How to Write the Emory University Application Essays 2017-2018
Emory University, a leading liberal arts institution and research university founded in 1836, is home to over 70 majors, 50 minors, and an abundance of pre-professional opportunities. Located in Atlanta, Georgia, Emory’s campus hosts the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and its immediate vicinity accommodates a wide variety of Fortune 500 companies.
With Emory’s expanding programs and opportunities, the school attracted over 23,000 applications and accepted just under 5,000 students during the last application cycle, putting its acceptance rate at a historical low of 22%.
Additionally, Emory’s average GPA and SAT/ACT scores have risen dramatically. The average GPA now stands at 3.83, the average SAT score at 1475, and the average ACT at 32. With an increasingly competitive applicant pool to choose from, Emory is looking for students who demonstrate valuable character traits through their personal statement and supplemental essays.
To better your chances of being accepted to Emory, the CollegeVine Essay Team is here to provide you with some effective strategies to write your admissions essays.
Want to learn what Emory University will actually cost you based on your income? And how long your application to the school should take? Here’s what every student considering Emory University needs to know.
See our post on How to Write the Common Application Essays 2017-2018
Emory University Application Essay Prompts
All students applying to Emory must choose two of four supplemental essay prompts to answer, with a maximum of 150 words for each. This blog post contains analyses of the approaches applicants should take for each question. Emory’s instructions read as follows:
In addition to the Common Application’s Personal Statement, please choose two (2) of the short answer prompts below. Be thoughtful in your responses, but don’t stress about what the right answer might be — we just want to get to know you a bit better. (150 words)
a) What is your favorite fiction or non-fiction work (film, book, TV show, album, poem, or play)? Why?
b) What motivates you to learn?
c) What will you miss the most about your current community when you leave for college?
d) In the age of social media, what does engaging with integrity look like for you?
While these prompts may seem daunting at first, your responses will certainly add character to your application — if written properly. Before diving into each prompt individually, there are a few considerations that apply to all.
First, the goal of these essays, as stated above, is for the admissions officers to figure out what you are like as a person. Think of it as writing an extremely well-thought-out personal profile to be published in a magazine that will circulate in the neighborhood of your new home. How do you want these current strangers (but future neighbors) to perceive you? What facilities (resources) do you hope the neighborhood (university) already has? What new energy (contribution) can you bring to the neighborhood (university)? In order to write a useful introduction, you need to include snippets of anecdotes demonstrating personal character traits. More on that later.
Second, conciseness is key. 150 words allow for ten average-sized sentences.
Lastly, reveal something not already expressed in the Common Application. For example, if your activity list is occupied with multiple service clubs, it may be more effective to use Prompt 3 to elaborate on how much you will miss the mentorship of the teachers instead of saying that you will miss participating in service clubs.
What is your favorite fiction or non-fiction work (film, book, TV show, album, poem, or play)? Why?
First step: choose a personal favorite as your topic, not what you think is “appropriate” taste for an intellectual student. As this question requires deep reflection of the content of your chosen novel/movie/show, write about something that you have personally engaged with extensively in recent memory. Frankly, the work that you choose is unimportant to the admissions officer; they only care about how you discuss the work.
That said, do not write about anything remotely uncouth unless you are absolutely confident that the explanation you provide rebuts any and all questions or doubt an admissions officer might have about you as they read your response.
Next, plan your essay. Below are a few general types of approaches you could take.
- Anecdotal – Perhaps you vividly hear in the distance the sickening explosions of bombs and cries from soldiers struck by landmines every time you open the book The Things They Carried, and the indelible words of the novel have driven you to petition for better veteran benefit programs. Maybe you recall the power of remorse in the play Les Misérables, during which you played Fantine, and the experience has imbued you with a lasting determination to give people a second chance. Whatever it is, recount your story in the essay; it will maintain the reader’s attention and make your essay memorable.
- Traditional essay format – This no-frills approach involves a straightforward discussion of all the reasons you enjoy your selected work. As long as your stated reasons are supported with explanation and evidence, this technique can be effective. This technique, however, makes the writer more susceptible to bland and general statements, so avoid it if you have not yet developed a unique and personal voice in creative writing.
Remember to address the second part of the question: “Why?” As long as you provide personal reasons for the pleasure you take in reading, viewing, or participating in this work, you will be responding to the prompt adequately.
What motivates you to learn?
While this may seem like a simple question on the surface, it may be difficult for some to pinpoint exactly what motivates them to learn and write about such abstract “motivation” extensively.
This essay is perfect for anyone who has a very specific reason or concrete backstory for pursuing higher education. Here, Emory seeks to understand what galvanizes its applicants to learn, but don’t be mistaken — learning encompasses much more than just attending school. Make sure you explain what inspires you to learn and retain new ideas in life, not just in college.
While there is no one way to approach this essay, there are definitely things that you should avoid.
First, try to avoid being cliché. Admissions officers read hundreds of essays per day; it is imperative that you avoid obvious general statements of archetypal sentiments such as “education provides the pathway to a better life.” While there will certainly be an overlap of ideas, you must try to “flavor” them with circumstances unique to your life to distinguish your writing from that of other applicants. The best way to achieve this is through personal anecdotes and analysis of them to reveal what spurs you to pursue a path.
