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If you think you’ve got writing application essays down to a science, think again. Harvey Mudd is asking its STEM-oriented applicants to tap into their creative side. This supplement warms you up with a classic Why essay before launching you into the unknown with a pair of interdisciplinary oddball essays. It’s time to buckle up, because we’re going in.
The Requirements: 2 essays of 500 words each
In a marvelous feat of engineering, Harvey Mudd has managed to craft a Why essay prompt without ever actually using the word “why.” The two halves of this question offer you two potential points of entry: (1) The external factors that influenced your decision to apply, like your passion for trigonometry, the Mudder alums in your life, or your craving for vitamin D; and (2) The intrinsic aspects of a Harvey Mudd education that appeal to you, like the faculty in your department, the research opportunities, or access to Claremont consortium. Whether you take approach #1 or approach #2, you’ll want to set aside an hour or so to do your research. Dig through the college website to figure out how it will meet your needs or trawl for cool facts and exciting programs. The more specific and personal the details you include, the more unique and memorable your essay will be.
If you’ve been looking for an opportunity to geek out, then look no further! What are your favorite things and how would you combine them all into a course of study? What’s the most interdisciplinary class you can dream up? This is your shot to not only wax poetic on your many passions, but also to show admissions how well-rounded you are. Maybe you’re a biologist who loves to paint watercolors of the local flora and fauna. Or perhaps you’re a chemist with a flair for fashion. How do you unite your many interests? And how would you go about drawing those connections for others? Perhaps the chemical fashionista would want to take a course on the history of synthetic fabrics. Maybe the painting biologist would want to spend a semester creating a picture book. Once you decide on your topic, commit to the planning process. Craft a comprehensive syllabus and try to come up with a memorable course title. In other words, take this opportunity to build your brand!
If Common App prompt #1 and Common App prompt #4 got together and had a baby, it would probably look a lot like this prompt. But we’d still encourage you to think of it as two distinct, but related questions: (1) How has your background affected the person you are today? And (2) how do your most altruistic motivations prove your answer to question 1? Perhaps you were raised largely by your grandparents, and now you’re interested in the science of aging. Or maybe your childhood on a dairy farm has stoked an interest in sustainable agriculture. People answering this question should have a clear origin story to tell.
Dependence takes many forms and it’s happening in your daily life. Your story can be as obvious as the kids you babysit or the people experiencing homelessness you feed at a shelter. But it can also be less cut and dry. Remember: Your friends depend on you for compassion and inspiration. Your siblings depend on you to set an example or to cheer them on in their endeavors. One way to think about this is to ask yourself, “who would be disappointed if I didn’t show up?” Walk yourself through your day, week, or the past year and take note of who counts on you. You might surprise yourself with how integral you are in the lives of those around you. In telling this story, show admissions that you don’t take your responsibilities lightly and appreciate the interconnectedness of your community, whatever that may be. If you’re inspired by helping others and have a unique relationship that’s worth sharing, this prompt may be for you.
If neither of the other prompt’s spoke to you, you’re in luck! This one’s a catch all! But a note of caution: every single essay you write should answer the basic question this prompt poses. If you’re not telling admissions something new about yourself in each piece of writing, you’re doing it wrong. This prompt is a good choice if the other two prompts just reaaaalllly don’t fit your needs (although if that’s the case, you might want to ask yourself why you’re applying to this school at all) or if you have some crucial life story that you think Harvey Mudd admissions needs to hear. It’s also a good option for applicants who are super pressed for time and need to recycle an essay from another application, but keep in mind that this prompt isn’t a total free for all. Whatever you write should tell a story that reveals something brand new. In other words, don’t expand on some aspect of your resume or item on your activity list.