Common Application Essays
In 250-650 words, respond to one of the following prompts:
Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
The lessons we take from 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?
Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?
Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
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?
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
In fewer than 650 words, respond to one of the following prompts:
Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.
Describe a time when you made a meaningful contribution to others in which the greater good was your focus. Discuss the challenges and rewards of making your contribution.
Has there been a time when you’ve had a long-cherished or accepted belief challenged? How did you respond? How did the challenge affect your beliefs?
What is the hardest part of being a student now? What’s the best part? What advice would you give a younger sibling or friend (assuming they would listen to you)?
Submit an essay on a topic of your choice.
Your moment has arrived. Share with us the moments or experiences that have led you to apply to Babson College.
You are invited to respond to the writing supplement with either a traditional essay (500 words maximum) OR a one-minute video. Whichever you choose, no preference is given to either format in admission decisions.
All applicants, except those applying for the Human-Centered Engineering (HCE) major, should respond to one of prompts #1-5 listed below. Students applying to the HCE major must respond to prompt #6 only.
The writing supplement topics for the 2021-2022 application cycle (400 word limit):
Students at Boston College are encouraged to consider critical questions as they pursue lives of meaning and purpose. What is a question that matters to you and how do you hope Boston College will help you answer it?
In 2020, we faced a national reckoning on racial injustice in America – a reckoning that continues today. Discuss how this has affected you, what you have learned, or how you have been inspired to be a change agent around this important issue.
At Boston College, we hope to draw on the Jesuit tradition of finding conversation partners to discuss issues and problems facing society. Who is your favorite conversation partner? What do you discuss with that person?
Socrates stated that “the unexamined life is not worth living.” Discuss a time when reflection, prayer, or introspection led to clarity or understanding of an issue that is important to you.
Each year at University Convocation, the incoming class engages in reflective dialogue around a common text. What book would you recommend for your class to read and explore together – and why?
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 integrates technical knowledge, creativity, and a humanistic perspective to address societal challenges and opportunities. What societal problems are important to you and how will you use your HCE education to solve them?
Essays questions for first year applicants:
Three essays are required for applicants to the Program in Liberal Medical Education (PLME):
Brown’s Open Curriculum allows students to explore broadly while also diving deeply into their academic pursuits. Tell us about any academic interests that excite you, and how you might use the Open Curriculum to pursue them while also embracing topics with which you are unfamiliar. (200-250 words)
Brown’s culture fosters a community in which students challenge the ideas of others and have their ideas challenged in return, promoting a deeper and clearer understanding of the complex issues confronting society. This active engagement in dialogue is as present outside the classroom as it is in academic spaces. Tell us about a time you were challenged by a perspective that differed from your own. How did you respond? (200-250 words)
Brown students care deeply about their work and the world around them. Students find contentment, satisfaction, and meaning in daily interactions and major discoveries. Whether big or small, mundane or spectacular, tell us about something that brings you joy. (200-250 words)
Committing to a future career as a physician while in high school requires careful consideration and self-reflection. What values and experiences have led you to believe that becoming a doctor in medicine is the right fit for you? (250 word limit)
Respond to one of the following prompts (500 word limit): A. Health care is constantly changing, as it is affected by racial and social disparities, economics, politics, and technology, among others. How will you, as a future physician, make a positive impact? B. How do you feel your personal background provides you with a unique perspective of medicine?
How do you envision the Program in Liberal Medical Education (PLME) helping you to meet your academic personal and professional goals as a person and as a physician of the future? (500 word limit)
One essay is required for applicants to the Brown|RISD Dual Degree Program:
The Brown|RISD Dual Degree Program draws on the complementary strengths of Brown University and Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) to provide students with the opportunity to explore diverse spheres of academic and creative inquiry, culminating in a capstone project that interrelates the content, approaches, and methods from two distinct learning experiences.
