How to Write the Bryn Mawr Supplemental Essays 2019-2020

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Bryn Mawr College is a women’s liberal arts college in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia. Though Bryn Mawr offers many different avenues of study, all students take first-year seminars and participate in significant research in their majors. Students can also pursue a master’s degree program alongside a bachelor of arts degree. Bryn Mawr also meets 100% of students’ demonstrated financial need


For the Class of 2022, Bryn Mawr received 3,166 applications and admitted 1,079 students, an acceptance rate of 34%. For those admitted students, the middle 50% of SAT scores was between 1300 and 1500.


Looking to join this community of accomplished women? Here’s how you can write a standout supplemental essays to give you a boost.


How to Write the Bryn Mawr Essays 

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? 

Before you start writing, think about what your answers to this prompt will be. Remember that there are two parts to the prompt: your role as a community member, and the kind of legacy you intend to leave behind. 


The best way for you to answer both of these questions is to think about an underlying theme that you can use to link the two answers together. Community service can be a theme–maybe you’ve volunteered extensively and want to leave a “legacy” of encouraging people to help others. Maybe you’ve been an active athlete and want to leave behind a legacy of sportsmanship. 


Whatever that theme is, think of how it connects your role in the community thus far and how it contributes to the legacy you want to leave. 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.  


Organize your essay by beginning with your role in the community and then transitioning into your legacy. Think about how you want to convey some of your positive qualities. With this essay, you want to show Bryn Mawr how you’ve been involved, and how you intend to continue that type of involvement as you move through college. 


Remember that a “community” can be defined in many different ways. This can be the greater community of your school, your sports team, maybe even your family! A community doesn’t have to just be your city or town. The community you write about should be one that you genuinely care about, and the legacy you want to leave behind should be relevant to your experiences in that community.


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

In only 50-100 words, you really do have to choose just one activity. You might have a long list of activities that you participate in, but you’ll have to parse through that list and think about the one that matters most to you.


The activity you choose should demonstrate some component of your personality that we won’t have gotten to see much in the rest of your application. Whatever story you tell, you need to convey a strong characteristic about yourself. 


Make sure you clearly explain your role in the activity. For your readers to understand why something is important, we need to know what it is you did. With such a limited word count, keep it brief–no need to give us every miniscule detail. Instead, you can highlight the most notable things. Then, briefly show us why this is important, and what you took away from the activity.


One easy and engaging way to begin your essay is to bring us to a specific moment as you’re doing your extracurricular. Here’s an example:


“Would you like bubbles with your tea?” I asked. 


Many customers say yes, but some give me a bewildered look. If this happens, I pull a bag of tapioca pearls out from under the counter, and explain, “This is boba, or what we call ‘bubbles.’ They might not look very appetizing, but they’re very sweet and chewy when cooked and added to tea.” 


In this example, we are brought to a moment at a bubble tea place, where the student works. Sharing an anecdote in the beginning leaves the reader curious. Do the customers try the bubbles? What do they think? It allows the student to later describe how their job taught them to share a new food and culture with others, even if they were initially hesitant to try them. 


If start your essay with a story, be sure to address how the extracurricular shaped you too. It can be easy to use narrative form in the entire essay, without actually sharing the ways your extracurricular shaped you. Remember that you should not only be describing what you did, but also how it helped you grow.


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