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How to Write the Georgetown University Application Essays 2017-2018

Located in Washington, D.C., Georgetown University is one of the nation’s top private research institutions. Georgetown offers rigorous academic programs with a particular focus on intellectual inquiry, a global perspective, and making a difference in the world. With a Jesuit tradition and a commitment to diversity, it is truly a unique institution that encourages its students to fully embrace their individuality and focuses on educating the whole person.


The university is comprised of four separate schools/colleges:


  • Georgetown College
  • The School of Nursing & Health Studies
  • The Walsh School of Foreign Service
  • The McDonough School of Business.


This past year, Georgetown received a record-high 21,465 applications and accepted a record-low 15.4% of its applicants. Georgetown’s admissions process is different in that it has an application separate from the Common Application, which asks applicants to answer two questions.


Want to learn what Georgetown University will actually cost you based on your income? And how long your application to the school should take? Here’s what every student considering Georgetown University needs to know.


Georgetown Application Essay Prompts

Prompt #1

Briefly (approximately one-half page) discuss the significance to you of the school or summer activity in which you have been most involved.

The hardest part about this prompt is deciding which activity you will write about. You could choose the one that takes up the most hours out of your day and is your biggest commitment on paper, or you could choose the activity you are most emotionally involved in — the one that has made the biggest impact on your personal development.


Although the former may be the first to come to mind, the latter almost always ends up being a more memorable essay. Sometimes these two descriptions apply to one activity, and that is fantastic, but sometimes it may take some deeper digging to find the activity that has actually most impacted you.


For example, let’s say you’ve played soccer for the past 6 years, but never really felt a passion for it. About a year ago you started volunteering at a local school for underprivileged kids, and you find yourself most looking forward to your time spent at the school each week. You will probably want to write about the volunteer work. If you reverse it and do a lot of volunteer work, but you find that the team environment of your sports team has made a huge impact on how you collaborate with others, you should write about sports.


Once you have decided which activity you will write about, you need to focus on proper execution of the essay. If the activity is widely known (e.g., Model UN, Speech and Debate), do not spend too much time introducing the activity before jumping into your personal involvement and connection. If the activity is not well known by outsiders, you may want to spend a few sentences discussing the activity before transitioning to its significance. Further, if the activity is something completely unique, you can take this as an opportunity to dive into more detail than you can on the small space given in the extracurricular section.


No matter what, don’t forget the most important rule for any essay: directly responding to the prompt! This prompt asks for you to “discuss the significance to you” of one of your activities, so don’t skimp out on the personal piece.


You can read more about how to answer this type of question in our guide on How to Write “Most Important Extracurricular” Essays.

Main Essay – All Applicants

As Georgetown is a diverse community, the Admissions Committee would like to know more about you in your own words. Please submit a brief essay, either personal or creative, which you feel best describes you.

This question is incredibly open-ended. It is very similar to the Common Application question about your background, identity, interests, etc., so the best strategy here is to use your Common App essay. Even if you answered one of the other Common App questions, they are all trying to get at answers to the four questions:


  1. “Who am I?”
  2. “Why am I here?”
  3. “What is unique about me?”
  4. “What matters to me?”


You can read more about strategy for answering the Common App essays in our guide How to Write the Common Application Essays 2017-2018.

School-Specific Prompts

You will only answer one of these questions based on which school you are applying to, but they are all fairly similar in that they are really trying to assess why you want to study a specific field at Georgetown.

Anecdote can be a very powerful method of conveying this. Did you have an epiphany in one of your classes? Were you conducting structured or independent research and realized this is something you want to continue doing? Whatever your reasoning, make sure to show and not just tell the admissions committee why this is the program for you.


Note: A few Georgetown-specific things to keep in mind are their focus on ethics and morality, due to their Jesuit history and their focus on molding individuals in service of the world. The exact wording of these prompts is no coincidence.


Applicants to Georgetown College

Please relate your interest in studying at Georgetown University to your goals. How do these thoughts relate to your chosen course of study? (If you are applying to major in the FLL or in a Science, please specifically address those interests.)

This essay asks how your interest in Georgetown relates to your goals. Don’t forget to mention your goals. How will studying at Georgetown College impact your future knowledge and self? Draw on what you know about what makes Georgetown unique that would contribute to an extraordinary experience in programs that are offered at most other colleges and universities.

A few examples:


  • Studying science in the location of the March for Science contributes a political relevance to a technical field that will jump-start the interdisciplinary career of your dreams. Use this essay to demonstrate your knowledge of one of Georgetown’s greatest assets: its location, while simultaneously depicting your enthusiasm for science beyond the lab.


  • The plethora of museums, monuments, and historically relevant sites in D.C. bring the stories of the past to life and make studying history feel currently relevant. You could take a more creative approach with this essay. Tell the story behind one of the older evolutions of man as seen in the Human Origins exhibit at the Smithsonian to show your current depth of knowledge and passion for the field.