Are you motivated by a family history of unavailable academic opportunity? Are you encouraged by the certainty that learning can always be a constant in your life? Are you inspired by new discoveries? While you can use these questions to help with brainstorming, you are definitely not limited to these types of motivations. Don’t worry — this might appear difficult at first, but with some deep reflection, you will find what truly pushes you to learn. Here are a few examples of how the aforementioned anecdote types might play out in an essay.
- Having witnessed your parents hesitate from applying to more appealing office positions because they cannot check any box in the “Degree Received” column of the job application, you are determined to grasp more opportunities for your family. With the image of your parents’ exhausted figures stumbling onto the couch as they return home from their part-time jobs at midnight, you become extra focused on the theorem proofs in your calculus textbook.
- Being the daughter of a diplomat, you have had the rare opportunity to live in a variety of different countries and continents; among your favorites are Switzerland, South Africa, and South Korea. However, the frequent moves meant that your environment, habits, friends, and mentors were constantly changing too. In the midst of all this uncertainty, you found comfort and an unwavering companion in learning; though where you go to school and who you go school with can change, the purpose of learning never does. Thus, you are always willing to go the extra step in understanding a topic — writing extra essays on Alexander Hamilton for your U.S. History teacher to review and correct, among other such endeavors.
- When Uber first publicized the application for customer use, you were amazed by how much a new app on a smartphone can change people’s lifestyle and mode of transport. Determined to understand how a tech program achieved such influence at such a large scale, you spent your summers interning at Uber and compiled a report on their operational framework to present to your entrepreneurship class.
One last thing to note: Always avoid writing about “politically incorrect” desires to learn, such as a wish to acquire material wealth with a prestigious college degree. Emory University is an institution that hopes to foster community and philanthropy through the education it confers on its students. So even if you have a more basic reason for learning (as we all do), you should not present that to your reader. Instead, provide a more complex response that offers insight into your character. As with all other prompts, consider using an anecdote to “show, not tell” your motivations.
What will you miss the most about your current community when you leave for college?
When answering this prompt, you must address the following questions in addition to the main, overarching prompt:
- What kind of environment are you in currently?
- Which people, and what components of your current surroundings do you interact with the most frequently (or memorably)?
This prompt serves a dual purpose: It allows Emory University to learn about your background and gauge whether it will be a good fit for you. Beware: to an extent, this is a “Why Emory?” question. Through your response, Emory may draw parallels between what you will miss about your community to what you would like to see in the Emory community.
Thus, when approaching this essay, it is a good idea to connect your life at home to your potential life at Emory. For example, you should outline the things that you will miss the most about your current community, and then tie them into how the people and opportunities at Emory will fill that void.
Maybe you are going to miss volunteering at your local hospital, but are excited to get involved with a new one at Emory. Perhaps you are going to miss the support from your parents and friends when you encounter obstacles in life, but you are confident that you will find a similar spirit of empathy in the Emory Compassion Meditation Group, and are eager to join the Emory STEER team to help guide other students in their transition to university.
Whatever it is that you will miss, try to turn it into a positive statement by specifying in detail how Emory will provide you with something different but equally as fulfilling.
In the age of social media, what does engaging with integrity look like for you?
Upon first read, you might be confused as to why Emory asks this ambiguous prompt that not only demands an answer but also requires you to interpret the question. As we mentioned before, Emory is a leading research university that seeks to pioneer technological and social developments in this world. In an era in which society is changing more rapidly than ever before and norms for moral conduct are becoming more muddled, Emory University wants to ensure that its students are leaders in innovation with a concrete set of moral principles. This essay is your opportunity to discuss the ethics by which you live your life.
Let’s try to further simplify this prompt. The keywords here are: social media, engage, and integrity.
The meaning of the word integrity can be roughly divided into two aspects: wholeness, and moral principles. The first step to this prompt is defining what the word integrity means to you. How do you keep your moral principles “intact?” In other words, how do you ensure that you (and/or others) do not violate the code of moral conduct of which you value?
To get you started, consider the following questions:
- What kind of treatment of another person is unacceptable to you?
- How do you avoid treating other people like that in everyday life?
- What would would you do ( or do you do) if you witness a person treating another in such unacceptable way?
- Why do you find this behavior especially unacceptable?
- What kind of treatment of another person seems especially kind to you?
- Why do you think of this behavior as especially kind?
Once you have nailed down what integrity means to you by analyzing the answers to these considerations, explain how your code of moral conduct applies in the world of social media, where people with malicious intent can hide behind the veil of anonymity. Emory wants to see how you aspire to promote morality and honesty in a world where information is exchanged very rapidly, and matter-of-factly.
Also, while this prompt addresses a broader social issue, it asks that you discuss the topic in the context of you. So you must tie your essay back to your own sentiments, actions, and experiences in the digital world.
Be careful to not get too political or controversial with this topic. Ultimately, this is an admissions essay and the officers are more interested in hearing what integrity means to you, and how you propose to adhere to it in environments (social media) where it might be tempting to not follow such high moral standards.
Keep in mind that this essay, like the others, allows a maximum of 150 words. So, be sure to be concise and lucid in your response.
We here at CollegeVine wish you good luck with your Emory University application!
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