in the space below. Limit 350 words
  • How did you learn about Vassar and what aspect of our college do you find appealing? Limit 350 words
  • If you wish to provide details of circumstances not reflected in the application, please upload a file here. Similarly, if you wish to upload your resume, include it here

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Wake Forest University (WFU)

Wake Forest University (WFU)

(Accepts the Wake Forest Application, the Common Application, Coalition Application and the College Foundation of North Carolina Application)

List five books you have read that piqued your curiosity. (Title and author.)

Discuss a work of fiction you read on your own and tell us why it should have been required. (100 – 300 words)

What have you done to challenge or change that which outrages you? (75 – 150 words)

58% of Wake Forest’s Class of 2015 received academic credit for faculty-directed research across academic disciplines. Describe a specific high school assignment that sparked an academic curiosity you hope to explore further in college. (75 – 150 words)

Increased globalization and enhanced digitization are bringing people from different backgrounds and parts of the world much closer. Please describe what you have learned as a result of meaningfully engaging with someone different from you. (75 – 150 words)

Give us your top ten list. First, please provide a theme.

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway musical Hamilton has become a cultural phenomenon. It weaves together history with rap and hip hop through the often overlooked story of Alexander Hamilton. Choose an unsung historical figure who deserves the “Hamilton” treatment. (75 – 150 words)

Imagine it is May 2021, your ideal Wake Forest University commencement speaker is ______________________.

Title of your autobiography: ____________________________

How did you become interested in Wake Forest University and why are you applying? (150 words or less)

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Washington and Lee University

Washington and Lee University

(Accepts the Common Application only)

All items on Washington and Lee’s Writing Supplement are optional. However, applicants who wish to be considered for W&L’s merit-based aid must submit a Johnson Scholarship Application essay.

  • Please see the additional instructions below. Please elaborate on how you have familiarized yourself with Washington and Lee University and what led to your decision to apply. (250 words maximum)

FOR JOHNSON SCHOLARSHIP

1. Complete and submit your Common Application, including transcripts, recommendations, and test scores (including SAT or ACT with writing scores) by December 1, 2016.

2. Respond to one of the essay prompts below and submit your completed writing supplement by December 1, 2016. You will not be able to return to your writing supplement after it is submitted.

  • The Honor System has been a hallmark of the Washington and Lee experience for well over a century. Exclusively governed by the W&L student body, the system exemplifies the trust and integrity that distinguish the campus at large. Reflect on a time when you have been entrusted with a significant responsibility. How did you earn it? More important, how did you respond?
  • Washington and Lee University’s “standards include civility. When free and equal people with different backgrounds and perspectives come together, disagreement is inevitable. In that contentious swirl of competing views, assertiveness is called for, but so, too, is reticence. You have to develop the courage of your convictions while entertaining the possibility you could be wrong. And you have to resist the temptation to demonize those who disagree with you as morally deficient just because they may not share your views.” (Kenneth Ruscio ’76, current President of Washington and Lee University). Reflect on a time when your stance on an issue changed as a result of civil discourse.
  • Consider the meaning of “fair,” especially how the term can be misused. What impact does fairness—perceived or actual—have in society and your life? Has fairness ever helped or hurt you personally? At what cost or benefit to you or others?
  • “To promote literature in this rising empire and to encourage the arts, have ever been amongst the warmest wishes of my heart.” (George Washington, 1798, first president of the United States and first major benefactor of Washington and Lee University) Describe a work of art that has influenced you, and discuss the impact it has had on you.
  • “What I want to hear after a Spring Term course is that ‘This class changed my life.’ ” (Marc Conner, Ballengee Professor of English and Interim Provost). W&L’s Spring Term is a four week, intensive experience during which students take only one course, allowing for undivided attention to the subject matter. Spring Term courses are known for innovative pedagogy, interdisciplinary scholarship, travel, and field work in diverse settings. If you could design a Spring Term course, what would you propose, and why would you choose to pursue that topic?
  • Non incautus futuri (not unmindful of the future) is a telling motto for the country’s ninth oldest higher education institution. In your opinion, what should W&L be most mindful about in preparing you for the future?