  • A focus on cultural exposure adds a unique element to the multidimensional study of a foreign language. You could discuss how having a friend from France greatly contributed to your fervor for the French language, and your visits with her family who recently moved gave you a peek into life with different cultural norms.

Applicants to The School of Nursing & Health Studies

Describe the factors that have influenced your interest in studying health care. Please specifically address your intended major (Global Health, Health Care Management & Policy, Human Science, or Nursing).

In this essay, you will want to genuinely express your passion for health care. Say something that differentiates you from everyone else on a pre-health track and really dig into the personal experiences that shaped your interests.

Some sample topics:


  • The health care experience of a sick family member or friend and your unique role/perspective – You could take a creative approach here and tell a story. It could be anything from the time you nursed your friend back to health with the help of antibiotic ointment and a band-aid when they scraped a knee in kindergarten, to spending a lot of time in a hospital and falling into its day-to-day operations when you were by the side of a bedridden relative.


  • Stories from your travels and the state and effects of healthcare you witnessed in another nation – Examine the difference between health care in the U.S. and in another country you are familiar with to demonstrate some of your ideas for improvement of current healthcare systems. You could talk about the families you encountered in a developing country who struggled because of limited access to medical technology.


  • A focus on cultural exposure adds a unique element to the multidimensional study of a foreign language – You could discuss how having a friend from France greatly contributed to your fervor for the French language, and your visits with her family who recently moved gave you a peek into life with different cultural norms.

Applicants to The McDonough School of Business

The McDonough School of Business is a national and global leader in providing graduates with essential ethical, analytical, financial and global perspectives. Please discuss your motivations for studying business at Georgetown.

In this essay, the school specifically mentions global leadership and perspectives, as well as ethics in concordance with analytical and financial thinking. This is not your typical business program. Make sure you demonstrate that you know this and that it is the program for you. Look at the curriculum for some of the classes that interest you or the topics covered by speakers who come to the school, and see what resonates with you.

A few approaches to play around with:


  • Mention a specific program and how it will affect your studies – You could write about how studying in the nation’s capital and being a Global Business Fellow provides you with a unique perspective and the opportunities to pursue global interests. Further, networking opportunities and insider tips from the alumni mentor program will give you a leg up in the industry.


  • Show your knowledge of the school beyond the classroom with a take on some of the speakers they bring in – Perhaps the recent graduation speakers from Buzzfeed and WeWork show the school’s interest in entrepreneurship and innovation, two very important aspects of the type of business leader you want to be.


  • Dive into the combination of ethics and business and how they are perfectly paired in the School of Business – Maybe your mom said you were “too kind” to be in “cut-throat industry,” but you want to make a positive impact on the world with your idea for a startup, founded on the belief that you don’t always have to step on someone else’s toes to climb your way to the top.

Applicants to The Walsh School of Foreign Service

Briefly discuss a current global issue, indicating why you consider it important and what you suggest should be done to deal with it.

The essay for the School of Foreign Service is slightly different in that it is not explicitly asking for “Why this subject? Why here?” but the way in which you answer this question will implicitly answer that. Because of Georgetown’s location in our nation’s capital, they expect most of their students to be aware of global issues, but those students wishing to matriculate into the School of Foreign Service must exhibit a passion for current events. This is your time to show that. You want to show them how you think through difficult situations and how you come to solutions.


Try to include something that isn’t common knowledge, either something you found through diligent research or a relatable personal or second-hand experience/anecdote.

Some possibilities include:


  • Anecdote incorporated into a political analysis based on your unique experiences – You can write about how people from a country you visited have been greatly impacted by climate change or have reacted to the United States’ withdrawal from the Paris accords. You can then discuss how you would use their opinions to draw up new policy.


  • Analysis of a global issue you have done a lot of research on for a school project and have come to a concise decision on your recommendation – An example is an analytical essay with suggestions for drug policy in the U.S. based on the more relaxed policies in Portugal and the Netherlands compared to the strict policies in Singapore and Malaysia.

General Reminders

Keep in mind that the only requirements for these essays is their approximate page length. Aside from the extracurricular short essay, they are all approximately one page in length (or approximately 500-700 words, depending on margins and font). Spend time making sure you have completely answered the questions and have not left out any pertinent information, but don’t overwhelm the Admissions committee with unnecessary details. You want your essay to impart the most pertinent aspects of your identity to the Admissions officer, not bog them down with long-windedness.


Georgetown University prides itself on creating a more personal admissions process by foregoing to use the Common App in favor of their own application. Take advantage of the fact that this is your application for Georgetown alone, and allow them to really get to know who you are and why you are a fantastic fit for their school. You’re going to do great!


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