2019-20 Common App Supplements and Essay Prompts
Here are the Supplements Currently Available for the Class of 2024
The Common Application doesn’t officially open until Aug. 1, but many colleges and universities have already announced their essay prompts for the 2019-20 college application season.
Many colleges and universities choose to announce their supplemental essay prompts in the summer in order to give perspective applicants an opportunity to get a head start on their essay writing. At IvyWise we encourage students to start on their college applications in the summer in order to get the bulk of the essay writing out of the way before the school year starts in the fall. This is also advisable for students who plan to apply early decision or early action to their top-choice school.
Here are some of the Common Application supplements and school-specific essay prompts that are currently available for the class of 2024:
Please select one topic. (400 word limit)
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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)
- 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)
- Tell us about a place or community you call home. How has it shaped your perspective? (250 words)
Carnegie Mellon University
Instructions: Please answer all of the following questions; each answer should be no more than 300 words.
- 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?
- 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?
- 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).
- How have you learned about Chapman University?
- What will your declared major be?
- There are thousands of universities and colleges. Please share with us why you are interested in attending Chapman. (200 words or less)
- Short Answer Questions: You can choose one of two short-answer questions. Though their themes are similar, we hope you’ll find the one that speaks to you.
- Option 1: Chapman University is committed to providing an education of distinction by fostering inclusion for all campus members. These efforts can be seen throughout our community: Cross-Cultural Center, Fish Interfaith Center, and The Chapman Experience. What does inclusion mean to you and why is it important on a college campus?
- Option 2: The I Am Chapman campaign and the Chapman Diversity Project are just two of the examples of initiatives that promote and enhance these perspectives on campus. If one of these initiatives speak to you, how would you get involved? If not, can you suggest a new campus-wide initiative and explain how you would get this initiative off the ground?
- What is your dream job?
- Please list three words to describe yourself.
- What song should we be listening to while reading your application?
- Who is your role model?
- Name one dish you would cook for our admission team.
- What is your favorite quote and by whom?
- What is your favorite subject?
- What is the top thing on your bucket list?
- What is your most prized possession?
- What makes you happy?
- What are you most grateful for?
- What do you spend too much time doing?
- What most “essential” item could you most easily give up?
- If Chapman’s admission team came to visit your hometown, what site would you take them to?
- What can you give a 30-minute presentation on without any preparation?
Dartmouth’s writing supplement requires that applicants write brief responses to two supplemental essay prompts as follows:
Please respond in 100 words or fewer:
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:
- 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.
- 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 Painted Drum,author Louise Erdrich ‘76 wrote, “… what is beautiful that I make? What is elegant? What feeds the world?” Tell us about something beautiful you have made or hope to make.
- “Yes, books are dangerous,” young people’s novelist Pete Hautman proclaimed. “They should be dangerous—they contain ideas.” What book or story captured your imagination through the ideas it revealed to you? Share how those ideas influenced you.
- “I have no special talent,” Albert Einstein once observed. “I am only passionately curious.” Celebrate your curiosity.
- Labor leader Dolores Huerta is a civil rights activist who co-founded the organization now known as United Farm Workers. She said, “We criticize and separate ourselves from the process. We’ve got to jump right in there with both feet.” Speak your truth: Talk about a time when your passion became action.
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.
- Share about something you want to bring from your community to the Emory University community.
- Share about a time when you questioned something that you believed to be true.
- Emory University’s shield is a crossed torch and trumpet representing the light of learning and the proclamation of knowledge. It symbolizes our mission to impact the world through discovery. What truth or knowledge do you want to see shared?
“Tell us about you” Category: Respond to one of the following.
- Which book, character, song, or piece of work (fiction or non-fiction) represents you, and why?
- If you could witness a historic event first-hand, what would it be, and why?
- If asked to write a 150-word tweet to tell the world who you are, what would you say? (Yes, the actual Twitter character limit would likely be shorter than 150 words, but thanks for indulging us.)
- Why do you want to study your chosen major at Georgia Tech, and how do you think Georgia Tech will prepare you to pursue opportunities in that field after graduation? (max 250 words)
For students submitting the Common Application, we require two additional short essays. Applicants will choose to answer two of the following three questions in responses of 200 to 250 words.
- Imagine having a 1 a.m. debate/discussion with your peers in college about an issue you care about. What is that issue, and what is the discussion?
