Common Application Supplemental Essays for 2016-17

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Here are College Application Essay Prompts for the Class of 2021

We may be in the middle of summer break, but a number of colleges have released their college application essay prompts already, giving rising high school seniors the opportunity to get a head start on their admissions essays!

While the Common Application, 2016-17 doesn’t officially open until Aug. 1, and the Coalition Application launch is still to be determined, students should get a head start on their supplemental essays in order to lighten their workload come fall. Students applying using the Common Application can make accounts and get started on their Common App essay and filling out the standard application info, as accounts will rollover when the new application launches Aug. 1.

Common Application supplements will not rollover, however, but students still have the opportunity to start on supplemental essays for colleges that have released their prompts early.

Many colleges that are using both the Common Application and the Coalition Application this year are using the same supplemental essays for both.Here’s a list of colleges that will be utilizing the Coalition Application this year.

Here are the Common App, 2016-17 supplements that are currently available. We will be updating as more colleges release their essay prompts prior to Aug. 1.

Amherst College

Choose one

  1. Respond to one of the following quotations in an essay of not more than 300 words.  It is not necessary to research, read, or refer to the texts from which these quotations are taken; we are looking for original, personal responses to these short excerpts. Remember that your essay should be personal in nature and not simply an argumentative essay.
    1. “Rigorous reasoning is crucial in mathematics, and insight plays an important secondary role these days. In the natural sciences, I would say that the order of these two virtues is reversed. Rigor is, of course, very important. But the most important value is insight—insight into the workings of the world. It may be because there is another guarantor of correctness in the sciences, namely, the empirical evidence from observation and experiments.”
      Kannan Jagannathan, Professor of Physics, Amherst College
    2. “Translation is the art of bridging cultures. It’s about interpreting the essence of a text, transporting its rhythms and becoming intimate with its meaning… Translation, however, doesn’t only occur across languages: mentally putting any idea into words is an act of translation; so is composing a symphony, doing business in the global market, understanding the roots of terrorism. No citizen, especially today, can exist in isolation– that is, I untranslated.”
      Ilán Stavans, Professor of Latin American and Latino Culture, Amherst College, Robert Croll ’16 and Cedric Duquene ’15, from “Interpreting Terras Irradient,” Amherst Magazine, Spring 2015.
    3. “Creating an environment that allows students to build lasting friendships, including those that cut across seemingly entrenched societal and political boundaries…requires candor about the inevitable tensions, as well as about the wonderful opportunities, that diversity and inclusiveness create.”
      Carolyn “Biddy” Martin, 19th President of Amherst College, from Letter to Amherst College Alumni and Families, December 28, 2015. 
    4. “Difficulty need not foreshadow despair or defeat. Rather, achievement can be all the more satisfying because of obstacles surmounted.” Attributed to William Hastie, Amherst College Class of 1925, the first African-American to serve as a judge for the United States Court of Appeals
  1. Submit a graded paper from your junior or senior year that best represents your writing skills and analytical abilities. We are particularly interested in your ability to construct a tightly reasoned, persuasive argument that calls upon literary, sociological or historical evidence. You should NOT submit a laboratory report, journal entry, creative writing sample or in-class essay.

Boston College

We would like to get a better sense of you. Please select one of the questions below and write an essay of 400 words or less providing your response.

  1. Human beings have a creative side that tends to shine most when we are truly invested in the world around us. Describe a situation when you responded effectively to a particular need and found yourself at your creative best.
  2. Experience teaches us the importance of being reflective when making major decisions. Share an example from a recent event when a leader or an average person faced a difficult choice. What were the consequences of the decision? Would you have done the same?
  3. 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?
  4. Jesuit education stresses the importance of the liberal arts and sciences, character formation, commitment to the common good, and living a meaningful life. How do you think your personal goals and academic interests will help you grow both intellectually and personally during college?

Colgate University

Choose one

  1. The Mission Statement for Colgate University sets forth 13 Goals for a Colgate Education. One goal for Colgate students is listed as: Be engaged citizens and strive for a just society: embrace the responsibilities to local, national, and global communities; use their influence for the benefit of others. Please describe how you would embrace this goal as a Colgate student.
  2. Colgate prides itself in tradition. Please describe a religious, cultural, or family tradition you can share with the Colgate community.
  3. We want to get to know you better. What are three words that your best friend would use to describe you and why?
  4. Colgate’s core curriculum teaches students empathy, informed debate, and critical thinking. Please tell us what book or piece of literature you believe is important for the entire Colgate Class of 2021 to read. Why?

