How to Write the Emory Supplemental Essays 2019-2020

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Emory University was founded in 1836 in Oxford, Georgia. While Emory moved to Atlanta in 1915, thanks to support from the Coca-Cola Company, it still maintains a liberal arts-focused campus in Oxfordgiving students the unique opportunity of being able to start their undergraduate career at either a research university, or liberal arts college. After two years, the students at the Oxford campus automatically continue their studies at the Atlanta campus. 


Emory’s acceptance rate for the Class of 2023 was 15%. The Oxford campus’ acceptance rate for the same year was 19%. Emory’s median SAT was 1500, and the median unweighted GPA for admitted students was 3.92. With such high academic standards and a low acceptance rate, it is important to demonstrate your interest in Emory through their supplemental essays. Want to become an Emory Eagle? Keep reading to gain insight into tackling Emory’s supplemental essays for the 2019-2020 college application season.


Required Essay #1:


For Emory’s first supplemental essay, you have to choose between one of three prompts. There is a suggested 150 word limit for each.

Option A: Share about something you want to bring from your community to the Emory University community.

Emory University is a school that prides itself on having students from a diverse range of backgrounds. After all, Emory University has one of the largest QuestBridge scholar chapters in the nation. 


The key here is that “community” can mean almost anything. It could be a cultural group, your local roots, a band you’re in, a club you started. What about it would you want to take with you to college? It could be anything from the sense of camaraderie in a school club to the cultural traditions that you want to share with others. Emory wants you to demonstrate how you will take what your community offered and apply it to your interactions with peers.

Option B: Share about a time when you questioned something that you believed to be true. 

People are generally inquisitive by nature. The actions of the world around us sometimes make wonder whether what we are taught is really true. For example, I was always taught that “sticks and stones may break our bonesbut words will never hurt me.” However, as I gained more life experience, I began to realize that verbal slings hurt just as badlyif not worsethan physical pain. Words can echo in one’s mind for years after they are said.


You’ll probably want to stay away from more universal adages like this, as many applicants could’ve written about this saying. Think about something deeply personal. Perhaps your parents were adamantly anti-vaccine, and you agreed with their beliefs as a child, but began questioning them in high school. You could discuss how you spoke with your family on such a touchy and inflammatory issue, and how you eventually decided to get yourself vaccinated at 18, despite their wishes. Not every topic has to be so serious or controversial, however (vaccines are a little risky, as people have strong opinions about them, but since college admissions officers are generally liberal, this story would likely be safe). Instead, maybe you thought you couldn’t be vegan until you joined a friend for a one-week vegan challenge. Maybe you thought homeless people were lazy until a relative told you that they were once homeless, and they described the circumstances behind that situation.


Just remember to not only write about something you questioned, but also to show how you responded to it. This question showcases your ability to respond to situations where you may not necessarily have a plethora of resources and support to turn to. 

Option C: Emory University’s shield is a crossed torch and trumpet representing the light of learning and the proclamation of knowledge. It symbolizes our mission to impact the world through discovery. What truth or knowledge do you want to see shared?

Here, you can choose to write about an academic or non-academic topic. However, you should write about why you want to see the aspect you are writing about to be shared. If you want more people to know about orange chicken as a food and its cultural heritage, maybe write about how it demonstrates the hardships people face when immigrating to a new country. Doing this takes a lighthearted topic and weaves it into a more serious situation faced by people today. Your “why” could be answered by growing up in a diverse community and the microaggressions you experienced as a minority. If getting to know other cultures is a value you hold close to heart, demonstrate how you will do that when you arrive on campus in the fall.


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Required Essay #2


Emory’s second supplemental essay is also required. You have the choice between one of three options and like the first required essay, it is suggested that each one should be around 150 words. 


Option A: Which book, character, song, or piece of work (fiction or non-fiction) represents you, and why?

Media of all sorts has become a part of our daily lives. When you are in the car on the way home from school, chances are you listen to music. If you don’t listen to music, you likely read books in school or at home. Since there are so many forms of media out there, you should be able to find at least one that fits you as a person. After finding what you can identify yourself with, it is time to dig deeper and brainstorm why exactly you feel like you are represented by that form of media.


Let’s say you choose Nick Carraway from The Great Gatsby. Are you more of an observer in social situations? Do you shy away from ostentatious displays? Think of some anecdotes that help support the points you are trying to make. The more specific the anecdote, the better, as the admissions officers reading your essay will get more introspection into who you are.


For example, instead of saying: “I don’t like going to the beach,” try putting the reader in your shoes by writing something along the lines of: “I grimaced at the feeling of Lake George’s gritty sand beneath my feet.” Also, don’t forget to give a brief explanation of the representative that you are making to yourself. You may know everything there is to know about Lara Croft from Tomb Raider, but that doesn’t mean others can say the same.


Option B: If you could witness a historic event first-hand, what would it be, and why?

Do you like history? If not, no need to fret. Since the question didn’t define “historic,” it is up to you to define it for yourself. What is “historic” to you could be different from what is “historic” to the general public. For instance, maybe you would’ve loved to witness your favorite ultrarunner breaking the Appalachian Trail record. You would’ve appreciated being able to run with him and encourage him in the final miles, and to have a chat afterwards about the journey, as you yourself would one day like to run the Appalachian Trail.


Or perhaps you’re fascinated by modern-day mysteries, and would’ve liked to be present during the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappearance (without disappearing yourself, of course). You’d like to be able to understand what exactly happened, so that any offenders can be brought to justice and that grieving families can have a sense of closure. Maybe you even knew someone on the flight, making this example even more personal.


The “why” of this question is arguably more important than the historical event itself, as it provides further introspection into your interests and personality.


Option C: If asked to write a 150-word tweet to tell the world who you are, what would you say? (Yes, the actual Twitter character limit would likely be shorter than 150 words, but thanks for indulging us.)

You have been shaped by countless memories and experiences. I’ll be frank: Fitting all of those experiences in detail with a 150 word limit is impossible. Because you have limited space to write about what you want the world to know about you, it would not be a bad idea to engage your personality into the syntax of your writing. If you do this, you would be showcasing the personality traits you want people to know without explicitly having to state them.


From here, the floor is open for you to talk about your interests. Are you unhappy with the polluted oceans? This tweet could be used to voice your stance on preserving the world for future generations. Do you think Taco Bell is the supreme fast food restaurant? Feel free to write about how you think their chicken quesadillas are better than the ones at the restaurant down the street. A big pointer is to genuinely showcase your personality and outlook on life. If you are more serious-natured, the essays would not be a good place to run a “funniness” test trial.  


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