Amherst College 2022-23 Supplemental Essay Prompt Guide
The Requirements: One essay of 300 words, one short essay of 175 words, one short answer of 75 words
Supplemental Essay Type(s): Activity , Essay of choice
Amherst College 2022-23 Application Essay Question Explanations
At amherst we know that identity is more than checkboxes. if you would like to share more about your identity, background, family, culture or community, please tell us more here. (maximum: 175 words).
Amherst is giving you this opportunity to further distinguish yourself from other applicants — not with amazing test scores or impressive grades, but by painting a more detailed picture of who you are. We encourage you to use this space to write about something that hasn’t been mentioned elsewhere on your application. Maybe you’d like to write about your experience growing up in a military family, or competing in the Junior Olympics, or playing Mancala with your grandpa. The options are endless!
Please briefly elaborate on an extracurricular activity or work experience of particular significance to you. (Maximum: 175 words)
Activity essays like this one are more common than participating in icebreaker activities during your first week of college. All things considered, the hardest part is selecting the activity you want to write about! So, we return to our favorite mantra: tell admissions something they couldn’t learn from anywhere else in your application. If you wrote your Common App essay about your time walking dogs for your local animal shelter, focus on a different activity or work experience that reveals a new aspect of your personality. This can be a great opportunity to highlight your leadership skills and any awards or special recognition you may have received throughout high school. Were you nominated for an award after going undefeated with your doubles tennis partner? Were you asked to manage a team of volunteers at the food pantry based on your community-minded reputation and leadership skills? No matter what you choose, it should probably be something you’ve been involved in for a while, so you can demonstrate your growth and the impact that you have had on others.
If you have engaged in significant research in the natural sciences, mathematics, computer science, social sciences or humanities that was undertaken independently of your high school curriculum, please provide a brief description of the research project: (Optional) (50-75 words)
There’s not a lot of room for embellishment in this brief prompt. So only answer it if A) you have actually done research that fits the bill, and B) you haven’t already written about it in detail. (In the first prompt of this supplement, for example.) If your work meets the criteria, don’t worry about getting too clever with your description. In fact, you’ll do yourself a favor if you adhere to the standard academic practices around presenting research in your chosen field. If it’s scientific or medical research, cover the bases of a report: research question, methods, and results (with special emphasis in anything you found particularly interesting or central to your experience). If it’s in the social sciences or humanities, a basic synopsis that focuses on your main argument will do. Once you’ve filled in the basic details, you might consider giving a little background on how you came to participate in this extracurricular research: how did you get connected with the lab or program? This small narrative element will help you show admissions that you’re motivated, engaged, and already out in the world impressing people.
In addition to the essay you are writing as part of the Common Application, Amherst requires a supplementary writing sample from all applicants. There are three options for satisfying Amherst’s supplementary writing requirement: Option A, Option B and Option C. You may select only one of these options. Before deciding, carefully read the descriptions of all three options. (300 words)
Option a: please 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..
Before you even get to the quotations, there’s a lot to take in about Option A, so let’s take a breather. Don’t let the seemingly academic nature of this assignment fool you; at the end of the day, Amherst admissions is still looking for a personal story. Rather than offering a series of direct questions, though, they have buried each question in quotation from some notable Amherst figure. Your main challenge, then, is to distill each quotation down to its core question. Penning your answer is the easy part.
“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.
With such a structured line of logic, this quotation is begging for a rebuttal. So, your first challenge is to restrain yourself. Remember that Amherst doesn’t want an argumentative essay, but a personal narrative. So, science and math whizzes, aim to address the core tenets of Jagannathan’s statement (reasoning, insight, evidence) with a personal story or series of anecdotes. Maybe you can reflect on your earliest encounters with empiricism when you started a mineral collection at age 7. Or perhaps a failed lab experiment taught you the importance of rigorous attention to detail. In other words, a few questions you might distill from this quotation are: (1) What makes a good scientist? (2) What makes a good mathematician? (3) Where is the intersection of scientific instinct and mathematical skill?
(Oh, and by the bye, while this quotation may seem like the obvious choice for the scientifically-oriented, humanities folks shouldn’t rule it out. You have clearly had to study science, so think about what it’s like to master a subject that doesn’t come naturally to you. What qualities do you bring to the table? What’s it like to be an outsider looking in?)
“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..
Ok humanities nerds, it’s your turn. This quotation, like the first, posits a series of definitions for an academic practice. Translation might be a literal task, or it might simply be a figurative framework for understanding any human act. So, maybe you should pick a definition that works for you and build your story around it. If you err on the literal side, ask yourself: When in my life have I experienced a bridging of cultures? What does it take to draw people with disparate perspectives into a state of mutual understanding? When have I experienced difference? When have I mediated conflict?
If you prefer a wider definition, you might focus on moments of creation or transformation: When have I brought an idea to fruition? When have I had to improvise in order to solve a problem?
“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..
Unlike the first two heady options, this passage takes a broader look at academic life. A few basic questions that spring out: What is the ideal environment for learning? How can discomfort lead to intellectual and personal growth? How can an academic environment facilitate personal connections between totally different people? And so on. In other words, this passage is an invitation to describe the relationship between intellectual and personal growth, so think about your most challenging experiences at school and in other academic environments. When have you had to admit you were wrong? Have you ever had an academic rivalry that turned into a personal feud or vice versa? What’s the most heated debate you’ve ever had in a classroom setting? This quotation is all about discomfort, so should you choose to write about it, you need to be willing to get a bit vulnerable with your storytelling.
“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.
What’s that feeling? Could it be deja-vu? You have definitely seen this prompt before. Although Amherst has repackaged it as a quotation, the core question has popped up on the Common App and Coalition: how do you deal with challenges? The ideas embedded in this quotation may be the most familiar, but they also require some of the most vulnerable storytelling. When have you struggled? What is the hardest thing you’ve ever done? When have you failed? When have you given up (or almost given up)? While it can be relatively easy to enumerate achievements and skills, knowing the limits of your physical and mental capabilities is a challenge. In order to nail this prompt, you’ll need to bring a bucketload of self-awareness to the table and tell a story that reveals your approach to life’s greatest challenges.
Option B: Submit a graded paper from your junior or senior year that best represents your writing skills and analytical abilities. We are particularly interested in your ability to construct a tightly reasoned, persuasive argument that calls upon literary, sociological or historical evidence. You should not submit a laboratory report, journal entry, creative writing sample or in-class essay. Also, if you have submitted an analytical essay in response to the “essay topic of your choice” prompt in the Common Application writing section, you should not select Option B. Instead, you should respond to one of the four quotation prompts in Option A.
Okay, we’ll keep it short. Although this is technically an option , the wording should make it clear that admissions is really angling for a response to option A. We only see two sets of circumstances where an applicant might want to consider option B: (1) if you somehow procrastinated to the eleventh hour and have no time to write an original essay or (2) you have written something you are so proud of that it could have won an award (and maybe it did).
Option C : If you are an applicant to Amherst’s Access to Amherst (A2A) program, you may use your A2A application essay in satisfaction of our Writing Supplement requirement. If you would like to do so, please select Option C. However, if you would prefer not to use your A2A essay for this purpose and you want to submit a different writing supplement, select either Option A or Option B. [Please note that Option C is available only to applicants to Amherst’s A2A program. Non-A2A applicants must choose either Option A or Option B.]
No explanation necessary! If you think that this essay will be the best way for you to reflect yourself to Amherst admissions, then feel free to use it here. If it’s so nice, why write it twice?
About Sofia Newgren
View all posts by Sofia Newgren »
We have school-specific prompt guides for almost 100 schools.
Contact us for information on rates and more!
- I am a * Student Parent Potential Partner School Counselor Private College Counselor
- Name * First Last
- Phone Type Mobile Landline
- Street Address
- Address City State / Province / Region Afghanistan Albania Algeria American Samoa Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cabo Verde Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czechia Côte d'Ivoire Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Eswatini Ethiopia Falkland Islands Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guam Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See Honduras Hong Kong Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People's Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Marshall Islands Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Micronesia Moldova Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island North Macedonia Northern Mariana Islands Norway Oman Pakistan Palau Palestine, State of Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Puerto Rico Qatar Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Réunion Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Sweden Switzerland Syria Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, the United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Türkiye US Minor Outlying Islands Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela Viet Nam Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, U.S. Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Åland Islands Country
- Which best describes you (or your child)? High school senior High school junior College student College grad Other
- How did you find CEA? Internet Search New York Times Guidance counselor/school Social Media YouTube Friend Special Event Delehey College Consulting Other
- Common App and Coalition Essays
- Supplemental Essays
- University of California Essays
- University of Texas Essays
- Resume Review
- Post-Grad Essays
- Specialized Services
- Waitlist Letters
- Comments This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
- Agnes Scott College
- Alvernia University
- American University
- Amherst College
- Babson College
- Bard College
- Barnard College
- Baylor University
- Bennington College
- Bentley University
- Berry College
- Bethany College
- Bishop’s University
- Boston College
- Boston University
- Bowdoin College
- Brandeis University
- Brown University
- Bryn Mawr College
- Bucknell University
- Butler University
- California Institute of Technology (Caltech)
- California Lutheran University
- Capitol Technology University
- Carleton College
- Carnegie Mellon University
- Catawba College
- Centre College
- Chapman University
- Claremont McKenna College
- Clark University
- College of Mount Saint Vincent
- College of William and Mary
- College of Wooster
- Colorado College
- Colorado School of Mines
- Columbia University
- Cornell University
- Culver-Stockton College
- D'Youville University
- Dartmouth College
- Davidson College
- Drexel University
- Duke University
- Earlham College
- Elon University
- Emerson College
- Emory University
- Flagler College
- Fordham University
- George Mason University
- Georgetown University
- Georgia State University
- Georgia Tech
- Gonzaga University
- Harvard University
- Harvey Mudd College
- Haverford College
- Hillsdale College
- Hofstra University
- Illinois Institute of Technology
- Illinois Wesleyan University
- Indiana University Bloomington
- Ithaca College
- Johns Hopkins University
- Kalamazoo College
- Lafayette College
- Lehigh University
- Lewis and Clark College
- Linfield University
- Loyola Marymount University
- Lynn University
- Macalester College
- Malone University
- Manchester University
- Marist College
- Mary Baldwin University
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
- Meredith College
- Monmouth College
- Moravian University
- Morehouse College
- Mount Holyoke College
- New York University (NYU)
- North Park University
- Northwestern University
- Occidental College
- Oklahoma City University
- Pepperdine University
- Pitzer College
- Pomona College
- Princeton University
- Providence College
- Purdue University
- Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
- Rice University
- Saint Elizabeth University
- Santa Clara University
- Sarah Lawrence College
- Scripps College
- Seattle Pacific University
- Smith College
- Soka University of America
- Southern Methodist University
- Stanford University
- Stonehill College
- Swarthmore College
- Syracuse University
- Texas A&M University
- Texas Christian University
- The College of Idaho
- The George Washington University
- The New School
- Trinity College
- Tufts University
- Tulane University
- University of California
- University of Chicago
- University of Cincinnati
- University of Colorado Boulder
- University of Florida
- University of Georgia
- University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
- University of Maryland
- University of Massachusetts Amherst
- University of Miami
- University of Michigan
- University of Minnesota
- University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC)
- University of North Carolina at Charlotte
- University of North Carolina at Greensboro
- University of Notre Dame
- University of Oklahoma
- University of Oregon
- University of Pennsylvania
- University of Pittsburgh
- University of Richmond
- University of San Diego
- University of San Francisco
- University of Southern California (USC)
- University of Texas at Austin
- University of Tulsa
- University of Vermont
- University of Virginia (UVA)
- University of Washington
- University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Vanderbilt University
- Vassar College
- Villanova University
- Virginia Tech
- Wake Forest University
- Washington and Lee University
- Washington University in St. Louis
- Wellesley College
- Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI)
- Yale University
Want free stuff?
