How to Write the Williams Supplemental Essays

Williams gives students the option to respond to ONE of the prompts below in 300 words or fewer. Even though this essay is optional, you should seize the opportunity to respond to university specific questions at all of the schools you apply to. Here is a guide to answering Williams’s essay prompts:

1. The first-year Entry–a thoughtfully constructed residential microcosm of the student community that’s a defining part of the Williams experience–brings together students from around the world with different perspectives, interests and backgrounds. Imagine having a late-night conversation with your Entrymates about a community that you value. Describe that community and why it’s important to you.

With just 2200 undergrads, Williams itself is a relatively tight-knit community. That is to say, everyone on campus must add a unique contribution to the campus culture, which in turn, enriches the campus culture and classroom discussions. Before answering this prompt, ask yourself, have you been a part of a community that has shaped you? Are you a polyglot who is fascinated by the intersection between culture and language, and have made friends from all around the world? Have you always been interested in the chemistry of cooking, and watch cooking shows with a group of friends and try out recipes together? For this prompt, imagine explaining to your future peers about these communities you’ve been a part of that have shaped you tremendously.

2. All-Campus Entertainment (ACE), a student organization, hosts a weekly event called “Stressbusters”–an opportunity for students to focus on self-care by stepping away from their typical routine and enjoying some unscheduled time–and snacks!–with friends. Weekly Stressbuster activities might include a concert, playing with a therapy dog, painting pumpkins, building with Legos, etc. What’s your version of a “stressbuster,” and how does it help you rejuvenate in the midst of a hectic week?

This is a great way for admissions officers to learn more about who you are, and what you do for yourself outside of the classroom and your extracurriculars. Think about what you like to do when you come home from school, or when you finish your homework, or finish practice. Do you watch your favorite TV shows, if so what and why do you choose these to watch? Do you like to knit or crochet, and share these designs online as a way to decompress after a hectic day or week of studying? Do you watch ASMR videos before you fall asleep as a way to relax? Get creative and personal with this prompt!

3. At Williams, we believe that bringing together students and professors in small groups produces extraordinary academic outcomes. Our distinctive Oxford-style tutorial classes—in which two students are guided by a professor in deep exploration of a single topic—are a prime example. Each week the students take turns developing independent work—an essay, a problem set, a piece of art—and critiquing their partner’s work. Focused on close reading, writing and oral defense of ideas, more than 60 pre-determined tutorials a year are offered across the curriculum. Imagine yourself in a tutorial at Williams. What topic would you be most excited to study in that setting and why?

This would be a great opportunity for you to share a particular topic, interest, or idea you’ve been interested in learning about and sharing with your future classmates. One way you can go about answering this question is to do some research – what tutorials are available at Williams, and which ones pique your interest, and why? You can also answer this question by sharing your own interests, whether they are academic or not. The key part of this question is sharing why you’re interested in the topic of your choosing, and how you see yourself exploring that in a tutorial.

4. I would like to upload my own essay (from a humanities or social science course and ideally 3-5 pages in length).

This is an opportunity for you to present another writing sample. It’s entirely optional, and you can either respond to one of the other prompts in an essay of no more than 300 words, or you can upload an academic paper (preferably in the humanities or social sciences) completed in the last academic year.