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Williams College 2020-21 Supplemental Essay Prompt Guide

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!

Williams College 2020-21 Application Essay Question Explanations

The Requirements: 1 essay of 300 words

Supplemental Essay Type(s): Why

This is an opportunity for you to present another writing sample. It’s entirely optional, and you can either respond to one of the prompts below in an essay of no more than 300 words, or you can upload an academic paper (preferably in the humanities or social sciences) completed in the last academic year.

The first-year Entry–a thoughtfully constructed residential microcosm of the student community that’s a defining part of the Williams experience–brings together students from around the world with different perspectives, interests and backgrounds. Imagine having a late-night conversation with your Entrymates about a community that you value. Describe that community and why it’s important to you.

This is a long prompt that boils down to this: Tell us about a community that you value. Why is it important to you? Williams wants to learn about a community you hold near and dear to your heart. You could be a part of a Venezuelan Culture Club, or a youth choir at your church; either way, Williams wants to hear about it. So try your best, despite the small space you are given, to describe the community and then detail your place within it. Next, address the second part of the question: why is this community important to you? Maybe it’s the sense of belonging, or bonding with people from all walks of life over something you all thoroughly enjoy. Whatever it may be, try to write about in a conversational way, as if you were having a late-night conversation with your Entry-mates.

All-Campus Entertainment (ACE), a student organization, hosts a weekly event called “Stressbusters”–an opportunity for students to focus on self-care by stepping away from their typical routine and enjoying some unscheduled time–and snacks!–with friends. Weekly Stressbuster activities might include a concert, playing with a therapy dog, painting pumpkins, building with Legos, etc. What’s your version of a “stressbuster,” and how does it help you rejuvenate in the midst of a hectic week?

First of all, “Stressbusters” sounds amaaazing! We want to paint pumpkins and build legos and play with therapy dogs! But enough about us — what do you do to unwind after a busy week and how does it help you? This question is all about self-care, so give admissions some tips. Maybe you put on a face mask and paint your nails while watching old Tyler Perry movies to relax midweek. Or perhaps you love going for a drive and singing along to your Spotify playlist as loudly as you can. Maybe you’re a runner, and you like to go for long runs on the trails near your house whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed. Whatever your personal medicine may be, use this opportunity to share with admissions, so they can get to know you a bit better.

At Williams, we believe that bringing together students and professors in small groups produces extraordinary academic outcomes. Our distinctive Oxford-style tutorial classes—in which two students are guided by a professor in deep exploration of a single topic—are a prime example. Each week the students take turns developing independent work—an essay, a problem set, a piece of art—and critiquing their partner’s work. Focused on close reading, writing and oral defense of ideas, more than 60 pre-determined tutorials a year are offered across the curriculum. Imagine yourself in a tutorial at Williams. What topic would you be most excited to study in that setting and why?

One could argue that college is largely about the pursuit of knowledge, so you can imagine it would be quite appealing for an admissions officer to have a meter for your level of self-motivated learning, along with a better understanding of what intrigues you. Your answer to this prompt should reveal something to admissions about your intellectual interest(s). For example, if you’re interested in studying astrophysics, you might want to write about how excited you would be to study galaxy formation and evolution in a Williams tutorial class. Or maybe you love the arts and would love to study the intimacy of immersive theatre performances. Why would the Williams tutorial be the best setting to study, discuss, and explore the topic you choose? Show admissions that you are a curious, motivated learner, and ready to hit the ground running.

I would like to upload my own essay (from a humanities or social science course and ideally 3-5 pages in length).

Finally, if none of the above prompts inspired you to write a response, you have the option of submitting an essay that you have already written! Don’t you love options? Unless you have an essay already written that fits the bill, however (from a humanities or social science course and 3-5 pages in length), we would recommend answering one of the previous three prompts instead.

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