We thought so. Sign up for free instructional videos, guides, worksheets and more!
Common App Essay Prompt Guide
Supplemental Essay Prompt Guide
- YouTube Tutorials
- Our Approach & Team
- Where Our Students Get In
- CEA Gives Back
- Undergraduate Admissions
- Graduate Admissions
- Private School Admissions
- International Student Admissions
- Academy and Worksheets
- Common App Essay Guide
- Supplemental Essay Guide
- Coalition App Guide
- The CEA Podcast
- Admissions Statistics
- Deadline Databases
- Notification Trackers
UChicago Supplemental Essay Questions
The University of Chicago has long been renowned for our provocative essay questions. We think of them as an opportunity for students to tell us about themselves, their tastes, and their ambitions. They can be approached with utter seriousness, complete fancy, or something in between.
Each year we email newly admitted and current College students and ask them for essay topics. We receive several hundred responses, many of which are eloquent, intriguing, or downright wacky.
As you can see from the attributions, the questions below were inspired by submissions from UChicago students and alumni.
2023-24 UChicago Supplement
Question 1 (required).
How does the University of Chicago, as you know it now, satisfy your desire for a particular kind of learning, community, and future? Please address with some specificity your own wishes and how they relate to UChicago.
Question 2: Extended Essay (Required; Choose one)
Essay option 1.
Exponents and square roots, pencils and erasers, beta decay and electron capture. Name two things that undo each other and explain why both are necessary. – Inspired by Emmett Cho, Class of 2027
Essay Option 2
“Where have all the flowers gone?” – Pete Seeger. Pick a question from a song title or lyric and give it your best answer. – Inspired by Ryan Murphy, AB’21
Essay Option 3
“Vlog,” “Labradoodle,” and “Fauxmage.” Language is filled with portmanteaus. Create a new portmanteau and explain why those two things are a “patch” (perfect match). – Inspired by Garrett Chalfin, Class of 2027
Essay Option 4
A jellyfish is not a fish. Cat burglars don’t burgle cats. Rhode Island is not an island. Write an essay about some other misnomer, and either come up with and defend a new name for it or explain why its inaccurate name should be kept. – Inspired by Sonia Chang, Class of 2025, and Mirabella Blair, Class of 2027
Essay Option 5
Despite their origins in the Gupta Empire of India or Ancient Egypt, games like chess or bowling remain widely enjoyed today. What modern game do you believe will withstand the test of time, and why? – Inspired by Adam Heiba, Class of 2027
Essay Option 6
There are unwritten rules that everyone follows or has heard at least once in their life. But of course, some rules should be broken or updated. What is an unwritten rule that you wish didn’t exist? (Our custom is to have five new prompts each year, but this year we decided to break with tradition. Enjoy!) – Inspired by Maryam Abdella, Class of 2026
Essay Option 7
And, as always… the classic choose your own adventure option! In the spirit of adventurous inquiry, choose one of our past prompts (or create a question of your own). 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!
Some classic questions from previous years…
Due to a series of clerical errors, there is exactly one typo (an extra letter, a removed letter, or an altered letter) in the name of every department at the University of Chicago. Oops! Describe your new intended major. Why are you interested in it and what courses or areas of focus within it might you want to explore? Potential options include Commuter Science, Bromance Languages and Literatures, Pundamentals: Issues and Texts, Ant History... a full list of unmodified majors ready for your editor’s eye is available here . —Inspired by Josh Kaufman, AB'18
You are on an expedition to found a colony on Mars, when from a nearby crater, a group of Martians suddenly emerges. They seem eager to communicate, but they're the impatient kind and demand you represent the human race in one song, image, memory, proof, or other idea. What do you share with them to show that humanity is worth their time? —Inspired by Alexander Hastings, Class of 2023, and Olivia Okun-Dubitsky, Class of 2026
Who does Sally sell her seashells to? How much wood can a woodchuck really chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? Pick a favorite tongue twister (either originally in English or translated from another language) and consider a resolution to its conundrum using the method of your choice. Math, philosophy, linguistics... it's all up to you (or your woodchuck). —Inspired by Blessing Nnate, Class of 2024
What can actually be divided by zero? —Inspired by Mai Vu, Class of 2024
The seven liberal arts in antiquity consisted of the Quadrivium — astronomy, mathematics, geometry, and music — and the Trivium — rhetoric, grammar, and logic. Describe your own take on the Quadrivium or the Trivium. What do you think is essential for everyone to know? —Inspired by Peter Wang, Class of 2022
Subway maps, evolutionary trees, Lewis diagrams. Each of these schematics tells the relationships and stories of their component parts. Reimagine a map, diagram, or chart. If your work is largely or exclusively visual, please include a cartographer's key of at least 300 words to help us best understand your creation. —Inspired by Maximilian Site, Class of 2020
"Do you feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?" - Eleanor Roosevelt. Misattribute a famous quote and explore the implications of doing so. —Inspired by Chris Davey, AB’13
Engineer George de Mestral got frustrated with burrs stuck to his dog’s fur and applied the same mechanic to create Velcro. Scientist Percy Lebaron Spencer found a melted chocolate bar in his magnetron lab and discovered microwave cooking. Dye-works owner Jean Baptiste Jolly found his tablecloth clean after a kerosene lamp was knocked over on it, consequently shaping the future of dry cleaning. Describe a creative or interesting solution, and then find the problem that it solves. —Inspired by Steve Berkowitz, AB’19, and Neeharika Venuturupalli, Class of 2024
Joan of Arkansas. Queen Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Babe Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Mash up a historical figure with a new time period, environment, location, or occupation, and tell us their story. —Inspired by Drew Donaldson, AB’16
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
What’s so odd about odd numbers? —Inspired by Mario Rosasco, AB’09
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
In French, there is no difference between “conscience” and “consciousness.” In Japanese, there is a word that specifically refers to the splittable wooden chopsticks you get at restaurants. The German word “fremdschämen” encapsulates the feeling you get when you’re embarrassed on behalf of someone else. All of these require explanation in order to properly communicate their meaning, and are, to varying degrees, untranslatable. Choose a word, tell us what it means, and then explain why it cannot (or should not) be translated from its original language. —Inspired by Emily Driscoll, Class of 2018
Little pigs, French hens, a family of bears. Blind mice, musketeers, the Fates. Parts of an atom, laws of thought, a guideline for composition. Omne trium perfectum? Create your own group of threes, and describe why and how they fit together. —Inspired by Zilin Cui, Class of 2018
The mantis shrimp can perceive both polarized light and multispectral images; they have the most complex eyes in the animal kingdom. Human eyes have color receptors for three colors (red, green, and blue); the mantis shrimp has receptors for sixteen types of color, enabling them to see a spectrum far beyond the capacity of the human brain. Seriously, how cool is the mantis shrimp: mantisshrimp.uchicago.edu What might they be able to see that we cannot? What are we missing? —Inspired by Tess Moran, AB’16
How are apples and oranges supposed to be compared? Possible answers involve, but are not limited to, statistics, chemistry, physics, linguistics, and philosophy. —Inspired by Florence Chan, AB’15
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, AB'17, and Maya Shaked, Class of 2018 (It takes two to tango.)
