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 Colorado School of Mines Essays 2023-2024

Colorado School of Mines has two supplemental essays. Although these supplements are technically optional, we strongly encourage you to respond to them. In a college application, you only have so much space to share information about yourself, so you want to take full advantage of every opportunity to do so.


In addition, not answering prompts—even if they’re optional—can make it look like you don’t have a strong interest in a school, which may weaken your overall application.


Here’s our expert guide to writing the Colorado School of Mines essays so you can boost your application with strong responses.


Read this Colorado School of Mines essay example to inspire your own writing.


Colorado School of Mines Essay Prompts


Prompt 1: Reflect on a time when you had to collaborate with individuals from diverse backgrounds, experiences, or viewpoints. How did this experience impact your understanding of identity and the importance of inclusivity? (30-250 words)


Prompt 2: Please share a bit more about your academic interests. What do you hope to study at Mines? If you are undecided, what area(s) of study are you considering? What has inspired your interests in these areas? Think about your prior/current coursework, extracurricular activities, work/volunteer experiences, future goals, or anything else that has shaped your interests. (30-250 words)

Prompt 1

Reflect on a time when you had to collaborate with individuals from diverse backgrounds, experiences, or viewpoints. How did this experience impact your understanding of identity and the importance of inclusivity? (30-250 words)

This prompt is a bit like the common diversity prompt with one key difference—it’s asking about an experience you had in a diverse group rather than how you are diverse. With that in mind, you should tackle this essay a bit differently.


Before anything else, you should consider what your reference point for diversity is going to be. The prompt specifies “diverse backgrounds, experiences, or viewpoints,” which provides you with the opportunity to be flexible. Normally, the word diversity is used in contexts where it refers to things like ethnicity/race, country of origin, language, gender, etc. While these factors are all certainly markers of diversity, the scope of the prompt allows you to go beyond them.


Other things you might consider when thinking about diverse backgrounds, experiences, or viewpoints include hometown, income class, socioeconomic status, illness or disability, and even just interests or activities. These factors are a little less common and can be used to great effect in an essay like this.


Once you’ve decided on your diversity reference point, think about a time when you had collaborated with people who were diverse in that way. With respect to this experience, ask yourself a few questions to help guide your writing:


  • What exactly happened? (Think in terms of concrete facts and occurrences)
  • What was going through your mind and how did you feel as the experience happened?
  • How have your thoughts and emotions about the experience changed over time?
  • Were there any challenges that resulted from the group’s diversity? Were any challenges in general overcome due to the group’s diversity?


Jot down these thoughts and try to form an engaging narrative that tackles the prompt’s central question: “How did this experience impact your understanding of identity and the importance of inclusivity?” The school recognizes its diverse student body as well as the importance of having a range of background and viewpoints at the institution. This prompt is meant to gauge where you stand on this same point.


You’ll want to choose a factor of diversity that is not trivial. Something cliché or unimportant will not reflect a strong understanding of the ways in which varied student identities enrich the college experience. Also avoid writing only about negative experiences. While these are undoubtedly formative and important, they can leave a sour note on your whole application. That being said, not every story has a happy ending, so find a balanced tone if you do write about something negative.


When you write your essay, you have a maximum of 250 words to work with. Note that even though there is a stated minimum of 30 words, there is no way to write an effective essay on this topic in so few words. For that reason, you should probably aim to have an essay that is at or near the 250-word mark.


About 25% of your response should describe the ways in which the group was diverse, and how that diversity was relevant or important to the experience. For the other 75%, briefly describe the experience then go into detail about your reflections on it. Write about specific ways in which the diversity of the group enriched your understanding of identity and the importance of inclusivity. Think of things you may not have known or appreciated prior to the experience that you now pay more attention to.


Consider the following excerpt, in which a student reflects on a virtual math bowl he participated in with a diverse group of friends he had made online prior:


“…One of the rounds was particularly hard because it involved questions with strings of arithmetic that had to be solved within a few seconds. While most of my team—myself included—struggled to keep up with the time limit, Adedeji blazed through them. His performance in that round won us the whole event! Later, we all asked Adedeji how he worked so quickly and he told us that he thought of all the numbers in his native language, Yoruba.


Counting in Yoruba uses a fascinating base-20 system that uses addition, subtraction, and multiplication in its names for numbers! Adedeji gave us the example of the number 90, whose Yoruba name means “20 x 5 – 10.” The arithmetic built into his language helped him visualize the math problems in that round more easily. That experience made me truly appreciate how differently people from other places can view things as fundamental as counting. There are many instances in which this simple change in thinking can make a world of difference. Since the math bowl, I have made an effort to run ideas by people I know from around the world. Sometimes, it takes a form of thinking I’m not used to to really get the solution to a problem.”


