What are your chances of acceptance?

Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
Duke University
Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

How to Write the Bryn Mawr Supplemental Essays 2023-2024

Bryn Mawr has two supplemental essays. One is optional, and asks you to describe why you want to attend Bryn Mawr, and the other is required, and asks you to discuss a social inequity that is particularly important to you.


As one of the most academically rigorous women’s colleges in the country, Bryn Mawr is drawing from a competitive pool of applicants every year. So, you want to make sure your essays will help your application stand out, and in this post, we’ll give you some tips on how to do exactly that.


Read this Bryn Mawr essay example written by a real accepted student to inspire your writing.


Bryn Mawr College Supplemental Essay Prompts 


Prompt 1: Why are you interested in Bryn Mawr? (Optional, 250 words)


Prompt 2: The desire to make a positive impact in the world is among the qualities that unite Bryn Mawr students. If you were granted a superpower that allowed you to eradicate one social inequity overnight, what would your cause be and why? (No word count provided)


Prompt 1

Why are you interested in Bryn Mawr? (Optional, 250 words)

Although this prompt is optional, we strongly encourage you to respond to it. In college applications, your opportunities to share your personality are already limited, so you don’t want to voluntarily limit yourself even further by letting this prompt pass you by. Take advantage of the chance to tell Bryn Mawr admissions officers why you’re applying to their school!


Before you begin brainstorming for your response, we recommend taking a look at our general post on “Why School?” supplements, if you haven’t already. Remember, however, that even if you have already responded to a “Why School?” supplement, you shouldn’t just copy and paste Bryn Mawr into that template. While you will likely end up using some elements from that other essay, each school has different values and opportunities, so you should approach each “Why School?” prompt as a different essay.


As you begin drafting your response, there are two things you want to keep in mind. First, the reasons you want to go to Bryn Mawr should be specific, and truly unique to Bryn Mawr. Second, those reasons should clearly connect to you and your goals for college.


To identify opportunities that are unique to Bryn Mawr, you’ll have to do some research. Clubs, course offerings, and study abroad programs are some good starting points. Once you have identified some things you’re interested in, make sure you explain to your reader why. This will paint a clearer picture of how you would fit into the Bryn Mawr community. If you just list the opportunities without connecting them to you, your response may end up sounding more like a brochure than a personal statement.


Say, for example, that you’re interested in pursuing a career in the arts, and you have found some opportunities at Bryn Mawr that would help you do so. Here are some good and bad examples of how to describe those opportunities in your essay.


Good example: “At Bryn Mawr, I would be able to fuel my creativity by exploring a wide range of artistic fields. On campus, courses from “Museum Studies: History, Theory, Practice” to “History of Modern Architecture” would encourage me to consider applications of the arts I am not familiar with. Bryn Mawr would also allow me to take the skills I learn from these courses to a new environment, such as the study abroad program at Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London. I envision this program showing me the uniting power of art, even across continents or oceans.”


Bad example: “Bryn Mawr offers lots of classes that would also teach me a lot about art, like those offered in the Art History department. I’m also super excited about the possibility of studying abroad at Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London, because I’ve always wanted to go to London and visit all the free museums there.”


The discrepancy between these particular examples may seem extreme, but it’s easy to fall into the trap of speaking generally about why you want to attend a school. Nearly every school has an Art History department, and many schools have study abroad programs in London, so being excited about those things doesn’t say anything about why you’re excited to go to Bryn Mawr. 


The good example, on the other hand, connects Bryn Mawr’s opportunities to the specific skills and lessons you hope to learn in college, and tells the admissions officer a little bit about how you envision yourself fitting into their community. Basically, you want to show your reader you’ve done more than a quick Google search, and actually thought about how you specifically would take advantage of Bryn Mawr’s opportunities.


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Your GPA and SAT don’t tell the full admissions story


Our chancing engine factors in extracurricular activities, demographics, and other holistic details. We’ll let you know what your chances are at your dream schools — and how to improve your chances!

Calculate your acceptance chances


Finally, there are some things you should avoid in this essay. First, don’t say you want to attend an all-women’s college, as that could apply to Scripps or Barnard just as well as Bryn Mawr. Second, don’t write about Bryn Mawr’s partnerships with Haverford, Swarthmore, and UPenn. While those partnerships are an awesome feature, focusing on them in this essay will probably make your reader wonder why you aren’t just applying to those schools instead.


Lastly, as you do your research, you’ll likely come across dozens of things you hope to do at Bryn Mawr, but you only have 250 words. If you try to cram in as many opportunities as possible, your essay will end up sounding like a list of bullet points. Instead, select two or three things to focus on and describe in more detail. That will give your personality space to shine, which is, after all, the whole point of the college essay.


Prompt 2

The desire to make a positive impact in the world is among the qualities that unite Bryn Mawr students. If you were granted a superpower that allowed you to eradicate one social inequity overnight, what would your cause be and why? (No word count provided)

Brainstorming Your Topic


Fortunately, Bryn Mawr tells you exactly what they want you to write about: the social inequity that’s most important to you. Unfortunately, “social inequity” is a broad category, and, although you likely have a few causes that are important to you, you may not have ever sat down to think about which one is the most important.


Perhaps you’re lucky, and something does immediately come to mind. You might find yourself in this position if you’ve dedicated a lot of time to a particular volunteering organization, or are just passionate about some particular issue. If that’s you, great! Trust your gut. 