“A man cannot be too careful in the choice of his enemies.” –Oscar Wilde. Othello and Iago. Dorothy and the Wicked Witch. Autobots and Decepticons. History and art are full of heroes and their enemies. Tell us about the relationship between you and your arch-nemesis (either real or imagined). —Inspired by Martin Krzywy, AB’16
Heisenberg claims that you cannot know both the position and momentum of an electron with total certainty. Choose two other concepts that cannot be known simultaneously and discuss the implications. (Do not consider yourself limited to the field of physics). —Inspired by Doran Bennett, AB’07
Susan Sontag, AB’51, wrote that “[s]ilence remains, inescapably, a form of speech.” Write about an issue or a situation when you remained silent, and explain how silence may speak in ways that you did or did not intend. The Aesthetics of Silence, 1967. —Anonymous Suggestion
“…I [was] eager to escape backward again, to be off to invent a past for the present.” —The Rose Rabbi by Daniel Stern Present: pres·ent 1. Something that is offered, presented, or given as a gift. Let’s stick with this definition. Unusual presents, accidental presents, metaphorical presents, re-gifted presents, etc.—pick any present you have ever received and invent a past for it. —Inspired by Jennifer Qin, AB’16
So where is Waldo, really? —Inspired by Robin Ye, AB’16
Find x. —Inspired by Benjamin Nuzzo, an admitted student from Eton College, UK
Dog and Cat. Coffee and Tea. Great Gatsby and Catcher in the Rye. Everyone knows there are two types of people in the world. What are they? —Inspired by an anonymous alumna, AB'06
How did you get caught? (Or not caught, as the case may be.) —Inspired by Kelly Kennedy, AB’10
Chicago author Nelson Algren said, “A writer does well if in his whole life he can tell the story of one street.” Chicagoans, but not just Chicagoans, have always found something instructive, and pleasing, and profound in the stories of their block, of Main Street, of Highway 61, of a farm lane, of the Celestial Highway. Tell us the story of a street, path, road—real or imagined or metaphorical. —Anonymous Suggestion
UChicago professor W. J. T. Mitchell entitled his 2005 book What Do Pictures Want? Describe a picture, and explore what it wants. —Inspired by Anna Andel
“Don’t play what’s there, play what’s not there.“—Miles Davis (1926–91) —Inspired by Jack Reeves
University of Chicago alumna and renowned author/critic Susan Sontag said, “The only interesting answers are those that destroy the questions.” We all have heard serious questions, absurd questions, and seriously absurd questions, some of which cannot be answered without obliterating the very question. Destroy a question with your answer. —Inspired by Aleksandra Ciric
“Mind that does not stick.” —Zen Master Shoitsu (1202–80)
Superstring theory has revolutionized speculation about the physical world by suggesting that strings play a pivotal role in the universe. Strings, however, always have explained or enriched our lives, from Theseus’s escape route from the Labyrinth, to kittens playing with balls of yarn, to the single hair that held the sword above Damocles, to the Old Norse tradition that one’s life is a thread woven into a tapestry of fate, to the beautiful sounds of the finely tuned string of a violin, to the children’s game of cat’s cradle, to the concept of stringing someone along. Use the power of string to explain the biggest or the smallest phenomenon. —Inspired by Adam Sobolweski
Have you ever walked through the aisles of a warehouse store like Costco or Sam’s Club and wondered who would buy a jar of mustard a foot and a half tall? We’ve bought it, but it didn’t stop us from wondering about other things, like absurd eating contests, impulse buys, excess, unimagined uses for mustard, storage, preservatives, notions of bigness…and dozens of other ideas both silly and serious. Write an essay somehow inspired by super-huge mustard. —Inspired by Katherine Gold
People often think of language as a connector, something that brings people together by helping them share experiences, feelings, ideas, etc. We, however, are interested in how language sets people apart. Start with the peculiarities of your own personal language—the voice you use when speaking most intimately to yourself, the vocabulary that spills out when you’re startled, or special phrases and gestures that no one else seems to use or even understand—and tell us how your language makes you unique. You may want to think about subtle riffs or idiosyncrasies based on cadence, rhythm, rhyme, or (mis)pronunciation. —Inspired by Kimberly Traube
In 2015, the city of Melbourne, Australia created a "tree-mail" service, in which all of the trees in the city received an email address so that residents could report any tree-related issues. As an unexpected result, people began to email their favorite trees sweet and occasionally humorous letters. Imagine this has been expanded to any object (tree or otherwise) in the world, and share with us the letter you’d send to your favorite. -Inspired by Hannah Lu, Class of 2020
You’re on a voyage in the thirteenth century, sailing across the tempestuous seas. What if, suddenly, you fell off the edge of the Earth? -Inspired by Chandani Latey, AB'93
The word floccinaucinihilipilification is the act or habit of describing or regarding something as unimportant or of having no value. It originated in the mid-18th century from the Latin words "floccus," "naucum," "nihilum," and "pilus"—all words meaning “of little use.” Coin your own word using parts from any language you choose, tell us its meaning, and describe the plausible (if only to you) scenarios in which it would be most appropriately used. -Inspired by Ben Zhang, Class of 2022
Lost your keys? Alohomora. Noisy roommate? Quietus. Feel the need to shatter windows for some reason? Finestra. Create your own spell, charm, jinx, or other means for magical mayhem. How is it enacted? Is there an incantation? Does it involve a potion or other magical object? If so, what's in it or what is it? What does it do? -Inspired by Emma Sorkin, Class of 2021
Imagine you’ve struck a deal with the Dean of Admissions himself, Dean Nondorf. It goes as follows: you’re guaranteed admission to the University of Chicago regardless of any circumstances that arise. This bond is grounded on the condition that you’ll obtain a blank, 8.5 x 11 piece of paper, and draw, write, sketch, shade, stencil, paint etc., anything and everything you want on it; your only limitations will be the boundaries of both sides on the single page. Now the catch… your submission, for the rest of your life, will always be the first thing anyone you meet for the first time will see. Whether it’s at a job interview, a blind date, arrival at your first Humanities class, before you even say, “hey,” they’ll already have seen your page, and formulated that first impression. Show us your page. What’s on it, and why? If your piece is largely or exclusively visual, please make sure to share a creator's accompanying statement of at least 300 words, which we will happily allow to be on its own, separate page. PS: This is a creative thought experiment, and selecting this essay prompt does not guarantee your admission to UChicago. -Inspired by Amandeep Singh Ahluwalia, Class of 2022
Cats have nine lives, Pac-Man has three lives, and radioactive isotopes have half-lives. How many lives does something else—conceptual or actual—have, and why? -Inspired by Kendrick Shin, Class of 2019
If there’s a limited amount of matter in the universe, how can Olive Garden (along with other restaurants and their concepts of food infinity) offer truly unlimited soup, salad, and breadsticks? Explain this using any method of analysis you wish—physics, biology, economics, history, theology… the options, as you can tell, are endless. -Inspired by Yoonseo Lee, Class of 2023
A hot dog might be a sandwich, and cereal might be a soup, but is a ______ a ______? -Inspired by Arya Muralidharan, Class of 2021 (and dozens of others who, this year and in past years, have submitted the question “Is a hot dog a sandwich,” to which we reply, “maybe”)
“Fiction reveals truth that reality obscures.” – Jessamyn West -Inspired by Elizabeth Mansfield, Class of 2020
2022-2023 Supplemental Essay Questions
- Post author By Top Tier Admissions
- Post date July 5, 2022
- No Comments on 2022-2023 Supplemental Essay Questions
School’s out for summer! For rising seniors, this is not the time to sink too heavily into your beach chair (unless you have your laptop at the ready). This summer is a critical time to work on your college essays. Wrapping up your application package before the start of your senior year allows you to fully focus on your senior year classes without the added stress of college essays.
TTA Top Tip: Finishing your applications this summer/early fall will allow you to take advantage of the early round and increase your admissions odds by almost half!
- Step 1: Make sure you have a wise application strategy in place based on your data points .
- Step 2: Craft compelling, authentic essays and leverage the Common Application to present your best self to admissions officers.
Common App 911 / UC App 911
Having a difficult time with your application? Let us help.
HOW WE CAN HELP
Our sold-out Application Boot Camp 2022® helps students finalize their application packages by early August. But you haven’t missed your chance! For students who want guidance building their college list, deepening their academic niche and crafting their application and essays, book a Personal Boot Camp where you will work directly with one of our top Senior Counselors.
Don’t take our word for it—here’s what a recent PBC parent had to say:
“Mimi & Michelle, your company is truly tremendous and we will literally recommend it to anyone who asks. The advice was amazing, the help was invaluable, and more than anything the honesty surrounding the process was critical. Thank you, thank you, thank you. DUKE, here R comes!” –G.H., Personal Boot Camp parent
Students who don’t require the immersive guidance of our Boot Camp programs benefit from working one-on-one with one of our Senior Counselors to craft unique, stand-out essays with our Essay Guidance Program . Or consider our Essay Guidance and Common App 911 bundle for a complete application package!
“Thank you so much! I’m IN at JHU and I couldn’t have done this without you! Your advice paved the way for me to find my voice in my writing.” –P.T., Essay Guidance student
Get our expert guidance on your college essays.
THE VARIOUS APPLICATION PLATFORMS
- 2022-2023 Coalition App
- 2022-2023 Universal College App
- 2022-2023 Common App (will launch August 1 st )
Note: Some schools, like Georgetown University , use their own application. Students interested in Georgetown must first complete and submit the Georgetown Application (a short form), which initiates the alumni interview and grants you access to the official application platform. The University of California likewise uses their own application for all nine campuses.
2022-2023 SUPPLEMENTAL ESSAY QUESTIONS
We have compiled the 2022-2023 supplemental essay questions for you on our Essays page and we’ll continue to update all supplements as they are released. In the comments, feel free to note any schools you’d like to see included and remember… scores and grades are king but your essays are what push you from “maybe” to ADMITTED!
Personal Boot Camp
Three days of one-on-one work with a Senior Counselor from the Application Boot Camp® team.
- Recent Posts
- Vanderbilt’s Supplemental Essay Prompts - September 28, 2023
- The Top Tier Admissions Story - September 27, 2023
- The Top Tier Team’s Most Memorable College Essay Lines - September 26, 2023
Leave a Reply Cancel reply
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *
Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.
Get help with your essays and Common App NOW!
Seniors : Crush your Applications with our one-on-one Personal Boot Camp .
Download our free "Mysteries of the UC App" e-guide.
What are your chances of acceptance?
Calculate for all schools, your chance of acceptance.