Based on your understanding of the academic programs at Brown and RISD and the possibilities created by the BRDD program’s broadened learning community, specifically describe how and why the BRDD program would constitute an optimal undergraduate education for you. As part of your answer, be sure to articulate how you might contribute to the Dual Degree community and its commitment to interdisciplinary work. (650 word limit)
The following question is required for all 2021-22 applicants to Duke University:
Please share with us why you consider Duke a good match for you. Is there something in particular about Duke’s academic or other offerings that attract you? (200 words maximum)
The following questions are optional for all 2021-22 applicants to Duke University:
Duke University seeks a talented, engaged student body that embodies the wide range of human experience; we believe that the diversity of our students makes our community stronger. If you’d like to share a perspective you bring or experiences you’ve had that would help us understand you better, perhaps a community you belong to or your family or cultural background, we encourage you to do so here. Real people are reading your application, and we want to do our best to understand and appreciate the real people applying to Duke. (250 words maximum)
Duke’s commitment to diversity and inclusion includes sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. If you would like to share with us more about your identity in these areas, you can do so here, or use any previous essay prompt you feel is appropriate. (250 words maximum)
On your application to Emory University, you’ll be asked to answer two short answer questions (SAQ’s) in addition to your Personal Statement. We encourage you to use these sections of your application to tell us more about who you are as a person.
2021-2022 Application Questions
Short Answer Questions:
Academic Interests (Required. 200 words max)
• What academic areas are you interested in exploring in college?
Getting to Know You (Choose 1. Required. 150 words max)
• Reflect on a personal experience where you intentionally expanded your cultural awareness.
• When was the last time you questioned something you had thought to be true?
• If you could witness a historic event (past, present or future) first-hand, what would it be, and why?
• Share about a time when you were awestruck.
• Which book, character, song, monologue, or piece of work (fiction or non-fiction) seems made for you? Why?
Please indicate any special talents or skills that you possess.
1. Briefly (approximately one-half page, single-spaced) discuss the significance to you of the school or summer activity in which you have been most involved.
Compose two essays (approximately one page, single-spaced each) on the topics given below.
Essay 1 – All Applicants:
As Georgetown is a diverse community, the Admissions Committee would like to know more about you in your own words. Please submit a brief essay, either personal or creative, which you feel best describes you.
Essay 2 – Applicants to Georgetown College:
What does it mean to you to be educated? How might Georgetown College help you achieve this aim? (Applicants to the Sciences and Mathematics or the Faculty of Languages and Linguistics should address their chosen course of study).
Essay 2- Applicants to the School of Nursing and Health Studies:
Describe the factors that have influenced your interest in studying health care. Please specifically address your intended major (Health Care Management & Policy, Human Science, Global Health, or Nursing).
Essay 2- Applicants to the Walsh School of Foreign Service:
Briefly discuss a current global issue, indicating why you consider it important and what you suggest should be done to deal with it.
Essay 2- Applicants to the McDonough School of Business:
The McDonough School of Business is a national and global leader in providing graduates with essential ethical, analytical, financial and global perspectives. Please discuss your motivations for studying business at Georgetown.
Georgia Institute of Technology
Why do you want to study your chosen major specifically at Georgia Tech? (max 300 words)
For the 2021–2022 application, we’re asking these short answer essay questions:
Describe the world you come from; for example, your family, clubs, school, community, city, or town. How has that world shaped your dreams and aspirations? (250 words or fewer)
Pick what field of study at MIT appeals to you the most right now, and tell us more about why this field of study appeals to you. (100 words or fewer)
We know you lead a busy life, full of activities, many of which are required of you. Tell us about something you do simply for the pleasure of it. (200–250 words)
At MIT, we bring people together to better the lives of others. MIT students work to improve their communities in different ways, from tackling the world’s biggest challenges to being a good friend. Describe one way in which you have contributed to your community, whether in your family, the classroom, your neighborhood, etc. (200–250 words)
Tell us about the most significant challenge you’ve faced or something important that didn’t go according to plan. How did you manage the situation? (200-250 words)
North Carolina State University
Explain why you selected the academic program(s) above and why you are interested in studying these at NC State. (250 words)
Discuss any other obstacles and/or hardships that you have encountered that have affected you personally or academically and how you dealt with them. (250 words)
NC State University is committed to building a just and inclusive community, one that does not tolerate unjust or inhumane treatment, and that denounces it, clearly and loudly. Please describe what those words mean to you and how you will contribute to a more diverse and inclusive NC State environment. (250 words)
Stanford Short Essays
– 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. (250 words max.)
– 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 – get to know you better. (250 words max.)
– Tell us about something that is meaningful to you and why. (250 words max.)
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.
Keep In Mind
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.
