College essays (also known as personal statements, open-ended application questions, supplemental essays and other similar descriptions) are required by many colleges and universities. Carleton College has writing the college essay tips. University of Kentucky has advice about writing the personal statement. Boston College has a video about writing an essay that stands out. Middlebury College has a webpage called Top 10 Ways to Enjoy the College Application Process.
After brainstorming in class, these are the colleges that students are considering attending. If the college has a link, you can click it to find the college essay prompt for that college. Some of these prompts are from 2009-2010 or 2010-2011, so if you are going to use the prompt for a genuine admission application (as opposed to simply picking a prompt to do for the "college essay" assignment due in class), then doublecheck directly with your university to make sure that this is the current year's prompt. I doublechecked as many as I could.
|University of California (includes UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UCLA, UC Merced, UC Riverside, UCSD, UCSF, UCSB, and UC Santa Cruz).
The Common Application writing promptsincludes the the list of almost 400 colleges that use the Common Application (click here)
Many of the colleges that use the Common Application have a supplemental prompt. Research the college(s) that you plan to apply to which use the common application to see if they have an additional prompt. If they do, find the prompt and e-mail it to Ms. LeCren (email@example.com) with the college name, the prompt itself (cut and paste), and the website URL) so that it can be posted here:
|California State Universities and Community Colleges do not require a writing prompt (includes SDSU, Chico State, Long Beach State, Sonoma State, San Francisco State, Cal State Fullerton, Cal State San Marcos, etc. and Mesa College and San Diego City College).
These colleges and universities who use the Common Application were specifically mentioned by students in class. I have indicated if they require an additional supplement to the Common Application, and if they have an essay prompt).
Central Saint Martins University of the Arts London (thanks to Savannah V.)
Your personal statement should explain the reasons why you are a suitable candidate for this course, what you hope to achieve during your studies and how this relates to your career aspirations. Give details of your subject interests, relevant experiences and abilities.
University of Oregon (thanks to Cameron)
The UO is interested in learning more about you. Write an essay (500 words maximum) that shares information that we cannot find elsewhere on your application. Any topic you choose is welcome. Some ideas you might consider include your future ambitions and goals, a special talent or unusual interest that sets you apart from your peers, or a significant experience that influenced your life.
Cal Lutheran (thanks to Kayla)
California Lutheran University Application Essay Prompts---
On a separate sheet of paper, please submit a thoughtful statement on one of the essay prompts below. The essay should be 400-600 words in length. As you begin the process of drafting your application essay, keep in mind that this is your time to personalize your application. The essay allows you to demonstrate something about yourself in your own voice and creative style that may not come across elsewhere in your application.
A. Choose a significant event or time in your life and explain how it affected you or helped you to grow as an individual.
B. Select an original work of your choice (this could be a work of art, literature, a scientific or mathematical theory, musical composition, a film, or any other creative piece) and discuss how it has affected your thinking.
C. If an essay question from another college application piqued your interest, feel free to submit your response to that question. Please limit your submission to approximately 500 words and be sure to include the original question as part of your response.
D. If you prefer, you may submit a graded paper from one of your classes.
Claremont McKenna (thanks to Chloe)
Leadership is a constant theme and emphasis at CMC. In fact, one of the ways we describe CMC
students is “Leaders in the Making.” Choose someone, fictional or nonfictional, historical or contemporary, whom you consider to be a leader. Suppose you are this person’s primary advisor. How would you advise this person and why?
1) Please submit a one-page, single-spaced essay that explains why you
have chosen Carnegie Mellon and your particular major(s),
department(s) or program(s). This essay should include the reasons why
you've chosen the major(s), any goals or relevant work plans and any
other information you would like us to know. If you are applying to
more than one college or program, please mention each college or
program you are applying to. Because our admission committees review
applicants by college and programs, your essay can impact our final
decision. Please do not exceed one page for this essay.
Stanford (250 words to 2000 characters)
1) Stanford students possess an intellectual vitality. Reflect on an
idea or experience that has been important to your intellectual
2) 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.
3) What matters to you, and why?
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Students are asked to write two essays:
1. How have your past circumstances and experiences (such as your upbringing, community, and/or activities) impacted who you are, your future goals, and your choice of major? If you haven't decided on a college or major yet, briefly explain your intentions and aspirations for your first year at Illinois. Please limit your response to approximately 300 words.