- Share your favorite quote, and tell us what it means to you. The quote can be from an author, leader, musical artist, family member or other source—famous or not. (The quote does not count toward your word limit.)
- We want to understand you better! Tell us about a skill you have (useless or useful) and what it says about you.
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:
- Which aspects of the Tufts undergraduate experience prompt your application? In short, ‘Why Tufts?’ (100-150 words)
- Now we’d like to know a little more about you. Please respond to one of the following three questions. (200-250 words):
- From recognizing break dancing as a new Olympic sport, to representation in media, to issues of accessibility in our public transit systems, what is something that you can talk about endlessly? What do you care about and why?
- Whether you’ve built circuit boards or written slam poetry, created a community event or designed mixed media installations, tell us: What have you designed, invented, engineered, or produced? Or what do you hope to?
- We all have a story to tell. And with over 5,000 undergraduate students on our campus, that is over 5,000 stories to share and learn. What’s yours?
Applicants to the BFA or 5-Year BFA+BA/BS Combined Degree at the SMFA at Tufts answer the following two questions:
- Which aspects of the Tufts undergraduate experience prompt your application? Why SMFA at Tufts? (100-150 words)
- Art has the power to disrupt our preconceptions, shape public discourse, and imagine new ways of being in the world. Whether you think of Ai Weiwei’s work reframing the refugee crisis, Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald’s portraits of the Obamas reimagining portrait painting on a national scale, or Yayoi Kusama’s fanciful Infinity Mirrors rekindling our sense of wonder, it is clear that contemporary art is driven by ideas. What are the ideas you’d like to explore in your work? (200-250 words)
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.
- Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes or contributed to group efforts over time.
- 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.
- What would you say is your greatest talent or skill? How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time?
- Describe how you have taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity or worked to overcome an educational barrier you have faced.
- 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?
- Think about an academic subject that inspires you. Describe how you have furthered this interest inside and/or outside of the classroom.
- What have you done to make your school or your community a better place?
- 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?
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
Cats have nine lives, Pac-Man has 3 lives, and radioactive isotopes have half-lives. How many lives does something else—conceptual or actual—have, and why?
—Inspired by Kedrick Shin, Class of 2019
Essay Option 2
If there’s a limited amount of matter in the universe, how can Olive Garden (along with other restaurants and their concepts of food infinity) offer truly unlimited soup, salad, and breadsticks? Explain this using any method of analysis you wish—physics, biology, economics, history, theology… the options, as you can tell, are endless.
—Inspired by Yoonseo Lee, Class of 2023
Essay Option 3
A hot dog might be a sandwich, and cereal might be a soup, but is a ______ a ______?
—Inspired by Arya Muralidharan, Class of 2021 (and dozens of others who, this year and in past years, have submitted the question “Is a hot dog a sandwich,” to which we reply, “maybe”)
Essay Option 4
“Fiction reveals truth that reality obscures.” – Jessamyn West
—Inspired by Elizabeth Mansfield, Class of 2020
Essay Option 5
UChicago has international campus centers around the world, but we don’t have any interplanetary, interstellar, or interdimensional campuses… yet! Propose a spot in time or space, in this or any universe, for a new UChicago campus. What types of courses would be taught at this site? What cultural experiences await students who study there?
—Inspired by Peter Jasperse, Class of 2022
Essay Option 6
“Don’t be afraid to pick past prompts! I liked some of the ones from previous years more than those made newly available for my year. Also, don’t worry about the ‘correct’ way to interpret a question. If there exists a correct way to interpret the prompt I chose, it certainly was not my answer.”
—Matthew Lohrs, Class of 2023
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!
- 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)
- Required: The college admissions process can create anxiety. In an attempt to make it less stressful, please tell us an interesting or amusing story about yourself from your high school years that you have not already shared in your application.
- Choose 1:
- UGA’s 2017 Commencement speaker Ernie Johnson (Class of ’79) told a story from his youth about what he refers to as blackberry moments. He has described these as “the sweet moments that are right there to be had but we’re just too focused on what we’re doing …, and we see things that are right there within our reach and we neglect them. Blackberry moments can be anything that makes somebody else’s day, that makes your day, that are just sweet moments that you always remember.” Tell us about one of your “blackberry moments” from the past five years.
