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Purdue University 2020-21 Supplemental Essay Prompt Guide

Regular Decision: 

Purdue University 2020-21 Application Essay Question Explanations

The Requirements: 1 essay of 250 words, 2 short answers of 100 words

Supplemental Essay Type(s): Activity, Why, Short Answer

Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences. (Respond in 250 words or fewer.)

We love 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. We usually tell you to avoid repeating information that could be found elsewhere on your application, but in this case it’s a part of the assignment. That said, you can still go beyond repeating the facts! First and foremost, you should make sure to pick an activity that has meaning, and one which you haven’t already written about. Athletes, in particular, should be wary of writing every essay about sports — even the three-season varsity athletes among you! Show that you have facets. You may be asking, “But how do I do that, oh wise Essay Advisors?” Well, 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. Maybe you’ve been going to the same summer camp for years, rising from camper, to counselor-in-training, to full-on counselor. How did this process track with your transformation into a young adult? What lessons did you learn as your responsibilities grew? Why have you invested so much of your time in this particular community? There are so many larger lessons you can share about who you are! On the other hand, if you’re dying to write about an activity or job you just started, you can still write a compelling essay about why you decided to start, what drew you in, and what you’ve learned so far.

How will opportunities at Purdue support your interests, both in and out of the classroom? (Respond in 100 words or fewer.)

This is basically a super short Why essay and the best way to answer it is to do your research. If you set aside an hour to crawl through the school website and jot down the things that appeal to you, you’ll end up with a pretty comprehensive list of things that are relevant to your interests. Write down literally everything: courses, professors, clubs, traditions, you name it! You’ll put this information to good use in this essay and the next one. When you’ve finished your research spree, group your notes thematically, and pick a small cluster to cover in this brief essay. For example, let’s say you love creative writing (we get you). You might describe how taking a combination of English and history classes will help you write the Great American Novel, while joining an improv group in the meantime will sharpen your wit and creative thinking. College is a time to explore, so show admissions just how you plan to do that. Space is limited, so don’t worry about getting too detailed about your major and professional goals. You’ll have an opportunity to do that in the next short essay you write.

Briefly discuss your reasons for pursuing the major you have selected. (Respond in 100 words or fewer.)

We told you! Can we predict the future? Did we read all the questions before writing this guide? Who is to say? At any rate, now is the time to get nerdy. This prompt is all about your intellectual curiosity, but also your ambition for the future. There are so many reasons to pursue a degree in economics: because you’ve always wanted to apply your interest in math to the real world; or because you’re gunning for a career in finance; or even because you want to make policy one day. No one is more or less valid than the other, so first and foremost, be honest about your reasons. Then refer to your notes to fill in the details with colorful examples. In a short essay like this, you’ve got to shoot from the hip, so be specific and succinct. What makes Purdue the ideal place to pursue your dream? How will their offerings and opportunities inch you towards your goal?

Please note: the information below relates to last year's essay prompts. We are going to update this guide with the prompts for 2021-22 as soon as they become available. Check back soon!
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