How to Write the Elon University Essays 2023-2024
Elon University has two relatively traditional supplemental essays, which both focus on your identity, and three short “fun fact” style questions, which ask you to provide some recommendations in your hometown, name three songs from your perfect playlist, and provide a top 5 of something you love.
Because Elon’s supplemental essay package is a little quirkier than most, you want to make sure you take the time to give each prompt the attention it deserves. Here, we’ll explain how you want to brainstorm for, draft, and revise your response to each one, so you can be sure you’re putting your best foot forward and maximizing your chances of acceptance.
Elon University Supplemental Essay Prompts
Prompt 1: We’re in your hometown. Where should we go and what should we do? Tell us about your hometown. Our admissions counselors may even take your suggestions when they are in the area! (75 words)
Prompt 2: Who are you? Describe yourself. (200 words)
Prompt 3: What cultural traditions, experiences or celebrations are important to you? How have they influenced your understanding of self? (200 words)
Prompt 4: Name three songs from your perfect playlist.
Prompt 5: Tell us your top 5. Take this opportunity to let Elon Admissions know more about you. Your top 5 should be something unique to you and will give us a glimpse of who you are. Be creative! You may choose any theme for your top 5. Do you love cooking? List your top 5 recipes. Are you enthusiastic about anime? Name your top 5 characters. Do you watch or participate in a lot of athletic events? Name your top 5 moments. Explain why these are your top 5. (150 words)
We’re in your hometown. Where should we go and what should we do? Tell us about your hometown. Our admissions counselors may even take your suggestions when they are in the area! (75 words)
The first thing to note about this prompt, along with a few of the following ones, is the word requirement. You’ll notice that it may be much shorter than other supplemental essays that you’re used to – while that may be something to celebrate, it also means that every word here counts. Chances are you’re going to have a lot more than 75 words worth of things to say about your hometown. That means that your goal here is to keep it simple and keep it unique.
Try to pick just one thing about your hometown to write about in this response. A favorite restaurant, tourist attraction, hidden gem, or viewpoint will serve this response well, but be sure to let your mind wander to whatever aspect of your hometown feels special to you – it’s that quality that is really going to have an impact on the admissions counselor who reviews your application. That being said, you only have 75 words to play with, so don’t write about something that may need a lot of explaining. At the same time, you may feel as though your hometown’s best thing is a shopping mall, but an admissions counselor can find a shopping mall anywhere. Remember, simple and unique.
Generally, think of the places you’d go with your family on weekends growing up. What speaks to you will speak to an admissions counselor so long as you describe it genuinely and admirably. As the first prompt, this isn’t a question meant for you to “wow” the admissions counselor, it’s just their first impression of your writing style and your upbringing.
Additionally, keep in mind that your admissions counselor will already know where you live from your Common Application! This will save you a word or two from your response, as rather than restating where you live, simply go ahead and open with the recommendation. For example, if your response is about an amusement park nearby go ahead and write something like “Funland by the Boardwalk was the centerpiece of my childhood…”
Who are you? Describe yourself. (200 words)
This is perhaps the broadest prompt out there, but you only have 200 words to answer, so you’ll need to figure out how to narrow your focus before you start writing. Here are some questions to help you get started with that:
- Is there anything you haven’t gotten to talk about in your application yet that is especially important to you? Maybe your eclectic music taste, or being the youngest child in a family of six stands out as something that makes you who you are.
- Is there anything that is already in your application, but you haven’t gotten to talk about as in depth as you’ve wanted to? Perhaps your volunteer experience is included in your activities, but you want to talk a bit more about how you chose your volunteer site, and what it means to you.
- What information do you include when you’re introducing yourself to someone? What questions do you ask them? What are the most important things to know about a new friend or peer?
- Have you ever written a bio or introduction for yourself? What information did you include?
You may have noticed that each of these more directed brainstorming questions focuses on what you feel is important, and information that conveys who you are as a person. A good response to this question is not a list of demographic information, but a deeper reflection on something, or a few things, that make you who you are. Consider this hypothetical example from a student who wrote about something as basic as her name.
