Essay Prompts/Questions 2019

Below you will find the Class of 2019 essay prompts for the Common App and Coalition App as well as specific colleges. Scroll down to see the specific college supplemental essay prompts. We will add more college essay prompts as they are released.

Common Application Essay Prompts, Coalition Application Essay Prompt, Babson College Prompt, Boston College Essay Prompt, Boston University Essay Prompt, Brown University Essay Prompt, University of California Essay Prompt, California Institute of Technology Essay Prompt, Carnegie Mellon Essay Prompt, University of Chicago Essay Prompt, University of Colorado Boulder Essay Prompt, Columbia Essay Prompt, Cornell University Essay Prompt, Dartmouth College Essay Prompt, Duke University Essay Prompt, Elon Essay Prompt, Emory University Essay Prompt, Georgetown Essay Prompt, George Washington University Essay Prompt, Georgia Tech Essay Prompt, University of Georgia Essay Prompt, Hampshire Essay Prompt, Harvard Essay Prompt, Indiana University, Bloomington Essay Prompt, Johns Hopkins University Essay Prompt, University of Michigan Essay Prompt, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill Essay Prompt, Northwestern University Essay Prompt, New York University Essay Prompt, University of Pennsylvania Essay Prompt, University of Notre Dame Essay Prompt, Pomona College Essay Prompt, Princeton University Essay Prompt, Purdue University Essay Prompt, Rice University Essay Prompt, University of Richmond Essay Prompt, University of Southern California Essay Prompt, Stanford Essay Prompt, Syracuse University Essay Prompt, University of Texas at Austin Essay Prompt, Tufts University Essay Prompt, Tulane University Essay Prompt, Vanderbilt University Essay Prompt, University of Virginia Prompt, Wake Forest University Essay Prompt, University of Wisconsin at Madison Essay Prompt, Villanova Essay Prompt, Yale University Essay Prompt

Common Application Essays
  1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
  2. The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience? 
  3. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
  4. Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma – anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.
  5. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
  6. Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more? 
  7. Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.
Coalition Application Essays
  1. Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.
  2. Describe a time when you made a meaningful contribution to others in which the greater good was your focus. Discuss the challenges and rewards of making your contribution.
  3. Has there been a time when you’ve had a long-cherished or accepted belief challenged? How did you respond? How did the challenge affect your beliefs?
  4. What is the hardest part of being a teenager now? What’s the best part? What advice would you give a younger sibling or friend (assuming they would listen to you)?
  5. Submit an essay on a topic of your choice.
Babson College
  1. Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences (max 250).
  2. Your moment has arrived. Share with us the moments or experiences that have led you to apply to Babson College (500 words maximum).We invite you to submit your answer in either essay OR video format. If you choose to submit a video, please limit your response to a 1-minute video, which can be submitted via a shared link to YouTube or another video hosting website.
Boston College

400 words (Choose one)

  1. Great art evokes a sense of wonder. It nourishes the mind and spirit. Is there a particular song, poem, speech, or novel from which you have drawn insight or inspiration?
  2. When you choose a college, you will join a new community of people who have different backgrounds, experiences, and stories. What is it about your background, your experiences, or your story, that will enrich Boston College’s community?
  3. Boston College strives to provide an undergraduate learning experience emphasizing the liberal arts, quality teaching, personal formation, and engagement of critical issues. If you had the opportunity to create your own college course, what enduring question or contemporary problem would you address and why?
  4. Jesuit education considers the liberal arts a pathway to intellectual growth and character formation. What beliefs and values inform your decisions and actions today, and how will Boston College assist you in becoming a person who thinks and acts for the common good?
Boston University

What about being a student at Boston University most excites you? (max 250)

Brown University

Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences. (150 word limit)

Why are you drawn to the area(s) of study you indicated earlier in this application? (You may share with us a skill or concept that you found challenging and rewarding to learn, or any experiences beyond course work that may have broadened your interest.) (250 word limit)

What do you hope to experience at Brown through the Open Curriculum, and what do you hope to contribute to the Brown community? (250 word limit)

