2020-2021 Common App Essay Prompts
1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, 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 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 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.
2020-2021 Coalition Application Essay Prompts
1. Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.
2. Describe a time when you made a meaningful contribution to others in which the greater good was your focus. Discuss the challenges and rewards of making your contribution.
3. Has there been a time when you’ve had a long-cherished or accepted belief challenged? How did you respond? How did the challenge affect your beliefs?
4. What is the hardest part of being a student 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.
2020-2021 College / University Writing Supplement Prompts
Barnard College Writing Supplement for 2020-2021
1. What factors encouraged your decision to apply to Barnard College and why do you think the college would be a good match for you? (300 words)
2. At Barnard, academic inquiry starts with bold questions. What are some of the bold questions you have pondered that get you excited and why do they interest you? Tell us how you would explore these questions at Barnard. (300 words)
3. Pick one woman — an historical figure, fictitious character, or modern individual — to converse with for an hour and explain your choice. Why does this person intrigue you? What would you talk about? What questions would you ask them? (300 words) (OPTIONAL)
Babson College Writing Supplement for 2020-2021
Whether you apply to Babson with the Common Application or the Babson Application, you will be asked to submit a writing supplement in response to the following prompt. You are invited to respond to the writing supplement with either a traditional essay (500 words maximum) OR a one-minute video. No preference is given to either format in admission decisions.
1. Your moment has arrived. Share with us the moments or experiences that have led you to apply to Babson College.
Boston College Writing Supplement for 2020-2021
All applicants, except those applying for the Human-Centered Engineering (HCE) major, should respond to one of prompts #1-4 listed below. Students applying to the HCE major must respond to prompt #5 only. (400 word limit)
1. Great art evokes a sense of wonder. It nourishes the mind and spirit. Is there a particular song, poem, speech, or novel from which you have drawn insight or inspiration?
2. When you choose a college, you will join a new community of people who have different backgrounds, experiences, and stories. What is it about your background, your experiences, or your story, that will enrich Boston College’s community?
3. Boston College strives to provide an undergraduate learning experience emphasizing the liberal arts, quality teaching, personal formation, and engagement of critical issues. If you had the opportunity to create your own college course, what enduring question or contemporary problem would you address and why?
4. Jesuit education considers the liberal arts a pathway to intellectual growth and character formation. What beliefs and values inform your decisions and actions today, and how will Boston College assist you in becoming a person who thinks and acts for the common good?
5. For Human-Centered Engineering major applicants only: One goal of a Jesuit education is to prepare students to serve the Common Good. Human-Centered Engineering at Boston College strives to develop people who will integrate technical knowledge, creativity, and a humanistic perspective to address societal challenges and opportunities. How would a Boston College engineering education enable you to contribute towards these goals?
Boston University Writing Supplement for 2020-2021
1. What about being a student at Boston University most excites you? (250 words)
2. Additional Information (optional): Please use this space if you have additional information, materials, or writing samples you would like us to consider.
