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How to Respond to the 2023/2024 Claremont McKenna College Supplemental Essay Prompts

Claremont McKenna is a private liberal arts college located in sunny Claremont, California. Claremont McKenna is a smaller school of roughly 1,500 students with an acceptance rate of 11%. Strong responses to the Claremont McKenna supplemental essay prompts will help you stand out from other applicants to become a CMC undergraduate! 

First, a little background on the “7Cs”

Claremont McKenna College is one of the seven members of the consortium known as the “7Cs.” These seven private higher education institutions are located in Claremont, Ca.

The first “5Cs” include five undergraduate colleges: Claremont McKenna College (CMC), Harvey Mudd College, Pitzer College, Pomona College, and Scripps College. Two graduate schools, Claremont Graduate University (CGU) and Keck Graduate Institute (KGI) bring us to the “7C” total.

Each member of the consortium has their own unique identities. Harvey Mudd is renowned for its STEM programs, Pitzer for social sciences, Pomona for liberal arts, and of course, Scripps is self-described as “The Women’s College” for liberal arts. Claremont McKenna College is well regarded for its social science majors, including economics, finance, government, international relations, and psychology. 

Claremont McKenna College essay prompts

CMC requires two supplemental essay prompts as well as an optional video response. After submitting your application, you will receive instructions by email from the CMC Admission Office on how to submit an optional two-minute video. Similar to interviews, the optional video response gives you an opportunity to tell us more about yourself beyond the information you provided in your application. The most compelling video responses have a genuine voice and highlight your thoughtfulness and authenticity.

Prompt #1

CMC’s mission is to prepare students for thoughtful and productive lives and responsible leadership in business, government, and the professions. With this mission in mind, please explain why you want to attend Claremont McKenna College. (Min: 150 / Max: 250 words)

To answer this question successfully, you will need to have properly done your research on Claremont McKenna. Spend time scrolling through various sources of information such as: 

  • The Claremont McKenna website
  • Claremont McKenna social media accounts
  • A student who vlogs their time at Claremont McKenna on YouTube

It is important that you are finding well-rounded information about the positives and negatives of Claremont McKenna from different sources and perspectives. 

Once you have become a self-declared Claremont McKenna expert, take note of your favorite features of Claremont McKenna that other schools do not have.

What to highlight 

Your essay might address factors such as:

  • Location
  • Any specific courses
  • Majors (if specific) 
  • Clubs

The most important thing when creating your list is that you are being specific about Claremont McKenna and its appealing features. 

For example, instead of writing about how intrigued you are by the number of clubs offered at Claremont McKenna, choose to write about how excited you are to join the K-Pop club. And why are you excited? K-Pop is your favorite genre of music, and you are excited to interact with like-minded people. 

See the difference? In the second example a Claremont McKenna admissions officer will notice that you have done your research and what you want to get involved in on campus–they know a little bit more about you! 

Try to include the following in your response: 

  • Show a variety of interests 
  • Include your academic goals and how the features at Claremont McKenna will help you achieve them
  • Connect your interests back to Claremont McKenna! 

Prompt #2

A critical part of fulfilling our mission is living out the commitments of CMC’s Open Academy: Freedom of Expression, Viewpoint Diversity, and Constructive Dialogue. We want to learn more about your commitment to listening and learning from others with different viewpoints, perspectives, and life experiences from your own.
Describe a time when engaging with someone about a specific topic resulted in you changing your attitude, belief, or behavior, or you changed the belief or behavior of someone else. What was the change that occurred for you, and what facilitated that change? What did you learn from that experience, and how has it informed how you engage with others? (Min: 150 / Max: 250 words)

This prompt is asking you to show how you are open to learning and sharing your experiences. This is a “reflective” type of prompt, but what CMC wants to know is that you are open-minded and respectful of the lived experiences of others. To convey this about yourself, you will need to think back to a moment in time when your beliefs were challenged, or you questioned the beliefs of someone else. This is not to say that you must share that you totally changed your view or that of another. Rather, what thought processes changed within you? Perhaps you now have a better idea of how and why some people think differently than you. Remember, the prompt is asking about the change that occurred within you, so no matter how big or small the incident was that inspired that change, share your story!

Questions to ask yourself:

  • What are some of your core beliefs? Think about your upbringing and how you were influenced by your surroundings
  • What specific occurrence inspired you to reconsider a particular belief and/or those of others?  
  • How will you use what you learned moving forward? Think about how you can apply this to living and learning at CMC!

The most important thing to remember when answering this question is to be honest about what you learned from your experiences. Doing so will show that you are a person who is open-minded. empathetic, and willing to learn from the experiences of others.  

Optional video prompts

After submitting your CMC application, you will have the opportunity to  submit an optional two-minute video. According to CMC’s first year admissions, “the most compelling video responses have a genuine voice and highlight your thoughtfulness and authenticity.”  Keep this in mind as you select the prompt that will allow you to present your most authentic self. Check out our guide on how to create a college video response so you can wow the CMC admissions team! Below each prompt, we included a few questions to ask yourself before you start. 

Prompt #1

Claremont McKenna College is a special community because it is composed of talented people who individually and collectively contribute to improving the life of the College.  How do you hope to contribute to the CMC community?

Questions to ask yourself

  • What organizations do you want to be involved in on campus? 
  • What are your passions? 
  • How will you take advantage of the opportunities presented on campus? 

Prompt #2

The Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum represents the intellectual mantelpiece of the Claremont McKenna College community, bringing students, faculty, and staff closer together through active engagement and discussion on a daily basis. Knowing that diversity of thought and respectful dialogue are vital elements to the Athenaeum’s mission, who is someone you would want to hear speak at the Athenaeum in order to better understand a diverse perspective or experience from that of your own?

Questions to ask yourself

  • Who is someone you look up to? 
  • What historical individual made the greatest impact on you? 
  • If you could listen to only one TED talk by one person, who would it be? 

Prompt #3

Developing a personal narrative is key to understand one’s own values and unique voice. Instances of personal adversity are key markers when determining an individual’s character, resoluteness, and sources of inspiration. When was the last time you were moved to great emotion and how did you positively respond from that moment in time?

Questions to ask yourself

  • What was the last thing that made you cry? 
  • Think of a time in which you learned and grew from an emotional event.
  • How did this event shape your life? 

Prompt #4

People support each other and their communities in various ways.  How do you support those around you and how has this shaped your unique perspective?

Questions to ask yourself

  • What leadership roles have you taken on in your life? 
  • How do you let people know you are there for them? 
  • Do you volunteer anywhere? Why? 

Next steps after submitting your Claremont McKenna supplemental essays

That’s all there is to it! Just remember the following tips for responding to both of your Claremont McKenna supplemental essays: 

  • Do not repeat yourself between both of the responses
  • Do not copy the Claremont McKenna website word for word
  • Be specific! Name specific courses or clubs! 
  • Write about things you are genuinely interested in 
  • Connect everything back to yourself and your interests
  • Reveal pieces of your personality throughout

Once you have included all of these tips throughout your responses, you are ready to submit your flawless Claremont McKenna supplemental essays! Best of luck to you during the college admissions process. 

Additional resources

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