Tell us about the place, or places, you call home. These can be physical places where you have lived, or a community or group that is important to you. (250 word limit)

University of California
  • You will have 8 questions to choose from. You must respond to only 4 of the 8 questions.
  • Each response is limited to a maximum of 350 words.
  • Which questions you choose to answer is entirely up to you: But you should select questions that are most relevant to your experience and that best reflect your individual circumstances
  • All questions are equal: All are given equal consideration in the application review process, which means there is no advantage or disadvantage to choosing certain questions over others.
  • There is no right or wrong way to answer these questions: It’s about getting to know your personality, background, interests and achievements in your own unique voice.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

California Institute of Technology
  1. Describe three experiences and/or activities that have helped develop your passion for a possible career in a STEM field. Use the separate spaces provided below, one for each STEM experience and/or activity.
  2. Much like the life of a professional scientist or engineer, the life of a “Techer” relies heavily on collaboration. Knowing this, what do you hope to explore, innovate, or create with your Caltech peers? (Your response should range between 250-400 words.)
  3. Caltech students are often known for their sense of humor and creative pranks. What do you like to do for fun? (Your response should range between 250-400 words.)
  4. The process of discovery best advances when people from various backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives come together. How do you see yourself contributing to the diversity of Caltech’s community? (Your response should range between 250-400 words.)
Carnegie Mellon
  1. “When we‘re connected to others, we become better people,” said Carnegie Mellon University‘s Randy Pausch, author of The Last Lecture.At Carnegie Mellon you‘ll have the opportunity to collaborate with a diverse community of scholars, artists and innovators. Given the students, faculty, staff and resources that have been available to you as a student, how have you collaborated with others, in or out of the classroom? Or, what lessons have you learned from working with others in the past, that might shape your experience in the future?
    (250 word maximum)
  2. Most students choose their intended major or area of study based on a passion or inspiration that’s developed over time – what passion or inspiration led you to choose this area of study?
    (200 word maximum)
  3. Consider your application as a whole. What do you personally want to emphasize about your application for the admission committee’s consideration? Highlight something that’s important to you or something you haven’t had a chance to share. Tell us, don’t show us (no websites please).
    (200 word maximum)
University of Chicago

Question 1(Required)

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

Question 2: Extended Essay (Required; Choose one)

Essay Option 1

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 

Essay Option 2

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 

Essay Option 3

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 

Essay Option 4

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 

Essay Option 5 

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 

Essay Option 6

In the spirit of adventurous inquiry, pose your own question or choose one of our past prompts. Be original, creative, thought provoking. Draw on your best qualities as a writer, thinker, visionary, social critic, sage, citizen of the world, or future citizen of the University of Chicago; take a little risk, and have fun.

University of Colorado Boulder

As a vibrant community of learners dedicated to inclusive excellence, the students, faculty and staff at the University of Colorado Boulder seek to be open and respectful of contrasting beliefs and opinions. Every student has a unique life experience and a set of circumstances by which they are shaped and influenced. Your background may have been shaped by family history, cultural traditions, race, ethnicity, religion, politics, income, ideology, gender identity or sexual orientation.

Reflect on your unique background and tell us about a time when you had to relate to someone whose life experience was very different from your own. How did you approach the difference? If put in a similar situation again today, would you respond differently? If so, how?

Columbia

List a few words or phrases that describe your ideal college community.(150 words or less)

List the titles of the required readings from courses during the school year or summer that you enjoyed most in the past year. (150 words or less)

List the titles of the books you read for pleasure that you enjoyed most in the past year. (150 words or less)

List the titles of the print, electronic publications and websites you read regularly. (150 words or less)

List the titles of the films, concerts, shows, exhibits, lectures and other entertainments you enjoyed most in the past year. (150 words or less)

Please tell us what you value most about Columbia and why. (300 words or less)

For applicants to Columbia College, please tell us what from your current and past experiences (either academic or personal) attracts you specifically to the field or fields of study that you noted in the Member Questions section. If you are currently undecided, please write about any field or fields in which you may have an interest at this time. (300 words or less)

OR

For applicants to The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, please tell us what from your current and past experiences (either academic or personal) attracts you specifically to the field or fields of study that you noted in the Member Questions section. (300 words or less)

Cornell University

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences– Why are you drawn to studying the major you have selected? Please discuss how your interests and related experiences have influenced your choice. Specifically, how will an education from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) and Cornell University help you achieve your academic goals? (Please limit your response to 650 words.)