Dartmouth College

  1. Please respond in 100 words or less: Oh, The Places You’ll Go is one of the most popular books by “Dr. Seuss,” Dartmouth Class of 1925.  Where do you hope to go?  What aspects of Dartmouth’s curriculum or community might help you get there?
  2. Please choose one of the following prompts and respond in 250-300 words:
    1. Shonda Rhimes, Dartmouth ’91, creator ofGrey’s Anatomy and Scandal, recently documented her Year of Yes; for one year she vowed to say YES to everything that scared her. Share a moment when you stepped out of your comfort zone, and describe how it helped you grow into who you are today.
    2. Celebrate an example of excellent teaching and how it illuminated the subject you were studying. Why did it resonate with you and excite your intellectual curiosity?
    3. In the wake of World War II, Dartmouth President John Sloan Dickey proclaimed, “The world’s troubles are your troubles…and there is nothing wrong with the world that better human beings cannot fix.” If you could tackle any of the world’s “troubles,” which one captures your imagination and inspires you to act?  What would you invent or devise to mitigate it and how might your coursework at Dartmouth inform your ambitions?
    4. “It’s not easy being green” was a frequent lament of Kermit the Frog. Discuss.
    5. “Three things in human life are important,” said the novelist Henry James. “The first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.” Share a moment when kindness guided your actions.
    6. “Won’t you be my neighbor?” was the signature catchphrase of Fred Rogers, the creator and host of Mister Rogers Neighborhood. What kind of neighbor will you be in our undergraduate community at Dartmouth? What impact have you had on the neighbors in your life?

Duke University

  1. If you are applying to the Pratt School of Engineering as either a first-year or transfer applicant, please discuss why you want to study engineering and why you would like to study at Duke. (150 words maximum)
  2. If you are applying to the Trinity College of Arts & Sciences as either a first-year or transfer applicant, please discuss why you consider Duke a good match for you. Is there something particular about Duke that attracts you? (150 words maximum)
  3. 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 to help us understand you better—perhaps related to a community you belong to, your sexual orientation or gender identity, or your family or cultural background—we encourage you to do so. 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, optional for all applicants)

Georgia Tech

  1. Beyond rankings, location, and athletics, why are you interested in attending Georgia Tech? (max 150 words)
  2. Please choose ONE of the following questions and provide an answer in 150 words or less.
    1. Tech’s motto is Progress and Service. We find that students who ultimately have a broad impact first had a significant one at home. What is your role in your immediate or extended family, and how have you seen evidence of your impact on them?
    2. Students are often told what classes they should take. If you had the opportunity to create a class, what would it be and why?
    3. We challenge our students to “be comfortable being uncomfortable.” Tell us about a time in high school that you felt outside of your comfort zone and the resolution.

Johns Hopkins University

  1. Johns Hopkins University was founded in 1876 on a spirit of exploration and discovery. As a result, students can pursue a multi-dimensional undergraduate experience both in and outside of the classroom. Given the opportunities at Hopkins, please discuss your current interests—academic or extracurricular pursuits, personal passions, summer experiences, etc.—and how you will build upon them here.

Stanford University

Candidates respond to all three essay topics. (250 word limit for each essay.)

  1. Stanford students possess an intellectual vitality. Reflect on an idea or experience that has been important to your intellectual development.
  2. 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—know you better.
  3. What matters to you, and why?

Tufts University

  1. Which aspects of Tufts’ curriculum or undergraduate experience prompt your application? In short: “Why Tufts?” (50–100 words)
  2. There is a Quaker saying: “Let your life speak.” Describe the environment in which you were raised – your family, home, neighborhood, or community – and how it influenced the person you are today. (200–250 words)
  3. Now we’d like to know a little bit more about you.  Please respond to one of the following six questions (200-250 words). Students applying to the SMFA at Tufts’ BFA program must answer prompt F; we strongly recommend that candidates for the five-year combined degree with the SMFA at Tufts choose either prompt C or prompt F:A) Nelson Mandela believed that “what counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived.  It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”  Describe a way in which you have made or hope to make a difference.

    B) It’s cool to be smart. Tell us about the subjects or ideas that excite your intellectual curiosity.

    C) Whether you’ve built blanket forts or circuit boards, produced community theater or mixed media art installations, tell us: what have you invented, engineered, created, or designed? Or what do you hope to?

    D) What makes you happy?

    E) Celebrate the role of sports in your life.

    F) Artist Bruce Nauman once said: “One of the factors that still keeps me in the studio is that every so often I have to more or less start all over.” Everyone deals with failure differently; for most artists failure is an opportunity to start something new. Tell us about a time when you have failed and how that has influenced your art practice.

