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Emory University 2021-22 Supplemental Essay Prompt Guide

Emory University 2021-2022 Application Essay Question Explanations

The Requirements: 1 essay of 200 words, 1 essay of 150 words
Supplemental Essay Type: Why, Oddball

Academic Interests

What academic areas are you interested in exploring in college? (200 words)

This required prompt is nothing more or less than an academically inclined Why essay. As you dig into the writing, aim to answer these two key questions: (1) What do you love about the subject? (2) How does Emory’s specific program meet your needs or excite your curiosity? In other words, your goal is not just to geek out (although that’s highly encouraged!), but also to demonstrate your fit for Emory specifically. If you can display a knowledge or curiosity for your chosen major alongside some school-specific facts, you’ll show admissions that you’re motivated and dedicated to their institution. If that’s not a winning combo, we don’t know what is! So, before you start scribbling away (or pounding out 300 words on your computer), remember that the backbone of any good Why essay is research! Give yourself some time to dig through the Emory website and get to know your department as well as any related programs, centers, and opportunities.

Getting to Know You

In addition, answer one of the following questions. Your response should be no more than 150 words.

Reflect on a personal experience where you intentionally expanded your cultural awareness.

Emory wants to accept applicants that are curious, open-minded, and socially aware. Admissions wants to bring students to campus who will not be afraid to question their own beliefs or biases, or to strive to consider different perspectives and points of view. So, how have you intentionally expanded your cultural awareness? Maybe you saw Juneteenth trending on Twitter this summer and had never heard of it before. Did you read articles to educate yourself? Reach out to friends or family members who were celebrating? What did you learn? Perhaps one of your friends put the kibosh on a joke you told during a Zoom party, so you took it upon yourself to better understand the subject matter and why your joke may have been insensitive or offensive. All of us are constantly learning and growing, so there’s no shame in being wrong about something as long as you seek to listen, retain information, and expand your horizons.

When was the last time you questioned something you had thought to be true?

This prompt is A LOT like the Common Application’s prompt #3. It requires a student to speak about beliefs and ideology, which are often onerous subjects that can be difficult to mold into compact stories. A response to this prompt can be incisive and deeply personal, as it was for a student who questioned her lifelong diet after she visited an animal sanctuary for the first time. As you consider this prompt, think back on those impassioned, “Aha!” moments that forced you to drastically reexamine a long-held belief. As you tell your story, include sensory details to make your experience defending the need for gender neutral bathrooms at your school or challenging Prince Harry’s suggested ban on Fortnite come to life. Applicants who can articulate their thoughts and feelings while showcasing malleability and willingness to thoughtfully consider the ideas of others will likely stand out as valuable additions to Emory University. If this prompt jumps out at you because you have a very specific story to tell or opinion to voice, run with it!

If you could witness a historic event (past, present or future) first-hand, what would it be, and why?

Emory is really not messing around with these questions! Your choice of topic, and what it communicates about you, is everything. Maybe you want to witness the “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” a.k.a. the game-winning home run by Bobby Thomson in 1951 because you are a HUGE sports fan (and aspiring Human Health major with a Health Innovation concentration). Perhaps you want to witness Neil Armstrong’s first moon landing to experience one of the most exciting moments in the United States’ 20th century history (and you’re also a total outer space nerd). Be sure to dig into the empirical details to bring your particular event to life (let the reader hear Hodges’ frenzied cry of “The Giants win the pennant!” as the ball soars past the outfielders) and don’t ignore the critical “why” part of the question, which is asking you to connect your chosen historical scene to your own interests, passions, or experiences. Whatever you do, try to avoid subjects other students will likely flock to. MLK’s “I Had A Dream” speech is incredible, but it might not make for the best topic here — unless, of course, you have a highly personal story that connects to that moment. (There are always exceptions to the rules!)

Share about a time when you were awestruck.

This question is incredibly vague, and we’re willing to bet that’s on purpose. If you feel yourself drawn to this prompt, lean into the inclination and get creative. Because it’s so open-ended, you can really take your response in any direction. Maybe you want to write about the first time you fell in love with a book and knew you wanted to be a writer, or perhaps you’re itching to tell admissions about the amazing ways wildlife can adapt to new surroundings (and you also want to casually drop that you’re an excellent candidate for their Bio major). We recommend taking a few minutes to brainstorm. Clear your mind, hold a pen and paper, and see what comes out. Just make sure you’re still revealing new things about yourself to admissions along the way. Don’t get caught up in the wonder, but instead, relate the experience or moment back to you and your trajectory.

Which book, character, song, monologue, or piece of work (fiction or non-fiction) seems made for you? Why?

In this prompt, Emory University is looking for more than just a summary of your favorite book. Admissions wants to know why a certain work of art is meaningful to you, and how it connects to your identity, history, or values. As with all supplemental essays, your goal should be to use this prompt as an opportunity to tell admissions something new about yourself through your relationship to a particular piece of art. Does “Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou resonate with you as a young woman of color overcoming obstacles with courage and determination? Have you always felt that you and Allison from The Breakfast Club were cut from the same cloth? How come? Be careful to avoid self-aggrandizing or pandering choices rather than writing about works that truly speak to you. Don’t write about Charlotte Brontë unless you genuinely feel connected to her life and work. When you give admissions insight into the art that you feel is representative of your personality, experiences, or background, you will be revealing a fascinating, newfound piece of the complex puzzle that is you.

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