College of Architecture Art and Planning– What is your “thing”? What energizes you or engages you so deeply that you lose track of time? Everyone has different passions, obsessions, quirks, inspirations. What are yours? (Please limit your response to 650 words.)

College of Arts and Sciences- Students in Arts and Sciences embrace the opportunity to delve into their academic interests, discover new realms of intellectual inquiry, and chart their own path through the College. Tell us why the depth, breadth, and flexibility of our curriculum are ideally suited to exploring the areas of study that excite you. (Please limit your response to 650 words.)

College of SC Johnson College of Business-

(DYSON SCHOOL OF APPLIED ECONOMICS AND MANAGEMENT) Affiliated with both the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, The Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management is unique by design. Explain how our approach to business education is the right fit for you, and how your interests, experiences or goals will contribute to the unique composition of the entering class. (Please limit your response to 650 words.)

(SCHOOL OF HOTEL ADMINISTRATION) The global hospitality industry includes hotel and foodservice management, real estate, finance, entrepreneurship, marketing, technology, and law. Describe what has influenced your decision to study business through the lens of hospitality. What personal qualities make you a good fit for SHA? (Please limit your response to 650 words.)

College of Engineering- Cornell Engineering celebrates innovative problem solving that helps people, communities…the world. Consider your ideas and aspirations and describe how a Cornell Engineering education would allow you to leverage technological problem-solving to improve the world we live in. (Please limit your response to 650 words.)

College of Human Ecology- How have your experiences influenced your decision to apply to the College of Human Ecology. How will your choice of major impact your goals and plans for the future?” (Please limit your response to 650 words.)

 School of Industrial and Labor Relations- Tell us about your intellectual interests, how they sprung from your course, service, work or life experiences, and what makes them exciting to you. Describe how ILR is the right school for you to pursue these interests. (Please limit your response to 650 words.)

Dartmouth

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

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

Duke University seeks a talented, engaged student body that embodies the wide range of human experience; we believe that the diversity of our students makes our community stronger. If you’d like to share a perspective you bring or experiences you’ve had to help us understand you better-perhaps related to a community you belong to or your family or cultural background-we encourage you to do so. Real people are reading your application, and we want to do our best to understand and appreciate the real people applying to Duke. (250 word limit)

Elon University

Your essay should be approximately 500 words.

Reminder: Only ONE essay is required

The essay is used by the admissions committee to evaluate your ability to write and present on one of the topics below. Here are some tips when writing your essay:

  1. If you could create a new course that all Elon students are required to take, what is the title, what is the focus and why does it interest you?
  2. In 1923 a fire destroyed the majority of Elon’s campus, reducing buildings to ash. The community faced this adversity rising from the ashes like a Phoenix, which is now our mascot. Describe a time when you rose from hardship and demonstrated resilience.
  3. At Elon’s New Student Convocation, every first-year student receives an acorn and is encouraged to keep it until graduation. Four years later at Commencement, every graduate receives an oak sapling symbolizing their growth and transformation. How do you hope to grow and transform during your time at Elon?
Emory University

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

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

Short Essay

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

Essay Requirement

Compose two brief essays (approximately one page, single-spaced each) on the topics given below. Essays should be typed.

Essay One – All Applicants:

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

Essay Two- Applicants to Georgetown College:

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

Essay 2- Applicants to Nursing and Health Studies:

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

Essay 2- Applicants for Walsh School of Foreign Service- Briefly discuss a current global issue, indicating why you consider it important and what you suggest should be done to deal with it.