Your chancing factors
How to Write the Penn State Supplemental Essays 2022-2023
Penn State University has one optional essay for all applicants, and if you’re using the Penn State application, you’ll also be asked to list out your extracurricular activities. Applicants to the Schreyer Honors College are required to submit two additional essays and eight short answer responses, and BS/MD applicants must submit four additional short essays.
Admissions officers can have a hard time distinguishing between applicants when thousands of students send in the same test scores and GPAs. Essays are highly valued in the decision process since they allow admissions officers to see your character and values. In this post, we’ll share how you can write essays that will be sure to impress the admissions officers at Penn State.
Read this Penn State essay example to inspire your writing.
Penn State Supplemental Essay Prompts
Prompt 1 : 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. (500 words, optional)
Prompt 2 (Penn State application only): Please use this space to list or discuss your activities other than academic work during the last several years (for example: school organizations, jobs, athletics, the arts, community service, religious groups, or other individual interests).
You may already have an activities resume or list prepared and should feel free to paste it into the space below. (500 words, optional)
Schreyer honors college applicants .
Prompt 1 : Imagine you are one of the 2024 Presidential candidates from either party, and you are asked in a town hall debate what the most important issue affecting the majority of the American people is. How would you answer, and why? How would you propose to address that issue? (800 words)
Prompt 2 : Who are you and how did you get to the current point in your journey? Specifically, comment on how resilience has played a role in your life and how you see it impacting your future. (800 words)
Prompt 1: Tell us about your high school record — not what’s in it, since we have it already, but why you took some of the courses you took, and what your experience was, especially for classes which were more challenging for you. (200 words)
Prompt 2: Where would you like to go in the world, outside of the United States (and outside where you are now, if it’s not the United States), and why? (200 words)
Prompt 3: How do you see yourself improving society and the lives of others in the future, and what do you hope to get at Penn State as a Schreyer Scholar to help you accomplish your goals? (200 words)
Prompt 4: Tell us about any college credits you have earned or have underway, excluding anything that appears in your high school record. For each course, list (in this order) the name of the college or university, the name of the course, the semester you took it, and the grade you received (or “in progress” if it’s this semester). Separate each new course with a paragraph break. (200 words)
Prompt 5: Tell us about your most significant out-of-class activities before the pandemic, and since. Overall what activity has meant the most to you, and why? (200 words)
Prompt 6: List the awards or other recognitions you have received during your time in high school — they can be from the school or outside of it. You can omit awards based solely on grades, since we have your academic record. Which award or recognition means the most to you, and why? (200 words)
Prompt 7: Tell us about a book or other media that has made you think about something in a new way. (200 words)
Prompt 8: Tell us anything you would like us to know about you, and that we wouldn’t get from the rest of the application. This could include obstacles you’ve overcome, something you’re especially proud of that is not discussed elsewhere, or anything else you choose. (200 words)
Accelerated Premedical-Medical Program (BS/MD) Applicants
Prompt 1 : Describe one non-academic activity during your high school years that has been the most meaningful to you. (250 words)
Prompt 2 : Write a personal statement indicating why you want to be a physician, why you want an accelerated program and why you’ve selected this Penn State/Kimmel program. (500 words)
Prompt 3 : Describe what you think your strongest qualities are as well as weaknesses that you would like to improve upon. (250 words)
Prompt 4 : Tell us about a time you were unsuccessful and how you grew from this experience. (500 words)
All Applicants, Prompt 1
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. (500 words, optional).
While this essay is technically optional, we still strongly encourage all applicants to complete it. Writing an optional essay provides admissions officers with more information about you, helps your application stand out, and further expresses your interest in the college you are applying to.
One of your main objectives in all college essays should be to depict yourself as a strong addition to a specific college’s community. A good response will contain a reflection on your experiences to demonstrate a specific personal quality that you think will set you up for success at Penn State. To brainstorm, ask yourself: What do I need to succeed at Penn State? What are my strengths?
You’ll need to think of examples that demonstrate the traits that will set you up for college success. Though the prompt says that you can pick “something about yourself, your experiences, or activities,” your choice should be something that you can show through a story or anecdote.
Almost any poor topic can be strengthened if you make it more specific:
Don’t pick something too broad, like “I have formed many friendships in different settings.” However, you could write a detailed account of a specific friendship or friend group you formed after switching high schools, explaining how you developed the skills to not only survive, but thrive in a new social community. Then, you can discuss how, at any college, but especially a big school like Penn State, forming a social network is crucial for academics (study groups, peers to help with homework, collaborators for group projects, etc.) and for making the most of your college experience.
Avoid focusing on an experience that virtually all applicants will share. “I made it through high school” is not a strong response. However, you could write about an illness you faced that almost jeopardized your ability to succeed in school. Through detailed storytelling, you could show the reader that you developed time-management skills and perseverance, which, as you can guess, are absolutely crucial for college success.
Great responses to this prompt can be quite personal since more formal academic and extracurricular activities might already be covered in your application. For example, you could relate difficult family or friendship situations you’ve negotiated to your ability to navigate a diverse and complex college community.
Regardless of which aspect of your identity, experience, or activity you pick, be absolutely sure to avoid generalizing. Many students write a 500 word essay that never uses specific examples. While these essays might sound smooth, they are almost entirely composed of clichés and generalizations. Here’s an example so you can get a better idea of what we’re talking about.
A student could write something like:
“I have volunteered for over five years at my local food pantry. This experience has made me more appreciative of what I have, and more determined to give back. I know I’ll take these values with me to Penn State.”
Note that these sentences do not refer to a specific instance or give concrete examples. They give a general description of one activity and then make generic, high-level assertions about the results of that activity.
A strong essay will push beyond this level of resolution:
- Describe what you did at the food pantry.
- Show the perspective this has given you by giving an example of how you changed your daily activities or interactions with others as a result of this experience.
- Link these changes to success in college by discussing how you’ll dive into volunteer opportunities and community organizations. Use specific examples of clubs or organizations at Penn State, such as the Lion’s Pantry, which is dedicated to addressing student hunger.
A few words of caution: Some students will have too many things they want to squeeze into this essay. While you may feel like you’ve just left so many crucial details out of your application, you should resist the temptation to use this essay as a “catch-all” for everything “not already reflected in your application.” Note that the prompt asks you to share “something” not already included—not everything! This essay should be focused and cohesive, telling a story that proves you can succeed in college.
If you truly feel that important information has been left out of your application, try to incorporate it into your Activities Section, other essays, or, if all else fails, the Additional Information section of the Common App.
All Applicants, Prompt 2 (Penn State App Only)
Please use this space to list or discuss your activities other than academic work during the last several years (for example: school organizations, jobs, athletics, the arts, community service, religious groups, or other individual interests)..
This prompt is not on the Common App, but it shows up on the Penn State specific application. If you’re already using the Common App for other schools, we recommend that you do so for Penn State as well. If you’re not using the Common App or other platform with an Activities Section, you’ll need to create your own list. We recommend following the guidelines in this post about the Common App Activities Section .
Schreyer Honors College Applicants, Essay Prompt 1
Imagine you are one of the 2024 presidential candidates from either party, and you are asked in a town hall debate what the most important issue affecting the majority of the american people is. how would you answer, and why how would you propose to address that issue (800 words).
This response asks you to identify a key issue facing the country and why you believe it should be prioritized. This is less of a question about your party values, and more of a question about what major political issue is most important to you. As such, your response to this question shouldn’t just be an argument on one side of your chosen issue, but rather an argument about why the issue is one that needs to be addressed and how you plan to address it.
Keep in mind that this prompt doesn’t require you to explicitly declare a political party. Your political affiliation will likely be apparent based on the solution you propose, however, and that’s fine. That said, the admissions representatives want to hear your thoughts, not the thoughts of the political party you most identify with.
Just because you may be a Democrat or Republican doesn’t necessarily mean you agree with all of the party’s values. No two individuals should sound alike, and the last thing the admissions representatives want to hear is that you’re simply a mouthpiece for either party. They want to know what you personally think and feel most strongly about, which means your response should also include a definitive personal connection.
The first step you’ll want to take is brainstorming. You’ll want to jot down a list of issues you feel face America today, and then narrow it down to the ones that you feel are most important. Try to come up with about 10-12 main issues, and then eliminate each one by one. Remember, your chosen issue should affect a wide population of U.S. citizens, have some debate around it, and be personal to you. Some examples of issues you may use are:
- Climate change
- Police reform
- Gun control
- Income inequality
- Voting rights
Notice that all of these examples are also rather specific – you’ll want to avoid issues that are umbrella terms such as “poverty.” If you’re having trouble coming up with specific examples, think about what issues fall under poverty. Homelessness, the opioid epidemic, and wealth distribution all make-up “poverty,” and will provide a much stronger and more unique response to this question.
Once you’ve chosen a topic, you’ll once again need to brainstorm. This time, jot down a list of reasons why you believe the issue is important. Conduct research and read up on the various perspectives surrounding your issue. If you choose the issue of climate change, you could write that climate change will increasingly affect each generation, leads to poverty and displacement, harms both people, animals, and plants, and could have wide-reaching effects in the very near future. If you have a personal connection to climate change, such as living in a coastal city or having experienced a natural disaster, sharing an anecdote of your experience can help clarify why you’ve chosen it as your issue. Then, see if you can do the same level of research and brainstorming for possible solutions for your chosen issue.
The more specific you can get, the better, as this will help you with the next step: outlining .
As this response is 800 words, outlining will be imperative to make sure your response has a definitive structure rather than simply being a rant. The question is structured in multiple parts, which will help guide you through your response:
- Introduction: Set the tone and explain your issue of choice.
- Elaborate on why you’ve chosen your topic and why you believe it is the most important issue facing the American people today. Draw on personal experiences if applicable.
- Propose a possible solution to the problem and/or lay out how you would tackle it.
- Conclusion: Reiterate the importance of the issue and how you, as a hypothetical candidate, would work towards your proposed solution.
