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How to write the 2020-2021 Emory supplemental essays

by Rebecca Acree, on Oct 1, 2020 8:00:00 AM

Students applying to Emory University will need to respond to two prompts from two different categories of supplemental essays. Emory calls these the “Reflections” category and the “Tell Us About You” category, and applicants will choose one prompt from each category. Each response has a maximum of 150 words — so your responses need to be short and sweet! 

Read on for our guide to responding to Emory’s 2020-2021 supplemental essays! 

Reflections: Share about a time when you questioned something that you believed to be true. (150 words) 

During college, you’re going to be exposed to many new ideas, perspectives, and ways of thinking, and some of these might be contrary to the beliefs you currently hold. Admissions officers at Emory want to know that you’re open-minding, and willing to have your ways of thinking challenged. In answering this prompt, describe a moment when you questioned your ideals, changed your mind about something, or had your belief shaken. What was the situation? How did you react? Focus on demonstrating how you were able to adapt and, if relevant, change. 

Reflections: If you could go back in time, what advice would you offer yourself at the beginning of secondary/high school? (150 words) 

This prompt offers Emory readers another chance to learn more about how you’ve grown, learned, and changed, and how you reflect on your own experiences. In answering this prompt, we recommend thinking past the more obvious pieces of advice, like “go to bed earlier” or “don’t fall behind on your homework.” Many other people may want to offer this advice to their younger selves — how can you set yourself apart? Your advice doesn’t have to be strictly about academics; it could be related to any kind of growth that you underwent during high school.

Reflections: Reflect on a personal experience where you intentionally expanded your cultural awareness. (150 words) 

Similar to the first “Reflections” prompt, this prompt aims to help Emory readers understand what you’ll be like as a college student. In college, you’ll be experiencing and interacting with people of many different cultural backgrounds, possibly for the first time. Readers want to know that you are able to do this respectfully and intentionally. How have you broadened your own cultural awareness during your high school experience? How have you interacted with people from different backgrounds? This is a great opportunity to tell the story of a specific moment from your life! 

Tell Us About You: Which book, character, song, or piece of work (fiction or non-fiction) represents you, and why? (150 words)

This is a fun and creative way to tell readers something new about yourself, which hasn’t been covered in the other parts of your application. 150 words is not much space, so don’t choose anything that requires a lot of explanation in order for readers to understand. Remember to focus on the “why” part of this prompt. Why does your chosen work represent you? Be as specific, unique, and personal as you can! 

Tell Us About You: If you could witness any event (past, present, or future) first-hand, what would it be, and why? (150 words)

You don’t have much space to fully explore your chosen event, so answering this prompt will be an exercise in brevity and concision. Whatever event you choose, past, present, or future, make sure that it tells readers something about who you are as a person. If you choose, say, the fall of the Berlin wall, don’t just say “I find it interesting.” Why do you find it interesting? What about that specific moment in time appeals to you? What do you hope to learn, and how would you apply that to your life now?   

Tell Us About You: Introduce yourself to your first-year Emory University roommate. (150 words) 

Start answering this prompt by making a list of all the things you might want a future roommate to know about you. Then, hone in on the things that will show readers who you are without you having to tell them. Think beyond “I’m tidy” or “I stay up late.” These qualities may be true, and even important to you, but readers can’t learn much about your character from them! Instead, think about why you’re tidy or why you stay up late. What’s the truth behind these qualities? How can you share that truth with more of the details and perspective that make you unique? 

Ready to perfect your personal statement next? For tips on crafting a great personal statement and examples of what that looks like, check out our guide to personal statements

Topics:college admissions