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The Requirements: 2 essays of 100-200 words each; 1 honors program essay of 400-600 words
Supplemental Essay Type(s): Why, Community, Oddball
Emerson may have produced the most perfectly balanced supplement of the application season. These two (or three if you’re applying to the Honors College) brief essays zip together to form a complete picture of who you are: serious and silly, restrained and creative. You probably never thought you’d find a zen moment while writing your college essays, and yet here it is. So take a deep breath, center yourself, and dive in.
This is a pretty standard why essay focused on academics, so stay the course. You could have a million other reasons for applying to Emerson that have nothing to do with your intended major, but for now, all admissions wants to know is what you intend to study and why. So save their time (and yours) by cutting to the chase. Of course, brevity isn’t the same as generality. As with any other why essay, take some time to do your research. Scour your program’s website for information about classes, professors, unique opportunities, and notable alumni. What catches your eye? What inspires you? How does it connect to an interest you have? How does Emerson’s unique curriculum satisfy your needs in a way no other school could? Take a page out of alum Bobbi Brown’s book! Her lifelong love of makeup led her to wonder, can you major in this stuff? Instead of going cosmetology school, Brown took advantage of Emerson’s combined emphasis on communication and the arts. She refined her skills as a makeup artist and gained the business acumen to build a renowned makeup brand. What’s your story?
It doesn’t get more Emerson than this. Combine communication and the arts and what do you get? A book titling challenge! This is your chance to show (not tell) your creative side and prove to admissions that you’ve got the goods to fit in at Emerson. For an oddball prompt like this, the best strategy is just to have fun. If this kind of prompt gives you agita, fear not! You can choose to pen a response to the other prompt below.
If you do find yourself imagining your life on pages, lean into your creative instincts. Puns and all manner of wordplay are welcome and encouraged. Can you boil your life down to one recurrent theme? Have your calloused feet carried you through endless hours at the ballet barre? Has your practice of cutting your own hair defined your personal brand since the age of six? Through what lens do you view your life? This is a prime opportunity to give admissions a catchphrase or simple epithet to remember you by. How do you want to be known?
If titling your life story doesn’t unleash a thousand ideas in your brain, this second prompt option is for you. It is a classic Community Essay through and through. Your response should include both your take on how communities benefit the individual, the whole, or both, as well as a story or anecdote to back up your argument. Maybe the LGBT community in your city supported you through your coming out process, and now you get to be a part of other members’ journeys as well, encouraging them to live as their most authentic selves. Would you say that community benefits each and every member by providing a safe, collective space in which to connect and share? Does that kind of intimacy benefit the whole community? Admissions is looking for reflection and perspective from you, so don’t be afraid to think big!
Love is a rose! All the world’s a stage! So many great metaphors to choose from, and admissions wants to know which one has affected you and opened your eyes to see the world in a new light. This essay should include a bit of literary analysis–show them that you can break down a metaphor and explore why the comparison is effective or moving in some way. Things might get a little poetic, but that’s the idea; poetry reflects life as not only a mirror, but also a window to something new (OMG we just came up with that one… are… are we poets?). Don’t forget the last part of this prompt: metaphors can also be harmful. Maybe think of harsh stereotypes or bad faith generalizations: People are sheep. Men are dogs. Cash is king. Metaphors are powerful rhetorical devices that get a message across in a unique way–be it positive or negative. Let admissions know you’re listening to the world around you, but thinking for yourself.