How to Write the Elon University Essays 2021-2022

Elon University has four required prompts. Three of these prompts are short response, fun-fact type questions, and the fourth is a more traditional essay about hope. All four of these prompts are more creative than many other supplements, which means a strong response can do a lot to separate your application from the nearly 20,000 others Elon receives each year.

 

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Elon University Supplemental Essay Prompts

  1. What brings you joy? (30 words)

 

  1. We’re in your hometown. Where should we eat and what should we order? (30 words)

 

  1. Name three songs from your perfect playlist. (30 words)

 

  1. As you look into the future, what gives you hope? (200-250 words)

Prompt 1

What brings you joy? (30 words)

Although 30 words is much shorter than most other supplements, you should approach this prompt with the same strategy as your other college essays: share something unique about yourself with your reader.

 

Also keep in mind that there is no right answer here, so don’t worry about what you think the admissions officers want to see. In fact, these short answer questions can be a great way to show aspects of your personality that might not be reflected by your GPA or teacher recs, so think instead about things that both bring you joy and showcase something unique about you.

 

For example, say you enjoy cooking. That’s a fairly common hobby, so to make your response more personal, you could instead say something like “making homemade pumpkin pie with my family at Thanksgiving.”

 

Here are a few other examples of strong answers. Remember that we aren’t saying you should use these exact ones. Rather, we want to give you a general idea of what you should be going for.

 

  • When the cherry blossom trees in my neighborhood start to bloom
  • My cat purring in my lap
  • Listening to a new Taylor Swift album in the car with my best friend
  • The smell of pine trees on a long backpacking trip

 

Finally, 30 words is more than you think. You will likely have the space to tell your reader, at least briefly, something about why this thing brings you joy. Take the pumpkin pie example above. You could provide some elaboration by saying something like:

 

“Making homemade pumpkin pie with my family at Thanksgiving. This has been a tradition since I was little and it gives me a sense of belonging I can’t find elsewhere.” (30 words)

 

Don’t worry about saying anything profound here. So long as you’re honest, your sense of joy will come across to your reader.

 

Finally, be mindful of not coming across as entitled or arrogant. You don’t have much space to elaborate on your answer, so saying something like “the view of Paris from the Eiffel Tower” (unless you are from France) or “winning the state volleyball tournament” may come across as shallow to your reader, and you never want to accidentally put a bad taste in an admissions officer’s mouth.

 

Prompt 2

We’re in your hometown. Where should we eat and what should we order? (30 words)

You may have an all-time favorite restaurant and dish in your hometown, in which case this is probably the fastest response you’re going to write. If not, the process of writing a strong response is still incredibly straightforward.

 

First, pick a restaurant. You do want to be thoughtful about the place you pick. “Chipotle” might be your go-to spot, but your reader could go to Chipotle in hundreds of cities all over the world. You also don’t want to pick a super expensive restaurant, as that may make your reader think you lack awareness. Rather, focus on picking a place that is unique to your hometown, and reflects something about the place where you grew up.

 

Next, you need to pick a dish at that restaurant, so this should be a place you have eaten at before. However, you don’t necessarily have to recommend your favorite dish. If there’s an iconic dish at this restaurant, or something your friends or family have recommended, that can also be a good choice.

 

Lastly, put these elements together. As with the joy prompt above, you can use any extra space to provide a small amount of elaboration. Your final response might look something like this:

 

“Scuttlebutt’s down by the marina is the only place for fish and chips. There’s nothing better than a hot plate of fish and a view of sailboats coming and going.” (30 words)

 

One last note to save you space in this short response―you don’t need to say what your hometown is. Your reader will already have that information from your common app, so you don’t need to waste words by saying “In X city, the best restaurant is…”

 

 

Prompt 3

Name three songs from your perfect playlist. (30 words)

The most important thing here is to be honest. As always, you want to show the admissions officers your personality, not the personality you think they want to see. So if you hate classical music, don’t list three Mozart songs just to come across a certain way.

 

As with most college essays, however, you want to be both honest and strategic. Each piece of your application is an opportunity to share something new about yourself, and if you list three songs by the same artist, you aren’t taking full advantage of this particular opportunity.

