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The Requirements: One long essay with no word limit, two 150 word essays
We adore Activity essays like this one because they give you the opportunity to say all the things you couldn’t fit on your Common App activity list. First and foremost, you should make sure to pick an activity that has meaning, and one which you haven’t already written about. It’s usually a good strategy to pick something that you’ve been doing for a long time, where you can showcase key qualities like commitment, perseverance, and leadership. If you’re dying to write about an activity or job you just started, however, you can still write a compelling essay about why you decided to start, what drew you in, and what you’ve learned so far. You want to contribute additional context to what the Harvard admissions officers know about you, and you only have a small space to do it in, so use it wisely.
This is a pretty straightforward prompt. Harvard wants you to list any of your intellectual activities that you have not mentioned elsewhere in your application. Did you try to build an app this summer? Maybe you shadowed someone with a position you’d like to hold one day to get a better idea of what the day-to-day looks like. Perhaps you took an online French course to familiarize yourself with the language before taking a trip to Paris with your family. Harvard wants to know – so get to typing!
First thing’s first. While Harvard lists this essay as “optional,” know that, at least in our minds, no admissions essay is optional. If you have the opportunity to reveal something new about yourself to admissions and speak to them in your own voice, take it!
A “topic of your choice” can be difficult to brainstorm for, especially after you’ve spent so much of your creative energy on your personal statement. But there are other ideas in that head of yours — we know it! Unless Harvard is your first choice and you are tackling this application with an early submission deadline in front of you, you may want to leave this essay until the end of your supplement run. Are you applying to other schools with more specific prompts? Maybe those prompts will pull something unexpected out of your noggin that feels interesting enough to include or expand upon for Harvard? Also feel free to use their sample prompts as inspiration. Overall, remember the purpose of any admissions essay is to showcase something about yourself that admissions would not otherwise know about you.
This is a suuuper short answer for international students. Harvard University wants to know why you chose to apply to Harvard and why you want to attend Harvard above all other schools in the US, your home country, and abroad! Since you only have 50 words, you have no choice but to keep your answer short and sweet. That said, you can still focus on specific, personal details that show how much you know about the school. Does Harvard’s Folklore and Mythology concentration call to you? Will a focus on Environmental Science and Engineering set you on the path to be a leader in reducing or even reversing water and air pollution? Harvard wants to know.