How to Write the Claremont Supplemental Essay 

Claremont Mckenna College has two supplemental essays. Here is a guide to writing them!

Why do you want to attend CMC? (150-200)

As with any “why this school” essay, you’ll want to give specific, concrete, compelling reasons about why this is the right school for you. Claremont Mckenna is an outstanding liberal arts college located in sunny southern California—fantastic, but both CMC and every other applicant already know that. Take some time to research special opportunities, interesting classes, or professors you are eager to work with. Try to mention a few specific aspects of CMC that make you want to attend CMC over other high ranking liberal arts colleges. You can also talk about more cultural aspects of the college and its student body. For instance, perhaps you are someone with very diverse interests, and you appreciate that ⅓ of CMC students double major. Or perhaps you come from a large high school where you don’t know your professors well, and you’re looking forward to the tight knit relationships CMC fosters between students and faculty. 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.

What is “intellectual courage”? (150-250 words)

Unlike the first prompt which demands a more concrete, research-based answer, you have to come up with this answer all on your own. There’s no page on the CMC website with the secret answer to this question. Rather, you must draw on your own experiences to define intellectual courage. Think about the people in your life, in your favorite book or movie, or in history who you think demonstrate intellectual courage. What qualities do they share? You can also think about a moment when you demonstrated intellectual courage and what it felt like, as well as what it accomplished. Maybe one of your teachers was only calling on boys instead of girls to participate in class and you called them out, identifying their actions as a classic case of unconscious bias. Or perhaps you gave a presentation on a controversial topic in your government class, despite your teacher advising against it. You likely have many stories like this to reflect on, the key now is to convey their significance to your admissions officer and to extract a definition of “intellectual courage” from the anecdote.