Of course, feel free to work outside of this framework – the most important thing is that your genuine voice shines through and you write confidently, professionally, and back your argument up with research, evidence, and any personal experience you may have.
Also keep in mind that while it’s usually wise to shy away from controversial topics in supplemental essays, this essay is an exception. While that may feel strange, remember your response is from the perspective of a candidate – you should sound almost presidential, and should be careful not just to completely shut out the other side of the argument.
Schreyer Honors College Applicants, Essay Prompt 2
Who are you and how did you get to the current point in your journey specifically, comment on how resilience has played a role in your life and how you see it impacting your future. (800 words).
This question asks you to explain your identity as well as highlight an instance or instances in which you were forced to be resilient. While this prompt may challenge you, remember that no one will have the same answer as you. This means that the more personal and specific you are, the better your response will be in terms of showcasing who you are as an individual.
Keep in mind that this prompt is basically the classic Overcoming Challenges essay , with the main difference that it’s also asking about your identity. Don’t feel like you have to tell your entire life story though; the goal of this prompt is simply to get to know you, how you handle adversity, and how these challenges have shaped you.
As you’re brainstorming topics, here are some examples of potential challenges you might address:
- Underrepresented identity (race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender identity)
- Challenges faced during extracurricular activities
- Adapting to a new environment
- Family relationships
- Death of a loved one
- Health complications or diagnoses
- Financial troubles
Remember that whatever you choose to write about should answer each part of the question – how it is a major part of your life journey, how it forced you to be resilient, and how it will impact your future.
While you don’t need to have overcome tragedy to write a good essay to this response, try to avoid challenges that are seen as cliché , like overcoming sports injuries or getting a bad grade in a class. These challenges are incredibly common and follow the predictable storyline of working hard to get back in the game or get a higher grade.
If you do have truly formative experiences related to these topics, try to approach them from a different angle. For example, you could write about a sports injury in a more unique way if that injury helped you discover a new interest while you were recovering.
Keep in mind that you can also write about unresolved, current challenges that you’re working on. There doesn’t need to be a solution yet; all that matters is that the challenge has shaped you and your perspective.
Since this essay is long, you can choose to write about more than one challenge. Regardless of how many challenges you choose to cover (we recommend no more than 1-3), here’s a breakdown of the formatting you could use:
- Roughly 33% of the essay should describe the process of overcoming the challenge(s). In this portion of the essay, you should lay out the basics of the challenge, discuss the steps you took to overcome it, and any final accomplishment(s) that illustrate what you’ve overcome.
- The next 33% of the content (spread throughout the overall narrative) should cover your state of mind, your emotional state, and how your perception of the challenge has changed over time. This should span the initial challenge, the steps you took to overcome it, and the final accomplishment (if there is one).
- The final 33% of the essay (spread throughout) should reflect on how the challenge has shaped you as a person, covering any lessons you learned or ways it changed your perspective and future goals.
Given the length of the prompt, you should also try to go beyond merely describing the event(s) and consider a few small anecdotes (50–75 words) in the essay. One of the best places to do this is in the intro, as an anecdotal intro allows you to grab the reader’s attention, but you can also do this in the body of the essay. If you write about a singular challenge, you should try to use anecdotes across each of the portions of the process (i.e. the initial challenge, working to overcome it, and the final accomplishment).
Schreyer Honors College Applicants, Short Answer Prompt 1
Tell us about your high school record — not what’s in it, since we have it already, but why you took some of the courses you took, and what your experience was, especially for classes which were more challenging for you. (200 words).
This prompt asks you to describe some of the courses you’ve taken that pushed you outside of your comfort zone. As a large public university, Penn State has a plethora of elective courses to choose from, and generally, you’ll have much greater control over your schedule than you did in high school. For example, even if you’re a STEM major, chances are you’ll be able to take classes in art history. As such, Penn State and the Schreyer Honors College are looking for ambitious students who constantly want to absorb new subjects, and may already have a track record of doing so.
Think about the electives you took in high school. Perhaps you’re someone who has never been good with computers, so you decided to take a computer science course to work on your weaknesses. As a result, you actually became enthusiastic about programming – whether that was working in website design or automating processes. Maybe that entry-level computer science course led to your developing a new hobby or interest, one that you want to continue exploring at Penn State.
You may also use this prompt as an opportunity to elaborate on your high school transcript if you feel there are any grades that misrepresented you. If there was a class or elective you found particularly challenging, write about why you struggled and how you overcame it. The Schreyer Honors College is looking for problem-solvers who are prepared for rigorous coursework and are eager to take on new challenges – even if you didn’t directly succeed in a specific class in high school, that class may provide strong insight into your work ethic, drive, and eagerness to learn.
For example, if you did not succeed in that computer science class, you can write about how you put in a lot of work outside of class even though you eventually realized that computer science just wasn’t in your wheelhouse. You can write that while you failed to get the grade you may have wanted, your extra effort did not go unnoticed by your teacher and you ended up establishing a strong rapport with your teacher that led to them writing a letter of recommendation for a summer job.
Schreyer Honors College Applicants, Short Answer Prompt 2
Where would you like to go in the world, outside of the united states (and outside where you are now, if it’s not the united states), and why (200 words).
This prompt is a more-lighthearted question that just wants a sense of your personality – are you more adventurous or more restrained? Are you more interested in culture and history or relaxation and some peace and quiet? Your answer says more than you may think about what kind of person – but there’s no right or wrong answer here. Like many of the questions before it, you’ll want to answer both honestly and in a manner that showcases your true personality. Your answer should be as unique as you can think of, but as usual, the more personal a connection to your answer the better.
For example, maybe you’re the first-generation child of immigrants from India but have never been back there yourself. You could write about how a trip to India would reconnect you with your family roots, your culture, and the pasts of your parents.
If you don’t feel like you have a special story or experience to share, however, don’t worry. Your answer will be strong so long as it is unique to you, so brainstorm a place or country that would be at the top of your bucket list. Maybe you’re an avid hiker and want to take a crack at Mount Kilimanjaro. You can write about how visiting and climbing the mountain has always been a dream of yours that you hope to have the resources to achieve later on in life. Write about what hiking means to you and why, as well as why Mount Kilimanjaro is the end goal.
Schreyer Honors College Applicants, Short Answer Prompt 3
How do you see yourself improving society and the lives of others in the future, and what do you hope to get at penn state as a schreyer scholar to help you accomplish your goals (200 words).
The Honors College wants to admit students who use their talents to improve the world around them. First, think about why you’re interested in the field of study you’re hoping to pursue. Even if you’re not completely set on a major or a career, think about what kind of person you hope to become in 5 years, 10 years, and so on and so forth.
While some majors like those in medicine or the hard sciences will have more obvious answers, some majors such as business or economics may be more difficult to reflect on. While your goal may be simply to make money to provide for your family, dig deeper and see what other ways a career in business would be able to help others.
Could you fund programs to help underdeveloped communities? Could you work towards investing in cleaner energy systems? What about working with various small businesses to help them grow? There are so many ways that you can use even broad degrees to help society, so get creative and really reflect on what you can do to make a difference.
Finally, consider how being a Schreyer Scholar can help you achieve your goals and improve the lives of others. What specific resources, courses, programs, and mentors could you take advantage of? For example, a Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies major might want to increase representation of women authors in high school English curricula. They could mention the honors course Representing Women and Gender in Literature, Art and Popular Cultures , which would help them discover new authors and learn how these women made their way in male-dominated industries.
Schreyer Honors College Applicants, Short Answer Prompt 4
Tell us about any college credits you have earned or have underway, excluding anything that appears in your high school record. for each course, list (in this order) the name of the college or university, the name of the course, the semester you took it, and the grade you received (or “in progress” if it’s this semester). separate each new course with a paragraph break. (200 words).
Your response to this prompt can simply be a list of any college courses you may have taken or are currently taking, in the below example format:
Western Community College, Math 160, Fall 2021, B
Western Community College, Bio 101, Spring 2022, B
Western Community College, Chem 101, Spring 2022, A
Western Community College, Comm 110, Fall 2022, in-progress
Don’t worry if you don’t have a response to this question, the admissions representatives just want to get the fullest perspective of you as possible, which includes any college credits on top of your AP or IB classes.
Schreyer Honors College Applicants, Short Answer Prompt 5
Tell us about your most significant out-of-class activities before the pandemic, and since. overall what activity has meant the most to you, and why (200 words).
This prompt is the classic Extracurricular Activity essay . Remember that the admissions committee already has a list of your extracurricular activities, so make sure you’re delving beyond a simple list of your responsibilities. You’ll want to share how the activity makes you feel and how it’s changed your perspective.
To choose an activity, consider the rest of your application. What qualities have you demonstrated already, and how can you share new parts of your identity? Is there an activity that deserves more attention because of how important it is to you?
Once you’ve chosen an activity to write about, reflect on how it has impacted your life and how you can apply what you’ve learned to your time at Penn State. What lessons has the activity taught you? What skills did you learn? Why has this activity kept you engaged or kept you motivated? These are just a few of the questions that can guide your answer.
Importantly, also reflect on how the pandemic reshaped your involvement in your activity. Were you able to participate in the activity during the pandemic? How did that participation change? How did the activity change?
For example, perhaps you were active in the school’s Drama Club and got a leading role in the school musical in your freshman year, only for it to be canceled due to the pandemic. Maybe you organized a virtual performance or sing-along of the show in order to still showcase what you learned and also provide entertainment during a time of quarantine. Maybe you made the performance a fundraiser and raised money for PPE equipment for underfunded schools.
And then following the pandemic, you can write about how the experience made you appreciate your in-person experience and continue the Drama Club’s philanthropic efforts. Remember, your response should focus on your largest takeaway from the activity and anything that may not be readily apparent from your initial application.
Schreyer Honors College Applicants, Short Answer Prompt 6
List the awards or other recognitions you have received during your time in high school — they can be from the school or outside of it. you can omit awards based solely on grades, since we have your academic record. which award or recognition means the most to you, and why (200 words).
