Supplemental college essay prompts vary from none to seven, from matter-of-fact to fanciful, in 2022-2023

For the 2022-2023 college application season, many colleges require students to submit supplemental essays in addition to the Common Application essay.  Some schools, like American University, require just one supplemental essay.  “Why are you interested in American University?” (100 words)  Bard College is more succinct:  Why Bard? (250 words)  So is Yale.  “Why Yale?”

Other colleges require several supplemental essays.  Agnes Scott College in Atlanta requires six essays of varying lengths:

  • Please tell us why you chose to apply to Agnes Scott College? (50-100 words)
  • Describe at least one quality of leadership that you have learned in high school either through direct experience or by observation of another leader? (5-50 words)
  • What global issue can you imagine yourself addressing during your time at Agnes Scott? (5-50 words)
  • Optional: If you are involved in community service, what project has been your favorite and why? (5-50 words)
  • If you could visit anywhere, where would you go and why? (200 characters)
  • What’s your favorite book you have read outside the classroom (not assigned reading) and why? (200 characters)
  • Tell us about a leader that you admire. Who are they? How have they influenced you? (5-100 words)

Did you notice that none of these “essays” should be more than 100 words, and that two of them should be measured in characters?  (An essay of 200 characters?  Hmm.  This paragraph is about 200 characters.)

Here are some other supplemental essays, chosen by me for the brevity of the question.

  • “What is your favorite word and why?” University of Virginia
  • “Be yourself,” Oscar Wilde advised. “Everyone else is taken.” Introduce yourself. Dartmouth College
  • “Share a time when you were awestruck.” Emory University
  • “How did you spend your last two summers?” Stanford University
  • “What is the truest thing that you know?” Villanova University

Williams College has done away with any writing requirement in its application process.  However, it offers the option of submitting a three- to five- page academic paper, completed in the past year.

And then there is Rice University.  Instead of asking students to submit an essay, Rice asks them to submit a captionless image that appeals to them.  Apparently, no explanation is required.

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