“Maya, Maya-Maya, Maya-bird, My. Who knew you could make so much out of four letters? Unnecessary as they are, I’m very fond of my nicknames. They’re not just different things to call me; they map my life and how I know the people I love.
Maya is my name, and if that’s what you call me, we’re likely classmates or coworkers. My friends refer to me as Maya-Maya, which started as an effort to distinguish me from the other Maya in elementary school. I’m not just Maya, I’m THE Maya, or Maya-Maya, to those in the know.
Maya-bird is special. That name is just for my grandfather, who has a particular passion for all things avian. Through his trusty binoculars, I’ve spied on the sparrows and finches that some call Mayas, and my grandfather has told me about how their quickness and curiosity reminds him of me.
Finally, we have My, the name my little sister called me when she was too young to say two syllables. My parents picked it up quickly, and now it’s all I’m called at home. I love how something as simple as a name can carry so much meaning, and so much love.”
This student uses names and nicknames to introduce herself to the admissions committee through a cheerful reflection on names, relationships, and how people come to know and think of each other. What devices can you use to show the Elon admissions team your unique outlook, using your own unique voice?
What cultural traditions, experiences or celebrations are important to you? How have they influenced your understanding of self? (200 words)
This prompt is a take on the classic “Diversity” prompt, which you’ll likely run into more than once. Because the phrasing is pretty broad, you don’t have to write about an identity you hold. You could also write about an experience you’ve had, club, hobby, or even a family tradition. The most important thing is picking a topic that is unique and meaningful to you, so that Elon learns a little bit more about who you are.
For these types of prompts, it can be helpful to think about diversity expansively. When most people hear diversity, they think about the same few characteristics: race, ethnicity, sexuality, disability, and socioeconomic status. While you are welcome to write about these things, there are many more options if you don’t feel that you hold a diverse identity, or you simply don’t feel comfortable writing about it.
We should note, however, that if your racial identity is important to you, you should strongly consider focusing your response on it, even if you have other topics you’re considering. That’s because the evaluation of race in college admissions will be different this year, following the Supreme Court’s overturning of affirmative action. Schools can now only consider your race as part of your broader background and experiences, namely through the essay, so if you feel understanding your race is essential to understanding your potential as an Elon student, this is your chance to explain that.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for a topic other than your racial identity, and are feeling stuck, think about your hobbies, clubs, talents, values, or family structure. Here are some example essay topics in these categories that would work for this prompt:
- A student who was adopted writing about how her family celebrated “Gotcha Day” (the anniversary of her adoption) rather than her birthday.
- A student writing about how as part of teaching him and his siblings to drive, his father changed a tire with each of them before they took the driving test.
- A student writing about how, while he isn’tMexican, it was really meaningful to be a part of his stepsister’s quinceanera.
- A student writing about being a part of the lacrosse team, and how once a year, on National Women and Girls in Sports Day, her team would have an open practice where they showed local girls from her town the basics of how to play lacrosse.
You’ll notice that each of these examples mostly focuses on a single event, even if that event is part of a larger experience. Elon University specifically mentions traditions, celebrations, and experiences, rather than long-term commitments or lifelong identities, so an anecdote about a particular event is a good choice here. You also only have 200 words, so to make the most of your word limit, consider using a narrative to illustrate the qualities and values you’re trying to convey, rather than listing them out or providing too broad of an overview.
The best anecdotes are specific, which allows you to be succinct and most effectively communicate your points. No more than a quarter of your essay (in this case, 50 words) should be used to explain the background of the situation you’re discussing. Include any relevant information, but don’t spend too long discussing your topic in general – remember, this essay is about you. The rest of your essay should be spent telling your story, and then reflecting on what you learned from this event or experience, or what it demonstrates about you.
Name three songs from your perfect playlist.
In this prompt, you want to use your three choices to showcase distinct aspects of your personality and identity. However, rather than brainstorming specific songs you may like, it will be easier to brainstorm a short list of genres that you love. Songs you like while writing the essay may not be the songs you like in two weeks, and most certainly won’t be the songs you like in two months. On the other hand, genres stay with you and will allow you to paint a complete picture of your music taste.
