2023-24 Common App Supplements

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

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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 2023-24

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.

Tufts University

Applicants to the School of Arts & Sciences and the School of Engineering: Please respond to one of the following three prompts in 200-250 words:

  • It’s cool to love learning. What excites your intellectual curiosity?
  • How have the environments or experiences of your upbringing – your family, home, neighborhood, or community – shaped the person you are today?
  • Using a specific example or two, tell us about a way that you contributed to building a collaborative and/or inclusive community.


Applicants to the School of the Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA) at Tufts: Please respond to the following prompt in 200-250 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?

In addition, we will ask all applicants to complete this sentence in 100 words or less:

“I am applying to Tufts because…” 

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. Exponents and square roots, pencils and erasers, beta decay and electron capture. Name two things that undo each other and explain why both are necessary.
– Inspired by Emmett Cho, Class of 2027

2. “Where have all the flowers gone?” – Pete Seeger. Pick a question from a song title or lyric and give it your best answer.
– Inspired by Ryan Murphy, AB’21

3. “Vlog,” “Labradoodle,” and “Fauxmage.” Language is filled with portmanteaus. Create a new portmanteau and explain why those two things are a “patch” (perfect match).
– Inspired by Garrett Chalfin, Class of 2027

4. A jellyfish is not a fish. Cat burglars don’t burgle cats. Rhode Island is not an island. Write an essay about some other misnomer, and either come up with and defend a new name for it or explain why its inaccurate name should be kept.
– Inspired by Sonia Chang, Class of 2025, and Mirabella Blair, Class of 2027

5. Despite their origins in the Gupta Empire of India or Ancient Egypt, games like chess or bowling remain widely enjoyed today. What modern game do you believe will withstand the test of time, and why?
– Inspired by Adam Heiba, Class of 2027

6. There are unwritten rules that everyone follows or has heard at least once in their life. But of course, some rules should be broken or updated. What is an unwritten rule that you wish didn’t exist? (Our custom is to have five new prompts each year, but this year we decided to break with tradition. Enjoy!)
– Inspired by Maryam Abdella, Class of 2026

7. 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!

Villanova University

Writing Supplement #1: Free Choice
For the first 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 the truest thing that you know?

3. As an Augustinian community, we believe that you should not judge people by what they appear to be, but rather see them for what they can be. Please share with us a time when you were misjudged based on your identity or background.

4. 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?

5. At Villanova, we believe that each of us strengthens all of us. In a time of personal challenges, how do you borrow from the strength of others?

Writing Supplement #2: Why Villanova?
Why do you want to call Villanova your new home and how will you become part of our community? Please submit a written response of about 150 words.

Vanderbilt University

Short Answer Question (Required; Choose one):

For both first-year and transfer applicants, we ask you to complete a short answer essay (approximately 250 words) based on one of two prompts.

1. Vanderbilt University values learning through contrasting points of view. We understand that our differences, and our respect for alternative views and voices, are our greatest source of strength. Please reflect on conversations you’ve had with people who have expressed viewpoints different from your own. How did these conversations/experiences influence you?

2. Vanderbilt offers a community where students find balance between their academic and social experiences. Please briefly elaborate on how one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences has influenced you.

Boston College

Writing Supplement (Required; Choose one):

We would like to get a better sense of you. Please respond to one of the following prompts (400 word limit).

1. Each year at University Convocation, our incoming class engages in reflective dialogue with the author of a common text. What book by a living author would you recommend for your incoming class to read, and why would this be an important shared text?

2. At Boston College, we draw upon the Jesuit tradition of finding worthwhile conversation partners. Some support our viewpoints while others challenge them. Who fulfills this role in your life? Please cite a specific conversation you had where this conversation partner challenged your perspective or you challenged theirs.

3. In her November 2019 Ted Talk, “The Danger of a Single Story,” Chimamanda Ngozi Adichi warned viewers against assigning people a “single story” through assumptions about their nationality, appearance, or background.  Discuss a time when someone defined you by a single story. What challenges did this present and how did you overcome them?

4. Boston College’s founding in 1863 was in response to society’s call. That call came from an immigrant community in Boston seeking a Jesuit education to foster social mobility. Still today, the University empowers its students to use their education to address society’s greatest needs. Which of today’s local or global issues is of particular concern to you and how might you use your Boston College education to address it?


Human-Centered Engineering (HCE) 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?

Washington University in St. Louis

Writing Supplement (Required):

A 200-word response to the question “Please tell us what you are interested in studying at college and why.”

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?



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?


Supplemental Essay Prompts After the Affirmative Action Ruling 

There is one noticeable change to some of this year’s Common Application supplements that has to do with the highest court in the land. Since the Supreme Court struck down the use of race-based Affirmative Action in college admissions, some schools have responded by adding additional prompts or changing existing prompts in their Common Application supplemental requirements. 

Since colleges will have to change certain elements of the admissions process to comply with the ruling, many are adding prompts that give students the opportunity to share their backgrounds and experiences beyond specific demographic markers. Some colleges, like Sarah Lawrence College, have added prompts that specifically address the Supreme Court decision. Most, though, have added prompts that ask students to share more of themselves, especially when it comes to their background or diverse experiences. These serve as a loophole to get around the Affirmative Action ruling.

Here is a snapshot of a few of these new prompts:

Brown University

Students entering Brown often find that making their home on College Hill naturally invites reflection on where they came from. Share how an aspect of your growing up has inspired or challenged you, and what unique contributions this might allow you to make to the Brown community.

Columbia University

In college/university, students are often challenged in ways that they could not predict or anticipate. It is important to us, therefore, to understand an applicant’s ability to navigate through adversity. Please describe a barrier or obstacle you have faced and discuss the personal qualities, skills or insights you have developed as a result.

Emory University

Emory University has a strong commitment to building community. Tell us about a community that you have been part of where your participation helped to change or shape the community for the better.

Stanford University

Please describe what aspects of your life experiences, interests and character would help you make a distinctive contribution as an undergraduate to Stanford University.

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.


Related Topics

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