Essay 2- Applicants to School of Business- The McDonough School of Business is a national and global leader in providing graduates with essential ethical, analytical, financial and global perspectives.  Please discuss your motivations for studying business at Georgetown.

George Washington University

Every applicant must choose from one of the following two essay prompts to submit. (max 250)

Essay Prompt 1
At the George Washington University, our students frequently interact with policymakers and world leaders. These experiences and those of our alumni can shape the future of global affairs. If you had the power to change the course of history in your community or the world, what would you do and why?

Essay Prompt 2
The George Washington University encourages students to think critically and to challenge the status quo. Thus, civil discourse is a key characteristic of our community. Describe a time when you engaged others in meaningful dialogue around an issue that was important to you. Did this exchange create change, new perspectives, or deeper relationships?

School of Media and Public Affairs-

Journalism and Mass Communication major: Write a profile of yourself in news or news feature style, as if you had interviewed yourself.

(500 words or fewer)

Political Communication major: If you could be any one person who has been active in politics, who would you choose to be and why?
(500 words or fewer)

Georgia Tech
  1. Why do you want to study your chosen major at Georgia Tech, and how do you think Georgia Tech will prepare you to pursue opportunities in that field after graduation? (max 250 words)
  2. Please choose ONE of the following questions and provide an answer in 150 words or less.
    • Tech’s motto is Progress and Service. We find that students who ultimately have a broad impact first had a significant one at home. What is your role in your immediate or extended family? And how have you seen evidence of your impact on them?
    • Georgia Tech is always looking for innovative undergraduates. Have you had any experience as an entrepreneur? What would you like Georgia Tech to provide to further your entrepreneurial interests?
    • In our application review, we want to get to know you better. One way to do that is to understand a typical day for you. Please describe your typical day.
University of Georgia

We require one short essay that all applicants must complete, and four additional short essay topics with the applicant selecting to respond to one of these. These two essays should be between 200-300 words and remember to focus on substance and not word count.  Before submitting your application and essays, always remember to proofread and edit!  The First Year application will be available on September 1, but we thought that some people would want to know the essay prompts earlier than that date.

Here are the five essay questions, with Essay 1 being required and Essays 2-5 being four options from which the applicant selects one.

  1. (Required) The college admissions process can create anxiety. In an attempt to make it less stressful, please tell us an interesting or amusing story about yourself that you have not already shared in your application.

Choose one of the following four:

  1. UGA’s 2017 Commencement speaker Ernie Johnson (Class of ’79) told a story from his youth about what he refers to as blackberry moments. He has described these as “the sweet moments that are right there to be had but we’re just too focused on what we’re doing …, and we see things that are right there within our reach and we neglect them. Blackberry moments can be anything that makes somebody else’s day, that makes your day, that are just sweet moments that you always remember.” Tell us about one of your “blackberry moments” from the past five years.
  2. Creativity is found in many forms including artistic avenues, intellectual pursuits, social interactions, innovative solutions, et cetera. Tell us how you express your creativity.
  3. Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.
  4. Describe a problem, possibly related to your area of study, which you would like to solve. Explain its importance to you and what actions you would take to solve this issue.
Hampshire

The following questions get at some of our core values: inquiry, interdisciplinarity, and growth. Choose one prompt from the list below and respond; our suggested length is a page.

  • Hampshire’s motto is “to know is not enough.” People interpret this motto in different ways. What does it mean to you?
  • Think about two or more topics that interest you. Tell us about some issues or questions related to these topics.
  • Describe a time when you received feedback, academic or otherwise, that changed your thinking or behavior for the better.
Harvard University

Essay 1: Your intellectual life may extend beyond the academic requirements of your particular school. Please use the space below to list additional intellectual activities that you have not mentioned or detailed elsewhere in your application. These could include, but are not limited to, supervised or self-directed projects not done as school work, training experiences, online courses not run by your school, or summer academic or research programs not described elsewhere. (150 words)

Essay 2: Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences. (150 words)

