Some of Our Favorite Supplemental College Essay Prompts: 2019-2020 Edition

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A review of essay prompts can be a great way to prepare for the writing process. I am supposed to write roughly 650 words but on what?  Of course, you will head straight for the Common Application prompts and prepare to stress out choosing one idea.  But what about reading supplemental prompts and taking a mental walk around other questions colleges are asking students?  A creative prompt may just the spark a fresh perspective or a new insight about yourself.  And, this new idea could go on to inspire your main essay, after you’re well rested and ready to start writing your college essay.


Harvey Mudd College

Supplemental Essay, Option 2

''Scientific research is a human endeavor. The choices of topics that we research are based on our biases, our beliefs, and what we bring: our cultures and our families. The kinds of problems that people put their talents to solving depends on their values.'' - Dr. Clifton Poodry - How has your own background influenced the types of problems you want to solve. 


College of William & Mary

Supplemental Essay

Beyond your impressive academic credentials and extracurricular accomplishments, what else makes you unique and colorful? We know nobody fits neatly into 500 words or less, but you can provide us with some suggestion of the type of person you are. Anything goes! Inspire us, impress us, or just make us laugh. Think of this optional opportunity as show and tell by proxy and with an attitude.


The George Washington University

Essay Option 1

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


Williams College

Supplemental Essay, Option 2

Each Sunday night, in a tradition called Storytime, students, faculty and staff gather to hear a fellow community member relate a brief story from their life (and to munch on the storyteller’s favorite homemade cookies). What story would you share? What lessons have you drawn from that story, and how would those lessons inform your time at Williams?


University of Virginia

Supplemental Essay: College of Arts and Sciences 

What work of art, music, science, mathematics, or literature has surprised, unsettled, or challenged you, and in what way?


University of Chicago

Supplemental Essay, Option 1

In 2015, the city of Melbourne, Australia created a ''tree-mail'' service, in which all of the trees in the city received an email address so that residents could report any tree-related issues. As an unexpected result, people began to email their favorite trees sweet and occasionally humorous letters. Imagine this has been expanded to any object (tree or otherwise) in the world, and share with us the letter you'd send to your favorite.
-- Inspired by Hannah Lu, Class of 2020


Dartmouth College 

Supplemental Prompts -- Choose One

“I have no special talent,” Albert Einstein once observed. “I am only passionately curious.” Celebrate your curiosity.

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.

“You can’t use up creativity,” Maya Angelou mused. “The more you use, the more you have.” Share a creative moment or impulse—in any form—that inspired creativity in your life.

In the aftermath of World War II, Dartmouth President John Sloane Dickey, Class of 1929, proclaimed, “The world’s troubles are your troubles…and there is nothing wrong with the world that better human beings cannot fix.” Which of the world’s “troubles” inspires you to act? How might your course of study at Dartmouth prepare you to address it?

In The Bingo Palace, author Louise Erdrich, Class of 1976, writes, “…no one gets wise enough to really understand the heart of another, though it is the task of our life to try.” Discuss.

Emmy and Grammy winner Donald Glover is a 21st century Renaissance man—an actor, comedian, writer, director, producer, singer, songwriter, rapper, and DJ. And yet the versatile storyteller and performer recently told an interviewer, “The thing I imagine myself being in the future doesn’t exist yet.” Can you relate?


Emory University

Supplemental Essays, Choose two (2) 

What is your favorite fiction or non-fiction work (film, book, TV show, album, poem, or play)? Why?

What motivates you to learn?

What do you want to bring from your community to the Emory University community?

In the age of social media, what does engaging with integrity look like for you?