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College of William & Mary 2023-24 Supplemental Essay Prompt Guide

College of William & Mary 2023-24 Application Essay Question Explanations

The Requirements: Two essays of 300 words or fewer

Supplemental Essay Type(s): Topic of your choice

William & Mary is a community that fosters deep human connection. We reflect on the lessons of history to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing world. We engage diverse perspectives and seek wisdom in bridging differences. Together, we are unceasing in our efforts to make a meaningful difference in our communities, the state, the nation, and the world.
To help us learn more about you, we invite you to share additional information by answering up to two of these optional short-answer prompts. Think of this optional opportunity as show and tell by proxy. (300 words each)

Beyond your impressive academic credentials and extracurricular accomplishments, what else makes you unique and colorful? 

This prompt is so open-ended that we recommend reading through the others to see if any of those jump out at you first. If you find yourself coming back to this prompt, then you probably have a story to tell that doesn’t meet the parameters of the more standard supplemental essay types. Perhaps you’ve been itching to write a short essay about your love of DIY projects and how empowered you feel every time you finish one. Maybe you want to write about your love of makeup tutorials and how you stepped outside your comfort zone to start recording your own tutorials and posting them on TikTok. This prompt is really here to give you the opportunity to speak to admissions in your own voice about something you think will give them more insight into the person behind the application. If you have a strong essay that you wrote for another school on your list, you may want to consider whether you could repurpose it for this prompt here, since you can take it in different directions. (Recycle, reduce, reuse!)

Are there any particular communities that are important to you, and how do you see yourself being a part of our community?

This is a classic Community Essay, through and through. Tell admissions about a community you are a part of and what significance it holds in your life. Then think about how your involvement in that community will impact the way you show up at W&M. What you address can be a larger cultural community—think race, sexuality, religion—or as specific as your after-school knitting club. Address the role that your community plays in your life, then consider why your particular background or experience within this community will enrich W&M’s campus once you step onto the scene. How will it help inspire and/or inform others? What is important to you and how will your experiences in communities bring something of value to William & Mary?

How has your family, culture and/or background shaped your lived experience?

Admissions wants to know what has made you who you are. What has shaped you as a person and how has that made your perspective unique? What you write about can really run the gamut because admissions is giving you a lot of leeway here. Maybe you’ve lived on multiple continents, which has shaped your worldview and made you feel like a citizen of the world. Perhaps you’ve spent every summer at your grandparents’ farm since you were little, where you learned the value of hard work and developed relationships with the animals that you cherish to this day. Whatever story you want to tell admissions here, be sure to infuse your essay with as many details as possible in order to set yourself apart from other applicants.

Share more about a personal academic interest or career goal.

This prompt will likely jump out to applicants who have a specific major or future career path in mind. To prevent your essay from reading as generic, try to tell a story about the origin of your interest in your chosen area of study or career and be as specific as possible when exploring your interest and motivation. Look ahead five or ten years and imagine what you’d like your professional life to look like. Maybe you’ve been interested in the human brain ever since you were an inquisitive little kid. Will William & Mary’s Neuroscience major aid you on your quest to understand humankind? Perhaps you come from a family of entrepreneurs and you dream of running your own business one day. How will a W&M education help you to achieve your goal? Build a bridge between your past and your future for admissions so they can see your commitment and demonstrated interest in this field. 

Tell us about a challenge or adversity you’ve experienced and how that has impacted you as an individual.

William & Mary wants to accept students who possess qualities such as resilience, determination, and humility, so tell admissions about a time when you faced a challenge or adversity and how that experience has shaped the person you are today. Once you have a topic in mind, be sure to summarize your challenge in as few words as possible; that way, you’ll have plenty of room to discuss the impact it had on you, what you took away from the experience, and (if you have any extra words at your disposal) how you will apply that insight to your time at William & Mary. Admissions wants to accept thoughtful, reflective individuals to campus, so show them that you fit the bill!

If we visited your town, what would you want to show us?

Admissions is giving you the opportunity to think fast, not hard, and roll with the punches—so, take advantage! Maybe you want to encourage admissions to stop by the old diner in your town; you know, the one with photos of Frank Sinatra on the walls, where you have dinner with your grandparents every Sunday. Perhaps a visit to your town is never complete without a visit to the quirky downtown district to check out the latest street art, where you may or may not have left your own mark. Whatever it is about your hometown that you think is worth noting, make sure to connect your answer back to you. After all, like every prompt, this is an opportunity for admissions to get to know you better, wherever you come from.

We try our best to make sure our guides are as up to date as possible, but we still recommend confirming each prompt and word count with the school in question.
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