Brown University Writing Supplement for 2020-2021
1. Brown’s Open Curriculum allows students to explore broadly while also diving deeply into their academic pursuits. Tell us about an academic interest (or interests) that excites you, and how you might use the Open Curriculum to pursue it. (250 words)
2. At Brown, you will learn as much from your peers outside the classroom as in academic spaces. How will you contribute to the Brown community? (250 words)
3. Tell us about a place or community you call home. How has it shaped your perspective? (250 words)
4. Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences. (150 words)
Carnegie Mellon University Writing Supplement for 2020-2021
1. Many students pursue college for a specific degree, career opportunity or personal goal. Whichever it may be, learning will be critical to achieve your ultimate goal. As you think ahead to the process of learning during your college years, how will you define a successful college experience? (300 words)
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? (300 words)
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). (300 words)
Columbia University Writing Supplement for 2020-2021
1. List the titles of the required readings from academic courses that you enjoyed most during secondary/high school. (150 words or less)
2. List the titles of the books, essays, poetry, short stories or plays you read outside of academic courses that you enjoyed most during secondary/high school. (150 words or less)
3. List the titles of the print or digital publications, websites, journals, podcasts or other content with which you regularly engage. (150 words or less)
4. List the titles of the films, concerts, shows, exhibits, lectures and other entertainments you enjoyed most during secondary/high school (in person or online). (150 words or less)
5. Columbia students take an active role in improving their community, whether in their residence hall, classes or throughout New York City. Their actions, small or large, work to positively impact the lives of others. Share one contribution that you have made to your family, school, friend group or another community that surrounds you. (200 words or fewer)
6. Why are you interested in attending Columbia University? (200 words or fewer)
7. For applicants to Columbia College, please tell us what from your current and past experiences (either academic or personal) attracts you specifically to the areas of study that you previously noted in the application. (200 words or fewer)
If you are applying to The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, please tell us what from your current and past experiences (either academic or personal) attracts you specifically to the areas of study that you previously noted in the application. (200 words or fewer)
Cornell University Writing Supplement for 2020-2021
Supplemental essay prompts specific to school of choice:
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? (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? (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. (650 words)
Cornell SC Johnson College of Business: What kind of a business student are you? The Cornell SC Johnson College of Business offers two distinct business programs, the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management and the School of Hotel Administration. Please describe how your interests and ambitions can be met through one or both of the Schools within the College. (650 words)
College of Engineering: Tell us about what excites you most about Cornell Engineering and/or studying engineering at Cornell University. How do you see yourself becoming a part of the Cornell Engineering community? (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? (650 words)
College 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 words)
Dartmouth College Writing Supplement for 2020-2021
Please 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 2024, what aspects of the College’s program, community or campus environment attract your interest?
Please choose one of the following prompts and respond in 250-300 words:
1. The Hawaiian word mo’olelo is often translated as “story” but it can also refer to history, legend, genealogy, and tradition. Use one of these translations to introduce yourself.
2. What excites you?
3. In The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, William Kamkwamba, Class of 2014, reflects on constructing a windmill from recycled materials to power the electrical appliances in his family’s Malawian house: “If you want to make it, all you have to do is try.” What drives you to create and what do you hope to make or have you already made?
4. Curiosity is a guiding element of Toni Morrison’s talent as a writer. “I feel totally curious and alive and in control. And almost…magnificent, when I write,” she says. Celebrate your curiosity.
5. “Everything changes, everything moves, everything revolves, everything flies and goes away,” observed Frida Kahlo. Apply Kahlo’s perspective to your own life.
6. 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?
Emory University Writing Supplement for 2020-2021
In addition to your Personal Statement, please answer two (2) of the prompts below. Choose one prompt from the “Reflections” category and one prompt from the “Tell us about you” category.
We encourage you to be thoughtful and not stress about what the right answer might be. We simply want to get to know you better. Each response should be no more than 150 words.
“Reflections” Category: Respond to one of the following.
1. Share about a time when you questioned something that you believed to be true.
2. If you could go back in time, what advice would you offer yourself at the beginning of secondary/high school?
3. Reflect on a personal experience where you intentionally expanded your cultural awareness.
“Tell us about you” Category: Respond to one of the following.
1. Which book, character, song, or piece of work (fiction or non-fiction) represents you, and why?
2. If you could witness a historic event first-hand, what would it be, and why?
3. Introduce yourself to your first-year Emory University roommate.
Georgetown University Writing Supplement 2020-2021
Prompt 1: Indicate any special talents or skills you possess. (250 words)
Prompt 2: Briefly discuss the significance to you of the school or summer activity in which you have been most involved. (approximately 1/2 page, single-spaced)
Prompt 3: 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. (approximately 1 page, single-spaced)
Georgetown University School-Specific Prompts.
Each school-specific prompt should not exceed 1 page, single-spaced.
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.)
School of Nursing & 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).
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.
McDonough School of Business: The McDonough School of Business is a national and global leader in providing graduates with essential ethical, analytical, financial and global perspectives. Please discuss your motivations for studying business at Georgetown.
George Washington University Writing Supplement for 2020-2021
All applicants have the option to submit the GW Supplement as a part of their Common Application. Please respond to one of the following essay questions in 250 words or fewer:
Option 1: At the George Washington, 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?
Option 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?
Honors Program Applicants
Prompt 1: Please address prompt A or B in 300 words or less:
Option A: Write a letter to the author of a book you loved.
