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The Requirements: 2 essays of 150 words (1 required, 1 choice)
Georgia Tech’s unassuming supplement does a good job of disguising its challenges. 2 essays of a combined length of 300 words – easy, right? While the first prompt poses as a basic why essay, it issues a few caveats that may throw some applicants for a loop. The prompts of choice pose similarly cockeyed versions of classic college essay questions. Although the writing may be brief, applicants will want to spend some extra time planning their responses. Fortunately, we made you a guide!
If you’ve looked at any other supplements before this one, you have probably already seen some version of this question: why here? In almost every case the objective is the same — and twofold: (1) You need to demonstrate a solid knowledge of what the school has to offer. And (2) you should leverage that knowledge to clearly demonstrate your interest in the school. In Georgia Tech’s case, though, you may not be able to write about the main things that appeal to you. The prompt rules out three big ones: school reputation, location, and athletics. Admissions is pushing you to dig deeper than the basics, but more importantly, they are pushing you into a more academic realm. So, when you research the school (and yes, you will need to do this for every why essay), direct your focus to the departments and other scholarly opportunities that interest you. What do you want to learn? Bone up on professors and notable alumni in your field. Pick out classes to take and clubs to join. But remember, this essay is relatively short, so once you have at least a page of notes, try to zero in on one central idea as a foundation for your essay: do you want to become the best scientist you can be? Or become a global citizen by taking advantage of study abroad programs and the vast alumni network? Whatever you choose, make sure your choices reveal something important about who you are and what you value.
Many schools ask applicants to write about the communities they come from, but this prompt turns that question sideways. You may have a few good stories about your grandma’s impact on your life, but have you ever taken a moment to think about how you might have changed her life? Your response can be super concrete (“I started working at age 16”) or more abstract (“I make people laugh”), but either way, you should focus on a single notable (and relatively brief) anecdote. Without a specific narrative, you risk writing an essay full of self-aggrandizing platitudes (“I changed my mom’s life for the better”) or irritating self-deprecation (“My family probably sometimes wishes I didn’t exist”).
Not sure where to start? Why not go straight to the horse’s mouth? Interview your parents, siblings, or extended family members about their memories. What are their fondest stories about you? How would they describe you? You can also dig through old photos and mementos like postcards and gifts/souvenirs. What are the kinds of things that your family members give you? What does that say about how they see you?
It should already be clear who should/shouldn’t go for this question: if you don’t consider yourself an entrepreneur, move along. That said, there’s a pretty broad definition here: you don’t have to have started a tech company. Maybe you learned a valuable lesson from your first lemonade stand, or discovered something about the complications of working for friends/family when you decided to babysit for your neighbors. How did starting your business (of any variety) change the way you think about entrepreneurship? What did it reveal about your leadership skills?
Although your life experience should be central to this essay, you also need to consider how Georgia Tech can help you “further your entrepreneurial interests.” As with the first part of this prompt, you can think broadly here. “Entrepreneurial interests” don’t start and end with starting your own business; you might want to cultivate a sense of independence as an artist, or be prepared to advocate for yourself in the competitive world of local politics. Get creative, but be prepared to cite specific details about Georgia Tech! If you find that you are repeating points you already made in your Why essay, you might want to consider responding to another prompt.
We’re sensing a rule of three. Georgia Tech’s third option falls into a similar tradition as Common App prompt #3 and Coalition prompt #3. All of three ask you, in one way or another, to consider a time when you were the odd man out. If you’ve already tackled this question on one of the main application platforms, first of all, good for you. Second of all, you might want to pick a different prompt for your Georgia Tech application to avoid redundant storytelling.
While Georgia’s prompt provides more specific parameters than the other two, it comes with similar challenges. Talking about discomfort can be, well, uncomfortable, and producing a coherent essay on this prompt requires a great deal of maturity and self-awareness. They ask you to describe not only an uncomfortable situation, but also its “resolution.” So, be prepared to tell your tale from start to finish; if you haven’t totally processed an experience, don’t feel obligated to share it. Clearly, we want you to approach this prompt with caution. That said, your high school experience is probably rife with experiences that made you squirm. What was your first public speaking experience like? Did you have an argument with an old friend that revealed how much you had grown apart over the years? Were you ever forced to justify a belief you once took for granted? You’re welcome to get personal and reflective, but we’d caution you to stay away from the “sex, drugs, and rock n roll” realm of your life. (But if you must, we do have a tutorial for that.)