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How to Write the Bryn Mawr Supplemental Essays 2022-2023


Bryn Mawr College is a small women’s liberal arts college found a few miles west of Philadelphia. Established as a Quaker institution in 1885, Bryn Mawr currently enrolls around 1,370 undergraduate students, and is a part of the Tri-College Consortium alongside Haverford and Swarthmore Colleges.


Bryn Mawr consistently ranks in the top 30 liberal arts colleges and also meets 100% of students’ demonstrated financial needSince the vast majority of applicants to Bryn Mawr are academically qualified, strong essays can help you stand out to admissions officers by showcasing your unique personality and character. Looking to join this community of accomplished women? Here’s how you can write a standout supplemental essay to give you a boost.


Check out these Bryn Mawr essay examples to inspire your own writing. 


How to Write the Bryn Mawr Essays 


Prompt 1: Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences in the space below. (50-100 words) 


Prompt 2: Why are you interested in Bryn Mawr? (1-250 words) 


Prompt 3: As you prepare to join a new college community, reflect on your role as a community member throughout the past four years. What legacy do you hope to leave behind?

Prompt 1 (required): Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences in the space below. (50-100 words)

In this prompt, you want to highlight an extracurricular or work experience you’ve dedicated yourself to, but in a way that differentiates it from the extracurricular section of your Common Application. Because you’ve already briefly noted what you’ve done, the time you’ve spent, and the awards you’ve received, you want to use this essay to highlight the personal and emotional elements of an activity. Essentially, you want to highlight your character and passion as best as you can in a paragraph. 


In terms of structure, don’t worry about an introduction or conclusion. You want to dive immediately into a short anecdote that encapsulates your devotion and role within in activity, or bring up a pivotal moment in which you excelled, or faced difficulty. An ideal essay should leave a vivid image in the reader’s mind, and should leave them with a strong idea of your character and personality. 


Here are some examples to think about:


  • Maybe you want to talk about being the captain of your speech and debate team. A great moment to describe would be a big competition, in which you faced crippling anxiety but eventually shined. Or maybe you could choose a moment in which your team performed well, and how your efforts at helping the younger debaters paid off.


  • Maybe it’s your basketball team you’d like to talk about. You could talk about a particularly difficult or low moment, perhaps a practice in which your teammates began arguing and yelling at each other. You could go into how you helped reconcile the team, and helped improve your team’s chemistry, so that your team’s win loss record began improving.


  • Maybe you’re most proud of your digital animation work. The final video you made for your application portfolio is only a few minutes long, and you want to talk about the countless late nights you spent designing and programming and arranging the different frames of your animation. Although you’re proud of the end product, you’re more proud of the effort you put into creating your work, which has inspired you to want to pursue digital animation and computer science at Bryn Mawr. 


Prompt 2 (required): Why are you interested in Bryn Mawr? (1-250 words) 

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 3 (required): As you prepare to join a new college community, reflect on your role as a community member throughout the past four years. What legacy do you hope to leave behind?

As the prompt suggests, the first thing you do want to do is reflect on the communities you’ve been a part of during high school. “Community” could mean anything from family, an ethnic community, a club, a religious community, a sports team, a band or orchestra, an online community, or any type of setting in which different people congregate. You ideally want to write about the community you’ve been most dedicated to, and have taken initiative in. 


The key in this essay is to provide a narrative arc for the reader, and supplement it with strong anecdotes. You want to have a compelling, vivid opening that positions you as a key member of a community. You want to brainstorm why you joined this community, how you grew while taking part in it, and the different kinds of effort you put into bettering the group. You should talk about the challenges you’ve faced while in this community, how you’ve overcome these challenges, and end with the legacy you hope to leave behind. 


Bryn Mawr doesn’t provide a definitive word limit for your essay, so you have plenty of space to elaborate. However, you don’t want to write more than 500 words; a good rule of thumb is that your supplemental essays should be shorter than your Common App or Coalition Application essay.  


Here are some examples to think about:


  • Maybe your community is your marching band, in which you were the treasurer and saxophone section leader in. You could begin with an anecdote focusing on your freshman year self at band camp, knowing nobody at a new school, and immediately finding a home within the band. You could talk about the upperclassmen who welcomed you in and pushed you to be a better musician, and how you mirrored these behaviors when you became an upperclassman yourself. You could talk about the different struggles you faced as a marching band leader, such as teacher turnover or lack of funding, and how you, as treasurer, put in countless hours fundraising and getting enough money so your band could go to tournaments. Maybe your intended legacy is for the band to continue to build its culture of hard work and scrappiness. You’re proud of leaving the band better funded and less precarious than it once was. 


  • Maybe your community is your school’s Black Student Union, which you founded during your junior year, after noticing that there was no place for your high school’s Black students to discuss important social and political issues. You could talk about the conversations with friends that sparked the inception of the club, how all of you felt alienated at your high school, how you found a willing teacher advisor, and how you recruited the other Black students in your school to take part. Maybe you faced several challenges once you decided to take action in your school, such as pushback from administrators when you tried to advocate for Black Lives Matter on campus. Maybe the legacy you want to leave is a thriving community for Black students like you to have a haven for friendship and constructive conversations. 


  • Maybe your community is your family’s restaurant, which your parents started before you were even born. As a child, you spent most of your time after school there, and when you entered high school, you started waitressing and bussing and doing anything your parents asked you to do. Because of your family’s tight financial situation, you often spent long hours helping out your parents, and you struggled to fit in your homework and extracurricular activities at the same time. You often fought with your parents about this, but now, you see it as a valuable work and bonding experience. You see your legacy as the different customers whom you’ve befriended, who have become regulars, the countless hours you spent keeping the restaurant running, and the cherished times you’ve shared with your parents and siblings. 


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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