2. In no more than 300 words, tell us something about yourself that isn't covered elsewhere in this application, some interest or experience of yours that you think the University of Illinois should know about as part of the admissions review.
Important factors considered by the review committee when evaluating the essays are:
• How the applicant ties his or her academic interest to the desired major or, if applying to the Division of General Studies, how the applicant explains his or her varied interests and need for exploration.
• How the applicant showcases his or her passion through chosen activities, work experience, research, or course selection in high school.
• How the essay reveals maturity and growth through past experiences, evidence of character development, cultural insight, community awareness, and/or leadership. Strength of writing is carefully considered throughout all the application essays.
University of Oregon
Share some information about yourself we can't find somewhere else on your application.
Western Washington University
Reflect on a meaningful experience or personal highlight that has enriched your life.
1)Elaborate on one extracurricular activity.
2)Discuss an issue of personal, local, national, or international concern and it's importance to you.
University of Hartford
What life experience(s) inspired you to pursue the arts?
How do you perceive that The Hartt School will prepare you for your professional career?
The American Musical and Dramatic Academy, Emerson College, and Carnegie Mellon
Describe a challenging experience in your life and what you learned from it.
What are your interests and career goals?
Choose two people whom you admire in the performing arts and explain why.
Cornish College of the Arts
Personal Statement- Please describe your prior education and involvement in your art form. Describe the work you do and what influences it. What are your artistic goals, what are your passions and what has led you to pursue a career in the field? How will attending Cornish College of the Arts contribute to your plans and aspirations?
Essay- How has a piece of artwork, a performance, a composition, an example of design, a piece of literature or a film affected you? Please describe the work and explain how it affected you as a person and artist. The piece you write about must be the work of someone other than yourself.
University of Florida
Please write a concise narrative in which you describe a meaningful event, experience or accomplishment in your life and how it will affect your college experience on your contribution to the UF campus community. You may want to reflect on your ideas about student responsibility, academic integrity, campus citizenship or a call to service.
We know you lead a busy life, full of activities, many of which are required of you. Tell us about something you do for the pleasure of it. (*)(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 for the pleasure of it. (*)(100 words or fewer)
What attribute of your personality are you most proud of, and how has it impacted your life so far? This could be your creativity, effective leadership, sense of humor, integrity, or anything else you'd like to tell us about. (*) (200-250 words)
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?(*) (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)
(Optional) No admission application can meet the needs of every individual. If you think additional information or material will give us a more thorough impression of you, please respond below.
from previous years
- Pepperdine University (from 2009-2010--does anyone know if there is a different prompt for 2010-2011?)
Please respond to the following question (500 words or less):
Pepperdine's scholarly community equips students with a liberal arts education anchored in Christian values. Our commitment to integrating faith and learning challenges our students to understand that the gift of knowledge ultimately calls for a life of service. With this commitment in mind, please respond:
Tell us how the integration of faith and learning can prepare you for a life of service, and discuss the impact service-learning can have on the renewing of your mind, spirit, and community.
- Stanford (has Stanford Supplement Short Essays):
The Stanford Supplement Short Essays
Candidates must respond to all three questions/topics. Responses must be at least 250 words but should not exceed the space provided in the Supplement.
1. Stanford students are widely known to possess a sense of intellectual vitality. Tell us about an idea or an experience you have had that you find intellectually engaging.
2. Virtually all of Stanford’s undergraduates live on campus. What would you want your freshman year roommate to know about you? Tell us something about you that will help your roommate—and us—know you better.