When listing your favorite genres, don’t simply resort to broad terms like “rock” and “rap”, go further and try to research what kind of music some of your favorite artists are making. “Folk rock” and “pop rap” will lead to better eventual song answers. Also, remember that these genres shouldn’t overlap with one another, so be sure the three genres you brainstorm summarize your holistic music taste. And if there’s a unique genre of music you’re into, make sure to include that! An answer that someone wouldn’t be able to guess just by speaking with you will serve you well.
After you’re done brainstorming your favorite genres, think about your favorite song from each. Don’t feel like you have to pick songs that everyone would know; admissions simply want to get a better glimpse of your personality from fun prompts like these, and they state on the Common App that they’re planning to create a playlist of favorite songs from their first-year class.You also just need to name the songs and the artists; there’s no space for any explanation.
A well-rounded answer may sound like Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer”, Kanye West’s “Through the Wire”, and something like Grover Washington Jr.’s “Just the Two Of Us” – but remember to have fun with it! This is essentially the same as someone asking what your desert island songs would be, so when all else fails, just think about what songs you would be unable to live without.
Tell us your top 5. Take this opportunity to let Elon Admissions know more about you. Your top 5 should be something unique to you and will give us a glimpse of who you are. Be creative! You may choose any theme for your top 5. Do you love cooking? List your top 5 recipes. Are you enthusiastic about anime? Name your top 5 characters. Do you watch or participate in a lot of athletic events? Name your top 5 moments. Explain why these are your top 5. (150 words)
This prompt is left intentionally open-ended, so that you can write about something you are passionate about, so make sure that before you start writing that you are truly interested in your chosen topic. For example, if you don’t care much for movies, don’t name your top 5 movies as a means to appease the admissions counselor. They want to hear what your interests are, not the interests of everyone else.
Unlike the prompt before it, this question also wants to know why you’re listing the choices you are, which will actually show more about you than the choices themselves. For example, anyone can say that cheesecake is their favorite dessert, but only you may say that your love for cheesecake is what bonded you to your grandparent. As such, make sure the choices you are making genuinely say something about who you are, rather than just something you find fun. Don’t just write about your favorite video games unless you really feel they are a core part of your identity because, at the end of the day, that identity is what the admissions counselor wants to learn about.
While Elon lists several examples of lists you can make, we would also recommend coming up with your own if you can. This shows creativity, initiative, and that you’re invested in the prompt itself, and will also set your response apart from many who choose to piggyback on one of the examples given to them. Some additional topics may be as follows:
- Concerts/Events You’ve Attended
- Places You’ve Visited/Landmarks
- Comedians, Creators, etc.
You also might consider something more personal, such as:
- High school memories
- Items of clothing and the stories behind them
- Words in a foreign language you’re learning
- Plants in your house
However, if you find that you do truly connect more with one of the topics listed in Elon’s prompt, that’s okay! Elon includes them for a reason.
When writing about your choices, remember that you don’t have to explicitly rank them. Your explanation should not be why you prefer one thing over the other, it should be why they made it into your Top 5 in the first place. It’s not about comparing and contrasting, but rather why it’s important to you.
However, remember that the admissions counselor may not be particularly knowledgeable about your chosen topic or choices, so be sure to provide some brief background. It may help to think of explaining your choices like you were explaining them to one of your teachers.
Finally, keep in mind that the Common App gives you space to list out the top 5 separately from the 150-word explanation, so take advantage of that extra space as you’re writing!
Where to Get Your Elon University Essays Edited
Writing essays takes a lot of time and focus, and after seeing the same essay time and time again, it can be hard to tell what to change. Going through the editing process with another pair of eyes can help identify areas where your essay could be stronger, as well as areas that you’re already doing well. CollegeVine has created a free Peer Review Essay Tool, where you can get feedback on your essay, and give feedback to other students just like you!
CollegeVine also offers essay review by our team of experienced advisors, who have helped hundreds of students submit successful applications to top schools. Find the right advisor for you and get the feedback you need to make your application a success!