- What is the hardest part of being a teenager now? What is the best part? What advice would you give to a younger sibling or friend (assuming they would listen to you)?
- Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.
- Describe a problem, possibly related to your area of study, which you would like to solve. Explain its importance to you and what actions you would take to solve this issue.
University of North Carolina
You’ll choose two of the following prompts to respond to in 200-250 words.
- Tell us about a peer who has made a difference in your life.
- What do you hope will change about the place where you live?
- What is one thing that we don’t know about you that you want us to know?
- What about your background, or what perspective, belief, or experience, will help you contribute to the education of your classmates at UNC?
University of Texas (Apply Texas)
Essay A: Tell us your story. What unique opportunities or challenges have you experienced throughout your high school career that have shaped who you are today?
Essay B: Most students have an identity, an interest, or a talent that defines them in an essential way. Tell us about yourself.
Essay C: You’ve got a ticket in your hand –Where will you go? What will you do? What will happen when you get there?
- Tell us your story. What unique opportunities or challenges have you experienced throughout your high school career that have shaped who you are today?
- Short Answers: Answer three short answer prompts
- Why are you interested in the major you indicated as your first-choice major?
- 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.
- 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.
- Optional Short Answer: Please share background on events or special circumstances that may have impacted your high school academic performance.
- 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 – If you were given funding for a small engineering project that would make everyday life better for one friend or family member, what would you design?
- School of Architecture – Describe an instance or place where you have been inspired by architecture or design.
- School of Nursing – School of Nursing applicants may have experience shadowing, volunteering, or working in a health care environment. Tell us about a health care-related experience or another significant interaction that deepened your interest in studying Nursing
- 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.
- What’s your favorite word and why?
- We are a community with quirks, both in language and in traditions. Describe one of your quirks and why it is part of who you are.
- Student self-governance, which encourages student investment and initiative, is a hallmark of the UVA culture. In her fourth year at UVA, Laura Nelson was inspired to create Flash Seminars, one-time classes which facilitate high-energy discussion about thought-provoking topics outside of traditional coursework. If you created a Flash Seminar, what idea would you explore and why?
- UVA students paint messages on Beta Bridge when they want to share information with our community. What would you paint on Beta Bridge and why is this your message?
- UVA students are charged with living honorably and upholding a Community of Trust. Give us an example of a community that is important to you and how you worked to strengthen that community.
- Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it. (500 words)
- 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)
- Optional Additional Information: 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
Villanova requires that you submit one Villanova Essay (of 250-1000 words per the Common Application guidelines) from the three choices below.
Option One: In the spirit of Saint Augustine, we believe that everyone in the Villanova community learns from each other. What is a lesson that you have learned in your life so far that you will share with others?
Option Two: You may live in one of the busiest cities in all the world or come from a small town with just one traffic light. The place that you call home has probably shaped who you are in some way. Tell us about where you are from and what, from there, you will bring to Villanova.
Option Three: Please describe a choice for change that you have made in your life that has greatly affected your life or the lives of others.
- Tell us how a work of fiction you’ve read has helped you to understand the world’s complexity.
- What piques your intellectual curiosity, and why?
- As part of our “Voices of Our Time” series — which allows students, faculty, and staff to hear from some of the world’s leading thinkers — Wake Forest has hosted Ta-Nehisi Coates, Michelle Alexander, Eboo Patel, and Thomas Friedman. If you could choose the next series speaker, whom would you pick, and why? (150 words)
- At Wake Forest, we gather our students in “Calls to Conversation,” congregating small groups around dinner tables in faculty’s and administrators’ homes to discuss topics organized around a theme, for example “arts for social change,” “gender in society,” and “leading a meaningful life.” If you could design a theme for a “Call to Conversation,” what would you choose, and why? (150 words)
- We live in an age intensely interested in heroes. Professor Joseph Campbell defined “hero” as “someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.” Describe a hero in public life and how and why, in your opinion, they meet Professor Campbell’s definition. (150 words)
- We are all different, and our lived experiences — influenced by our culture, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and/or religion — shape our understanding of the world. How have your experiences shaped your development, and how do you plan to use those experiences to interact and engage with others who might be different from you within our Wake Forest Community? (no word limit)
Supplemental essays are an extremely important part of the college admissions process. Are you making the most of them? Contact us today for more information on how our team of expert counselors can help you put together the most compelling and authentic college applications.