How to Write the Hamilton College Essays 2023-2024
You might recognize Hamilton College for its namesake—Alexander Hamilton—but like the man who lent his name to the school, Hamilton College has so much to offer. The combination of an excellent liberal arts education with the serene surroundings of upstate New York attracts thousands of applicants each year.
Hamilton requires students to submit two essays. In this post, we’ll break down how to approach each essay to stand out from other applicants and maximize your chances of admission.
Read this Hamilton essay example to inspire your writing.
Hamilton College Supplemental Essay Prompts
Prompt 1: Please take this opportunity to write about your interest in Hamilton and why you believe it is a place where you can thrive. Be open. Be honest. Be brief. (200 words)
Prompt 2: We each bring different backgrounds and perspectives, and we teach one another about the world through our individual and shared experiences. How will Hamilton shape your perspective, and how will your perspective shape Hamilton? (200 words)
Please take this opportunity to write about your interest in Hamilton and why you believe it is a place where you can thrive. Be open. Be honest. Be brief. (200 words)
This is your standard “Why This College?” essay, which is used to gauge your interest in the school and how you might fit in with the campus community.
Before writing, you should clearly identify your college goals—both academic and extracurricular. Do you hope to learn a special skill, cover a particular topic, or get training for a certain career? Are there passions of yours that you hope to nurture? Why do you have these goals—what is the story behind them?
After identifying these goals, you’ll want to describe how Hamilton specifically can support them. Look up your academic department’s courses and research opportunities. Peruse the student activities list. Browse Hamilton’s social media accounts and the profiles of alumni in your intended field. Watch student life videos on YouTube.
You don’t have a lot of space to work with, so you’ll ultimately want to narrow your list down to 2-3 goals and then elaborate on ways in which Hamilton can support them.
Here are a couple of example responses:
- A student who wants to go into environmental policy to regulate businesses might want to take the course Environmental Policy & Economics at Hamilton. Outside the classroom, they hope to join the Climate Justice Coalition. Sustainability has been important to this student ever since a fast fashion garment factory once polluted their town’s water.
- A student who wants to eventually get an MD/MBA wants to major in Data Science and is interested in the elective Seminar in Health Care Systems to learn about issues related to cost and accessibility. They also appreciate Hamilton’s emphasis on data ethics and social impact, since they hope to one day run their own startup that makes healthcare more convenient and accessible.
We recommend mentioning at least one academic resource and one extracurricular one, and you should also take care to demonstrate alignment with Hamilton’s values. For example, the previous student shows this alignment by indicating their interest in data ethics and social impact, which is one of the three categories of electives in the Data Science major at Hamilton.
We each bring different backgrounds and perspectives, and we teach one another about the world through our individual and shared experiences. How will Hamilton shape your perspective, and how will your perspective shape Hamilton? (200 words)
For this prompt, Hamilton wants to know about an aspect of your background or personality that will influence how you will interact with the Hamilton community. If you think of the first prompt as a “Why This School?” essay, then this one should be a “Why You?” essay. This is your opportunity to communicate what makes you unique and how that will be an asset at Hamilton. It might help you to consult our guide to writing a diversity essay, even though this prompt isn’t exactly the same thing.
Since the word count is relatively short, students might be tempted to just focus on how Hamilton will shape their perspective and how their perspective will shape Hamilton, but we caution against this. Rather than writing a cookie cutter essay that says something like “Hamilton will teach me to be more open-minded toward new ideas…”, the focus of your essay should be on what your unique perspective is and how it came to be.
You might be asking yourself, what is my perspective? It can be anything—from values to beliefs to or from identity to traditions. Below are a few examples to get you thinking about the range of potential answers:
- Working at your family’s restaurant makes you value hard work and accountability
- Being a racial minority and facing discrimination has taught you to approach everyone with kindness
- Growing up with multiple siblings made you highly competitive in a way that motivates you to reach your full potential
- As an avid surfer, you strongly believe in trying to reduce climate change to help ocean life
- Your passion for photography makes you appreciate the beauty found in the little details
The key thing to notice is that in each of those examples there is a perspective, but also a description of what influenced or brought about that perspective (e.g, a passion for photography led to the perspective that mundane little things can contain beauty). In order to get “full points,” so to speak, with the admissions officers, you need to show where your perspective came from. This is the deeper elaboration that turns a decent response into a really good one.
In order to fully elaborate on your perspective and show what influenced it, you should include an anecdote. Storytelling is the most engaging and effective way to convey such a point to your reader, and it makes the essay flow more smoothly.
Once you have a strong anecdote that shows your unique perspective, you can apply it to Hamilton. When talking about how Hamilton will shape your perspective, consider how your perspective might be challenged or supported. Will you be taking classes that question your perspective? Will you join a group of like-minded students who share your perspective?
Go beyond a basic answer like “At Hamilton I will experience new ideas from a range of diverse perspectives.” Include predictions on how your perspective will be shaped with specific examples:
“In Digital Technology and Social Transformations, I will not only find support for my belief that social media can bring about societal change, but I will also learn how to effectively harness the power that social media holds.”
You aren’t quite done yet. Along with discussing how Hamilton will shape you, you need to explain how your perspective can shape Hamilton. Now, you might not be influencing the campus as a whole, but you will have an impact on your classmates, the people in your dorm, and members of any organizations you join. Explain how you will share your perspective with any group you’ll interact with and how you anticipate that perspective affecting them.
Where to Get Your Hamilton Essays Edited
Do you want feedback on your Hamilton 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!