Option B: Describe an event in your life, a person, or an experience (choose one) that has had a profound effect on you. How has it influenced change in you, your attitudes, and/or your goals?
Prompt 2: As you think about your four-year experience at The George Washington University, how do you see the University Honors Program shaping your time with us and what most excites you about joining the UHP? (300 words)
School of Media and Public Affairs Applicants
Journalism and Mass Communications Major Applicants: Write a profile of yourself in news or news feature style, as if you had interviewed yourself. (500 words)
Political Communication Major Applicants: If you could be any one person who has been active in politics, who would you choose to be and why? (500 words)
Georgia Tech Writing Supplement for 2020-2021:
1. Why do you want to study your chosen major specifically at Georgia Tech? (50-300 words)
Choose 1 of the following:
1. Georgia Tech is committed to creating solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges. Tell us how you have improved or hope to improve the human condition in your community. (50-300 words)
2. If you feel that your personal or community background can provide additional insight to your application that we have not already seen elsewhere, please take this opportunity to share that information with us. (50-300 words)
Harvard University Writing Supplement for 2020-2021:
1. Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences. (50-150 words)
2. 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)
3. You may wish to include an additional essay if you feel that the college application forms do not provide sufficient opportunity to convey important information about yourself or your accomplishments. You may write on a topic of your choice, or you may choose from one of the following topics:
- Unusual circumstances in your life
- Travel, living, or working experiences in your own or other communities
- What you would want your future college roommate to know about you
- An intellectual experience (course, project, book, discussion, paper, poetry, or research topic in engineering, mathematics, science or other modes of inquiry) that has meant the most to you
- How you hope to use your college education
- A list of books you have read during the past twelve months
- The Harvard College Honor code declares that we “hold honesty as the foundation of our community.” As you consider entering this community that is committed to honesty, please reflect on a time when you or someone you observed had to make a choice about whether to act with integrity and honesty.
- The mission of Harvard College is to educate our students to be citizens and citizen-leaders for society. What would you do to contribute to the lives of your classmates in advancing this mission?
- 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?
- 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.
4. For International Students: What specific plan do you have, if any, for using the education you hope to receive? (0-50 words)
Indiana University Writing Supplement for 2020-2021:
1. 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 Indiana University. Also, if you encountered any unusual circumstances, challenges, or obstacles in pursuit of your education, share those experiences and how you overcame them. (Response required in 200-400 words.)
Johns Hopkins University Writing Supplement for 2020-2021:
1. Founded in the spirit of exploration and discovery, Johns Hopkins University encourages students to share their perspectives, develop their interests, and pursue new experiences.
- Use this space to share something you’d like the admissions committee to know about you (your interests, your background, your identity, or your community), and how it has shaped what you want to get out of your college experience at Hopkins. (300-400 words)
Lehigh University Writing Supplement for 2020-2021:
1. How did you first learn about Lehigh University and what motivated you to apply? (100-150 words)
2. With the understanding that you are able to change Colleges at Lehigh after one year, please briefly describe why did you choose to apply to the College or program you selected above. (200 words)
3. A compelling characteristic of Lehigh’s community is that our students want to be actively engaged in their learning, their community, and the world. Our students look to make a difference and have a real-world impact. We expect our community to challenge your viewpoint, your naturalized assumptions, and the way that you see the world around you. In the words of Lehigh’s President, John Simon, “The murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis has shaken our nation, and brought into harsh relief the life-threatening, systemic racial injustice that affects the lives of so many every day. Members of our community are angry and fearful, and we will support them…We need to make Lehigh University an actively anti-racist institution. By this, we mean actively speaking out and addressing acts of racism, racist comments, racist practices, policies and procedures.”
- What would you want to be different in your own country or community to respond to issues of inequality, inequity, or injustice? (100-300 words)
Loyola Marymount University Writing Supplement for 2020-2021:
Please read the three statements, which all relate to the mission and the values of Loyola Marymount University. Choose the one you find most interesting and thought provoking; then, answer the question which accompanies the statement you select. This essay, usually around 500 words, is your chance to display your critical and creative thinking.
