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How to Write Emory University’s 2016-17 Essays
At Emory University, deep in the sunny South, many an avid young scholar or pre-health/medical student aspires to undergo his or her undergraduate career. As one of Georgia’s most prominent private research institutions since 1836, Emory is located in Druid Hills, Georgia, and is home to around 7500 undergraduate students.
Every year, about 25% of about 17,000 applicants are accepted to Emory. 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.
With faculty members including the Dalai Lama, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, and CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, students have access to some of the best minds in each field — including those found at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which is adjacent to Emory’s campus. Additionally, Emory University boasts a vibrant extracurricular scene, where students will find no shortage of opportunities to get involved. Several famous alumni are associated with Emory, including the CEO of Burger King and the CEO of MetLife.
In this blog post, CollegeVine is here to help you successfully write Emory’s supplemental essays. The questions are relatively unique, so putting your most creative foot forward will give you the best chance of acceptance. Moreover, Emory admissions essay questions are notable in that some of them definitely have wrong answers, and require applicants to demonstrate some degree of emotional vulnerability to respond successfully.
Emory University Application Essay Prompts
In addition to your application personal statement, first-year applicants to Emory University should also answer two (2) of the five (5) short answer prompts below. Each response should be no more than 150 words.
1) In your opinion, what is an important challenge facing your generation in the next 50 years?
This essay is geared to the applicant who pays particular attention to his or her surroundings and the current state of the world. One could start by selecting a topic of interest to talk about, which could include anything ranging from global climate change solutions to developing more empathic economies as globalization exponentially connects the world that threatens eliminating poor people or the middle class.
Some quick Googling, reading global CNN news, or even asking your teachers about major upcoming issues will rapidly reveal various fields that will experience grave challenges in the future. Take your pick on which one you would like to elaborate on.
It would be easy for you to discuss something that you have some expertise in, but if you cannot connect your current knowledge to an immediate global urgency, then this prompt gives you the opportunity to do some research about something that interests you. Either way, it would behoove you to be informed of global issues because admissions officers want to see that you know more than just your niche.
After you have picked a topic, you should elaborate on key aspects of it, such as why this problem has not been addressed in the past (maybe it was not even a problem until now), why current attempts to fix it have failed, or even the factors that make solving the issue easier or harder, and why. Answering such questions will probably also require you to do some research.
Alternatively, you can take another approach and discuss a problem that, perhaps, has not been heavily discussed by news channels or academia. Oftentimes, society has experienced certain problems because they are unprecedented, and mankind has not seen them coming. The rapid development of global terrorism or random outbreaks of Ebola could not have been foreseen 50 years in advance; from this perspective, it would not be out of the question for you to talk about a problem that you personally see looming on the horizon.
As long as you can substantiate your ideas with insightful thoughts based on some information you know to be true, you would probably be safe inventing your own future challenge to your generation. Even if this does not come true, your admissions officer will appreciate your inventiveness, as well as your ability to think about possible problems — since ideating about possible precautions on a large scale is never unwise.
Finally, you can wrap up your response to this prompt by relating the problem you have discussed to your personal interests or possible future career aspirations. Emory is an institution that offers admissions to high-level thinkers and innovators of solutions in order to solve new problems — that is what has made it such a successful research institution.
2) What are you most excited about or looking forward to in your college experience?
Like most essay prompts that ask you to write about how you envision a certain future, you should be aware that your reader will have a relatively proper answer in mind. Refrain from mentioning any of the taboo social activities that many high school students look forward to about college (yes, believe it or not, we have seen such essays be submitted). Remember, your reader wants you to demonstrate what academic, extracurricular, and innovative experiences you envision about Emory in particular, not just any college in general.
Bearing this in mind, you should not exclude any healthy social experiences that you are truly looking forward to. Exposure to people of diverse backgrounds or the opportunity to talk to professors at the vanguard of their fields in 1-on-1 settings is part of Emory’s campus culture. These experiences are a fundamental part of a student’s social experience at Emory, and thus is perfectly kosher to talk about.
You could also talk about the possibility of conducting some form of research at Emory Med, or maybe mention your growing passion for health policy that you could study at Emory. If you also want to mention some things that are not specific to Emory, you could use this prompt to reveal other aspects about your personality or interests not seen throughout your whole application, but understand that if the experiences you discuss could occur at any school, you are passing up a valuable opportunity to demonstrate your interest in Emory to an admissions committee.
One way to conclude your response is by talking about your expectations as you entered high school compared to your expectations now as you enter college. This will reveal how much growing up and introspection you have done through your four years of high school, and it will show your reader how aware you are of your own personal development.
3) Please describe your ideal college campus/academic environment and what you hope to gain from it?
Similar to the previous prompt, your essay for this one should not describe some ideal environment that would be easy to find at an institution other than Emory. Before you apply, you should take a virtual tour and talk to current Emory students of various backgrounds, or visit the school (the best but not always the most feasible option) in order to get an idea of what the academic environment is like there. This will make creating this essay magnitudes easier, as you will already have a specific idea of what you like about life at the university.