However, if you’re feeling some writer’s block, don’t worry. To grease the gears a little, think about the news headlines that immediately grab your attention, or about the problems in your own community that particularly bother you. You can also just ask yourself the same question in a simpler way, with less admissions jargon: If you could fix one thing about the world, what would it be?


In terms of what you ultimately end up focusing on, there is no one right answer, but you do want to make sure you have a genuine personal connection to your topic. If you try to write about something that you think will impress admissions offices, but that you don’t actually know much about, your essay will likely come across as dry and generic. Don’t worry about what they “want to see,” because what they want is to see who you authentically are!


Additionally, you want to make sure you don’t bite off more than you can chew. For example, “war” is an incredibly broad topic—so broad that satisfactorily answering the prompt’s “why” will likely prove impossible. Instead, zoom in to something more specific, like “refugees fleeing war being unable to find sanctuary.” That narrower lens will be much more manageable.


To help give you a sense of what you should be shooting for, here is a list of other example topics that you could write a strong essay about:


  • Unequal access to basic supplies across different school districts (rather than the impossibly broad “education”)
  • The lack of large, public green spaces in most major city centers (rather than “pollution”)
  • The cost of high-quality daycare (rather than “raising children”)


Tips for Writing Your Essay


Once you’ve identified a topic, your goal for your actual essay should be to flesh out your response to two specific parts of the prompt: your “desire to make a positive impact,” and “why” you selected your particular social inequity. These two things are related, as, in answering why you chose your issue, you should make it clear to your reader how fixing it would make the world better.


Keep in mind that college essays should be primarily reflective, not academic. In other words, you’re not writing a paper for your history class, nor are you writing an article for your local newspaper. So, your discussion of the issue shouldn’t be based around listing a million statistics, but around your own, personal experiences connected to that issue.


To illustrate the difference, compare the following two example excerpts from hypothetical essays:


Example 1: “Daycare is a necessity for working parents, and yet the cost is becoming prohibitive for many. In New York City, an average family will spend over $1,300 a month just on daycare for a child under two. This creates a vicious cycle, where some parents need to take on extra hours just to afford daycare, which makes them even more reliant on it.”


Example 2: “My whole life, I’ve loved the idea of looking after a child of my own one day. Unlike my friends, my Barbies were never strewn around the floor or mutilated into a “weird Barbie,” but always lined up neatly on their shelf, with their clothes sorted in the drawer below. So, when I became an aunt at 14, I was overjoyed when my brother asked me if I wouldn’t mind coming over to his house a few times a week to watch my new niece. 


At the time, I didn’t understand why he was so appreciative, as in reality, I felt like he was the one doing me a favor. Only years later did I realize that, if I hadn’t been available to babysit, he may have had to quit his job, as he and his wife wouldn’t have been able to afford daycare five days a week.”


The difference in tone between these two examples should be immediately apparent. While the first one takes a factual, data-driven approach to the issue at hand, in the second one the author draws on her personal experience to show why this issue is so important to her. 


As a result, although she is talking about daycare prices, we’re also getting to know her as a person: she is compassionate, eager to help, and family-oriented. In contrast, the first example, while informative about the issue, doesn’t tell us anything about the person who wrote it. Remember, the whole point of the college essay is to teach your readers about who you are, so make sure you’re using anecdotes and examples from your own life to ground your discussion.


Mistakes to Avoid


There are a few things you want to make sure to avoid in responding to this prompt. First, as mentioned briefly in the “brainstorming” section above, make sure your topic isn’t too broad, or too generic. 


For example, say you decide to write about the lack of affordable housing, but only because it’s a big topic in the news rather than because you have a personal connection to it. Not only will you find writing about it difficult, but admissions officers will also be able to see you aren’t genuinely invested, which will in turn make them feel disinterested while reading your essay.


Second, although this prompt doesn’t have a word limit, that doesn’t mean you should feel free to write a book. Ideally, your essay shouldn’t be any longer than your Common App essay—650  words, or about a page single-spaced. One of the strange realities of college essays is that, although you spend many hours writing and revising them, admissions officers read them extremely quickly, because they have so many to get through. So, be mindful of their time—if they see a 10-page response, the most they’re going to be able to do is skim it.


Finally, when selecting your topic, you ideally want to avoid getting too political. While Bryn Mawr is known as a liberal college, and higher education in general leans much further left than society as a whole, you still have no way of knowing who exactly will be reading your essay, nor  what their political beliefs are. So, although discussing any social issue is inherently somewhat political, it is less risky to steer clear of particularly contentious topics, such as gun control or abortion (though of course, if you have personal experiences related to these issues and feel strongly about them, it may be worth writing about them and taking the risk anyways).


Where to Get Your Bryn Mawr Essays Edited


Do you want feedback on your Byrn Mawr essays? After rereading your essays countless times, it can be difficult to evaluate your writing objectively. That’s why we created our free Peer Essay Review tool, where you can get a free review of your essay from another student. You can also improve your own writing skills by reviewing other students’ essays. 


If you want a college admissions expert to review your essay, advisors on CollegeVine have helped students refine their writing and submit successful applications to top schools. Find the right advisor for you to improve your chances of getting into your dream school!

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Our college essay experts go through a rigorous selection process that evaluates their writing skills and knowledge of college admissions. We also 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.