Optional Harvard Supplement Instruction: You may wish to include an additional essay if you feel the college application forms do not provide sufficient opportunity to convey important information about yourself or your accomplishments. You may write on a topic of your choice, or you may choose from one of the following topics: (no word limit)

  1. Unusual circumstances in your life
  2. Travel, living, or working experiences in your own or other communities
  3. What you would want your future college roommate to know about you
  4. An intellectual experience (course, project, book, discussion, paper, poetry, or research topic in engineering, mathematics, science, or other modes of inquiry) that has meant the most to you
  5. How you hope to use your college education
  6. A list of the books you have read during the past twelve months
  7. The Harvard College Honor code declares that we “hold honesty as the foundation of our community.” As you consider entering this community that is committed to honesty, please reflect on a time when you or someone you observed had to make a choice about whether to act with integrity and honesty.
  8. The mission of Harvard College is to educate our students to be citizens and citizen-leaders for society. What would you do to contribute to the lives of your classmates in advancing this mission?
  9. Each year a substantial number of students admitted to Harvard defer their admission for one year or take time off during college. If you decided in the future to choose either option, what would you like to do?
  10. Harvard has long recognized the importance of student body diversity of all kinds. We welcome you to write about distinctive aspects of your background, personal development or the intellectual interests you might bring to your Harvard classmates.
Indiana University, Bloomington

In 200–400 words, you’ll be asked to describe your academic and career plans and any special interest (for example, undergraduate research, academic interests, leadership opportunities, etc.) that you are eager to pursue as an undergraduate at IU. Also, if you encountered any unusual circumstances, challenges, or obstacles in pursuit of your education, share those experiences and how you overcame them.

Johns Hopkins University
  1. Write a brief essay (300-400 words) in which you respond to the following question.Successful students at Johns Hopkins make the biggest impact by collaborating with others, including peers, mentors, and professors. Talk about a time, in or outside the classroom, when you worked with others and what you learned from the experience.
University of Michigan

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

Everyone belongs to many different communities and/or groups defined by (among other things) shared geography, religion, ethnicity, income, cuisine, interest, race, ideology, or intellectual heritage. Choose one of the communities to which you belong, and describe that community and your place within it.

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

Describe the unique qualities that attract you to the specific undergraduate College or School (including preferred admission and dual degree programs) to which you are applying at the University of Michigan. How would that curriculum support your interests?

UNC Chapel Hill

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

Tell us about a peer who has made a difference in your life.

What do you hope will change about the place where you live?

What is one thing that we don’t know about you that you want for us to know?

What about your background, or what perspective, belief, or experience, will help you contribute to the education of your classmates at UNC?

New York University

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

University of Pennsylvania

How will you explore your intellectual and academic interests at the University of Pennsylvania? Please answer this question given the specific undergraduate school to which you are applying (College of Arts and Sciences, School of Nursing, The Wharton School, or Penn Engineering).

The essay should be between 400-650 words.

Students applying to Digital Media Design and Computer and Cognitive Science should address both the specialized program and single-degree choice in their response. For students applying to the other coordinated dual-degree and specialized programs, please answer this question in regards to your single-degree school choice; Your interest in the coordinated dual-degree or specialized program may be addressed through the program-specific essays.

University of Notre Dame

The University of Notre Dame Writing Supplement consists of one (1) essay response to a required question and two (2) essay responses to questions you select from the options provided. In total, you will write three (3) essay responses. The recommended word count is approximately 150 words per essay.

  1. What excites you about the University of Notre Dame that makes it stand out from other institutions?
  2. Please provide responses to TWO (2) of the following questions:

As a Catholic university, we strive to be a community in which the dignity of each person is respected and everyone can truly flourish. Notre Dame’s president, Rev. John Jenkins, C.S.C., challenged our community to reflect on the following statement: “Let us never do anything to make another member of our community feel unwelcome, and let us not stand by if we see others doing so. Either we walk together in mutual support, or we do not walk at all. Either we are all Notre Dame, or none of us are.” Tell us about a time when you walked with others.

What is one thing you will definitely bring to college with you?