University of Chicago

  1. 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. (Required)
  2. Share with us a few of your favorite books, poems, authors, films, plays, pieces of music, musicians, performers, paintings, artists, blogs, magazines, or newspapers. Feel free to touch on one, some, or all of the categories listed, or add a category of your own. (Optional)
  3. Extended Essay Questions (Required; Choose one)
    1. What is square one, and can you actually go back to it?
      —Inspired by Maya Shaked, Class of 2018
    2. Once, renowned physicist Werner Heisenberg said: “There is a fundamental error in separating the parts from the whole, the mistake of atomizing what should not be atomized. Unity and complementarity constitute reality.” Whether it’s Georges Seurat’s pointillism in “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte,” the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls, quantum physics, or any other field of your choosing, when can the parts be separated from the whole and when can they not?
      —Inspired by Ender Sahin, Class of 2020
    3. The ball is in your court—a penny for your thoughts, but say it, don’t spray it. So long as you don’t bite off more than you can chew, beat around the bush, or cut corners, writing this essay should be a piece of cake. Create your own idiom, and tell us its origin—you know, the whole nine yards. PS: A picture is worth a thousand words.
      —Inspired by April Bell, Class of 2017, and Maya Shaked, Class of 2018 (It takes two to tango.)
    4. Alice falls down the rabbit hole. Milo drives through the tollbooth. Dorothy is swept up in the tornado. Neo takes the red pill. Don’t tell us about another world you’ve imagined, heard about, or created. Rather, tell us about its portal. Sure, some people think of the University of Chicago as a portal to their future, but please choose another portal to write about.
      —Inspired by Raphael Hallerman, Class of 2020
    5. Vestigiality refers to genetically determined structures or attributes that have apparently lost most or all of their ancestral function, but have been retained during the process of evolution. In humans, for instance, the appendix is thought to be a vestigial structure. Describe something vestigial (real or imagined) and provide an explanation for its existence.
      —Inspired by Tiffany Kim, Class of 2020
    6. In the spirit of adventurous inquiry, pose your own question or choose one of our past prompts. 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 Michigan

  1. Everyone belongs to many different communities and/or groups defined by (among other things) shared geography, religion, ethnicity, income, cuisine, interest, race, ideology, or intellectual heritage. Choose one of the communities to which you belong, and describe that community and your place within it. (250 words.)
  2. Describe the unique qualities that attract you to the specific undergraduate College or School (including preferred admission and dual degree programs) to which you are applying at the University of Michigan. How would that curriculum support your interests? (500 words maximum.)

University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill

Choose one (400-500 words)

  1. Teen activist and 2014 Nobel Peace prize winner Malala Yousafzai said, “I raise up my voice-not so that I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard”. For whom have you raised your voice?
  2. Students learn both inside and outside the classroom. What would other members of the Carolina community learn from you?
  3. You get one do-over of any moment in your life. What would you do over, and why?
  4. You’ve been invited to give a TEDtalk. What is yours about?
  5. There are 27 amendments to the Constitution of the US. What should be the 28th?

University of Notre Dame

  1. Notre Dame is an adventure that will develop more than just your intellect.  Blessed Basil Moreau, founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross, believed that to provide a true education “the mind will not be cultivated at expense of the heart.”  What excites you about attending Notre Dame? (Required)
  2. Choose One:
    1. Home is where your story begins. Tell us about your home and how it has influenced your story.
    2. Think about when you first meet people. What is a common first impression they might have of you? Is it a perception you want to change or what else do you want them to know about you?
    3. The late Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., Notre Dame’s president from 1953 to 1987, served as a trusted adviser to U.S. presidents and popes. A champion for human rights, Fr. Hesburgh was one of the architects of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Reflect on the current state of civil rights, the progress that has been made, or the problems still being faced today.
    4. This is your chance to take a risk.

University of Pennsylvania

  1. How will you explore your intellectual and academic interests at the University of Pennsylvania? Please answer this question given the specific undergraduate school to which you are applying.

University of Virginia

  1. 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.
    1. College of Arts and Sciences– What work of art, music, science, mathematics, or literature has surprised, unsettled, or challenged you, and in what way?
    2. 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 do?
    3. School of Architecture– Describe an instance or place where you have been inspired by architecture or design.
    4. School of Nursing – Discuss experiences that led you to choose the School of Nursing.
    5. Kinesiology Program – Discuss experiences that led you to choose the kinesiology major.
  2. Answer one of the following questions in a half page or roughly 250 words.
    1. What’s your favorite word and why?
    2. 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.
    3. 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?
    4. 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?
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