Use the additional comments field if there are issues you’d like to address that you didn’t have the opportunity to discuss elsewhere on the application. This shouldn’t be an essay, but rather a place to note unusual circumstances or anything that might be unclear in other parts of the application. You may use the additional comments field to note extraordinary circumstances related to COVID-19, if necessary.
Questions and Guidance
Remember, the personal insight questions are just that — personal. Which means you should use our guidance for each question just as a suggestion in case you need help. The important thing is expressing who are you, what matters to you and what you want to share with UC.
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?
2. 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?
3. 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?
4. 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 you are today?
5. 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?”
6. 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?
7. 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?
8. 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.
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
What if the moon were made of cheese? Or Neptune made of soap? Pick a celestial object, reimagine its material composition, and explore the implications. Feel free to explore the realms of physics, philosophy, fantasy…the sky is the limit!
—Inspired by Tate Flicker, Class of 2025
Essay Option 2
What’s so easy about pie?
—Inspired by Arjun Kalia, Class of 2025
Essay Option 3
In Homer’s Iliad, Helen had a “face that launched a thousand ships.” A millihelen, then, measures the beauty needed to launch one ship. The Sagan unit is used to denote any large quantity (in place of “billions and billions”). A New York Minute measures the period of time between a traffic light turning green and the cab behind you honking. Invent a new unit of measurement. How is it derived? How is it used? What are its equivalents?
—Inspired by Carina Kane, Class of 2024, and Ishaan Goel, Class of 2025
Essay Option 4
“There is no such thing as a new idea” – Mark Twain. Are any pieces of art, literature, philosophy, or technology truly original, or just a different combination of old ideas? Pick something, anything (besides yourself), and explain why it is, or is not, original.
—Inspired by Haina Lu, Class of 2022
Essay Option 5
It’s said that history repeats itself. But what about other disciplines? Choose another field (chemistry, philosophy, etc.) and explain how it repeats itself. Explain how it repeats itself.
—Inspired by Ori Brian, AB’19
Essay Option 6
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 Florida
– List and describe your community service activities. Please include your role in the activity and level of responsibility. (250 word limit)
– List and describe each job you’ve had, including dates of employment, job titles, and hours worked each week. (250 word limit)
– Do you have any employment or family obligations that limit your participation in extracurricular activities. If so, please describe. (250 word limit)
– List any programs or activities that helped you prepare for higher education, such as University Outreach, Talent Search, Upward Bound, Boys and Girls Club, etc. (250 word limit)
– Is there any other information for the Admission Committee to consider when your application is reviewed? (250 word limit)
University of Georgia
The college admissions process can create anxiety. In an attempt to make it less stressful, please tell us an interesting or amusing story about yourself from your high school years that you have not already shared in your application. (200-300 words)
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
You’ll answer two to three short-answer prompts as part of your application. The questions you’ll answer will depend on whether you’re applying to a major or to our undeclared program, and if you’ve selected a second choice. Short answers should be no more than 150 words each.
If You’re Applying to a Major:
In the past 3 to 4 years, what experience(s) have you had (inside or outside of the classroom) related to your selected first-choice major or academic interest?
How does your selected first-choice major relate to your future career goals?
If You’re Applying to Our Undeclared Program:
What are your academic interests and strengths? You may also include any majors you are considering.
What are your future academic or career goals?
If You’ve Selected a Second-Choice Major (Including Undeclared):
You have selected a second-choice major. Please explain your interest in that major or your overall academic or career goals.
University of Michigan
1. Everyone belongs to many different communities and/or groups defined by (among other things) shared geography, religion, ethnicity, income, cuisine, interest, race, ideology, or intellectual heritage. Choose one of the communities to which you belong, and describe that community and your place within it. (Required for all applicants; 300 word limit)
2. Describe the unique qualities that attract you to the specific undergraduate College or School (including preferred admission and dual degree programs) to which you are applying at the University of Michigan. How would that curriculum support your interests? (Required for all applicants; 550 word limit)
There are two components of the Ross School of Business Admissions Portfolio:
1. Business Case Discussion: Choose a current event or issue in your community and discuss the business implications.
Propose a solution that incorporates business principles or practices. The review panel will look for creativity, drawing connections, and originality. Please limit this response to approximately 500 words.
2. Artifact & Description: Upload a document or artifact that represents something significant about your life to show your learning in action.