3. Tell us what makes Stanford a good place for you.
- Mills College (requires a writing sample but only short answer personal statements)
- Carleton College (has a supplement, but it is only short answer)
- Occidental College (has a supplement, but it is only a series of questions)
- Yale University (had a supplement with this essay requirement in 2010; can anyone find out if there is this same requirement for 2010-2011):
Second Essay (required) You havealready told us about yourself in the Common Application, with its list of activities, the Short Answer, and the Personal Essay. While we leave the topic of the second essay entirely up to you, try telling us something about yourself that you believe we cannot learn elsewhere in your application. Please limit yourself to fewer than 500 words. Print your essay on a separate sheet of paper marked “Second Essay,” with your full legal name and date of birth atthe top, and enclose it with your completed Supplement
- Colby College (doesn't appear to have a supplement, but does allow you to submit a supplementary writing sample)
- Dartmouth College (has two supplements, but they don't involve essays)
- Amherst College (has a supplement with these essay choices:)
In addition to the essay you’re asked to write as part of the Common Application, Amherst requires a second essay of no more than 300
words. We do not offer interviews as part of the application process at Amherst. However, your essays provide you with an opportunity
to speak to us. Please keep this in mind when responding to one of the following quotations. It is not necessary to research, read,
or refer to the texts from which these quotations are taken; we are looking for original, personal responses to these short
excerpts. Remember that your essay should be personal in nature and not simply an argumentative essay.
1) “Rigorous reasoning is crucial in mathematics, and insight plays an important secondary role these days. In the natural sciences, I would
say that the order of these two virtues is reversed. Rigor is, of course, very important. But the most important value is insight—insight
into the workings of the world. It may be because there is another guarantor of correctness in the sciences, namely, the empirical evi-
dence from observation and experiments.”
Kannan Jagannathan, Professor of Physics, Amherst College
2) “Literature is the best way to overcome death. My father, as I said, is an actor. He’s the happiest man on earth when he’s performing, but
when the show is over, he’s sad and troubled. I wish he could live in the eternal present, because in the theater everything remains in
memories and photographs. Literature, on the other hand, allows you to live in the present and to remain in the pantheon of the future.
Literature is a way to say, I was here, this is what I thought, this is what I perceived. This is my signature, this is my name.”
Ilán Stavans, Professor of Spanish, Amherst College
From “The Writer in Exile: an interview with Ilán Stavans” by Saideh Pakravan for the fall 1993 issue of The Literary Review
3) “It seems to me incumbent upon this and other schools’ graduates to recognize their responsibility to the public interest...unless the
graduates of this college...are willing to put back into our society those talents, the broad sympathy, the understanding, the compas-
sion...then obviously the presuppositions upon which our democracy are based are bound to be fallible.”
John F. Kennedy, at the ground breaking for the Amherst College Frost Library, October 26, 1963
4) “Stereotyped beliefs have the power to become self-fulfilling prophesies for behavior.”
Elizabeth Aries, Professor of Psychology, Amherst College
From her book Men and Women in Interaction, Reconsidering the Differences
5) “Difficulty need not foreshadow despair or defeat. Rather achievement can be all the more satisfying because of obstacles surmounted.”
Attributed to William Hastie, Amherst Class of 1925, first African-American to serve as a judge for the United States Court of Appeals
- Williams College (has a supplement with the following essay prompt:)
ADDITIONAL PERSONAL STATEMENT (required) Imagine looking through a window at any environment that is particularly significant to you. Reflect on the scene, paying close attention to the relation between what you are seeing and why it is meaningful to you. Please limit your statement to 300 words.
- Middlebury College (doesn't appear to have a supplement beyond the Common Application)
- Illinois Wesleyan University (there does not appear to be a supplement or additional essay)
- Brown University (the webpage claims there is a Brown Supplement for First-Year Applicants, but there is no link to it)
- Santa Clara University (the webpage claims there is a SCU Supplement but there is no link) The website does give the following advice about writing the essay:
Because we want to have a sense of who you are as a person, we look closely at the essay and personal statements you're asked to write, your guidance counselor's evaluation, and teacher recommendation. Tip: Make sure the majority of the essay you write is about you. For example, if you find someone inspiring tell us how or why this person inspires you and what actions you've taken or plans you've made as a result.
- New York University
New York University Supplement to the Common
Please tell us what led you to select both your anticipated academic area(s) of study and the NYU school/college/program or the Abu Dhabi campus.
What interests you most about your intended discipline? Mention any extracurricular or non-school-related activities or experiences that demonstrate your interest.
NYU is "In and of the City" and "In and of the World." What does the concept of a global network university mean to you? How do you think
studying in New York City, Abu Dhabi, or one of NYU's global sites would change you as a person and equip you to build cross-cultural relationships at NYU and beyond?
