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How to Write the Emory University Supplemental Essays

What academic areas are you interested in exploring in college?* 200 words

This question seeks to understand how your specific areas of academic interest align with the program of study at Emory. Begin by writing about the major or majors you might want to pursue at Emory and provide a concise reason for your particular interests. Write about your motivation to learn more about the areas you’re passionate about and how Emory will help you reach your intellectual, personal, and (if applicable) professional goals. Research the department and program you are interested in and include in your response specific professors, classes, and types of research that you’re interested in pursuing. This demonstrates to the university that you have focused goals and a clear understanding of the university’s unique capacity for helping you to achieve them. For example, if you’re planning to study astrophysics, write about an interesting class on exoplanets or a professor in the department doing interesting work on atmosphere composition who you’d like to conduct research with. Additionally, identify topics related to your main focus that you may not have studied in depth but intend to explore at Emory, identifying where your interest in these topics originated.

Please answer one of the following questions in 150 words or less:

Reflect on a personal experience where you intentionally expanded your cultural awareness.

Larger universities like Emory strive to admit students with a global perspective (or at least a demonstrated interest in developing one). Note the use of the word “intentionally”—the prompt is not only calling for a time that your cultural perspective shifted, but asking you to demonstrate that you actively seek out the opportunity to challenge your perspective through intercultural engagement. First, consider your own interests in cultures outside of your own and how you have expanded your understanding of those cultures. This could include travel (whether independent or through a study abroad/exchange program), a documentary, language study, a friendship with someone from another culture, or perhaps a book. It is important here to make it clear where you are coming from, specific cultural differences you noticed, and the steps you took to understand a culture different from your own.

When was the last time you questioned something you had thought to be true?

The purpose of this question is to demonstrate your maturity, either through a story about handling a challenge gracefully or by showing personal growth. When choosing your anecdote, make sure you’re focusing on what you learned from this experience and how it taught you to engage with different perspectives moving forward. You may want to focus on more recent challenges, rather than something you overcame when you were young and may not have had as many strongly formed opinions. If you do decide to describe something from childhood, make sure it was an impactful experience and follow it up with some details about how you’ve carried those lessons with you into adulthood. Finally, make sure you’re presenting both perspectives in a fair and reasonable way, regardless of your current feelings on the topic. This will demonstrate that you are prepared to engage with a variety of perspectives and treat them with respect to further your understanding!

If you could witness a historic event (past, present or future) first-hand, what would it be, and why?

This prompt gives you an opportunity to show off some of your knowledge and interests! It could make sense to pick an event that relates to an interest you have already written about or an interest that helps you further demonstrate your hook in the broader context of your application. You do not necessarily have to write about an academic interest. Perhaps you are an avid birdwatcher, but you haven’t had the opportunity to write about that hobby elsewhere in your application. You could write about a sighting of a rare bird that happened in the ‘80s and offer an explanation of its historic importance as the reason why you would choose to witness that event!

Remember that this question comes in two parts; not only are you being asked to describe the event you chose, but you have to explain why you chose it. As with many supplements, admissions is likely more interested in your ability to explain why you chose your particular event than in the event you chose, so be sure to offer a compelling argument for your choice!

Regardless of the event you choose to write about, make sure that your writing does not overlap with your personal statement or with other aspects of your application. Remember, the key to writing good college applications is maximizing your opportunities to demonstrate your interests and accomplishments!

Share a time when you were awestruck.

One quality that many colleges look for in students is curiosity. This is a chance to write about what makes you curious and what amazes you. We recommend that you try and write about a unique experience—one perhaps that no one else could really speak to. Perhaps you lost your backpack in a foreign subway system and then it was promptly returned, or maybe you tried a new cuisine that blew your mind. This will not only make you stand out, but will make your response feel more authentic and personal. Be sure to include details about the experience—highlight your emotions and what about the experience left such an impression.

Which book, character, song, monologue, or piece of work (fiction or non-fiction) seems made for you? Why?

It’s okay if nothing comes to mind immediately! This question is meant to give the admissions committee a better sense of who you are outside of strictly academic interests, so don’t feel obligated to choose the most “smart” sounding reference—instead go for a piece of work that you genuinely connected with. Maybe it made you laugh, maybe it made you cry, maybe the meaning of the work suddenly dawned on you in the middle of the night four years later. What matters most is choosing something that is authentic to you. Once you’ve picked what you will write about, analyze it and explain your interpretation of it in the first half of your response and then explain why it resonated with you so much in the second. Remember that you don’t have that much space, so only quote or reference what is necessary in your response, and then point to specific parts of your personality or life experiences that relate to the work. If you’re having trouble, go through your bookshelves or Spotify playlists for inspiration.