Established in 1836, Emory University is currently located in Druid Hills, Georgia and is home to ~7500 undergraduate students. Every year, approximately 17,000 high school seniors send applications to Emory; however, only about 25% of them are accepted. What’s more, approximately 87% of every incoming freshmen class is reported to be in the top tenth percentile in terms of GPA at their high school. Certainly, competition for admission at this top 30 private-research university is no walk in the park.

There’s good reason for why seniors are flocking to the southern college. With faculty members including the Dalai Lama, former US President Jimmy Carter, and CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, students have access to some of the best minds in each field. Additionally, Emory University boasts a vibrant extracurricular scene, where students will find no shortage of opportunities to get involved. Finally, several famous alumni are associated with Emory—including the CEO of Burger King and the CEO of MetLife.

In this blog post, Admissions Hero is here to help you tackle the Emory writing supplement. The questions are relatively unique, so it’s best to put your most creative foot forward for the highest chance of acceptance. The instructions on the application read: “In addition to the Common Application’s Personal Statement, please choose one (1) of the essays below (500 word limit). This supplemental essay should give us insight on your character as well as your potential fit with Emory University. Please consider your essay thoughtfully, as our Admission Committee and Faculty have special interest in this portion of your application.” Let’s examine each essay prompt individually.

Essay Option 1

Emory University welcomes first-year students with two distinct options to begin their liberal arts education: the research-infused Emory College or the smaller, experiential learning Oxford College. If you could create an academic course that is in the Emory University spirit of collaboration, creativity, entrepreneurship and inquiry, what would it be? What impact would the course have on you and your classmates’ educational experience? (500 word limit)

Perhaps Emory’s defining essay, the “create your own class” prompt is one that will have you reflecting deeply about your own academic interests and intellectual passions. Your answer to this essay will be judged more so on content than style—the creativity and soundness of your ideas are what will impress admissions officers here. Feel free to talk about a class that would genuinely interest you; some of the best essays combine multiple intellectual pursuits. For example, perhaps your resume indicates that you are interested in both the airline industry and behavioral economics. A fantastic way to knock this essay out of the park would be to design a class that covers the airline industry from the unique perspective of behavioral economics. As you might imagine, very few applicants would write about such a class, and it is exactly that uniqueness that will carry your answer far. After introducing your class idea by giving the background for why its relevant, be sure to talk about what the class’s investigations would entail and exactly what topics would be covered. Then, talk about exactly how the students taking that class would benefit and what they would ultimately learn. Be sure to include aspects of “collaboration, creativity, entrepreneurship and inquiry” in your response.

Also, since this essay is to be written in supplement to the Common App (which is often very personal), an academic angle is almost definitely preferred to a personal perspective (although you can certainly use your own experiences as a springboard for launching into why your class would be important). Don’t be afraid to introduce statistics or industrial analysis into your answer—in fact, doing so would only corroborate the idea that you are capable of high-level academic conversation.

Essay Option 2

What is something you have taught yourself in the last year? How did you teach yourself this new skill or concept and what was the result? (500 word limit)

For students who often have extracurricular pursuits that aren’t “official” (in the sense that they’re not school- or community-sponsored activities), this essay is the perfect place to talk about those interests. An example of this type of skill might be teaching yourself to speak Swedish in your free time. Something like learning a language on your own wouldn’t normally make its way onto your application, and if it did there wouldn’t be enough elaboration to do it justice. However, in this essay you should feel free to talk about everything related to the activity—initial motivations, process of learning, experiences you’ve had a result, and perhaps even insights into new perspectives on life. For example, maybe teaching yourself something new has taught you that learning happens all the time—not necessarily just in the classroom—and this mindset of constant learning is one that you will bring with you everywhere you go. Regardless, some great characteristics that you’ll be able to convey about yourself with this essay include self-motivation, tenacity, intellectual horsepower, and uniqueness.

Zack Perkins

Zack Perkins

Zack was an economics major at Harvard before going on indefinite leave to pursue CollegeVine full-time as a founder. In his spare time, he enjoys closely following politics and binge-watching horror movies. To see Zack's full bio, visit the Team page.
Zack Perkins