If you had the opportunity to bring any person—past or present, fictional or nonfictional—to a place that is special to you (your hometown or country, a favorite location, etc.), who would you bring and why? Tell us what you would share with that person.
The following additional personal statement is required of any applicant seeking admission to NYU Abu Dhabi:
Summarize a research project that you would like to undertake as an NYU Abu Dhabi student to gain a deeper understanding of one particular topic of
interest to you in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Please use the information on the UAE Interact Web site www.uaeinteract.com for ideas. Pose a research
question (in one sentence) and describe how you would gather information to answer your question. Discuss possible obstacles that might arise in your
research as well as any ethical dimensions of the research to which you would need to be attentive. Please upload your question and statement or attach
one additional page with this information if you cannot apply online and must submit a paper application.
- Boston University
[the prompts below are from 2009-2010--if you can find the 2010-2011 version under BU Supplement, then please send it to me to post].
This section of the application gives you an opportunity to present yourself in a way that grades and test scores cannot. The Board of Admissions uses your essay to determine your ability to organize thoughts and express yourself clearly. Accordingly, we ask that you prepare this work entirely on your own.
All applicants are required to complete essay number one.
Applicants to our accelerated programs (Seven-Year Liberal Arts/Medical Education Program, Seven-Year Liberal Arts/Dental Education Program, or New Jersey Medical School Seven-Year Medical Program) must also complete essay number two.
Essay #1: In an essay of no more than 500 words, please select three words that describe you best and tell us how you will use these qualities/characteristics to contribute fully to the BU community.
Essay #2: The Accelerated Programs Admissions Committee is interested in learning more about you. Please write an essay of no more than 750 words on why you wish to enter the health professions, including what experiences have led you to this decision and what you hope to gain from your chosen profession. Please make sure your essay is completely distinct from the one you submitted on the Common Application.
- Brandeis University
Common Application plus a supplement with a short answer: Short Answer (Optional)
Please include a short response explaining why you want to attend Brandeis. Please limit your response to 250 words or less.
Other colleges not included above/Colleges which do not use the Common Application:
- BYU (it's part 7 of the application)
Instructions: Please respond to the topics listed below.
1. What sets you apart from other applicants, based on unique educational or life experiences, personal or family circumstances, obstacles overcome and/or achievements? (200 words or less)
2. Describe why you want to attend an institution within the LDS Church Educational System and what value you will add to that institution. (200 words or less)
- University of Colorado at Boulder (click the link for the essay prompt; must have an account to see the prompt [if you can get in and find it, send it to me to post])
- University of Kentucky (doesn't appear to have an essay prompt)
- University of Hawai'i at Manoa (doesn't appear to have an essay prompt)
- DigiPen Institute of Technology (click the link for the essay prompt)
- Full Sail University (doesn't appear to have an essay prompt)
- U.S. Naval Academy (there is no essay on the preliminary application, but there may be one after you are accepted as an official candidate for admission)
- Loyola Marymount University
Please read the three statements below, 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 500 - 1,000 words, is your chance to display your critical and creative thinking. Please be sure your name appears on each page of your essay.
STATEMENT 1: At a recent Commencement Mass, LMU’s former president Fr. Robert Lawton, S.J., said: ‘‘So what is the answer to this deep insecurity we all feel? The answer, I think, is to embrace the adventure of becoming deeply, and fully, ourselves. This is what God is really calling us to. It seems like the riskiest of all journeys, this journey to be one self. But it’s ultimately the journey that leads us to happiness, that leads us into God’s dreams for us.’’
QUESTION 1: Why do you think Fr. Lawton says the ‘‘journey to be oneself’’ seems the riskiest of all journeys? What risks lie ahead in your college career as you embark on the ‘‘adventure’’ of discovering and becoming yourself?
STATEMENT 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.’’
QUESTION 2: Critical thinking is a central goal of Jesuit education, and at LMU you’ll be asked to think critically and intensively in every class. Dr. King suggests that critical thinking results in our ability to inform intelligence with character, and strengthen character with intelligence. Please talk about a situation that demanded critical thinking from you, and how your choices or decisions integrated intelligence and character.
