Seniors: Get a head start on your college apps this summer!

2024-25 Common App Supplements

Thursday, June 27, 2024

IvyWise On-Demand: College Admissions 101 Series: Common App and Essays

In this webinar, IvyWise college admissions counselors walk event attendees through each step of the Common App and share tips on brainstorming essay topics, beginning the first draft, being mindful of word choice and tone, carefully editing the final essay, and using supplemental essays to demonstrate their interest in each college on their list.

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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.

Common App Supplements for 2024-25

Many colleges and universities announce their supplemental essay prompts in the weeks leading up to the official opening of the Common Application on Aug. 1. The Common App essay prompts are already available for this cycle, allowing students applying to college this fall to get a head start on their personal statement. It’s a good idea to get started on your supplements in the summer before your senior year if you have access to the prompts for the upcoming admissions cycle. It can be hard to keep up with, so we’re posting supplemental essay prompts as they are announced prior to Aug. 1.

Dartmouth College

1. Required of all applicants. Please respond in 100 words or fewer:

As you seek admission to Dartmouth’s Class of 2029, what aspects of the college’s academic program, community, and/or campus environment attract your interest? How is Dartmouth a good fit for you?

2. Required of all applicants, please respond to one of the following prompts in 250 words or fewer:

A.    There is a Quaker saying: Let your life speak. Describe the environment in which you were raised and the impact it has had on the person you are today.

B.    “Be yourself,” Oscar Wilde advised. “Everyone else is taken.” Introduce yourself.

3. Required of all applicants, please respond to one of the following prompts in 250 words or fewer:

A.    What excites you?

B.    Labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta recommended a life of purpose. “We must use our lives to make the world a better place to live, not just to acquire things,” she said. “That is what we are put on the earth for.” In what ways do you hope to make—or are you already making—an impact? Why? How?

C.    In “Oh, The Places You’ll Go,” Dr. Seuss invites us to “Think and wonder. Wonder and think.” Imagine your anticipated academic major: How does that course of study sync with Dr. Seuss’s advice to you?

D.    The social and family interactions of wild chimpanzees have been the focus of Dame Jane Goodall’s research for decades. Her understanding of animal behavior prompted the English primatologist to see a lesson for human communities as well: “Change happens by listening and then starting a dialogue with the people who are doing something you don’t believe is right.” Channel Dame Goodall: Tell us about a moment when you engaged in a difficult conversation or encountered someone with an opinion or perspective that was different from your own. How did you find common ground?

E.    Celebrate your nerdy side.

F.    “It’s not easy being green…” was the frequent refrain of Kermit the Frog. How has difference been a part of your life, and how have you embraced it as part of your identity, outlook, or sense of purpose?

G.    Buddy Teevens ’79 was a legendary and much-beloved coach at Dartmouth. He often told parents: “Your son will be a great football player when it’s football time, a great student when it’s academic time, and a great person all of the time.” If Coach Teevens had said that to you, what would it mean to be “a great person”?

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):

1. We’re all familiar with green-eyed envy or feeling blue, but what about being “caught purple-handed”? Or “tickled orange”? Give an old color-infused expression a new hue and tell us what it represents.
– Inspired by Ramsey Bottorff, Class of 2026

2. “Ah, but I was so much older then / I’m younger than that now” – Bob Dylan. In what ways do we become younger as we get older?
– Inspired by Joshua Harris, Class of 2016

3. Pluto, the demoted planet. Ophiuchus, the thirteenth Zodiac. Andy Murray, the fourth to tennis’s Big Three. Every grouping has something that doesn’t quite fit in. Tell us about a group and its unofficial member, why (or why not) should it be excluded?
– Inspired by Veronica Chang, Class of 2022

4. “Daddy-o”, “Far Out”, “Gnarly”: the list of slang terms goes on and on. Sadly, most of these aren’t so “fly” anymore – “as if!” Name an outdated slang from any decade or language that you’d bring back and explain why you totally “dig it.”
– Inspired by Napat Sakdibhornssup, Class of 2028

