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How to Respond to the Harvey Mudd Supplemental Essay Prompts

Harvey Mudd College is a small college located in Claremont, California. While they are a premier engineering, science, and mathematics college, they actually consider themselves a liberal arts school. They believe that science, math, and engineering should not be separate endeavors from arts and humanities. The school is highly competitive, so any applicants should be sure to submit the best Harvey Mudd supplemental essays they can. Let’s break down how you can turn each prompt into a stellar essay!

Before you apply

It’s always a good idea to do some research about a school before you apply. Before you start on the Harvey Mudd supplemental essays, try reading about their history and values. Harvey Mudd’s mission is to raise up future leaders in science, engineering, and mathematics who truly understand the impact of their work. It is their emphasis on studying the humanities alongside science that sets HMC apart from other top STEM colleges.

Harvey Mudd is looking for students who take initiative with more than just their studies. They want to see that students are exploring the world around them through non-scientific avenues, in order to create well-rounded, full views of humanity. If you’re unfamiliar with the history of Harvey Mudd College, take some time before answering their application prompts to familiarize yourself with their mission and vision.  

Prompt #1

“Scientific research is a human endeavor. The choices of topics that we research are based on our biases, our beliefs, and what we bring: our cultures and our families. The kinds of problems that people put their talents to solving depends on their values.” – Dr. Clifton Poodry
How has your own background influenced the types of problems you want to solve, the people you want to work with, and the impact you hope your work can have?
(500 words or less)

Perhaps this question does not excite you at first, as there’s a quote and three questions all in one. However, while there are multiple parts to respond to, they are not so complicated. So, let’s take it part by part and break it down!

First, let’s look at the quote that is shared. To understand why this quote is being used, you should first understand what Harvey Mudd stands for as a college. If you want more context about the quote, take a few minutes to research the speaker. Time to answer some questions! Let’s rewrite their question to make it a little clearer. 

Think about the following questions

  • How has your background influenced the types of problems you want to solve?
  • How has your background influenced the people you want to work with?
  • How has your background influenced the impact you hope your work can have?

The main thing you should be thinking about is what your influences and background have been. This is the base for every question they ask. This essay really wants to know about you and your past! So, don’t skip over this part by just talking about your future as there are a plethora of things outside of academics that influence who you are. 

Consider your background

  • What type of area did you grow up in?
  • What does your family demographic look like?
  • Where did you attend elementary, middle, and high school?
  • Have you worked or participated in any internships?
  • Have you traveled around the US or the world?

These are not all questions you need to answer, but one or two of these areas may have had a substantial impact on who you are. You can also think about some of the areas highlighted below. Are there any that you have given a significant amount of time to or that you’re particularly passionate about? 

Look for inspiration in:

  • Sports, music, technology, writing, literature
  • Jobs, internships
  • People who inspire you (whether you know them personally or not)
  • Other personal interest

This prompt gives you 500 words to answer in, which is a decent amount for a college application. Take your time to talk about topics that are meaningful to you. You don’t have to use all 500 words you’re allotted. However, if a college is giving you space to share who you are, you should always try to take full advantage of that opportunity! 

Also see:

Prompt #2

Many students choose HMC because they don’t want to give up their interests in the Humanities, Social Sciences, and the Arts – or HSA as we call it at HMC. Briefly describe what you’d like to learn about in your dream HSA class. (100 words or less)

If you still don’t know by now, Harvey Mudd is all about exploring the intersection of science and humanities. A humanities course can be about religion, history, philosophy, literature, performing arts, and more. This question is not asking you to pick a class from their catalog. They’re asking you what topic you would like to study. This could be anything! You get to be creative here!

This prompt gives you a hundred words or less to answer. So, your response needs to be concise and have a clear answer. Write out a short list of your interests and try to see where those interests intersect with each other. 

If you’re struggling to come up with class ideas, try not to research examples. Try asking friends and family what they might want to study. This question isn’t meant to be difficult, so don’t over- complicate it. Have fun, and know that HMC wants to learn more about you. And who knows, maybe one day your idea will become a real course that they offer!

Additional resources

Once you’ve finished your Harvey Mudd supplemental essays, give yourself a pat on the back. But remember, supplemental essays are just one part of the college application process. Although there is still more to do, we are here to help you through it.

If you are wondering whether or not to send your SAT/ACT scores, we can help you decide. Don’t forget to check out our other resources that might help with the college application process, such as how many colleges to apply to and how to find safety, reach, and match schools

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