Check out our Common App Essay Prompt Guide!
Get ready, nerds! The University of Richmond supplement was made for the intellectually curious. All three prompts ask you to think on your feet and get creative in different ways. So be prepared to get a little messy, brainstorm, and give admissions a deeper look into the way your brain works.
The Requirements: 1 essay of 650 words
Supplemental Essay Type(s): Oddball
Something seems oddly familiar about Richmond’s first prompt. It’s not your eyes playing tricks on you; this option is just like Common App prompt #4, which asks you to describe a problem and how you would solve it. While Richmond offers a slightly different take, we’d recommend steering clear of this prompt if you’ve already covered similar ground in your personal statement. But if this feels like a new and exciting challenge, dive in! Richmond wants to know all about how you connect your personal values to the world around you and how you envision an ideal world. Although Richmond doesn’t outright ask you to offer your own solution to the problem, we still recommend connecting your answer to the kind of impact you’d like to have on the world! Ask yourself: How do you think you can contribute to a cause that is important to you? If you had the power to make a lasting impact in any area at all, what would it be? This could be a prime opportunity to highlight service work you’ve already done (tutoring English language learners) or demonstrate a deep knowledge of a topic that matters to you (the impact of global warming on extreme weather patterns). Just remember that this isn’t a research paper. While your problem and solution should be grounded in fact, the main goal is still for you to share your personal experience and tell admissions something they didn’t already know about you.
If you’re starting to sense a theme, you’d be right on the money. Richmond’s second prompt is also probing for your vision for the future (and the third one will too, in a different way). While the first prompt was an optimist’s dream, this question is steeped in realism. It’s perfect for the professionally-minded among us. What are you going to be when you grow up? And is your dream job future proof? While it might be tempting to go full science fiction and imagine a Bladerunner-esque world of androids, rein it in. If you’re interested in a field that could actually change as artificial intelligence becomes more sophisticated (neurosurgery, for example), think about what that could mean for your career. Would you incorporate AI? Or would you switch to a more hands-on track? This is an opportunity for you to tout your knowledge of a professional field or industry. As with the first prompt, your answer should be steeped in fact but focused on personal experience. And of course, you can’t forget the second question: how will a Richmond education contribute to your success in your future career? You’ll need to do a little research, but keep in mind that you can point to a specific department or a more general aspect of the school’s values and approach. Let your personal story and ambition be your guide.
If the first prompt asked you to be optimistic, and the second asked you to be practical, then the third is asking you to be curious. It’s an excellent option for the creative, motivated types who still haven’t decided exactly where they’re going in life. (Hint: it’s perfectly normal to feel this way at the end of high school!) While all three prompts ask you to show what you know about something – a problem, industry, or historical trends generally – this one leaves the most room for you to ask questions and choose a year based on something you’ve always wanted to know. Maybe you recently read Silent Spring and you would choose to travel back in time to meet Rachel Carson or visit the same locations she studied when she was writing the book. Or you might travel further into the future, to continue to study the relationship between agriculture and the environment. As you can see, this is as much of an opportunity for the scientists among us as it is for the aspiring journalists. The key to a great essay on this and all the other prompts is to show how you connect to the topic. Why does it matter to you? And more importantly, how did it come to matter to you in the first place?