This prompt is another great opportunity for you to paint a better picture of yourself and your accomplishments outside of your academic record. There are mainly two types of responses to this question – you can write about any honors or distinctions if you have received any, or you can also flex your creative muscles and expand on a smaller award or appreciation you have received. Even if you haven’t received any notable awards, a creative answer goes much further than no answer.
If you have participated in and won an extracurricular activity with a competitive element, be sure to include that here. Whether that’s debate team, Model UN, musical theatre, or other STEM-related competitions like robotics or design, explain the activity and what the process of winning meant to you. Remember to include all significant recognitions you have received, but only focus on the one that you feel most reflects your personality and interests.
However, if for some reason you lack any formal awards, think back on if there are any informal recognitions you have received – a superlative in the yearbook, a CIT/counselor of the year award at a sleepaway camp, even a thoughtful gift you may have received from a friend or family member – there are tons of possibilities to choose from. What defines an award is something that you achieved or received based on some measure of your character or determination, so remember that this prompt is not solely about the “what,” but also largely about the “why.”
Schreyer Honors College Applicants, Short Answer Prompt 7
Tell us about a book or other media that has made you think about something in a new way. (200 words).
Think about something that you’ve read, watched, or listened to that has stuck with you or impacted you personally. This isn’t meant to be an opportunity for you to recant your love for Shakespeare or your appreciation for Charles Dickens, although you certainly can if it’s deeply resonated with you. And that’s the key – you want to be genuine with your answer. You can go on and on about how much you admire an author or filmmaker’s style or craft – but what the admissions reader really wants to know is how a piece of media has changed your perspective and impacted you personally.
Is there a movie that you can endlessly rewatch? A book you always find yourself going back to? A podcast or an album you can’t stop listening to? The trick is to do some reflection into the “why” – media above anything else has a strictly personal connection to your mind, so see if you can figure out what about the connection to your selected media is so special. If you’re stumped, do a bit of journaling, either while participating with your chosen media or afterward, and write down how it makes you feel and what it makes you think about. Chances are you’ll be able to uncover what it means to you and how it affects you.
Perhaps your mother’s favorite movie is the musical West Side Story, and you and her went to see the Steven Spielberg remake together. Maybe she has a special connection with the musical because she’s originally from Puerto Rican – you could write about how sharing that experience with your mom got you in touch with your heritage and your roots, and got you to reevaluate what it means to be a Puerto Rican in the America of today.
Everyone has a different story, and it is tapping into that story and how it relates to your media choice that should be the basis of your response here.
Schreyer Honors College Applicants, Short Answer Prompt 8
Tell us anything you would like us to know about you, and that we wouldn’t get from the rest of the application. this could include obstacles you’ve overcome, something you’re especially proud of that is not discussed elsewhere, or anything else you choose. (200 words).
This prompt is the last opportunity for you to fill in any gaps left over in your application to the Schreyer Honors College. Look over your application and all your previous responses and reflect on if there’s anything still left unsaid. Remember, the admissions reader wants the clearest picture of you as they can possibly get, and the more information you can provide them about yourself the better.
Here are some examples of details you may wish to write about here:
- Unusual circumstances or hardships (financial hardships, first-generation status, illness, tragedy, etc.)
- Family responsibilities that may have prevented students from taking traditional extracurriculars
- Unique extracurricular that wasn’t written about in another part of the application outside of the Activities Section
- Describing your identity in the context of race, gender, or LGBTQ+
This prompt is going to be on an extremely case-by-case basis, so do what feels right for you and remember that you don’t have to embellish anything about yourself or your life in an attempt to make it sound more interesting to an admissions reader. They really just want to get to know you as your authentic self, so make sure that you’re answering this prompt in a manner that is genuine and honest.
Accelerated Premedical-Medical Program (BS/MD) Applicants, Prompt 1
Describe one non-academic activity during your high school years that has been the most meaningful to you. (250 words).
This prompt is the classic Extracurricular Activity essay . Remember that the admissions committee already has a list of your extracurricular activities, so make sure you’re delving beyond a simple list of your responsibilities. You’ll want to share your emotions and thoughts as you participate in this activity, as well as how it’s impacted you.
As you choose your activity, consider which qualities you’ve already demonstrated in your application, and which ones you’d like to highlight more. If you’ve already written about one activity in your Common App essay, there’s no need to repeat it here. Or, maybe your Common App essay demonstrates resilience when you also consider yourself a very ambitious person. Then, you might want to pick an activity that highlights your ambition.
If you’ve had any jobs or internships in the medical field, this is your opportunity to expand on your experience and what it may have taught you. However, the key to this prompt is to choose something that was the most meaningful to you. Don’t feel like you have to choose an extracurricular in medicine just because you’re applying to a BS/MD program.
Once you’ve chosen an activity to write about, reflect on how it has shaped who you are. This is extremely important, as a common mistake with this prompt is to focus too much on the activity itself without explaining the “why” behind its importance. What lessons has the activity taught you? What skills did you learn? Why has this activity kept you engaged or kept you motivated? These are just a few of the questions that can guide your answer.
Accelerated Premedical-Medical Program (BS/MD) Applicants, Prompt 2
Write a personal statement indicating why you want to be a physician, why you want an accelerated program and why you’ve selected this penn state/kimmel program. (500 words).
As you are probably aware already, the Penn State-Kimmel program is a highly rigorous seven-year program that will require you to commit to a career in medicine. It is not a fast track to becoming a doctor, but rather a set path to reaching that goal. Keeping that in mind, this prompt should be somewhat easy to answer. It is simply a space asking you to explain why you are interested in medicine and the program specifically, which means your answer will be best the more it sounds like you.
Brainstorming a list of reasons why you want to become a physician will be a great starting point – there will likely be several things that draw you to this career path, so list as many you can think of and use that as a jumping-off point. Some questions that can get you thinking may include:
- What was the first experience that made you think about medicine as a career?
- Are there any subjects in school that gave you an interest in medicine? What about extracurriculars?
- What do you hope to do as a physician? Any specific field you would like to work in?
- Are there any personal experiences that you have that make you want to be a physician?
Of course, there are dozens of other questions that you can ask yourself to get a solid foundation for this prompt, but the point is to Jeopardy-style your way into an answer. Ask yourself a series of questions and see what answers you come up with!
Once you describe your reasons for pursuing medicine, you can move forward to the next two parts of the prompts, which are more or less the same question – why this accelerated program?
When it comes to explaining your interest in an accelerated program, the admissions committee has likely heard it all: guaranteed admission to medical school, getting your MD sooner, etc. But what will these benefits do for you specifically? What will you do with the extra time you’ll have from not needing to apply for medical school, or being able to graduate early? Maybe you have a specific clinic you want to spend a lot of time in, or perhaps you want to serve patients in countries impacted by climate change, which will only get more urgent over the next several years. Dig deeper beyond the obvious benefits of an accelerated program.
Finally, you want to explain why the Penn State-Kimmel Program is right for you. How will it help you achieve your specific goals? This will require you to do a fair amount of research on the program and the Sidney Kimmel Medical College. Look into the specific courses, research opportunities, statements from alumni, and more.
For example, maybe you want to help develop immunotherapies for cancer after your aunt received an experimental treatment that worked wonders. You could express interest in contributing to the Immune Cell Regulation & Targeting Research Program at Jefferson Health (the home of the Sidney Kimmel Medical College). Or, maybe you want to conduct research on the social determinants of health as a Black woman, particularly when it comes to race. Since Philly (where the Kimmel Medical College is located) is 40% Black, the city would be a good setting for your research.
A large thing to keep in mind is that this program is a 7-year commitment to getting an MD, so you’ll want to frame your answer around how you’ve wanted to be a doctor for a large part of your life. The questions you ask yourself and the information you find on the website will not only help you with this prompt, but also help you figure out if this program is right for you!
Accelerated Premedical-Medical Program (BS/MD) Applicants, Prompt 3
Describe what you think your strongest qualities are as well as weaknesses that you would like to improve upon. (250 words).
This is a common question not only in college applications, but also career interviews, so your answer to this question may even prove helpful down the road!
This prompt is more straightforward, so you can simply discuss a few strengths and weaknesses. Given the word count, we recommend sticking to 1-2 each. Try to follow them up with examples of times you demonstrated those qualities.
If your strengths relate to medicine, that’s all the better! But no need to explain how these qualities will benefit you in medicine. The connection can be implicit, as doctors need many soft skills.
For example, maybe one of your key skills is that you’re very organized – you could explain how you managed seven different committees as Student Body President, and how you kept track of their progress by having them use a color-coded Google Sheet. The implicit connection to medicine is that being a physician requires you to keep tabs on a plethora of patients and follow-up on their changing needs.
When you get to the weakness part of the question, remember that this prompt is meant to get you thinking about what you believe you can improve upon. For instance, you don’t want to write that you’re not a people person. Not only is this an aspect of your personality that may be difficult to change, but it is also an essential component of becoming a physician.
Think about weaknesses that you can work on – for example, maybe you have trouble with criticism and take it personally because you’re very proud of the work you do. But, you also recognize how important it is in improving your work. So, you’ve already started actively seeking out criticism, such as submitting your artwork to art feedback Discord servers.
Your answer to these questions will give the admissions reader a sense of your work style and will help evaluate if you are a good fit for the requirements of the program, so remember to frame your answer with that in mind.
Accelerated Premedical-Medical Program (BS/MD) Applicants, Prompt 4
Tell us about a time you were unsuccessful and how you grew from this experience. (500 words).
Speaking of questions that you’ll likely get in job interviews, this is another classic. This prompt will get you reflecting on any experience, both in and out of the classroom, where you had some sort of shortcoming, and how you applied that knowledge to future endeavors.
Admissions readers know that in a program like this one, you’re bound to fail at one point or another – they just want to see that you know how to grow from your mistakes. There are a plethora of examples you could probably choose from, but the best one will be the most personal to you.
