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How to Respond to the Emory Supplemental Essay Prompts

Emory University is one of the country’s leading schools. If you are hoping to gain admission, it’s a good idea to focus on acing your Emory supplemental essays. Emory requires each student to write a 200-word essay on what academic areas interest them. For the second essay of 150 words, students can choose their topic from five prompts. 

We will help you stand out with your responses and identify the prompt best suited for your story. Let’s begin!  

Prompt #1

What academic areas are you interested in exploring in college? (200 words)

This prompt is pretty common as far as supplemental essays go. Beyond indicating your intended major, schools want to know why you are drawn to that subject. A solid way to organize your response is to start by describing your academic interest. Think of when your curiosity with the topic first began. What anecdote can you provide to invite readers in and make it personal? 

Perhaps you want to study film. A good hook could be sharing your unlikely movie preference of black-and-white classics as a middle schooler. Next, discuss the ways you have pursued this interest since. Did you start a cinema club in high school or enter a documentary contest with friends? Finally, connect this passion to Emory. Maybe you reference a course that intrigues you as part of Emory’s film and media major. Brownie points for doing your research!

Questions to consider: 

  • Did you discover you were talented at a subject as a young child?
  • Will certain degrees prepare you for your dream profession?
  • Do you have a combination of academic interests you can pursue in a unique way at Emory? 

Also see: Top 15 college majors for the future

Remember – you only need to select one of the following four prompts!

Prompt #2

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

When have you taken educating yourself and broadening your perspective into your own hands? The admissions team wants to hear about it. This is a mighty question to answer in such few words. Aim to express humility, explain deliberate actions you took, and summarize what you learned.  

An example could be writing on an appalling current event involving police brutality. Describe the way watching this news made you feel. You might admit that you had a limited understanding of institutional racism within the criminal justice system. Detail the actions you took to expand your knowledge. Did you follow thought leaders on social media? Which books or podcasts did you study? Finally, what was your takeaway? How will you utilize your position of privilege to combat these issues and be an advocate for change? 

Questions to consider: 

  • When did you realize your ignorance about a social issue and took steps to address it?
  • Have you ever exposed yourself to people of a different cultural, socioeconomic, religious, etc. background? 
  • What tough conversations have you had to initiate in order to gain greater awareness? 

Prompt #3

When was the last time you questioned something you had thought to be true? (150 words)

Similar to prompt #2, this question touches on a perspective change; however, it is less about a conscious attempt to do so. Think of a time when you’ve realized, wow, I had it all wrong. Or a moment that expanded your empathy once you walked in another’s shoes. Above all, Emory wants to see whether you are honest and introspective. Try to convey your open-mindedness when faced with situations that challenge your opinions.

For example, your topic could be taking accessibility for granted. You might write about having to undergo hip surgery after a soccer injury. While recovering, you discuss using a wheelchair. This experience opened your eyes to the obstacles those with physical disabilities face daily. You had assumed ramps or elevators were widely available; it was soon apparent, though, that many facilities lack these necessities. 

Questions to consider: 

  • How has someone you met dismantled a stereotype or implicit bias you previously held? 
  • Have you ever underestimated the difficulty of something?
  • Did you change your stance on a particular social issue after having a personal connection to it? 

Prompt #4

If you could witness a historic event (past, present or future) first-hand, what would it be, and why? (150 words)

Picking any event from any time frame offers an overwhelming number of options. To make things easier, look at your application as a whole. Which parts of yourself have you not shown the admissions team? Select an event that relates to this interest or character trait. Explain how it connects through the “why” portion of this question. 

Maybe your moment would be sitting in the stands at the 1999 Women’s World Cup final. This would be an event to reference if you are a huge soccer fan. Describing its implications for women’s sports on the world stage also showcases your interest in female empowerment. On a more personal level, maybe you’d like to zoom forward in history to discover the cure for ALS. This choice aligns with your interest in medicine and emotional ties after losing close relatives to the disease. 

Questions to consider:

  • What historical events are integral to your ancestor’s and your cultural identity? 
  • Think about your biggest interests and passions. What moments defined those fields? 
  • What problems in today’s society do you want to witness eradicated in the future? Or innovations you’d like to see created? 

Also see: How to write a 250 word essay 

Prompt #5

Share about a time when you were awestruck.

If you are thinking, geez, what a broad prompt, you’re right. This question is extremely open-ended. Any time you have ever felt amazed with wonder or stupefied by appreciation can satisfy this prompt’s ask. However, not every moment is created equal. Be sure you choose one that reveals a key piece of who you are and what you value. 

An experience could be your first visit to an art museum. Focus on a particular work that moved you. Set the scene by describing how you observed the painting for an hour while onlookers passed by. Detail the memories and feelings it stirred up. Now, relate why this experience was so significant. You can align this appreciation for art with how you stop and admire the little things. Share how you seek out sources of beauty everywhere and are detail-oriented. Conclude with how you will bring these qualities to Emory. 

Questions to consider: 

  • What awe-inspiring places have you visited? What did being in these gorgeous settings reveal to you?
  • Have you ever gotten lost in a rabbit hole learning something new? 
  • Have you ever attended a speaker or performance that left you stunned with admiration?

Prompt #6

Which book, character, song, monologue, or piece of work (fiction or non-fiction) seems made for you? Why?  (150 words)

Any piece of media is on the table here. Select something that is emblematic of a key piece of your identity. You may draw similarities to a Hamlet character; but if you find Shakespeare boring, this is not the space to make that connection. Your chosen work should be genuinely meaningful to you! 

For instance, you could talk about the song “Vienna” by Billy Joel. Explain how the song’s “slow down, you crazy child,” introduction is how you approach life. Connect the lyrics’ call to not let ambition blind you from appreciating the present with the college experience. Describe how staying imaginative and not trying to grow up so fast are critical to who you are. Mention that you listen to this song every time you feel stressed; this signals that it is truly special to you. Referencing an oldie like Billy Joel also shows admissions your taste in music! 

Questions to consider: 

  • Is there a character that represents your alter-ego? 
  • If you had to write your biography, what famous quotes would you include?
  • Is there a book, song, or tv show that you routinely go to for comfort/entertainment/inspiration? 

Also see: How to write an essay about yourself

Summing up the Emory supplemental essays

Phew! We made it through all of the prompts for your Emory supplemental essays. Fortunately, you only have to select one of the last five. We recommend choosing a few questions that stick out to you and brainstorming ideas for each. Land on the prompt that you believe best conveys your core attributes. Also consider which prompt most lends itself to a unique response. 200 words and 150 words are tricky word limits. We recommend you get your thoughts down, no matter the length. You can cut them down later to share your powerful story succinctly!  

Additional resources for students writing their Emory supplemental essays

There are so many moving parts to keep track of when applying to college. After you finish your Emory supplemental essays, be sure to read our 10 tips for successful college applications and 5 things to do after you submit. Also know that scholarships often involve essay applications. Look at this guide for an Overview of commons scholarship essay prompts. It’s never too early to start preparing!

Other supplemental essay guides