About William and Mary

The second oldest institution of higher learning in the United States, the College of William and Mary is a public research University chartered in 1693. Nestled in the comfortable, historic town of Williamsburg, VA, its campus holds a wealth of traditions and history. As one of eight “Public Ivies,” William and Mary offers a top-notch education at a reasonable price (for those residing in the state of Virginia). Known for their fun, witty application and quirky traditions, William and Mary has the perfect mix of fun and learning.

Service is a core characteristic of William and Mary students, who collectively log around 245,000 volunteer hours every school year, have active partnerships with over 90 local non-profit agencies and schools, and regularly help out with the Campus Kitchen, which delivers around 10,000 meals per year to local residents with donated food from local grocery stores and Farmers Markets.

The school also values diversity, featuring a myriad of resources on campus to ensure that students are given equal treatment on campus. This commitment to the acceptance of difference has allowed W&M to produce prominent alumni in a myriad of different fields, some of whom include 4 U.S. Presidents, The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart, and Mike Tomlin, the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

William and Mary has one supplement to the Common App, which we have analyzed below.

William and Mary Essay Prompt

Beyond your impressive academic credentials and extra curricular accomplishments, what else makes you unique and colorful? We know nobody fits neatly into 500 words or less, but you can provide us with some suggestion of the type of person you are. Anything goes! Inspire us, impress us, or just make us laugh. Think of this optional opportunity as show and tell by proxy and with an attitude. For additional context, check out the William & Mary Admission Office video message atwww.wm.edu/admissionvideo.

A “tell us anything about you in any way” essay, this prompt is giving you a chance to express parts of yourself that may not be present in the rest of your Common Application. The playful tone of the prompt also gives you the freedom to take risks without fear of repercussions; it is fine (and encouraged!) to think outside the box for this particular essay. Do not feel as though you need to write in traditional paragraphs. Rather, you can choose to write in lists of quirky “favorites” with brief explanations for each one (favorite flower, favorite song to sing in the shower, favorite Pokemon). You could write a Petrarchan poem or a rap about an aspect of your character. Write a letter to your future college roommate or your future self. Keep in mind that the medium you choose for this essay can reveal a lot about who you are, so take time to think about creative ways with which you could present yourself to William and Mary.

If you choose to write in a more traditional format, consider making the content of your writing less orthodox. That being said, do not force yourself to be creative or choose a quirky topic that you do not care about. What admission officers want to see is another side of you; they just want to get to know you better. So whatever topic you think can help them understand you, write about!

Still, try your best to choose something about yourself that sets you apart from other applicants. Are you really interested in jellyfish, having read hundreds of pages about different species and travelled to observe them in their natural habitat? Were you the first person in your family to try skydiving? Did you create a start-up with a couple friends? The ideas and beliefs floating around in your head are unique to you – show William and Mary why you will be an irreplaceable part of campus culture.



Submit Your College Essay


Possible topics:

A quote that has shaped who you are and who you want to be

Your spirit animal

Your biggest phobia 

Which color you would use to describe yourself and why

The one object you can’t live without and why

If you are stuck and having trouble coming up with a topic idea, we suggest going to other institutions’ Common App supplements for ideas. The University of Chicago comes out with quirky, innovative prompts each year, which offer more creative ways to reveal aspects of your personality. Don’t overthink this prompt: simply choose a topic you’re passionate about!

With these tips hopefully you have a better understanding of how to write William and Mary’s supplemental essay. As always, do not hesitate to reach out to College Vine consultants for further advice!



Submit Your Essay For Review


CollegeVine College Essay Team

CollegeVine College Essay Team

Our college essay experts go through a rigorous selection process, evaluated upon their skill in writing and knowledge of college admissions. We then train them on how to interpret prompts, facilitate the brainstorming process, and provide inspiration for great essays, with curriculum culled from our years of experience helping students write essays that work.
CollegeVine College Essay Team

Latest posts by CollegeVine College Essay Team (see all)