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How to Respond to the 2023/2024 Amherst College Supplemental Essay Prompts

By Cece Gilmore

Cece Gilmore is a Content Writer at Scholarships360. Cece earned her undergraduate degree in Journalism and Mass Communications from Arizona State University. While at ASU, she was the education editor as well as a published staff reporter at Downtown Devil. Cece was also the co-host of her own radio show on Blaze Radio ASU.

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Reviewed by Bill Jack

Bill Jack has over a decade of experience in college admissions and financial aid. Since 2008, he has worked at Colby College, Wesleyan University, University of Maine at Farmington, and Bates College.

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Edited by Maria Geiger

Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

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Updated: November 2nd, 2023
How to Respond to the 2023/2024 Amherst College Supplemental Essay Prompts

Amherst College is a selective and top-ranked liberal arts college with an acceptance rate of 9%. They offer unique benefits that combine liberal arts education and the resources of a university, due to being a part of the Five College Consortium. Since it is a highly competitive school, applicants will need to make their Amherst supplemental essays stand out from the others. 

Fortunately, Amherst provides some variety in options for applicants responding to the Amherst supplemental essays. So, let’s learn in this guide how you can ace the Amherst supplemental essays!

Before answering Option A in the Amherst supplemental essay questions 

Option A asks applicants to choose from three quotes and respond to them. 

Choose one of the following quotations, and respond to the question posed, in an essay of not more than 350 words. It is not necessary to research, read, or refer to the texts from which these quotations are taken; we are looking for original, personal responses to these short excerpts. Remember that your essay should be personal in nature and not simply an argumentative essay.

Amherst provides its applicants with some vague and open ended direction for responding to the provided quotes. This means there is some freedom in your response allowing you to truly interpret a quote the way that makes the most sense to you. Remember that supplemental essays are intended to get to know the applicants better. So be sure to select a quote that stands out to you! 

In addition, the word count for this response is 350 words. This may seem like a lot, but once you start writing it can feel a bit restrictive. Therefore, be sure to brainstorm and plan out what you want to write about. Make sure you are getting your main points across without exceeding the 350 word limit. 

Quote option #1

“Amherst College is committed to learning through close colloquy and to expanding the realm of knowledge through scholarly research and artistic creation at the highest level. Its graduates link learning with leadership—in service to the College, to their communities, and to the world beyond.”  – from the Mission of Amherst College 

Quote option #1 questions to consider: What do you see as the benefits of linking learning with leadership and/or service? In your response, please share with us a time where you have seen that benefit through your own experience.

Quote option #2

“We seek an Amherst made stronger because it includes those whose experiences can enhance our understanding of our nation and our world. We do so in the faith that our humanity is an identity forged from diversity, and that our different perspectives enrich our inquiry, deepen our knowledge, strengthen our community, and prepare students to engage with an ever-changing world.” – from the Trustee Statement on Diversity and Community

Quote option #2 question to ask yourself: In what ways could your unique experiences enhance our understanding of our nation and our world?

Quote option #3

“Strong commitment to the freedom of inquiry lies at the heart of Amherst College’s mission to create a home in which the liberal arts may flourish. As a small residential liberal arts college that prides itself on the ability, curiosity, and diversity of its students, Amherst seeks to create a respectful environment in which members of its community feel emboldened to pursue their intellectual and creative passions.”

– from the Amherst College Statement of Academic and Expressive Freedom

Quote option #3 question to consider: Tell us about an intellectual or creative passion you have pursued; what did you learn about yourself through that pursuit?

Option B

“Submit a graded paper from your junior or senior year that best represents your writing skills and analytical abilities. We are particularly interested in your ability to construct a tightly reasoned, persuasive argument that calls upon literary, sociological or historical evidence. You should not submit a laboratory report, journal entry, creative writing sample or in-class essay. Also, if you have submitted an analytical essay in response to the “essay topic of your choice” prompt in the Common Application writing section, you should not select Option B. Instead, you should respond to one of the four quotation prompts in Option A.”

Option B is a backup in case you have a writing piece you are extremely proud of. Otherwise, you should stick to responding to one of the Option A quote prompts. Essentially, you have to decide what will provide an Amherst admissions officer with the most well-rounded idea of you. 

Amherst’s website has a helpful FAQ for Option B if you are interested in it! 

Option C – for A2A program students only

“If you were an applicant to Amherst’s Access to Amherst (A2A) program, you may use your A2A application essay in satisfaction of our Writing Supplement requirement. If you would like to do so, please select Option C on either the Common Applications or the Coalition Application. However, if you would prefer not to use your A2A essay for this purpose and you wish to submit a different writing supplement, select either Option A or Option B. [Please note that Option C is available only to students who were applicants to Amherst’s A2A program. Non-A2A applicants must choose either Option A or Option B.]”

This option is only available for students who were applicants to Amherst’s A2A program. The A2A program is available to aid minority students while at Amherst. Therefore, if this option does not apply to you – do not respond to it! Rather select option A or option B for your Amherst supplemental essay. 

Before submitting your Amherst supplemental essays

Before submitting the Amherst supplemental essays, be sure to proofread! You can do this by reading them yourself or asking a trusted friend, parent, or teacher to read it over for you. Remember, you only have one shot to submit your application to Amherst so you want it to be flawless. 

Make sure your response not only answers the prompt but also reveals pieces of your personality throughout the essay. You want the Amherst admissions office to get a good sense of who you are as not only a student but a person. 

Next steps after applying to Amherst

Now that you have figured out which of the Amherst supplemental essays is the best for you – it is time to write! Be sure to plan out what you will write to ensure that all of your main points are included. 

Once you have completed your Amherst supplemental essay question – congratulations! Take a deep breath and go treat yourself to something special! You did it! 

Now that you have a beautiful Amherst supplemental essay written – it is officially time to submit your application! Once your application is submitted, be sure to check your Amherst portal and email for updates on your application status.

Now, you are not done with the admissions process! Continue to show demonstrated interest in Amherst by 

This will give you an opportunity to get to know Amherst more! It will also provide Amherst with the opportunity to get to know you better as well. 

Good luck on the rest of your college journey! 

Additional resources

We know how stressful this time can be for students! So, we have a lot of resources available for students going through the college admissions process. We can help you determine what is a high SAT score, how many schools to apply to, how to get a college application fee waiver and so much more. And if you’re thinking that college is not for you check out some top alternatives to four-year universities. And if financial issues are hindering your choices check out our free scholarship search tool to help fund your education! 

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