1. In December 2019, LMU became an observer to the United Nations Framework on Climate Change to provide opportunities for students and faculty members to participate in discussions about global warming, greenhouse gases, and other environmental issues. Pope Francis, a leading Jesuit scholar on environmental activism, inspired LMU to act when he stated in Lautato Si, his 2015 encyclical on climate change: “Human beings, while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good, and making a new start.”
- What role do you believe institutions like LMU should play in addressing climate change? What is your personal responsibility to respond to climate change?
2. Speaking about education, Dr. Martin Luther King once said, “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.’’ Critical thinking is a central goal of Jesuit education, and at LMU you will be asked to think critically and intensively.
- Please talk about a situation that demanded critical thinking from you, and how your choices or decisions integrated intelligence and character.
3. A central component of Jesuit and Marymount schools is ‘‘Educating men and women for others” and one pillar of the LMU mission is “the service of faith and the promotion of justice.” LMU students create the world they want to live in by being generous with their time, talents, and abilities, contributing over 200,000 community service hours annually to organizations around the world.
- What person or experience comes to mind when you consider these statements? Please give an example of someone who works for justice for the least of their neighbors or a service opportunity that was particularly inspiring for you.
New York University Writing Supplement 2020-2021:
1. We would like to know more about your interest in NYU. What motivated you to apply to NYU? Why have you applied or expressed interest in a particular campus, school, college, program, and or area of study? If you have applied to more than one, please also tell us why you are interested in these additional areas of study or campuses. We want to understand – Why NYU? (400 word maximum)
Northwestern University Writing Supplement for 2020-2021:
1. While other parts of your application give us a sense of who you are, we are also excited to hear more about how you see yourself engaging with the larger Northwestern community.
In 300 words or less, help us understand how you might engage specific resources, opportunities, and/or communities here. We are curious about what these specifics are, as well as how they may enrich your time at Northwestern and beyond.
Princeton University Writing Supplement for 2020-2021:
For A.B. Degree Applicants or Those Who are Undecided:
As a research institution that also prides itself on its liberal arts curriculum, Princeton allows students to explore areas across the humanities and the arts, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. What academic areas most pique your curiosity, and how do the programs offered at Princeton suit your particular interests? (Please respond in about 250 words.)
For B.S.E Degree Applicants:
Please describe why you are interested in studying engineering at Princeton. Include any of your experiences in, or exposure to engineering, and how you think the programs offered at the University suit your particular interests. (Please respond in about 250 words.)
In addition to the essay above, we ask all applicants a few additional questions:
Extracurricular Activity and Work Experience
Briefly elaborate on an activity, organization, work experience, or hobby that has been particularly meaningful to you. (Please respond in about 150 words.)
Your Voice: Please respond to each question in an essay of about 250 words.
- At Princeton, we value diverse perspectives and the ability to have respectful dialogue about difficult issues. Share a time when you had a conversation with a person or a group of people about a difficult topic. What insight did you gain, and how would you incorporate that knowledge into your thinking in the future?
- Princeton has a longstanding commitment to service and civic engagement. Tell us how your story intersects (or will intersect) with these ideals.
More About You: Please respond to each question in 50 words or fewer. There are no right or wrong answers. Be yourself!
- What is a new skill you would like to learn in college?
- What brings you joy?
- What song represents the soundtrack of your life at this moment?
Purdue University Writing Supplement for 2020-2021:
1. Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences. (Respond in 250 words or fewer.)
2. How will opportunities at Purdue support your interests, both in and out of the classroom? (Respond in 100 words or fewer.)
3. Briefly discuss your reasons for pursuing the major you have selected. (Respond in 100 words or fewer.)
Rice University Writing Supplement for 2020-2021:
1. Please explain why you wish to study in the academic areas you selected above. (150 word limit)
2. Based upon your exploration of Rice University, what elements of the Rice experience appeal to you? (150 word limit)
3. Rice is lauded for creating a collaborative atmosphere that enhances the quality of life for all members of our campus community. The Residential College System and undergraduate life are heavily influenced by the unique life experiences and cultural tradition each student brings. What life perspectives would you contribute to the Rice community? (500 word limit)
4. In keeping with Rice’s long-standing tradition (known as “The Box”), please share an image of something that appeals to you. See the Help Section for more information.
