2021-22 Common App Supplements
Many schools utilize the Common App as their primary application form, and school-specific supplements allow every institution to customize this universal application in order to build a well-rounded first-year class.
From asking about a student’s favorite snack to designing their dream seminars, many colleges are getting creative with their supplement questions so that admissions officers can learn as much about applicants as possible If you’re interested in getting a jump start on your applications, keep reading for a roundup of the supplement questions that top colleges are asking for the 2021-22 admissions cycle.
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?
Essay Questions for First Year Applicants:
- 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)
Essay Questions for PLME Applicants:
- 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)
Essay Questions for Brown|RISD Dual Degree Applicants:
- 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)
- List the titles of the required readings from academic courses that you enjoyed most during secondary/high school.
- 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.
- List the titles of the print or digital publications, websites, journals, podcasts, or other content with which you regularly engage.
- List the movies, albums, shows, museums, lectures, events at your school, or other entertainments that you enjoyed most during secondary/high school (in person or online).
Short Answer Questions:
- 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)
- Why are you interested in attending Columbia University? (200 words or fewer)
- Please tell us what from your current and past experiences (either academic or personal) attracts you specifically to the areas of study that you noted in the application. (200 words or fewer)
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 2025, 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.
- What excites you?
- 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?
- 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.
- “Everything changes, everything moves, everything revolves, everything flies and goes away,” observed Frida Kahlo. Apply Kahlo’s perspective to your own 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?
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)
This question is required. Your response should be no more than 200 words.
- What academic areas are you interested in exploring in college?
In addition, answer one of the following questions. Your response should be no more than 150 words.
- 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?
- 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 brief essays (approximately one page, single-spaced each) on the topics given below. Essays should be typed.
- 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.
- 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.)
- APPLICANTS TO THE 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).
- APPLICANTS TO THE WALSH SCHOOL OF FOREIGN SERVICE: The Walsh School of Foreign Service was founded more than a century ago to prepare generations of leaders to solve global problems. What is motivating you to dedicate your undergraduate studies to a future in service to the world?
- 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.
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)
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.)
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?
Princeton requires you to submit a graded written paper as part of your application. Learn more.
There is a 100-word minimum and a 250-word maximum for each essay.
- 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.
- 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.
- Tell us about something that is meaningful to you, and why?
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):
- 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:
- 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. What are the ideas you’d like to explore in your work? (200-250 words)
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.
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, a citizen of the world, or future citizen of the University of Chicago; take a little risk, and have fun!
Required Short Answer 1: Why are you interested in the major you indicated as your first-choice major?
Required Short Answer 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 Short Answer 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.
Optional Short Answer: 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.
Essay #1: Villanova Free Choice (2021-22)
For the first Villanova-specific essay, we have offered a range of topics to pique your interest. We hope to gain a deeper understanding of your thoughts, experiences, and opinions. Choose one of the five topics below and submit a written response in about 250 words.
Prompt One: St. Augustine states that well-being is “not concerned with myself alone, but with my neighbor’s good as well.” How have you advocated for equity and justice in your communities?
Prompt Two: What is the truest thing that you know?
Prompt Three: One of the themes in St. Augustine’s book, Confessions, is the idea of redemption. Tell us your story of being given a second chance.
Prompt Four: “Miracles are not contrary to nature but only contrary to what we know about nature.” Tell us about a societal issue that you believe the miracle of technology is well-poised to help solve.
Prompt Five: In the Villanova community, we believe that we all learn from one another. What is a lesson in life that you have learned that you would want to share with others?
Essay #2: Why Nova? (2021-22)
You may be aware that our community, which we have affectionately named “Nova Nation,” is an exciting place to be. With a legacy spanning nearly 180 years, there is rich history to look back on, and an abundant future to look forward to. Our second Villanova essay question asks: 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 150 words.
Essay #3: Common Application
Please also submit the essay of your choice from the 2021-22 Common Application Essay Prompts.
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)
- What inspires you? (no more than 200 characters)
- 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? (no more than 200 characters)
- You are teaching a new Yale course. What is it called? (no more than 200 characters)
- 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? (no more than 200 characters)
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.
- 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?
- 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?
While answering additional essay questions might seem challenging, the supplements give students the chance to show a different side of themselves to the admissions office, as well as emphasizing their demonstrated interest. Since supplements are an important component of the college admissions process, we always recommend students begin working on these essays early to save themselves the stress of working down to the wire. If you’re getting ready to apply to college and looking for guidance on writing supplements, our team of admissions experts is here to help.