This example is strong because it uses a unique marker of diversity—counting in a different language—to convey the student’s new perspective—that problems can sometimes be solved more easily when using other ways of thinking from a diverse group of people.

Prompt 2

Please share a bit more about your academic interests. What do you hope to study at Mines? If you are undecided, what area(s) of study are you considering? What has inspired your interests in these areas? Think about your prior/current coursework, extracurricular activities, work/volunteer experiences, future goals, or anything else that has shaped your interests. (30-250 words)

This is a very standard version of the “Why This Major?” essay. School’s love this straightforward prompt because it allows the admissions officers to get a sense of what interests you, why it interests you, and why/how you plan on pursuing this interest in college and beyond.


If you’re undecided, the prompt conveniently gives advice on how you should approach this question; talk about fields that interest you, even if you don’t know if you want to pursue a career in any of them. After all, college is a time meant for discovery and exploration of your interests and options. Most colleges don’t require you to declare a major until the end of your second year.


In any case, in order to respond to this prompt, you’ll need to talk about a field (or a couple of fields if you’re undecided). Once you’ve settled on a subject, consider the following questions to guide your response:


1) What are your authentic reasons for pursuing this field of study?


Ideally, you’ll want to pick a field that you’re deeply interested in—one that you can talk about with enthusiasm in detail. You should also have meaningful reasons for wanting to pursue your chosen field.


Some students choose to study a field because of a desire for money or status, or because of pressure from their parents. If this sounds like you, you’re already off to a bad start. Truthfully, no one is going to judge you for wanting to earn a living. That said, an essay about making money will look too self-serving and disingenuous, and will absolutely detract from your entire application in a big way, so be sure to talk about more worthwhile reasons.


2) What are some specific examples of things you enjoy in the field?


When you answer this question, aim to be as specific as you can. Anyone can write something generic like “I really like engineering.” Instead of doing that, think of more narrow subtopics that are less shallow, such as “mitigating torsional stress in bridge structures to prevent collapse.” 


You might think you’re not that knowledgeable about the field, but if you’ve picked a topic that you’re already passionate about and familiar with, you’ll probably find that talking about a specific aspect you enjoy shouldn’t be too daunting a task.


3) How does this major serve your life and/or career goals?


You may not have a complete, detailed plan for your career and adult life, and that’s totally fine (and to be expected)! However, it would be helpful if you had some idea of what you want to do in the future. Think of industries you would be able to work in or companies you might work for with a degree in your chosen field. What’s your dream job? Why do you want to do it? How can your chosen major contribute to getting that job and finding success in the field?


4) What’s your favorite school experience related to this subject? What are the best parts of your experience with it outside the classroom?


5) Is there some sort of recurring emotional experience or mindset that you have when you explore this field of study? What do you find appealing about that experience or mindset?


You can use your answers to questions 4 and 5 to recall some relevant anecdotes that may contribute to a stronger response.


If you’ve figured out the answers to most, or all, of the above questions, you can use them to plan a structure for your response. You might find it helpful to break your essay into two main parts:


  • The experiences that created and fostered your interest in this field (as well as your emotional and personal connection to your chosen major)
  • What you hope to do in the future, both at Mines and during your desired career


At this point in the writing process, it’s advisable to do some research on Mines’s website to get to know the school better. Check out its undergraduate programs page to see if Mines offers any unique spin on your intended major. Also take a look at their directory page to keep up with any interesting projects being conducted at the school.


For example, consider a hypothetical student who wants to major in Metallurgical and Materials Engineering whose father is a hobbyist blacksmith. She might begin with an anecdote about working in her father’s workshop to craft custom chef knives for the first time. Perhaps sharing this experience with her father opened up a new world for her, which fostered a deep interest in metal and its properties.


She might write about her high school experiences with shop class in high school, her intensive preparation for the AP Chemistry exam, and the metalworking projects she undertakes in her father’s workshop on her own. She can then transition into a discussion of the Metallurgical and Materials Engineering major offered at Mines. She might mention that it is unique in that there is a stated focus on metallurgy, something many college Materials Science programs don’t offer.


No matter how unique, quirky, or strange you might think your engineering/STEM interests are, there’s probably some resource at Mines that can help you cultivate it. So show them how unique you are as an individual—that’s what supplemental essays are for!


Where to Get Your Colorado School of Mines Essays Edited


Do you want feedback on your Colorado School of Mines 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.