Describe how your artifact demonstrates your learning in action. Please limit this response to approximately 250 words.
University of Virginia
1. We are looking for passionate students to join our diverse community of scholars, researchers, and artists. Answer the question that corresponds to the school/program to which you are applying in a half page or roughly 250 words.
College of Arts and Sciences – What work of art, music, science, mathematics, literature, or other media has surprised, unsettled, or inspired you, and in what way?
School of Engineering and Applied Sciences – Describe an engineering feat that serves the common good and why it inspires you to study engineering.
School of Architecture – Describe significant experience that deepened your interest in studying in the School of Architecture.
School of Nursing – Describe a health care-related experience or another significant interaction that deepened your interest in studying nursing.
Kinesiology Program – Discuss experiences that led you to apply to the kinesiology major.
2. Answer one of the following questions in a half page or roughly 250 words.
What’s your favorite word and why?
We are a community with quirks, both in language and in traditions. Describe one of your quirks and why it is part of who you are.
Student self-governance, which encourages student investment and initiative, is a hallmark of the UVA culture. In her fourth year at UVA, Laura Nelson was inspired to create Flash Seminars, one-time classes which facilitate high-energy discussion about thought-provoking topics outside of traditional coursework. If you created a Flash Seminar, what idea would you explore and why?
UVA students paint messages on Beta Bridge when they want to share information with our community. What would you paint on Beta Bridge and why is this your message?
Rita Dove, UVA English professor and former U.S. Poet Laureate, once said in an interview that “…there are times in life when, instead of complaining, you do something about your complaints.” Describe a time when, instead of complaining, you took action for the greater good.
University of Washington
1. Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it. (500 words)
2. Our families and communities often define us and our individual worlds. Community might refer to your cultural group, extended family, religious group, neighborhood or school, sports team or club, co-workers, etc. Describe the world you come from and how you, as a product of it, might add to the diversity of the UW. (300 words)
You are not required to write anything in this section, but you may include additional information if something has particular significance to you. For example, you may use this space if:
– You have experienced personal hardships in attaining your education
– Your activities have been limited because of work or family obligations
– You have experienced unusual limitations or opportunities unique to the schools you attended
Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences. (200-400 words)
Short Answer Questions
Applicants submitting the Coalition Application, Common Application, or QuestBridge Application will respond to the following short answer questions:
Students at Yale have time to explore their academic interests before committing to one or more major fields of study. Many students either modify their original academic direction or change their minds entirely. As of this moment, what academic areas seem to fit your interests or goals most comfortably? Please indicate up to three from the list provided.
Why do these areas appeal to you? (125 words or fewer)
What is it about Yale that has led you to apply? (125 words or fewer)
Applicants applying with the QuestBridge Application will complete the questions above via the Yale QuestBridge Questionnaire, available on the Yale Admissions Status Portal after an application has been received.
Applicants submitting the Coalition Application or Common Application will also respond to the following short answer questions, in no more than 200 characters (approximately 35 words):
What inspires you?
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 would you ask them to discuss?
You are teaching a new Yale course. What is it called?
Yale students embrace the concept of “and” rather than “or,” pursuing arts and sciences, tradition and innovation, defined goals and surprising detours. What is an example of an “and” that you embrace?
Applicants submitting the Coalition Application or Common Application: use the two short essays (250 words or fewer) below to reflect on topics and personal experiences that will help the Admissions Committee learn more about you.
1. Yale’s extensive course offerings and vibrant conversations beyond the classroom encourage students to follow their developing intellectual interests wherever they lead. Tell us about your engagement with a topic or idea that excites you. Why are you drawn to it?
2. Respond to one of the following prompts:
2A. Reflect on a community to which you feel connected. Why is it meaningful to you? You may define community however you like.
2B. Reflect on something that has given you great satisfaction. Why has it been important to you?
Applicants submitting the Coalition Application: In addition to responding to the prompts above, upload an audio file, video, image, or document you have created. The upload should complement your response to one of the prompts. Above your response, include a one-sentence description of your upload. Please limit uploads to the following file types: mp3, mov, jpeg, word, pdf. Advanced editing is not necessary. Uploads provided via the Coalition Application will be reviewed by the Admissions Office only. Review the Supplementary Material instructions for material that may be evaluated by Yale faculty.