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How to Respond to the 2023-2024 Purdue University Supplemental Essay Prompts

Purdue University is a public university in West Lafayette, Indiana. Voted a Top 10 Public University in 2021, many students are hoping to gain entrance into one of Indiana’s best public colleges. This means you will have to use your very best writing skills and personal creativity to help you stand out in the Purdue supplemental essays. 

The Purdue University supplemental essays

For the regular undergraduate admissions application, you will have two 100 word prompts to write, and an additional optional 250 word prompt. It is always a good idea to write the optional essay, because this gives the admissions team at the university a better idea of the type of person that they could potentially be adding to their community and demonstrates your interest in attending.

Supplemental prompts on the traditional application focus on why you think Purdue would be a good fit for you, whereas the Honors College prompts are more focused on discovering what you may offer the college. Let’s break down the prompts for each application to give you a thorough idea of how to respond to all of them:

Also see: How to respond to the Common App essay prompts

If you are applying with the traditional application

Prompt #1

How will opportunities at Purdue support your interests, both in and out of the classroom? (250 words or fewer)

This prompt is a classic, as it can tell the individual reading your application more about you as a person than your transcript can. This is your opportunity to highlight what makes you you. There are multiple facets to this question, and although both are important, the “in the classroom” part of the question is going to tell Purdue what you can offer them academically. 

Every person has something different to offer, but there are some things that you want to avoid writing about that are seen as cliche. Think about what makes you interesting that is different from what makes your peers interesting. You could talk about how learning a foreign language in high school has inspired you to study international affairs at Purdue, or how the musical instrument that you decided to pick up during the pandemic made you decide to pursue a degree in music. 

Questions to consider

  • What makes you interesting as a student? 
  • What interests have you pursued in and/or out of the classroom? 
  • In what ways have you pursued those interests and how would you continue that pursuit at Purdue?

Prompt #2

Briefly discuss your reasons for pursuing the major you have selected. (250 words or fewer)

Every person chooses their major for a reason. Whether it is something you have wanted to pursue your entire life, or it was a recent find that sparked your interest, now is time to tell the story of how it came about. 

You want to draw the reader in with something enticing that makes them want to keep reading. Making sure to add specific details is something that will make you stand out among other applicants. 

Questions to consider:

  • Did you choose Purdue for the program you want to go into? 
  • What made their program stand out enough for you to decide to apply?
  • What are you passionate about academically?
  • What does your desired major say about you as a person, academically or extra curricularly?

Related: Show, don’t tell essay primer

If you are applying with the honors application*

Explain your vision, ideas, or goals for how you hope to shape your honors experience while at Purdue. Please put this in the context of the four pillars which are the foundation of the Honors College. (500 words)

The honors application prompts can look like a doozy at first glance, so let’s break it down. Ultimately, they want to understand how Purdue will benefit from you being a student there. This may sound intimidating, but realistically, most colleges want to know that when looking for students to accept. How will you use what you already know to further not only your education, but also the people around you and your university? 

The four pillars of Purdue’s John Martinson Honors College are leadership development, undergraduate research, community and global experiences, and interdisciplinary academics. Visualize what you want for your future and how those goals align with what Purdue looks for in a student attending their Honors College. Let those goals guide your writing. 

Questions to consider:

  • What career path do you want to pursue and how did it lead you to Purdue?
  • How will your career benefit from your time at Purdue and from the opportunities offered by the Honors College?
  • If you imagine yourself as a Purdue student, what do you see yourself doing?

Prompt #2

Please describe the interdisciplinary nature of your chosen field of study and how it complements or supports other fields. (Examples: You might describe how your work in a liberal arts career may impact or inform the work of an engineer.) (500 words)

This is a unique question, but an important one to answer. They want to know if your mind works like a team player. Are you able to think about how what you do affects others, or is your mind a one way road looking at just your journey through college and into your career? Take this question and run with it.

You want to think of a career that compliments yours well. For example, if your major is journalism, talk about the ways that a major like food science or history can impact your work, and vice versa. As a journalist, it is important to have sources, and on the other careers side, they need journalists for publicity. This can go both ways for any career, just try to be creative with it. 

Questions to consider:

  • What career compliments yours best?
  • Is there another major that you would want to work closely with?
  • What goals can you accomplish better if you worked as a team?

* Students must select “yes” on the last question of the Purdue application (“Are you interested in applying to the Honors College?”) for the two Purdue Honors College questions to appear.

Summing up the Purdue supplemental essays

We made it through all of the Purdue supplemental essays! In general, for any essay that you choose to write for college admissions, you want to be open and honest about any and all experiences that you write about. Admissions readers will be glad to hear your honesty and transparency, and they will value that in the long run. Make sure to read over your responses and consider giving your essay to a peer or advisor to read over before you submit it. We also recommend taking a break from your essay and going back to it another day to get a fresh pair of eyes. 

Other colleges to apply to

Additional resources

While you continue your college decision process, you have a lot to think about. Let us take some of that pressure off of your shoulders, and check out some of our helpful resources that can help alleviate some of the stress! Learn about how many colleges to apply (including reach, match, and safety schools) and what looks good on college applications. When it comes time, learn  how to choose the right college! Throughout the process, make sure that you apply to all the scholarships you qualify for! 

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