Stanford University Writing Supplement for 2020-2021:
1. What is the most significant challenge that society faces today? (50 word limit)
2. How did you spend your last two summers? (50 word limit)
3. What historical moment or event do you wish you could have witnessed? (50 word limit)
4. Briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities, a job you hold, or responsibilities you have for your family. (50 word limit)
5. Name one thing you are looking forward to experiencing at Stanford. (50 word limit)
6. 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)
7. 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)
8. Tell us about something that is meaningful to you and why. (100 to 250 words)
Syracuse University Writing Supplement for 2020-2021:
Please be sure to respond to both parts of the following question:
1. Why are you interested in Syracuse University and how do you see yourself contributing to a diverse, inclusive and respectful campus community? (250 words)
Trinity College Writing Supplement for 2020-2021:
All students must submit an essay through the Common Application. In addition to that essay, you may choose to submit an optional essay that focuses on your specific interest in Trinity College. You may select one of the following prompts and write an essay of 250-650 words.
1. We live in an urban-global age with more than half of the planet’s people living in cities. Trinity College is an urban liberal arts college deeply engaged with the local community and committed to making an impact across the world. How do you aspire to use your education to impact local and global communities?
2. Our mission states: “Engage. Connect. Transform. As the preeminent liberal arts college in an urban setting, Trinity College prepares students to be bold, independent thinkers who lead transformative lives.” Keeping the three pillars of the mission in mind, how do you see yourself contributing to the Trinity community?
Tulane University Writing Supplement for 2020-2021:
1. Please describe why you are interested in attending Tulane University (optional) (50-800 words).
2. Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences. (250 words)
Tufts University Writing Supplement for 2020-2021:
Think outside the box as you answer the following questions. Take a risk and go somewhere unexpected. Be serious if the moment calls for it, but feel comfortable being playful if that suits you, too.
Applicants to the School of Arts and Sciences, School of Engineering, and 5-Year Tufts/NEC Combined Degree: Answer the following two questions:
1. Which aspects of the Tufts undergraduate experience prompt your application? In short, “Why Tufts?” (100-150 words)
2. Now we’d like to know a little more about you. Please respond to one of the following three questions. (200-250 words):
- A)It’s cool to love learning. What excites your intellectual curiosity?
- B)How have the environments or experiences of your upbringing – your family, home, neighborhood, or community – shaped the person you are today?
- C)Where are you on your journey of engaging with or fighting for social justice?
Applicants to the BFA or 5-Year BFA+BA/BS Combined Degree at the SMFA at Tufts: Answer the following two questions:
1. Which aspects of the Tufts undergraduate experience prompt your application? Why SMFA at Tufts? (100-150 words)
2. Art has the power to disrupt our preconceptions, shape public discourse, and imagine new ways of being in the world. What are the ideas you’d like to explore in your work? (200-250 words)
University of Chicago Writing Supplement for 2020-2021:
How does the University of Chicago, as you know it now, satisfy your desire for a particular kind of learning, community, and future? Please address with some specificity your own wishes and how they relate to UChicago.
Extended Essay (Required; Choose one)
1. Who does Sally sell her seashells to? How much wood can a woodchuck really chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? Pick a favorite tongue twister (either originally in English or translated from another language) and consider a resolution to its conundrum using the method of your choice. Math, philosophy, linguistics… it’s all up to you (or your woodchuck).
—Inspired by Blessing Nnate, Class of 2024
2. What can actually be divided by zero?
—Inspired by Mai Vu, Class of 2024
3. The seven liberal arts in antiquity consisted of the Quadrivium — astronomy, mathematics, geometry, and music — and the Trivium — rhetoric, grammar, and logic. Describe your own take on the Quadrivium or the Trivium. What do you think is essential for everyone to know?
—Inspired by Peter Wang, Class of 2022
4. Subway maps, evolutionary trees, Lewis diagrams. Each of these schematics tells the relationships and stories of their component parts. Reimagine a map, diagram, or chart. If your work is largely or exclusively visual, please include a cartographer’s key of at least 300 words to help us best understand your creation.