Regardless of how you conduct your Emory campus life research, you should write a response that compares what life at Emory is like to what you are like. Specifically, you should talk about what particular things you need in your environment in order to succeed as a student.
Maybe you’re an introvert, and you find that large classes make you anxious, and that is why Emory’s small class sizes will be perfect for you. Perhaps you have a strong desire to study primate neuroscience, which will come in handy as you venture to work at Yerkes National Primate Research Center. Regardless of what’s the best fit for you, your essay will gain more value as you describe not so much your ideal environment but more as to why that is.
Your essay reader will want to see if you are the type of person who takes note of your surroundings and makes a conscious effort to get the most out of it. This could take on the form of various facilities, the types of knowledge available throughout the campus, or even the social aspect that characterizes Emory that you are yearning for. Try to be as unique as possible and really think about what you want to say prior to writing, because many applicants may be tempted to write similar things if they have not mentally gone over the specific aspects of the environment that is pleasing to them.
4) What is your favorite fiction or non-fiction work (film, book, television show, album, poem, or play?) Why?
This essay prompt might appear easier to some applicants because it appears to require less soul-searching than other college admissions essay might. It allows you to dazzle your reader with the uniqueness of your interests in basically whatever medium you choose.
Although you might be tempted to mention that explicit song or raunchy comedy that you have come to treasure because of its entertainment value, do not list anything remotely uncouth on your application unless you provide in your essay a well-thought-out and reasonable rebuttal to any questions (or doubts) an admissions reader might have about you as they read your response.
For instance, your admissions reader might wonder what could compel you to write about something that might make you look less than ideal as a prospective candidate to an elite institution. There is often an untold marker that admissions officers look for when reading through applicants’ essays, and that is if the candidate is ready to bear the name of the school they would attend.
If your reader does not think that a worthy Emory scholar would admit to liking vulgar TV shows in a professional setting, then your praises of such TV shows will not add competitive value to your application.
On the other hand, you might disprove your reader’s assumptions of who you are by asserting your keen awareness of valuing what traditional professionalism might deem as inappropriate. Remember that Emory looks for innovators, and thus it might be fine to say you like raunchy comedy.
For example, if you point out that it reminds you there are other ways for quality individuals to amuse themselves, and it is important to remain familiar with what most people think of as humorous versus what many Emory scholars might think is funny. This would actually make you seem very grounded, and could pave the way to a meaningful claim that would surprise an Emory adcom officer.
Remember that many applicants will be sharing their favorite esoteric 16th-century literature, or point out their personal philosophy regarding the harmony of Charlotte Bronte’s narratives; this is fine too, insofar as you can maintain an intellectual and thought-provoking interpretation of your favorite fiction/non-fiction work and demonstrate you’re not just trying to impress the adcom.
If you do not have a complex work to discuss, then you should choose a piece that you are truly passionate about. The point of this essay is not to reveal which applicant has the most intellectual tastes; rather, it is to identify which applicants can actually make the most — ideologically — of works that are not always traditionally easy to admire. This is one way to approach writing for this prompt.
Regardless of what you choose as your favorite work, your focus should be on demonstrating your unique appreciation of the things you like, as well as some description of why your favorite thing is indeed your favorite.
Do not worry if what you select is something common to what many people might like (this just makes it harder to stand out), since the main purpose of this essay should be to emphasize how and why you have come to regard it as your favorite. This essay requires the applicant to be aware of why the process by which they have come to like the things they do, rather than just blindly admiring something.
5) What motivates you to learn?
If you choose to complete an essay for this prompt, you are going to want to have a developed idea of what pushes you to learn, ideally with anecdotes or other evidence to support your argument. This “learning” could be learning that takes place in the classroom, but college often teaches students more out of the classroom than inside of it (which could be an alternative path you could take to answer this prompt).
However you choose to define learning, you should remember to include descriptions of the specific things that motivate you to keep learning. These motivations could range from your ailing grandparent’s dying wish for you to always try to better yourself, to your religiously inspired personal ideology that education rather than necessary “suffering as a lesson” is the best way to help society grow.
The range of acceptable answers to this prompt is rather large, so you should bear in mind that you have license to be as expressive or imaginative as you want with this essay. No one can really discredit whatever claim you have as you write an answer to this prompt, which falls to your advantage.
Just remember to keep away from cliché narratives or parables; have a reliable adult or teacher read over this response prior to submitting!
You always want to avoid writing about some motivation that an admissions officer would not like, such as a desire to learn in order to acquire wealth. Emory University is an institution that hopes to foster community and philanthropy through the education it confers on its students. So even if you have a more basic reason for learning, you should not present that to your reader and should aim to give a more complex response that offers insight into your character to admissions readers.
These essay prompts are rigorous, so if you think you could use some help in developing your essay, consider reaching out to one of our Emory essay specialists. With enough prep time and introspection, completing this supplement will be a breeze.
Our team at CollegeVine wishes you the best of luck as you apply to Emory University!