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Washington University in St. Louis (WashU)

Washington University in St. Louis (WashU)

(Accepts the Common Application and the Coalition Application)

  • No supplemental essay

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Wellesley College

Wellesley College

(Accepts the Common Application and the Coalition Application)

The required Wellesley “Writing Supplement,” asks you to respond to the following topic in two well-developed paragraphs.

  • When choosing a college community, you are choosing a place where you believe that you can live, learn, and flourish. Generations of inspiring women have thrived in the Wellesley community, and we want to know what aspects of this community inspire you to consider Wellesley.  We know that there are more than 100 reasons to choose Wellesley, but the “Wellesley 100” is a good place to start. Visit the Wellesley 100 (wellesley.edu/admission/100) and let us know, in two well-developed paragraphs, which two items most attract, inspire, or energize you and why. (PS: “Why” matters to us.)

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Wesleyan University

Wesleyan University

(Accepts the Common Application only)

  • No supplemental essay

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Williams College

Williams College

(Accepts the Common Application, Coalition Application and QuestBridge Application)

Please note: the Williams Writing Supplement is optional. 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 tutorials a year are offered across the curriculum, with titles like “Aesthetic Outrage, “Financial Crises: Causes and Cures, and “Genome Sciences: At the Cutting Edge.”

  • Imagine yourself in a tutorial at Williams. Of anyone in the world, whom would you choose to be the other student in the class, and why?  (Please limit your response to 300 words.)

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Yale Law

Yale Law

Personal Statement
(Accepts the Common Application, Coalition Application and QuestBridge Application)

To satisfy Amherst’s supplementary writing requirement for the first-year application, you may choose either Option A or Option B, described below. 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.

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Yale University

Yale University

(Accepts the Common Application, Coalition Application and QuestBridge Application)

Short Answer Questions

Applicants submitting either the Coalition Application or Common Application are asked to respond to the following short answer questions:

  • Students at Yale have plenty of time to explore their academic interests before committing to one or more major fields of study. Many students either modify their original academic direction or change their minds entirely. As of this moment, what academic areas seem to fit your interests or goals most comfortably? Please indicate up to three from the list provided.
  • Why do these areas appeal to you? (100 words or fewer)
  • Why does Yale appeal to you? (100 words or fewer)
  • Who or what is a source of inspiration for you? (35 words or fewer)
  • If you could live for a day as another person, past or present, who would it be? Why? (35 words or fewer)
  • You are teaching a Yale course. What is it called? (35 words or fewer)
  • Most Yale freshmen live in suites of four to six students. What would you contribute to the dynamic of your suite? (35 words or fewer)

Essays – Coalition Application

Upload a document, image, audio file, or video you have created (any one thing of your choosing) in the last four years that is meaningful to you. It should be related to one of the two topics below. In 250 words or fewer, reflect on why you chose to share this with us and how it relates to the topic you select. (Uploads are limited to the following file types: word, pdf, jpeg, mp3, mov, mp4.)

  • A community to which you belong and the footprint you have left. (You may define community and footprint in any way you like.)
  • A time in the last few years when you felt genuine excitement learning about something.

Please note that advanced editing of the document/image/audio/video is not necessary. While we are not providing limits to the length of the material you upload, the Admissions Office may not have time to review the entirety of your submission. Sometimes, less is more.

Uploads provided here will be reviewed by the Admissions Office only. If you wish to submit material that may be evaluated by Yale faculty, please see our Supplementary Material instructions.

Optional Engineering and Computer Science Essay

If you selected one of the computer science or engineering majors, please tell us more about what has led you to an interest in this field of study, what experiences (if any) you have had in computer science or engineering, and what it is about Yale’s program in this area that appeals to you. (Please answer in 500 words or fewer.)

Essays – Common Application 

Please choose two of the following topics and respond to each in 200 words or fewer.

  • What is a community to which you belong? Reflect on the footprint that you have left. (You may define community and footprint in any way you like.)
  • Reflect on a time in the last few years when you felt genuine excitement learning about something.
  • Write about something that you love to do.

Optional Engineering and Computer Science Essay

If you selected one of the computer science or engineering majors, please tell us more about what has led you to an interest in this field of study, what experiences (if any) you have had in computer science or engineering, and what it is about Yale’s program in this area that appeals to you. (Please answer in 500 words or fewer.)

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Yeshiva University (YU)

Yeshiva University (YU)

(Accepts the YU Application only)

  • Not yet available

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