—Inspired by Maximilian Site, Class of 2020
5. “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
6. Engineer George de Mestral got frustrated with burrs stuck to his dog’s fur and applied the same mechanic to create Velcro. Scientist Percy Lebaron Spencer found a melted chocolate bar in his magnetron lab and discovered microwave cooking. Dye-works owner Jean Baptiste Jolly found his tablecloth clean after a kerosene lamp was knocked over on it, consequently shaping the future of dry cleaning. Describe a creative or interesting solution, and then find the problem that it solves.
—Inspired by Steve Berkowitz, AB’19, and Neeharika Venuturupalli, Class of 2024
7. In the spirit of adventurous inquiry (and with the encouragement of one of our current students!) 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!
University of Colorado Boulder Writing Supplement for 2020-2021
1. At the University of Colorado Boulder, no two Buffs are alike. We value difference and support equity and inclusion of all students and their many intersecting identities. Pick one of your unique identities and describe its significance. (250-650 words)
University of Georgia Writing Supplement for 2020-2021:
1. The college admissions process can create anxiety. In an attempt to make it less stressful, please tell us an interesting or amusing story about yourself from your high school years that you have not already shared in your application. (200-300 words)
University of Illinois Writing Supplement for 2020-2021:
1. Explain your interest in the major you selected and describe how you have recently explored or developed this interest inside and/or outside the classroom. You may also explain how this major relates to your future career goals. If you’re applying to the Division of General Studies, explain your academic interests and strengths or your future career goals. You may include any majors or areas of study you’re currently considering. Limit your response to 300 to 400 words
2. If you select a second-choice major other than the Division of General Studies on your application, write a second essay explaining your interest in this major, too. Again, limit your response to 300 to 400 words.
University of Michigan Writing Supplement for 2020-2021:
Required for all applicants.
1. Everyone belongs to many different communities and/or groups defined by (among other things) shared geography, religion, ethnicity, income, cuisine, interest, race, ideology, or intellectual heritage. Choose one of the communities to which you belong, and describe that community and your place within it. (100-300 words)
2. Describe the unique qualities that attract you to the specific undergraduate College or School (including preferred admission and dual degree programs) to which you are applying at the University of Michigan. How would that curriculum support your interests? (100-550 words)
University of Notre Dame Writing Supplement for 2020-2021:
The University of Notre Dame Writing Section 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 to 200 words per essay.
Please provide a response to the following question:
1. The founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross, Blessed Basil Moreau, wrote, “We shall always place education side by side with instruction; the mind will not be cultivated at the expense of the heart.” How do you hope a Notre Dame education and experience will transform your mind and heart?
Please provide responses to TWO (2) of the following questions in 200 words:
1. A Notre Dame education is not just for you, but also for those who will benefit from the impact you make. Who do you aspire to serve after you graduate?
2. In response to the rising momentum behind the Black Lives Matter movement during June 2020, G. Marcus Cole, the Joseph A. Matson Dean of the Notre Dame Law School, penned an open letter entitled, “I am George Floyd. Except I can breathe. And I can do something.” He issues a call to the Notre Dame community saying, “each of us must do what we can, wherever we are.” What is one action you are taking “to change this world for the better?”
3. God and the Good Life is an interdisciplinary course created by the departments of Philosophy and Film, Television, and Theatre that asks students to consider moral questions about what they believe and how they want to live their lives. What do God and a good life mean to you?
4. Notre Dame has a rich history deeply rooted in tradition. Share how a favorite tradition from your life has impacted who you are today.
5. What brings you joy?
University of North Carolina (UNC) Chapel Hill Writing Supplement for 2020-2021:
You’ll choose two of the following prompts to respond to in 200-250 words:
1. Expand on an aspect of your identity – for example, your religion, culture, race, sexual or gender identity, affinity group, etc. How has this aspect of your identity shaped your life experiences thus far?
2. If you could change one thing about where you live, what would it be and why?
3. Describe someone who you see as a community builder. What actions has that person taken? How has their work made a difference in your life?
