How to Write the Arizona State University Essays 2021-2022
Arizona State University (ASU) is a large research university found across Arizona, with its flagship campus at Tempe enrolling around 43,000 undergraduates. ASU offers its students over 500 clubs, 250 study abroad options, and 300 undergraduate academic programs to choose from.
ASU does not require any essays for its general application, but it does require a supplemental essay to be considered for its Barrett Honors College. Your essay is a crucial way to demonstrate character and insight in your application, so make sure to give it your best shot! Want to know your chances at Arizona State University? Calculate your chances for free right now.
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Arizona State University Supplemental Essay Prompts
Barrett Honors College Applicants
Students must reply to ONE of the following prompts. Your response may be critical or creative. (300-500)
Prompt 1: All human knowledge is erased. Only one object or one sentence can be shared with the next generation. What one thing should be passed on -or- what single statement would contain the most valuable information in the fewest words? Defend your selection. If you choose to address this prompt with an object, do not select a thumb drive, computer, etc. for its memory storage capacity. (300-500 words)
Prompt 2: Discuss how a piece of art (painting, literature, photograph, etc.) or popular culture (song, comic book, etc.) helped you realize something new about yourself or the world. What was that realization, and how did the piece of art or pop culture bring about this change in your thinking? Do not simply describe the piece of art or pop culture; instead, focus on its effect on you. (300-500 words)
Barrett Honors College prides itself on being one of the top honors programs in the nation, having a large endowment pool specifically for its scholars and enrolling more National Merit Scholars than some of the best private schools in America. Thus, the honors college recommends thinking through the essay prompts deeply, offering specific examples in your claims, showing intellectual curiosity, and revealing strong reasons as to why you want to be a part of the Barrett community. With that said, let’s go on to the essay prompts!
Honors College, Prompt 1
All human knowledge is erased. Only one object or one sentence can be shared with the next generation. What one thing should be passed on -or- what single statement would contain the most valuable information in the fewest words? Defend your selection. If you choose to address this prompt with an object, do not select a thumb drive, computer, etc. for its memory storage capacity. (300-500 words)
This prompt asks you to hold up the weight of human history into your hands. However, it is just as much a prompt seeking to know more about you, your passions, and your intellectual curiosity. As a result, don’t worry about providing the “right” answer. Since there really is no one right answer, instead focus on developing a convicting, well defended answer that you can stand behind. You want to deviate from any cliches, and write authentically with your own voice and rationale.
First, you want to spend ample time brainstorming. Make up a list of possible objects and sentences that you think are suitable. If you’re thinking about objects, maybe you would want to leave behind seeds, which reveal the possibility of life and regeneration; or the Rosetta Stone, which proves the human capacity for language and communication; or a spaceship, which demonstrates technological advancement.
Some other choices could be a food item, a piece of clothing, a technological device, or a photo. You want to settle on a viable choice that can be vigorously defended for 500 words—which means that it should have personal significance in your own life.
If it’s a sentence you’re thinking about, maybe you want to choose a quote, like Mother Theresa’s “spread love everywhere you go,” or Martin Luther King Jr.’s “the arc of the moral universe is long, but bends toward justice,” or Thomas Edison’s “I failed my way to success.” Or it could be something your mom or teacher told you, or just a simple saying that you personally live by. There are countless ways in which you can explore answering this prompt.
Just try to avoid super overdone quotes, like “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” While defending your quote or object is more important than the quote or object itself, you still want your choice to be original, and to be connected to a personal story.
If you choose to leave behind the Martin Luther King quote, you want to defend the progress of human civilization, and how despite an immense number of setbacks, we have strived to create a better world for humankind.
If you choose to leave behind the Rosetta Stone, maybe you could argue that language is the greatest achievement of civilizations, and how we’ve been able to communicate with others not only in our own tongues, but through translation and learning different languages.
You should also try to bring in a personal reason as to why you’ve chosen your sentence or object.
Again, referring back to the Martin Luther King quote, you could talk about your own efforts in the social justice sector, whether through volunteering or leading a club.
Regarding the Rosetta Stone, you could talk about your own bilingualism, and how you’ve had to struggle to learn English, but found it rewarding once you did.
Lastly, you should consider bringing ASU into the essay. Talk about how you want to keep pursuing the idea you brought forth in the essay, while an undergraduate in the honors college, by participating in rigorous honors seminars and discussing your beliefs and ideas freely in honors residential communities.
Discuss how a piece of art (painting, literature, photograph, etc.) or popular culture (song, comic book, etc.) helped you realize something new about yourself or the world. What was that realization, and how did the piece of art or pop culture bring about this change in your thinking? Do not simply describe the piece of art or pop culture; instead, focus on its effect on you. (300-500 words)
Similar to the last prompt, this prompt isn’t asking you to provide a “right” answer, rather its asking you to talk about yourself:
- What was your reaction to the piece?
- What reflections were you able to make through the piece?
- How did you grow from experiencing the piece?
First, you want to think about the works of art and culture that you’ve spent a lot of time with while growing up, or a piece that’s marked a sudden shift in your life.
Although you do want to concern yourself with providing a suitable work of art to examine (perhaps nothing too extreme, cliche, unseemly, or disdainful to an admissions committee), it’s more important that you choose something meaningful to you.
Don’t worry too much about being “tasteful” or “high culture.” If it’s a painting, maybe you picked Salvador Dali’s The Persistence of Memory. Or, perhaps you chose Brave New World as your book, Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima as your photograph, Calvin and Hobbes as your comic book, Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright” as your song, or Coraline as your movie.
The choice is truly up to you, pick whatever work of art or culture speaks to you! Just be sure you are able to use the piece you choose to provide insight into your identity.
Now that you’ve chosen your topic, you want to spend some time brainstorming how the work has changed you and provided a new perspective.
Maybe Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright” introduced you to race relations in America and spoke to you about the different forms of racism Black people face everyday.
If you chose Brave New World, maybe you could talk about how you fear American society is becoming like the caste-based, drug-laden society present in the book.
Maybe Calvin and Hobbes taught you how important having an active imagination is, even after childhood is long gone.
You can certainly explore both individual and global perspectives in your reflections, however, a strong response must flow smoothly between both ideas.
Lastly, you want to discuss how the piece you chose has caused you to change as a person. How has this work of art or culture influenced your future desires?
Maybe The Persistence of Memory is the painting that led you to become a painter yourself.
Or, perhaps Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima influenced you to choose a path in national defense.
Or, possibly, it’s less career oriented, and more interior for you. Maybe you want to further expand your artistic imagination, develop your racial consciousness, or fight for better moral values in the future.
Whatever it is, focus on how the piece changed you (at least 75% of the essay), and spend no more than 25% on describing the piece.
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