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How to Write the Claremont McKenna College Essays

Updated for 2023-2024

For the 2023-2024 application cycle, Claremont McKenna College asks prospective students to answer two supplemental prompts. As with any supplemental essays, be sure to take advantage of the opportunities to demonstrate accomplishments, qualities and personality, and show Claremont McKenna why you would be a good fit for their school!

Prompt 1:

CMC’s mission is to prepare students for thoughtful and productive lives and responsible leadership in business, government, and the professions. With this mission in mind, please explain why you want to attend Claremont McKenna College.

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Explanation:

As with any “why this school” essay, you should provide specific, concrete, and compelling reasons about why this is the right school for you, paying particular attention to the school’s mission of preparing students to become leaders in their communities. As you answer this question, highlight a few specific aspects of CMC that make you want to attend it over other high-ranking liberal arts colleges. Additionally, you should connect your personal and academic goals with what CMC offers. Consider how CMC’s mission aligns with your aspirations. Do you have a passion for business, government, or a particular profession? How will CMC’s approach to education and its resources support your ambitions? Be specific about why CMC is an ideal match for your goals. If you relate to CMC’s applied liberal arts philosophy of “learning to do and doing to learn” show your reader what that looks like in your life. Did your love of finance lead you to start a podcast about financial literacy? Or maybe your passion for baking led you to take an online class about the chemistry of cooking. If you haven’t seen this philosophy play out in your life thus far, think about how it would shape your college experience into one that is both intellectually stimulating and practical.

Prompt 2:

A critical part of fulfilling our mission is living out the commitments of CMC’s Open Academy: Freedom of Expression, Viewpoint Diversity, and Constructive Dialogue. We want to learn more about your commitment to listening and learning from others with different viewpoints, perspectives, and life experiences from your own. Describe a time when engaging with someone about a specific topic resulted in you changing your attitude, belief, or behavior, or you changed the belief or behavior of someone else. What was the change that occurred for you, and what facilitated that change? What did you learn from that experience, and how has it informed how you engage with others?

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Explanation:

This essay prompt asks you to reflect on your commitment to listening to and learning from others with different viewpoints, perspectives, and life experiences. You are also asked to describe a specific situation where your engagement with someone led to a change in attitudes, beliefs, or behaviors, either for you or the other person. To respond effectively, select a specific, well-documented experience that demonstrates your commitment to constructive dialogue and your ability to embrace diverse perspectives. The chosen experience should have resulted in a meaningful change in attitudes, beliefs, or behaviors, and demonstrate your current worldview and perspective. Explain how this experience has informed your approach to engaging with others who hold different viewpoints. How has it influenced your willingness to listen and learn from diverse perspectives? What steps have you taken to engage in more productive dialogues? Keep in mind that this question is designed to help admissions officers understand what type of community member you will be on Claremont McKenna’s campus, so be sure to link this pivotal experience to your aspirations for the future and your intended contributions to CMC’s community.