University of Pennsylvania Writing Supplement for 2020-2021:
1. How did you discover your intellectual and academic interests, and how will you explore them at the University of Pennsylvania? Please respond considering the specific undergraduate school you have selected. (300-450 words)
2. At Penn, learning and growth happen outside of the classroom, too. How will you explore the community at Penn? Consider how this community will help shape your perspective and identity, and how your identity and perspective will help shape this community. (150-200 words)
University of Richmond Writing Supplement for 2020-2021:
Please choose one of the following essay prompts (650 words maximum):
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?
University of Virginia Writing Supplement for 2020-2021:
We are looking for passionate students to join our diverse community of scholars, researchers, and artists. Answer the question that corresponds to the school/program to which you are applying in a half page or roughly 250 words.
College of Arts and Sciences: What work of art, music, science, mathematics, or literature has surprised, unsettled, or challenged you, and in what way?
School of Engineering and Applied Sciences: Describe an engineering feat that serves the common good and why it inspires you to study engineering.
School of Architecture: Describe significant experience that deepened your interest in studying in the School of Architecture.
School of Nursing: Describe a healthcare-related experience or another significant interaction that deepened your interest in studying nursing.
Kinesiology Program: Discuss experiences that led you to choose the kinesiology major.
Answer one of the following questions in a half page or roughly 250 words.
1. What’s your favorite word and why?
2. 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.
3. 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?
4. 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?
5. Rita Dove, UVA English professor and former U.S. Poet Laureate, once said in an interview that “…there are times in life when, instead of complaining, you do something about your complaints.” Describe a time when, instead of complaining, you took action for the greater good.
University of Texas at Austin Writing Supplement for 2020-2021:
All applicants must submit three required short answers and may submit one optional short answer responding to prompts in your admissions application. Answers are limited to no more than 40 lines, or about 250–300 words, typically the length of one paragraph.
1. Why are you interested in the major you indicated as your first-choice major? (Required)
2. Leadership can be demonstrated in many ways. Please share how you have demonstrated leadership in either your school, job, community, and/or within your family responsibilities (Required)
3. Please share how you believe your experiences, perspectives, and/or talents have shaped your ability to contribute to and enrich the learning environment at UT Austin, both in and out of the classroom. (Required)
4. Please share background on events or special circumstances that you feel may have impacted your high school academic performance, including the possible effects of COVID-19. Please limit your response to 250-300 words. (Optional)
University of Wisconsin Madison Writing Supplement for 2020-2021:
If you apply with the UW System Application, you will need to answer the following prompt:
1. This part is all about you. Tell us about something you’ve done—academically or personally—and what you’ve learned from it. Was it a success or a challenge? Did it represent a turning point in your life? How did this particular moment in your life influence you, and how will it continue to influence you as you pursue your college education?
All applicants will also need to respond to this prompt:
1. Tell us why you would like to attend the University of Wisconsin–Madison. In addition, please include why you are interested in studying the major(s) you have selected. If you selected undecided, please describe your areas of possible academic interest.
Villanova University Writing Supplement for 2020-2021:
Villanova requires applicants to submit both their Common Application essay and two short Villanova Essays. The two supplemental responses must be different from the response shared in the Common Application essay section.
1. For the first Villanova-specific essay, choose one of the four topics below and submit a written response in about 250 words. Please clearly indicate which selection you choose at the top of your essay.
A. What is the truest thing that you know? How did you come to this conclusion?
B. Villanovans are known for “holding doors open” because inclusion is at the core of who we are. Take us on a journey through your background and describe how your life experience has shaped your understanding of the word “inclusion”.
C. Generation Z is arguably the most technologically savvy cohort in history. They find answers to questions, discover troves of new music, or even start the next global social movement, all within seconds. How has this seemingly limitless connectivity influenced the person you have become?
D. In St. Augustine’s book Confessions, one of the themes is the idea of redemption and second chances. Tell us a story about second chances. It can be your experience or one that you have come across through others or through media.
2. Why do you want to call Villanova your new home and become part of our community? For this short response, please reveal what you find appealing about Villanova in about 100 words.
Virginia Tech Writing Supplement for 2020-2021:
All Ut Prosim profile questions are required and have a word limit of 120 words per response. Please Note: Once you submit your application, your responses to the Ut Prosim Profile-Short Answer Questions are final and cannot be updated.