What is your proudest accomplishment for which you did not receive recognition?

You have 150 words. Take a risk.

Pomona

Please write an essay on one of the following prompts:

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

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

Princeton University

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

  1. Tell us about a person who has influenced you in a significant way.
  2. One of the great challenges of our time is that the disparities we face today have more complex causes and point less straightforwardly to solutions.” Omar Wasow, assistant professor of politics, Princeton University. This quote is taken from Professor Wasow’s January 2014 speech at the Martin Luther King Day celebration at Princeton University.
  3. “Culture is what presents us with the kinds of valuable things that can fill a life. And insofar as we can recognize the value in those things and make them part of our lives, our lives are meaningful.” Gideon Rosen, Stuart Professor of Philosophy and chair, Department of Philosophy, Princeton University.
  4. Using a favorite quotation from an essay or book you have read in the last three years as a starting point, tell us about an event or experience that helped you define one of your values or changed how you approach the world. Please write the quotation, title and author at the beginning of your essay.

Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences that was particularly meaningful to you. (About 150 words)

Please tell us how you have spent the last two summers (or vacations between school years), including any jobs you have held. (About 150 words)

Your favorite book and its author:

Your favorite movie:

Your favorite website:

Two adjectives your friends would use to describe you:

Your favorite recording:

Your favorite keepsake or memento:

Your favorite source of inspiration:

Your favorite word:

Your favorite line from a movie or book and its title:

Rice University

All Applicants:

  1. There is a breadth of intellectual opportunities here at Rice. Further explain your intended major and other areas of academic focus you may explore. (150 word limit)
  2. What aspects of the Rice undergraduate experience excite you and led you to apply? (150 word limit)

School of Architecture-

  1. What aspirations, experiences, or relationships have motivated you to pursue the study of architecture? (250 word limit)
  2. Outside of academics, what do you enjoy most or find especially challenging? (250 word limit)

School of Engineering,School of Humanities, School of Music, School of Natural Sciences, School of Social Sciences-

Rice is lauded for creating a collaborative atmosphere that enhances the quality of life for all members of our campus community. The Residential College System is heavily influenced by the unique life experiences and cultural traditions each student brings. What personal perspectives would you contribute to life at Rice? (500 word limit)

Richmond

The Richmond Question: For 2018-19, please choose one of the following essay prompts: (1) What is an urgent global challenge or social justice topic about which you are passionate? What solutions or outcomes do you hope to see? (2) By the time you graduate from college, there will be jobs that don’t exist today. Describe one of them and how Richmond might prepare you for it. (3) You are required to spend the next year in either the past or the future. To what year would you travel and why? (650 words)

University of Southern California

All Applicants:

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

 

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

Describe yourself in three words.

What is your favorite snack?

Favorite app/website:

Best movie of all time:

Hashtag to describe yourself:

Dream job:

What is your theme song?

Dream trip:

What TV show will you binge watch next?

Place you are most content?

 

School of Engineering-

  1. What do you personally expect to get out of studying engineering or computer science in college? (250 word limit)
  2. While the world as a whole may be more technologically advanced than ever before, the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) has outlined 14 Grand Challenges that engineers should focus on to improve life on the planet. Learn about the Grand Challenges at engineeringchallenges.organd tell us which challenge is most important, and why. (250 word limit)
Stanford

Briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences. (150 words)

What is the most significant challenge that society faces today? (50 word limit)

How did you spend your last two summers? (50 word limit)

What historical moment or event do you wish you could have witnessed? (50 word limit)

What five words best describe you? (10 word limit)

When the choice is yours, what do you read, listen to, or watch? (50 word limit)

Name one thing you are looking forward to experiencing at Stanford. (50 word limit)

Imagine you had an extra hour in the day — how would you spend that time? (50 word limit).