STATEMENT 3: A motto often associated with Jesuit and Marymount schools is ‘‘Educating men and women for others.’’ Fr. Pedro Arrupe, the former head of the Jesuits, once said that ‘‘our prime educational objective must be to form men and women for others, who believe that a love of self or of God which does not issue forth in justice for the least of their neighbors is a farce.’’
QUESTION 3: What do you think Fr. Arrupe meant when he said this? Please give an example of someone you know, other than your teachers and parents, who works for justice for the least of their neighbors.
- Point Loma Nazarene University
Short Essays (for 2009-2010--[unconfirmed for 2010-2011--if you can find them, send them in to me to post])
Please respond to the following essay prompts on a separate page.
1) Please refer to the attached Community Living Covenant. This covenant is designed to create a community in which the university provides an atmosphere of academic excellence and spiritual growth while students commit themselves to a lifestyle that facilitates that growth. In 200-300 words, reflect on the values and challenges of entering into this covenant.
For your second piece, you can either choose to answer the second short essay question OR submit an optional piece, as outlined below.
2) “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Do you agree or disagree with this quotation? In 200-300 words explain your position, citing an example.
2) Optional Piece: Convey a message about yourself, and help set your application apart! You may write, draw, use photographs, or employ other means of communication to tell us something further about yourself. Feel free to be creative – your only limitation is that your piece must lay flat in a 9 x 12 envelope. Don’t forget your full name, and please note that optional pieces cannot be returned.
- Chapman College
(from 2009-2010) Describe three specific features of Chapman University that interest you. [to get the 2010-2011 Chapman Supplemental, you must log on to CommonAppOnline].
- Syracuse University
PERSONAL ESSAY: Please write an essay (250 words minimum) on a topic of your choice or on one of the options listed below. this personal essay helps us become acquainted with you as a person and student, apart from courses, grades, test scores, and other objective data. it will also demonstrate your ability to organize your thoughts and express yourself.
1. evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.
2. discuss some issue of personal, local, national, or international concern and its importance to you.
3. indicate a person who has had a significant influence on you, and describe that influence.
4. describe a character in fiction, a historical figure, or a creative work (as in art, music, science, etc.) that has had an influence on you, and explain that influence.
5. a range of academic interests, personal perspectives, and life experiences adds much to the education mix. given your personal background, describe an experience that illustrates what you would
bring to the diversity in a college community, or an encounter that demonstrated the importance of diversity to you.
6. topic of choice.
- University of Washington
The Personal Statement is our best means of getting to know you and your best means of creating a context for your academic performance. When you write your personal statement, tell us about those aspects of your life that are not apparent from your academic record. Tell us about the experiences that don’t show up on your transcript:
- a character-defining moment,
- the cultural awareness you’ve developed,
- a challenge faced,
- a personal hardship or barrier overcome.
Directions: Choose either A or B. Recommended length: 500-650 words
A) Discuss how your family’s experience or cultural history enriched you or presented you with opportunities or challenges in pursuing your educational goals.
B) Tell us a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.
- Some of the best statements are written as personal stories. We welcome your imaginative interpretation.
- You may define experience broadly. For example, in option B, experience could be a meeting with an influential person, a news story that spurred you to action, a family event, or something that might be insignificant to someone else that had particular meaning for you. If you don’t think that any one experience shaped your character, don’t worry. Simply choose an experience that tells us something about you.
- Westmont University
Essay Question (required)
The Westmont essay question will give us information about you beyond your coursework, grades, tests scores and other objective
data. We evaluate the essays for content, grammar and individuality. Please type or write legibly adding your name and Westmont ID
number. Your essay must contain 300-600 words.
Required of all applicants:Westmont encourages students to learn more about the Christian faith and to develop Christian commitments
in all areas of their lives. Highlight a part of your life (i.e., an experience, a relationship, a book, etc.) and explain how it has shaped
you for a college education in the Christian liberal arts tradition.
- Berklee College of Music
Essay [from 2009-2010; if you can access the current year's appliation and send me the prompt to post, that would be helpful]:
If you have had access to formal music training, tell us what you found to be most valuable in that training. Describe how that training might contribute to your success as a student at Berklee.
If you have not had access to formal music training, describe what challenges you faced in developing your musicianship, how you overcame those challenges, and how that experience might contribute to your success as a student at Berklee.