1. Virginia Tech’s motto is “Ut Prosim” which means ‘That I May Serve’. We are interested in learning more about your interests and how you have been involved and/or served. Briefly describe a group, organization, or community that you have been involved with. Is this a special area of interest for you, and why? How long have you been involved? What role did you play? What contributions have you made to this group? Were you able to influence others and/or influence decisions for the good of the group?
2. Describe a situation where you were involved or witness to an act of discrimination. How, or did, you respond? Do you wish you would have responded differently? Did this situation cause any change to happen based on this event and did you have a role in that change? What did you learn from this experience?
3. Describe an example of a situation where you have significantly influenced others, took on a leadership role, helped resolve a dispute, or contributed to a group’s goals. What was your role, what responsibilities did you take on? Did you encounter any obstacles, and if so how did you respond, were you able to overcome them? What would you do differently?
4. Briefly describe a personal goal you have set for yourself. Why this goal, what is your timeline to achieve this goal, what precipitated this goal? Have you turned to anyone for advice or help, what was their role, what did you learn about yourself, are you still working toward this goal?
Wake Forest University Writing Supplement for 2020-2021:
1A. List five books you’ve read that intrigued you. (you’ll need to indicate the title, author, and whether it was required)
1B. Explain how a work of fiction you’ve read has helped you to understand the world’s complexity. (150 words)
2. Tell us more about the topic that most engages your intellectual curiosity. (150 words)
3. Describe a community that is important to you. How has that community prepared you to engage with, change, or even build the Wake Forest community? (150 words)
4. Give us your top ten list.
Wellesley College Writing Supplement for 2020-2021:
Please limit your response to the Wellesley College essay to two well-developed paragraphs. (minimum 250 words, maximum 400 words)
1. When choosing a college community, you are choosing an intellectual community and a place where you believe that you can live, learn, and flourish. We know that there are more than 100 reasons to choose Wellesley, but it’s a good place to start. Visit the Wellesley 100 and select one or two items that attract, inspire, or energize you (http://w100.wellesley.edu/). Have fun with this and use this opportunity to reflect personally on what items appeal to you most and why.
Williams College Writing Supplement for 2020-2021:
The Williams Writing Supplement is entirely optional and is simply an opportunity for you to showcase another writing sample. You can respond to one of the prompts below in an essay of no more than 300 words OR upload an academic paper completed in the last year (preferably from the humanities or social sciences and ideally 3-5 pages in length). It does not need to be a graded paper.
1. The first-year Entry–a thoughtfully constructed residential microcosm of the student community that’s a defining part of the Williams experience–brings together students from around the world with different perspectives, interests and backgrounds. Imagine having a late-night conversation with your Entrymates about a community that you value. Describe that community and why it’s important to you.
2. All-Campus Entertainment (ACE), a student organization, hosts events called “Stressbusters”–an opportunity for students to focus on self-care by stepping away from their typical routine and enjoying some unscheduled time (and snacks!) with friends. Weekly Stressbuster activities might include a concert, playing with a therapy dog, painting pumpkins, building with Legos, etc. What’s your version of a “stressbuster,” and how does it help you rejuvenate in the midst of a hectic week?
3. At Williams we believe that bringing together students and professors in small groups produces extraordinary academic outcomes. Our distinctive Oxford-style tutorial classes—in which two students are guided by a professor in deep exploration of a single topic—are a prime example. Each week the students take turns developing independent work—an essay, a problem set, a piece of art—and critiquing their partner’s work. Focused on close reading, writing and oral defense of ideas, more than 60 pre-determined tutorials are offered across the curriculum each year. Imagine yourself in a tutorial at Williams. What topic would you be most excited to study in that setting and why?
Yale University Writing Supplement for 2020-2021:
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.
1. Students at Yale have plenty of time to explore their academic interests before committing to one or more major fields of study. Many students either modify their original academic direction or change their minds entirely. As of this moment, what academic areas seem to fit your interests or goals most comfortably? Please indicate up to three from the list provided.
2. Why do these areas appeal to you? (125 words or fewer)
3. What is it about Yale that has led you to apply? (125 words or fewer)