The Stanford community is deeply curious and driven to learn in and out of the classroom. Reflect on an idea or experience that makes you genuinely excited about learning. (100 to 250 words)

Virtually all of Stanford’s undergraduates live on campus. Write a note to your future roommate that reveals something about you or that will help your roommate — and us — know you better. (100 to 250 words)

Tell us about something that is meaningful to you and why. (100 to 250 words

Syracuse University
  1. Who or what influenced you to apply to Syracuse University? (Maximum: 250 words)
  2. Who is the person you dream of becoming and how do you believe Syracuse University can help you achieve this? (Maximum: 250 words)

Maxwell Program in Citizenship and Civic Engagement

What pressing world problem or local issue would you like to change, and what steps would you take to change it?  Why would Syracuse University’s Maxwell Program in Citizenship and Civic Engagement be a good home base for you to do this work? (250 words)

University of Texas @ Austin

Topic A   (Can likely use a variation of the common application)

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

Short Answer Prompts 250-300 words

Short Answer 1: Career Plans  

If you could have any career, what would it be? Why? Describe any activities you are involved in, life experiences you’ve had, or even classes you’ve taken that have helped you identify this professional path.

Tips to consider: This is an opportunity to describe your academic and future professional interests. You may not yet be 100% certain about what you want to do, but is there a particular field that you think you want to work in, or a certain path you want to pursue after college? How have your interests and experiences influenced your choice of majors or your plans to explore in college?

Short Answer 2: Academics 

Do you believe your academic record (transcript information and test scores) provide an accurate representation of you as a student? Why or why not?

Tips to consider: Feel free to address anything you want the Office of Admissions to know about your academic record so that we can consider this information when we review your application. You can discuss your academic work, class rank, GPA, individual course grades, test scores, and/or the classes that you took or the classes that were available to you. You can also describe how special circumstances and/or your school, community, and family environments impacted your high school performance.

Short Answer 3: Leadership 

How do you show leadership in your life? How do you see yourself being a leader at UT Austin?

Tips to consider: Leadership can be demonstrated by positions you hold as an officer in a club or organization, but other types of leadership are important too. Leaders can emerge in various situations at any given time, including outside of the school experience. Please share a brief description of the type of leadership qualities you possess, from school and non-school related experiences, including demonstrations of leadership in your job, your community, or within your family responsibilities, and then share how you hope to demonstrate leadership as a member of our campus community.

Short Answer: Art and Art History Applicants Only

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

Short Answer: Social Work Applicants Only

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

Tufts University

School of Arts and Sciences, School of Engineering.-

What excites you about Tufts’ intellectually playful community? In short, Why Tufts?

Please answer one of the following questions – we encourage you to think outside the box. Be serious if the moment calls for it but feel comfortable being playful if that suits you, too. Your response must be between 200 – 250 words.

a.     Whether you’ve built blanket forts or circuit boards, created slam poetry or mixed media installations, tell us: What have you invented, engineered, produced or designed? Or what do you hope to?

b.     Our Experimental College encourages current students to develop and teach a class for the Tufts community. Previous classes have included those based on personal interests, current events and more. What would you teach and why?

Tulane University

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

Vanderbilt University

Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences. (150-400 words)

University of Virginia

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

  • What’s your favorite word and why?
  • We are a community with quirks, both in language and in traditions. Describe one of your quirks and why it is part of who you are.
  • Student self-governance, which encourages student investment and initiative, is a hallmark of the UVA culture. In her fourth year at UVA, Laura Nelson was inspired to create Flash Seminars, one-time classes which facilitate high-energy discussion about thought-provoking topics outside of traditional coursework. If you created a Flash Seminar, what idea would you explore and why?
  • UVA students paint messages on Beta Bridge when they want to share information with our community. What would you paint on Beta Bridge and why is this your message?
  • UVA students are charged with pushing the boundaries of knowledge to serve others and contribute to the common good. Give us an example of how you’ve used what you’ve learned to make a positive impact in another person’s life.