Keep in mind that your topic doesn’t need to be medicine-related. The point of this prompt is simply to see how you pick yourself up after a failure. You don’t even need to have succeeded in the end; what’s important is that you show what you learned.
This prompt falls under the Overcoming Challenges essay archetype, so we encourage you to read our full guide on that.
Roughly 50% of the essay should describe the process of overcoming the challenge. In this portion of the essay, you should lay out the basics of the challenge, discuss the steps you took to overcome it, and any final accomplishment that illustrates what you’ve overcome.
The remaining 50% of the content (spread throughout the overall narrative) should cover your state of mind, your emotional state, and how your perception of the challenge has changed over time. This should span the initial challenge, the steps you took to overcome it, and the final accomplishment (if there is one).
Where to Get Your Penn State Essays Edited
Do you want feedback on your Penn State essays? After rereading your essays countless times, it can be difficult to evaluate your writing objectively. That’s why we created our free Peer Essay Review tool , where you can get a free review of your essay from another student. You can also improve your own writing skills by reviewing other students’ essays.
If you want a college admissions expert to review your essay, advisors on CollegeVine have helped students refine their writing and submit successful applications to top schools. Find the right advisor for you to improve your chances of getting into your dream school!
You can also improve your own writing skills by reviewing other students’ essays. We highly recommend giving this tool a try!
Related CollegeVine Blog Posts
NYU Supplemental Essays 2023-24 Prompt and Advice
August 17, 2023
In the 2022-23 admissions cycle, NYU received over 120,000 applications. That was a record-breaking figure for the university (13% more than the previous year!), as was the all-time low acceptance rate of 8%. To put these numbers in proper context, consider for a moment that in 1991, NYU had an acceptance rate of 65%. At the start of the Obama presidency, NYU still only received 37,000 total applications. These numbers lead us into the topic of this blog, the NYU supplemental essay.
(Want to learn more about How to Get Into NYU? Visit our blog entitled: How to Get Into NYU for all of the most recent admissions data as well as tips for gaining acceptance.)
Clearly, standing out as an applicant to NYU was a heck of a lot easier a generation or even a mere decade ago. For the Class of 2027, the median SAT score for an admitted applicant was 1540 , meaning that even a standardized test score in the 99th percentile won’t do much to separate you from the hordes of equally credentialed applicants.
Although it only has one prompt, NYU’s essay still affords applicants an opportunity to illustrate what makes them uniquely qualified for admission. Below is NYU’s supplemental essay for the 2023-24 admissions cycle. We then follow with College Transitions’ advice on how to craft a winning composition.
2023-2024 NYU Supplement Essays
This is a new prompt for the 2023-24 admissions cycle. It’s optional, but we highly encourage anyone who would like to be a serious contender (which, if you’re taking the time to apply, hopefully you are) to answer it.
We are looking for peacemakers, changemakers, global citizens, boundary breakers, creatives and innovators – Choose one quote from the following and let us know why it inspires you; or share a short quote and person not on our list who inspires you, and include why. (250 words)
- “We’re used to people telling us there are no solutions, and then creating our own. So we did what we do best. We reached out to each other, and to our allies, and we mobilized across communities to make change, to benefit and include everyone in society.” Judith Heuman, 2022 NYU Commencement Address
- “I encourage your discomfort, that you must contribute, that you must make your voice heard. That is the essence of good citizenship.” Sherilynn Ifill, 2015 NYU Commencement Address
- “If you know how to fly but you never knew how to walk, wouldn’t that be sad?” Lang Lang, 2015 NYU Honorary Degree Recipient
- “You have the right to want things and to want things to change.” Sanna Marin, Former Prime Minister of Finland, 2023 NYU Commencement Address
- “It’s hard to fight when the fight ain’t fair.” Taylor Swift, Change, Released 2008, 2022 NYU Commencement Speaker
- Share a short quote and person not on this list, and why the quote inspires you.
NYU Supplemental Essay (Continued)
This prompt—and its options—are incredibly open-ended, offering you the power to decide why a particular quote inspires you (note that there are no guiding questions or proposed directions for any quote). As such, read through the quotes provided and note which one you continue returning to. When you read that quote, what do you want to do ? What type of change do you want to affect? Does it encourage to create or innovate? How so? Moreover, does it remind you of an experience you’ve had, a challenge you’ve overcome, or a belief you hold? Perhaps it calls to mind an aspect of your background or perspective. Or, it could speak to a particular social or political cause that is important to you. Alternatively, you can even choose your own quote if none of the above resonates with you.
The strongest responses will look to the future while also incorporating past personal experiences or influences. For example, perhaps the second prompt inspires you to continue seeking out experiences that challenge you. “Why is that?” NYU will want to know. Perhaps, earlier this year, you went out of your comfort zone to speak up at a school board meeting about your school district’s book ban policy, ultimately meeting & agreeing to continue working with a group of fellow students who also opposed the policy.
Finally, given that this is NYU’s only supplemental essay, you can also incorporate how you plan to seek out specific experiences or resources at NYU.
How important is the NYU supplemental essay?
NYU deems four elements as “very important” in evaluating a candidate. These are: the rigor of your secondary school record, class rank, GPA, standardized test scores, and talent/ability. The NYU supplemental essay is considered to be “important” alongside letters of recommendation, extracurricular activities, and character/personal qualities.
Want personalized assistance?
In conclusion, if you are interested in working with one of College Transitions’ experienced and knowledgeable essay coaches as you craft your NYU essay, we encourage you to get a quote today.
- College Essay
Dave has over a decade of professional experience that includes work as a teacher, high school administrator, college professor, and independent educational consultant. He is a co-author of the books The Enlightened College Applicant (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016) and Colleges Worth Your Money (Rowman & Littlefield, 2020).
- 2-Year Colleges
- Application Strategies
- Big Picture
- Career & Personality Assessment
- College Search/Knowledge
- College Success
- Costs & Financial Aid
- Extracurricular Activities
- Graduate School Admissions
- High School Success
- High Schools
- Medical School Admissions
- Navigating the Admissions Process
- Online Learning
- Summer Programs
“Innovative and invaluable…use this book as your college lifeline.”
— Lynn O'Shaughnessy
Nationally Recognized College Expert
The Penn application process includes a personal essay as well as supplemental short answer prompts. We read your words carefully, as they are yet another window into how you think, what you value, and how you see the world. Through your writing, we get a glimpse of what you might bring to our community, including your voice and creativity.
- Apply for Admission
- International Applicants
- Transfer Admission
- Comprehensive Review
- High School Preparation
- Alumni Conversations
- Letters of Recommendation
- Supplementary Materials
- Incoming Class Profile
Before you begin writing:
- Review the prompt thoroughly. Be sure you’re answering the question or prompt being asked. T opics are chosen because the Admissions Committee wants to know specific things about you. If you don’t address the them directly, we are left to make decisions regarding your application with incomplete information.
- Consider your response carefully. We understand that you may be writing responses for different schools and you may want to reuse material, but read through your response to make sure the content is relevant to the prompt.
- Double check your writing. Give yourself time to revisit your response. Do not rush your writing process; create space in your schedule to revise your work. Ultimately, it is up to you to polish your response before you submit.
In your Penn supplemental short answers, be precise when explaining both why you are applying to Penn and why you have chosen to apply to that specific undergraduate school. Some of our specialized programs will have additional essays to complete, but the Penn supplemental prompts should address the single-degree or single-school choice.
2023-24 Short Answer & Essay Prompts
Penn Supplemental Short Answer Prompts (Required)
- Write a short thank-you note to someone you have not yet thanked and would like to acknowledge. (We encourage you to share this note with that person, if possible, and reflect on the experience!) (150-200 words, only required for first year applicants)
- How will you explore community at Penn? Consider how Penn will help shape your perspective, and how your experiences and perspective will help shape Penn. (150-200 words)
- The school-specific prompt will now be unique to the school to which a student is applying. Considering the undergraduate school you have selected, please respond to your school-specific prompt below. (For example, all applicants applying to the College of Arts and Sciences will respond to the prompt under the “College of Arts and Sciences” section).
For students applying to the coordinated dual-degree and specialized programs, please answer this question in regard to your single-degree school choice; your interest in the coordinated dual-degree or specialized program may be addressed through the program-specific essay.
Transfer Essay (required for all transfer applicants): Please explain your reasons for transferring from your current institution and what you hope to gain by transferring to another institution. (4150 characters)
Penn Nursing intends to meet the health needs of society in a global and multicultural world by preparing its students to impact healthcare by advancing science and promoting equity. What do you think this means for the future of nursing, and how do you see yourself contributing to our mission of promoting equity in healthcare? (150-200 words)
To help inform your response, applicants are encouraged to learn more about Penn Nursing’s mission and how we promote equity in healthcare . This information will help you develop a stronger understanding of our values and how they align with your own goals and aspirations.
The flexible structure of The College of Arts and Sciences’ curriculum is designed to inspire exploration, foster connections, and help you create a path of study through general education courses and a major. What are you curious about and how would you take advantage of opportunities in the arts and sciences? (150-200 words)
To help inform your response, applicants are encouraged to learn more about the academic offerings within the College of Arts and Sciences . This information will help you develop a stronger understanding of how the study of the liberal arts aligns with your own goals and aspirations.
Wharton prepares its students to make an impact by applying business methods and economic theory to real-world problems, including economic, political, and social issues. Please reflect on a current issue of importance to you and share how you hope a Wharton education would help you to explore it. (150-200 words)
To help inform your response, applicants are encouraged to learn more about the foundations of a Wharton education . This information will help you better understand what you could learn by studying at Wharton and what you could do afterward.
