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Colgate University 2017-18 Supplemental Essay Prompt Guide

Regular Decision: 

Colgate University 2017-18 Application Essay Question Explanations

The Requirements: 1 essay of 250 words

Supplemental Essay Type(s): OddballCommunity

The Colgate supplement is a feast of options! With four rather different prompts, there should be something for everyone. The trick to choosing the right one? Follow your gut, and aim to answer a prompt that will allow you to reveal something that doesn’t appear anywhere else on your application.

In addition to your personal statement, Colgate requires a supplemental short-answer essay. Please respond, in 250 words or less, to one of the following prompts:


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.

Do you enjoy giving back to your community? Do you feel like a global citizen engaged in matters that affect both the few and the many? If so, you’re exactly the kind of student Colgate wants to welcome to campus next fall! In order to show admissions that you fit the bill of an engaged, socially aware, and motivated citizen, tell them about a time when you gave back to your community in a meaningful way. (Hint: your community can be as small as your family or neighborhood and as large as the entire world or even universe!) Hone in on a specific experience and then draw a clear connection to your future at Colgate. If you stick fliers for the local food pantry in neighborhoods nearby to increase monthly donations, look into the kind of local hunger prevention programs Colgate students engage with. Perhaps you pride yourself on being an activist for LGBT communities in intolerant nations or young girls who are not receiving proper education, and hope to conduct meaningful research on this topic while you study abroad. Push beyond the basic gratification that comes with “giving back” and try to envision the impact you’d like to have. Idealists, this question is for you.

Colgate prides itself in tradition. Please describe a religious, cultural, or family tradition you can share with the Colgate community.

This is a great option for applicants who haven’t yet taken the opportunity to describe their background and upbringing in much detail. The traditions you honor say a lot about what you value and the way your community has shaped you. Does your family go Christmas caroling every year even though you’re tone deaf and can never feel your toes? Do you fast from dawn to dusk during the entire month of Ramadan? Maybe you and your siblings made your own tradition to bake pfeffernusse cookies to mark the first day of winter every year. No matter your tradition, when answering this prompt, make sure to emphasize the sense of community you feel by taking part in this tradition – and then share how you will bring this tradition to Colgate’s campus. Maybe you hope to go caroling with The Colgate Thirteen or fast alongside new friends at the Colgate University Muslim Student Association. Perhaps you can teach your dorm floor how to use just the right amount of pepper to bring your pfeffernusse cookies to life. No matter your tradition, think about how you will continue to honor it with Colgate’s community.

We want to get to know you better. What are three words that your best friend would use to describe you and why?

Colgate isn’t the only school that wants to know which words best describe you; Chapman, Stanford, and USC also have similar prompts. The key to nailing this prompt is putting time aside to brainstorm. You might be tempted to write words that belong on your LinkedIn profile, words like hard working, disciplined, determined, organized, dedicated, or overachiever. Think again. The prompt asks which words your best friend would use to describe you, so think about which superlative your friend would nominate you for in the High School yearbook or even ask your friends for their thoughts! Feel free to get creative and choose words that might give admissions better insight into who you are.

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 2022 to read. Why?

Admissions wants to know that you are invested in expanding your horizons and educating yourself beyond the classroom. When responding to this prompt, think of a book, poem, or short story that has stuck with you through the testament of time or had a profound impact on the way you think about something. Remember that Colgate is not looking for a book report here, if you want to knock this essay out of the park, your response should be a larger comment on what people, college students, or specifically 18 year old’s need right now. Is it an understanding of global warming? An appreciation for solitude? Knowledge of World War II? As you weigh your options, try not to limit yourself to the titles that you think sound most impressive. This isn’t about telling admissions what they want to hear (or what you think they want to hear), but about revealing a larger truth about who you are. Be honest with yourself about the works that have had the greatest impact on you; the text itself almost matters less than the perspective you bring to it. Reading See Spot Run with an eye towards the rhythms of early childhood literature? A stretch, perhaps, but sure! Why not? Whatever you choose, if you can connect this piece of literature to your other interests or even your future plans, bonus points are available (from the team at CEA anyway)!

Please note: the information below relates to last year's essay prompts. We are going to update this guide with the prompts for 2021-22 as soon as they become available. Check back soon!
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