 

Instead, try to pick three songs that represent the range of your taste in music. If there is an unusual genre you like, whether that’s Italian folk songs, or you never outgrew the High School Musical soundtrack, definitely make sure you include something that reflects this unique interest.

 

For example, maybe you listen to a lot of contemporary pop and oldies rock, and you also like listening to scores from movies and TV shows. Your answer might be something like “good 4 u by Olivia Rodrigo, Eleanor Rigby by The Beatles, and Main Title – Game of Thrones by Ramin Djawadi.”

 

Remember that your audience is a college admissions officer, not someone you met at a party. So, again, be strategic. You don’t want to list WAP by Cardi B, or High By The Beach by Lana Del Rey. If you wouldn’t want to tell your grandma what the song is about, you probably shouldn’t include it in your response.

 

Overall, however, our best advice here is to not overthink. This isn’t a trick question―think about the songs that speak to you, for whatever reason, and share three of them. You might even have some fun deciding which ones to include.

 

Prompt 4

As you look into the future, what gives you hope? (200-250 words)

Given the fact that the majority of news headlines these days spell doom and gloom for the future, this may seem like an impossible question. Once you start to brainstorm, however, you’ll hopefully realize there’s a lot to be optimistic about as well. 

 

For example, you could write about advances in prosthetic limb technology, which will improve amputees’ quality of life. Or the increasing popularity of women’s sports, which will hopefully continue to advance the gender equality movement.

 

Your reason for optimism could also be more specific to your own life. Maybe you run a basketball podcast, which has allowed you to connect with people from many different backgrounds, and that experience has made you optimistic that shared interests can always bring people together, even during a pandemic.

 

These are just some examples to hopefully get you thinking, but your answer should obviously be personal to you. If you’re having trouble coming up with something specific, ask yourself open-ended questions, like:

 

  • Have I read or heard about anything recently that made me feel optimistic?
  • In the next five years, what are some ways I think the world could realistically improve?
  • On a day-to-day basis, what makes me feel hopeful?
  • How am I working to improve the current state of the world?

 

Once you have decided what you’re going to write about, remember that this is an essay about you, not prosthetic technology or equal pay for women. Strong responses will illustrate something about your personality by describing your reason(s) for optimism.

 

The basketball podcast example above does a good job of this, because there is a clear personal connection. For other subjects, the connection might not be so obvious, so ask yourself honestly why this thing makes you hopeful.

 

For example, if you were writing about prosthetics, you might talk about how the media often focuses on the negative aspects of technology, but advancements like this show that scientists are always working to make people’s lives better. This elaboration will go beyond just describing a technology, and will also show your reader that you can consider two sides to an issue, and that you have an empathetic nature.

 

In your response to this prompt, you will have to be mindful of your audience. Elon University is known for being one of the more liberal schools in North Carolina, but it may not be as progressive as schools in the Northeast. For example, it may be slightly risky to say that Lil Nas X and Harry Styles blurring the line of what is considered masculine makes you optimistic for a less rigidly gendered future. 

 

We do not at all mean to suggest this is a bad thing to be excited about. Unfortunately, however, you have no idea who will be reading your essay, and they may not think this is quite so exciting. Of course, nearly anything can be seen as political, but something widely accepted as a positive, like helping amputees lead easier lives, or advancing gender equality, is very unlikely to offend anyone. 

 

If these “riskier” topics are central to your identity, you should go ahead and write about them, but just keep in mind that you may encounter an admissions officer who may disagree with your views, which could impact your admissions process. In the end, however, you want a supportive college environment, so if the admissions officer isn’t accepting, the school may not have been the best fit to begin with.

 

Where to Get Your Elon University Essay Edited for Free

 

As you get closer to submitting your application to Elon, you might want someone to read over your essays who hasn’t been revising them for three months straight. The more you read your own writing, the harder it can be to find anything to improve.

 

That’s why we created our Peer Essay Review tool, where you can get a free review of your essay from another student. Since they don’t know you personally, they can be a more objective judge of whether your personality shines through, and whether you’ve fully answered the prompt. 

 

You can also improve your own writing skills by reviewing other students’ essays. We highly recommend giving this tool a try!


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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.

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