5. How many piano tuners are there in Chicago? What is the total length of chalk used by UChicago professors in a year? How many pages of books are in the Regenstein Library? These questions are among a class of estimation problems named after University of Chicago physicist Enrico Fermi. Create your own Fermi estimation problem, give it your best answer, and show us how you got there.
– Inspired by Malhar Manek, Class of 2028

6. And, as always… the classic choose your own adventure option! In the spirit of adventurous inquiry, 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 Richmond 

One essay response is required. Choose from the following prompts:

1. You have a platform to create change. What is an action or policy you might propose to address an issue of social injustice in your school or local community, or on a national or global scale?

2. Tell us about a time you learned something unexpected. What did you learn, and what happened next?

3. Richmond welcomes students from various backgrounds, perspectives, and lived experiences. What is at least one way you will contribute to our community that is not already mentioned in your application?

Word Limit: Minimum 350. Maximum 650 words. 

University of Texas at Austin

Summer/Fall 2025 Essay

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. Please keep your essay between 500–650 words (typically two to three paragraphs).

Short Answers

Submit the required short answers to prompts in your admission application. Answers are limited to no more than 40 lines, or about 250–300 words per prompt, typically the length of one paragraph.

Summer/Fall 2025 Prompts

1. Why are you interested in the major you indicated as your first-choice major?

2. Think of all the activities — both in and outside of school — that you have been involved with during high school. Which one are you most proud of and why? (Guidance for students: This can include an extracurricular activity, a club/organization, volunteer activity, work or a family responsibility.)

Optional Short Answer

Please share background on events or special circumstances that you feel may have impacted your high school academic performance. 

Villanova University

For the Villanova-specific essay, 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.

1. 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?

2. What is a lesson in life that you have learned that you would want to share with others at Villanova?

3. “Villanova” means “new home.” Why do you want to call Villanova your new home? 

4. As an Augustinian community, we value recognizing individuals for their true selves. Please share with us a time when you were misjudged based on your identity or background.

5. At Villanova, we often say “each of us strengthens all of us.” Please detail a time when someone has borrowed some of your strength in their time of need. 

Wake Forest University 

Our supplemental questions remain optional, but we hope that these prompts provide space for you to share with us what makes you, you.

  • List five books you’ve read that have intrigued you.
  • Tell us what piques your intellectual curiosity or has helped you understand the world’s complexity. This can include a work you’ve read, a project you’ve completed for a class, and even co-curricular activities in which you have been involved (limit 150 words).
  • Dr. Maya Angelou, renowned author, poet, civil-rights activist, and former Wake Forest University Reynolds Professor of American Studies, inspired others to celebrate their identities and to honor each person’s dignity. Choose one of Dr. Angelou’s powerful quotes. How does this quote relate to your lived experience or reflect how you plan to contribute to the Wake Forest community? (limit 300 words)
  • Give us your Top Ten List. (The choice of theme is yours.) (limit: 100 characters per line)

Yale University

Short Answer Questions

Applicants submitting the Coalition ApplicationCommon 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.
  • Tell us about a topic or idea that excites you and is related to one or more academic areas you selected above. Why are you drawn to it? (200 words or fewer)
  • What is it about Yale that has led you to apply? (125 words or fewer)

 

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?
  • If you could teach any college course, write a book, or create an original piece of art of any kind, what would it be?
  • Other than a family member, who is someone who has had a significant influence on you? What has been the impact of their influence?
  • What is something about you that is not included anywhere else in your application?

 

Essay

Applicants submitting the Coalition Application or Common Application will respond to one of the following prompts in 400 words or fewer.

1. Reflect on a time you discussed an issue important to you with someone holding an opposing view. Why did you find the experience meaningful?

2. Reflect on your membership in a community to which you feel connected. Why is this community meaningful to you? You may define community however you like.

3. Reflect on an element of your personal experience that you feel will enrich your college. How has it shaped 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.

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College Application Tips, Common App
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