Penn Engineering prepares its students to become leaders in technology, by combining a strong foundation in the natural sciences and mathematics, exploration in the liberal arts, and depth of study in focused disciplinary majors. Please share how you hope to explore your engineering interests at Penn. (150-200 words)
To help inform your response, applicants are encouraged to learn more about Penn Engineering and its mission to prepare students for global leadership in technology . This information will help you develop a stronger understanding of academic pathways within Penn Engineering and how they align with your goals and interests.
Coordinated Dual Degree and Specialized Programs Short Answer Prompts
For students applying to the coordinated dual-degree and specialized programs, please answer the program-specific essay below.
** Character count that only applies to transfer students applying through Common App.
Why are you interested in the Digital Media Design (DMD) program at the University of Pennsylvania? (400-650 words / 3575 characters**)
The Huntsman Program supports the development of globally minded scholars who become engaged citizens, creative innovators, and ethical leaders in the public, private, and non-profit sectors in the United States and internationally. What draws you to a dual-degree program in business and international studies, and how would you use what you learn to contribute to a global issue where business and international affairs intersect? (400-650 words)
The LSM program aims to provide students with a fundamental understanding of the life sciences and their management with an eye to identifying, advancing, and implementing innovations. What issues would you want to address using the understanding gained from such a program? Note that this essay should be distinct from your single degree essay. (400-650 words)
- Explain how you will use the M&T program to explore your interest in business, engineering, and the intersection of the two. (400-650 words)
- Describe a problem that you solved that showed leadership and creativity. (250 words)
Describe your interests in modern networked information systems and technologies, such as the internet, and their impact on society, whether in terms of economics, communication, or the creation of beneficial content for society. Feel free to draw on examples from your own experiences as a user, developer, or student of technology. (400-650 words / 3575 characters**)
Discuss your interest in nursing and health care management. How might Penn's coordinated dual-degree program in nursing and business help you meet your goals? (400-650 words)
- Please list any predental or premedical experience. This experience can include but is not limited to observation in a private practice, dental clinic, or hospital setting; dental assisting; dental laboratory work; dental or medical research; etc. Please include time allotted to each activity, dates of attendance, location, and a description of your experience. If you do not have any predental or premedical experience, please indicate what you have done or plan to do in order to explore dentistry as a career.
- Do you have relatives who are dentists or are in dental school? If so, indicate the name of each relative, his/her relationship to you, the school attended, and the dates attended.
- Describe any activities which demonstrate your ability to work with your hands.
- What activities have you performed that demonstrate your ability to work effectively with people?
- Please explain your reasons for selecting dentistry. Please include what interests you the most about dentistry as well as what interests you least.
How do you envision your participation in the Vagelos Integrated Program in Energy Research (VIPER) furthering your interests in energy science and technology? Please include any past experiences (ex. academic, research, or extracurricular) that have led to your interest in the program. Additionally, please indicate why you are interested in pursuing dual degrees in science and engineering and which VIPER majors are most interesting to you at this time. (400-650 words)
Cornell Undergraduate Admissions
Search cornell admissions, cornell first-year writing supplement prompts.
In the online Common Application Writing Supplement, please respond to both the Cornell University essay question and the essay prompt that corresponds to the undergraduate college or school to which you are applying.
Cornell University Essay Question
In the aftermath of the U.S. Civil War, Ezra Cornell wrote, "I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study." For over 150 years, Cornell University has remained deeply committed to Ezra’s vision. Explain how your life experiences will help inform your contributions to a learning community devoted to “... any person … any study.” We encourage you to think broadly about your life experiences, including how local (e.g., family, school, neighborhood) or global communities you’ve been part of have helped shape your perspective. (350 word limit)
College- and School-Specific Essay Questions
College of agriculture and life sciences.
Required: Why are you drawn to studying the major you have selected? Please discuss how your interests and related experiences have influenced your choice. How will an education from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) at Cornell University specifically serve to support your learning, growth, and the pursuit of your goals? (650-word limit)
Instructions: The optional short-answer questions invite you to share additional information about your background, interests, and experiences as they relate to aspects of the Cornell CALS mission. The content of any responses submitted will be included in the holistic review of your application (which is also the case for any optional additional information submitted as part of your Common Application or uploaded through your Cornell Application Portal once you've applied).
Optional: At Cornell CALS, we aim to leave the world better than we found it, so we seek out those who are not simply driven to master their discipline, but who are also passionate about doing so to serve the public good. Please elaborate on an experience where you had a meaningful impact on people, a community, and/or an environment of importance to you. (200-word limit)
Optional: Cornell CALS is dedicated to purpose-driven study of the agricultural, life, environmental, and social sciences and welcomes students with interests that span a wide variety of disciplines. Given our agricultural history and commitment to educating the next generation of agriculturalists, please share if you have a background or interest in agriculture, regardless of your intended major. An "agricultural entity" for the purpose of this question is defined as cultivating soil, growing crops, and raising livestock (e.g., farm, ranch, greenhouse, vineyard, etc.).
Select all that apply:
- A primary source of income for my parent/guardian(s) comes from ownership of or employment by an agricultural entity.
- My extended family owns or operates an agricultural entity.
- I have experience working in an agricultural entity.
- I have interest in pursuing a career in an agricultural entity.
Please feel free to share additional details (optional). (100-word limit)
College of Architecture, Art, and Planning
How do your interests directly connect with your intended major at the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning (AAP)? Why architecture (B.Arch), art (BFA), or urban and regional studies (URS)? B. Arch applicants, please provide an example of how a creative project or passion sparks your motivation to pursue a 5-year professional degree program. BFA applicants may want to to consider how they could integrate a range of interests and available resources at Cornell into a coherent art practice. URS students may want to emphasize their enthusiasm and depth of interest in the study of urban and regional issues. (650 word limit)
College of Arts & Sciences
At the College of Arts and Sciences, curiosity will be your guide. Discuss how your passion for learning is shaping your academic journey, and what areas of study or majors excite you and why. Your response should convey how your interests align with the College, and how you would take advantage of the opportunities and curriculum in Arts and Sciences. (650 word limit)
Cornell Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy
Why are you drawn to studying public policy? Drawing on your experiences, tell us about why you are interested in your chosen major and how attending the Brooks School will help you achieve your life goals. (650 word limit)
Cornell SC Johnson College of Business
What kind of a business student are you? 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 convey how your interests align with the school to which you are applying within the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business (Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management or the Peter and Stephanie Nolan School of Hotel Administration). (650 word limit)
College of Engineering
Instructions: All applicants are required to write two supplemental essays. Each has a limit of 250 words. Essay 1 is required of all applicants. For Essay 2, you must choose between Question A and Question B.
Essay 1: Required response. (250-word limit)
How do your interests directly connect with Cornell Engineering? If you have an intended major, what draws you to that department at Cornell Engineering? If you are unsure what specific engineering field you would like to study, describe how your general interest in engineering most directly connects with Cornell Engineering. It may be helpful to concentrate on one or two things that you are most excited about.
Essay 2: Choose either Question A and Question B. (250-word limit)
Question A: Describe an engineering problem that impacts your local community. This could be your school, neighborhood, town, region, or a group you identify with. Describe one to three things you might do as an engineer to solve the problem.
Question B: Diversity in all forms is intrinsic to excellence in engineering. Engineering the best solutions to complex problems is often achieved by drawing from the diverse ingenuity of people from different backgrounds, lived experiences, and identities. How do you see yourself contributing to the diversity and/or the inclusion of the Cornell Engineering community? What is the unique voice you would bring to the Cornell Engineering community?
College of Human Ecology
How have your related experiences influenced your decision to apply to the College of Human Ecology (CHE)? How will your choice of major impact your goals and plans for the future? Your response should show us that your interests and aspirations align with CHE and your choice of major. (Refer to our essay application tips before you begin.) (650 word limit)
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. (650 word limit)
Top Enrollment Resources
- How to Apply
- Visit & Connect
- Application Status
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Office of Financial Aid
- Apply for Aid
- Cost to Attend
- Types of Aid
- Office of the Registrar
- Academic Calendar
- Classes and Enrollment
- Courses of Study
Still need help? Look at the Frequently Asked Questions , or contact us .
Yale College Undergraduate Admissions
- A Liberal Arts Education
- Majors & Academic Programs
- Teaching & Advising
- Undergraduate Research
- International Experiences
- Science & Engineering Faculty Features
- Residential Colleges
- Identity, Culture, Faith
- Multicultural Open House
- Virtual Tour
- Bulldogs' Blogs
- First-Year Applicants
- International First-Year Applicants
- QuestBridge First-Year Applicants
- Military Veteran Applicants
- Transfer Applicants
- Eli Whitney: Nontraditional Applicants
- Non-Degree & Alumni Auditing Applicants
- What Yale Looks For
- Putting Together Your Application
- Selecting High School Courses
- Application FAQs
- First-Generation College Students
- Rural and Small Town Students
- Choosing Where to Apply
- Inside the Yale Admissions Office Podcast
- Visit Campus
- Virtual Events
- Connect With Yale Admissions
- The Details
- Estimate Your Cost
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 2023-2024 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 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.
- Tell us about a topic or idea that excites you and is related to one or more academic areas you selected above. Why are you drawn to it? (200 words or fewer)
- What is it about Yale that has led you to apply? (125 words or fewer)
Applicants applying with the QuestBridge Application will complete the questions above via the Yale QuestBridge Questionnaire, available on the Yale Admissions Status Portal after an application has been received.
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?
- If you could teach any college course, write a book, or create an original piece of art of any kind, what would it be?
- Other than a family member, who is someone who has had a significant influence on you? What has been the impact of their influence?
- What is something about you that is not included anywhere else in your application?
Applicants submitting the Coalition Application or Common Application will respond to one of the following prompts in 400 words or fewer.
1. Reflect on a time you discussed an issue important to you with someone holding an opposing view. Why did you find the experience meaningful?
2. Reflect on your membership in a community to which you feel connected. Why is this community meaningful to you? You may define community however you like.
3. Reflect on an element of your personal experience that you feel will enrich your college. How has it shaped you?