College of Arts and Sciences What work of art, music, science, mathematics, or literature has surprised, unsettled, or challenged you, and in what way? (1/2 page, roughly 250 words)

School of Engineering and Applied Sciences – If you were given funding for a small engineering project that would make everyday life better for one friend or family member, what would you design? (1/2 page, roughly 250 words)

School of Architecture – Describe an instance or place where you have been inspired by architecture or design. (1/2 page, roughly 250 words)

School of Nursing – School of Nursing applicants may have experience shadowing, volunteering, or working in a health care environment. Tell us about a health care-related experience or another significant interaction that deepened your interest in studying Nursing. (1/2 page, roughly 250 words)

Kinesiology Program – Discuss experiences that led you to choose the kinesiology major. (1/2 page, roughly 250 words)

Wake Forest University
  1. How did you become interested in Wake Forest University and why are you applying?150 words or less
  2. List five books you have read that intrigued you.
  3. Discuss the work of fiction you have read which has helped you most to understand the complexity of the world. (100 – 300 words)
  4. What piques your curiosity? (150 words)
  5. Identify a cultural norm or current political reality with which you disagree. How have you sought or might you seek to change it? (150 words)
  6. Describe an instance in which you observed or exhibited “character.” (150 words)
  7. Give us your top ten list.
  8. Pro Humanitate, which means “for humanity,” is Wake Forest’s motto. If you had a personal motto, what would it be? (100 characters)
  9. Kendrick Lamar won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Music, becoming the first non-classical or jazz musician to win the award. Whom do you believe will be the next person to break boundaries in artistic, scientific or literary accomplishment? (150 words)
University of Wisconsin @ Madison

1. Tell us about your academic and personal achievements. What have you learned from your successes and/or challenges, and how will this influence you as you pursue your college education? (650 max)

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

Villanova

In addition to the essay included with the Common Application and as part of Villanova’s Member Section of the Common Application, Villanova requires that you submit one Villanova Essay (of 250-1000 words per the Common Application guidelines) from the three choices below. This essay is an important part of your application as it provides us with an opportunity to gain more insights into your candidacy.

Please note: the Villanova Essay should have a separate and distinctive response to that of the Common Application Essay.

Option One:
We believe that all members of our community should be committed to diversity, equity and inclusion. How would you contribute to this at Villanova?

Option Two:
Saint Augustine believed in the essential connection between the mind and the heart. Tell us about a time that your mind and heart were in conflict and how that was resolved.

Option Three:
“Each of us strengthens all of us” is a concept that resonates deeply in the Villanova community. While this phrase may mean many different things, one aspect is that Villanovans rely on each other. Share a situation when you have needed help and what you have taken away from this experience.

Yale

All applicants to Yale are asked to respond to a few Yale-specific short answer questions. Those applying with the Coalition Application are asked to upload a digital file of their creation along with a short reflection. Those applying with the Common Application are asked to respond to two short essay prompts. Those applying with the QuestBridge National College Match Application are asked to complete a short Yale QuestBridge Questionnaire, available via the Yale Admissions Status Portal after an application is received and a student activates his/her status portal. See additional details below.

You may begin your first-year application to Yale by visiting the Coalition Application(link is external), the Common Application(link is external), or QuestBridge(link is external) online. We recommend reviewing Yale’s advice on putting together your applicationbefore you begin.

If you would like to begin working on your short answer responses and essays before beginning your application, please see the 2018-2019 Yale-specific questions for the Coalition Application, Common Application, and QuestBridge Application below.

Short Answer Questions

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

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

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

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

Essays

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

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

Applicants submitting the Common Application: Please choose two of the topics above and respond to each in 250 words or fewer.

Applicants submitting the Coalition Application: Please choose one of the topics above and respond in 300 words or fewer. In addition to writing on your chosen topic, upload an audio file, video, image, or document you have created that is meaningful to you and relates to your essay. Above your essay, include a one-sentence description of what you have submitted.

Please limit your upload to the following file types: mp3, mov, jpeg, word, pdf. Note that advanced editing of audio/video/image/documents is not necessary. While we are not providing limits to the length of the material you upload, the Admissions Office may not have time to review the entirety of your submission. Sometimes, less is more.

Optional Engineering Essay – For Applicants submitting the Coalition Application or Common Application

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

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