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The Requirements: Five short answers; one essay of 150 words, one essay of 200 words, one brief essay of 75 words, one list
This is one of the most ScArY prompts out there. It’s so open ended that most students want to run for the hills! Well, hold your horses—part of the beauty of this prompt is that you can write about anything you’d like. Feel free to take inspiration from some of the essays you have written (or will write) for other school supplements on your list. Or go the old-school route and set aside five minutes to brainstorm. Write down everything that comes to mind. We’re willing to bet, when your timer sounds off, you’ll have an idea of what you’d like to communicate. Ultimately, admissions knows that you’re multifaceted, and it’s futile to try to capture the essence of you within 200 words. So, don’t try to pull off the impossible. Instead, introduce yourself in your own words.
Don’t overthink your answer to this quirky short answer. We recommend keeping it clean, but other than that, let your freak flag fly. Maybe you want to include a classic (however you define the term), a current bop, and a timeless ballad. Or maybe it’s old school funk for all three. Whatever you choose, be true to yourself, and you’ll ace these short answers.
Admissions is giving you the opportunity to think fast, not hard, and roll with the punches—so, take advantage! Maybe you want to encourage them to stop by the old diner in your town; you know, the one with photos of Frank Sinatra on the walls and serves a cheesy chicken tender and french fry sub sandwich! (Maybe also tell them where they can find some Tums for the inevitable heartburn to follow?) Perhaps a visit to your town is never complete without stopping by 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.
This is one of our all-time favorite short-answer questions. It’s also one students dread, initially, because they don’t know how to approach it. Like many of the other questions on this list, think about what you do or what you are interested in that might also be of interest to admissions. What else about who you are and what you do have you not yet revealed about yourself? The Founder of CEA always jokes that she would list her favorite kinds of pasta in order (because she is an actual pasta fiend). Maybe she would make a list of the top five pasta meals of her life and who she ate them with to showcase how much pasta is a part of her social life and how she connects with others (food is truly the centerpiece of her world). Think about how you can add dimension to your list and take a collection of favorite movies or museums beyond the ordinary. Pro tip: if someone else could duplicate and submit your exact list, that means it’s not specific or creative enough and probably won’t tell admissions anything they really want or need to know.
The way we spend our time says a lot about us, so does what excites us and what we look forward to year after year. Tell admissions about a ritual or cultural celebration that is significant to you and how it has shaped the way you think about yourself. Maybe, every Juneteenth, your family gets together for a big cookout at your aunt and uncle’s house before attending the local parade to celebrate Black resilience, joy, and liberation. How does this cultural tradition influence how you see yourself as a member of the BIPOC community in the United States? Perhaps your family observes Qingming, or Tomb-Sweeping Day, and you all head to the cemetery to clean your ancestors’ gravesites and make offerings. How has this experience influenced the way you think about yourself in terms of legacy or mortality? Specificity and authenticity will be key here, as admissions is hoping to learn more about what (or who) has shaped the person you are today.